Government scuppers affordability requirements

The Government must explain why the panel considering Auckland’s unitary plan removed affordability requirements at the behest of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Housing NZ, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.

“Labour welcomes the Independent Hearing Panel’s recommendations to substantially free up restrictive controls that are stopping Auckland growing up and out. The pressure is now on Auckland Council to do the right thing, and back the recommendations.

“However, it recommended removing the requirement for developments over 15 dwellings to contain 10 per cent affordable houses (report section 6.2.6). It beggars belief the Government asked the panel to scrap affordability requirements when Auckland is desperately short of affordable housing.

“Auckland has to make room for the million or so extra people the city has to accommodate in the next 30 years. If we don’t allow for growth, then we’ll pass on to the next generation the curse of some of the most unaffordable housing in the world.

“Labour believes the panel has done the bare minimum to help Auckland deliver just the number of houses it needs. But by retaining the urban growth boundary and adding more land, it simply risks feeding Auckland’s speculative frenzy.

“Labour would like the panel to have gone further and replace the urban growth boundary with a smarter way of managing the city’s expansion that includes:

- More intensive spatial planning
- Protecting areas of special value, ie sites of Maori cultural significance or the Pukekohe soils
- Mapping out roads and infrastructure
- Ensuring new developments carry the cost of their infrastructure
- Investing in rapid transit to support new developments.

“The Unitary Plan is an important part of tackling the housing crisis but cannot build houses on its own. The Government has to step up and build large numbers of affordable homes, and crack down on speculators.

“If National continues with its hands-off approach, the regulatory changes in the Unitary Plan may do little to increase the supply of affordable housing Auckland is crying out for,” Andrew Little says.