Auckland Council is painfully aware of Auckland’s housing crisis and we are working hard to address some of the barriers to the provision of affordable housing. The issue is a focus for the council, me personally and Mayor Len Brown.
Auckland Council is concerned about the impacts of rapidly rising prices which include a generation of young people who may never be able to buy a house, people being forced to live in overcrowded and sub-standard accommodation and the risk of prices eventually collapsing if prices overshoot what is justified by underlying demand.
Demand has been fuelled by rapid population growth due to natural increase and record levels of immigration. Average rents have not kept pace with house price growth which suggests present needs are not the only factor driving house prices up.
We have made significant progress in freeing up land for housing, as well as ensuring we have sufficient land for growth in business activity. The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan has zoned 11,000 hectares of land “future urban”. This land will be urbanised progressively over the next 30 years and will allow for more than 110,000 dwellings outside current urban areas.
Auckland Council’s approach to the Mixed Housing Urban Zone removes density controls, an approach that places more emphasis on urban design and removes a number of development controls in favour of assessment criteria.
The Auckland Housing Accord between central government and Auckland Council and its Special Housing Area legislation were designed to facilitate housing development before the Unitary Plan becomes operative and they have made a significant contribution to the rapid release of land for housing.
As well as enabling sufficient supply of land for housing, it is essential the right infrastructure is in place to support projected growth. Our 10-year Long-term Plan and 30 year infrastructure strategy both have a strong emphasis on provision of infrastructure to service growth.
In additional to enabling development, the council is also becoming increasingly involved in the direct facilitation of redevelopment opportunities.
Our new urban development agency Panuku Development Auckland, established at the beginning of September, is responsible for increasing the activity of existing Council Controlled Organisations.
It will utilise council owned land that is surplus to requirements and may acquire adjoining land. It will also amalgamate land holdings and enter into partnerships to facilitate intensification.
The cost of growth is still a major problem however we are committed to finding new ways to fund and finance infrastructure including partnerships with the private sector and with government.
We have initiated infrastructure network funding agreements and have suggested, in our submission to the New Zealand Productivity Commission Draft Report, the government could share some of the burden and risk of financing additional infrastructure.
Despite what you may hear, Auckland Council has a strong partnership with government and we have identified areas of collaboration but we do not believe Auckland can simply build its way out of the housing problem.
There are a number of other areas that need investigation and/or addressing such as a greater focus on long-term rending, a commitment to support social housing, interventions specifically targeted to the provision of affordable housing and further interventions to dampen housing investment motivated by untaxed capital gains.
That’s what we are currently working on and that’s what we will continue to work on.
Radio NZ documentary: Auckland's Quest for Affordable Housing
Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse spoke to Radio New Zealand’s Todd Niall on the challenge of bringing affordable homes to the Auckland market. Her comments were part of an Insight documentary on the topic, which was first aired on Radio NZ on 27 September 2015.