The Resource Management Act is largely responsible for soaring land and house prices in cities like Auckland, the minister in charge of the legislation says.
Environment Minister Nick Smith is reviewing proposed changes to the RMA and says the importance of access to affordable housing must be explicitly recognised within it.
"It is a crucial piece of planning legislation, it forms the basis for the decisions that determine what we can do on our own land," he said in a speech to the Property Council today.
"The price of land and sections has gone up rapidly in unaffordable housing markets like Auckland, and it is the Resource Management Act and how it is implemented that is largely responsible for this cost escalation."
Dr Smith, who is also minister for building and housing, says the RMA must protect the environment but that must be balanced against wider needs.
He says the special housing accords with councils, which speed up housing developments, are "a quick fix" and it's the RMA that's the fundamental problem.
The government had to put amending legislation on hold before the election because it didn't have the numbers to pass it.
Opponents, including government ally Peter Dunne, considered environmental protection would be severely compromised.
Dr Smith is looking for ways around those concerns, but it's clear from his latest comments that there will be significant changes.
The government no longer needs Mr Dunne's vote and could pass the bill with ACT's help if it has to.