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Nick Smith firing blanks: NPS no silver bullet

The Government’s draft National Policy Statement on urban development is a damp squib unlikely to make much difference to Auckland’s out-of-control housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“The Government has been talking tough for the past few weeks. You’d think this was going to be the big gun, but its only Nick Smith firing blanks.

“The land-bankers and speculators will read the NPS and rub their hands with glee.

“It fails the two crucial tests. It has nothing to say about how infrastructure will be financed, leaving Auckland ratepayers to wonder whether they will be left to pay the $17 billion cost of new infrastructure needed to support Auckland’s growth.

“And for all National’s huffing and puffing about getting rid of the urban growth boundary, it says nothing about abolishing the boundary and replacing it with a smarter way of managing urban growth.

“The NPS sets up a bureaucratic system for assessing the projected demand for housing and business land, and measuring that against the estimated capacity of land and dwellings. If the development capacity falls short then the Council is expected to amend its plans to free up more land.

“Where’s the promised game-changer? I’ll be interested to hear Auckland Council’s response, but I am pretty sure they will look at the NPS and say ‘no problem, we are already doing this’.

“Auckland’s draft Unitary Plan already includes an assessment of demand, and staged injections of new areas into the land supply over 30 years. This planning system based on the urban growth boundary and restrictive zoning is a magnet for the land-bankers and speculators. We need a new, smarter approach to managing urban growth.

“National has been blaming the RMA and Councils for expensive housing for the past 10 years. It has been a very long reveal, but this National Policy Statement is final proof that when it comes to the Government’s housing policy, the emperor has no clothes,” Phil Twyford says.