LGNZ seeks collaboration on housing affordability

Published: Wed 8 Oct 2014 12:26 PM
LGNZ seeks collaboration on housing affordability
Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) says local government, central government and the business sector need to work together with communities to address housing affordability across New Zealand.
Housing affordability is a complex issue that is driven by multiple factors including the availability of land, cost of building materials and demand on the housing market.
Local government’s role includes processing building consents and zoning available land for development. Some councils, such as Auckland, have been working with central government on Housing Accords that fast-track the process through Special Housing Areas. Other cities, such as Wellington and Queenstown, have expressed interest in adopting these measures.
There is a need to develop effective policies around the complex statute of the Resource Management Act (RMA) that councils are required to work under. This has implications for the limits on the outward spread of a city, so councils can plan the provision of infrastructure and services to new areas. There is also the problem of how to increase density in bigger cities while balancing consumer desire for bigger homes.
LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says local government shares central government’s desire to facilitate growth and see affordable housing come to the market.
“There is no silver bullet on the issue of housing affordability. It is a problem seen internationally in growing cities. LGNZ is keen to work collaboratively with central government on reforms to building industry regulation and consenting,” Mr Yule says.
“This is a complex issue that needs a mix of interventions to correct it. Some of that toolkit of solutions sits in the hands of local government such as speeding up consenting, which we are working with central government on, but other factors such as the cost of building supplies and materials are out of our hands.”
Housing affordability has different implications in each region of New Zealand. Auckland and Christchurch are experiencing high housing costs due to demand from population growth, while other parts of New Zealand have land available but face declining populations.
“We need to work together to reduce regional inequalities across all of New Zealand. The level of pressure on Auckland’s housing market would be eased if there were jobs in regions to attract families to relocate to places with more land available at cheaper costs,” Mr Yule says.
“The need for regional economic development across all of New Zealand and the need for affordable housing are both vital to creating and strengthening vibrant economies. LGNZ looks forward to working with central government on this.”

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