BusinessDesk report by Paul McBeth
Aucklanders will have to wait as long as another nine months before they will have a better idea how the government plans to make housing more affordable for low and middle income earners.
Finance Minister Bill English told reporters at the post-Cabinet press conference that reforms to the Resource Management and Local Government Acts are already in stream over the coming six to nine months and the government will look to have final decisions made in time for those legislative changes.
“Over the next few months we’ll start making more of those decisions and they’ll be in that legislation,” English said.
The major focus for the government will be making housing supply more responsive to demand in a bid to keep a lid on ballooning costs.
“While prices are stable there’s an opportunity for us to change the supply side, change the supply processes so that we don’t go into another big house price cycle,” he said.
The National-led administration aims to make home ownership more affordable by increasing land supply, cutting the resource consent time for mid-size projects, lifting construction productivity and improving the infrastructure to manage new housing projects.
In April, the Productivity Commission made a slew of recommendations to improve housing affordability, and was especially critical of Auckland Council’s proposed compact city approach which undermined that goal.
The government is looking at ways to assist Auckland’s housing supply, and is considering legislative change to allow a faster adoption of Auckland’ unitary plan to address that need.
“As a priority we will explore how we provide greater direction to local government about increasing land supply, because it’s inconsistent that a country with such a low population density as New Zealand should also have such expensive residential sections,” English said.
As part of its response, the government will introduce a six-month time limit on council processing of medium-sized Resource Management Act consents to speed up developments including subdivision. It is also looking at ways to create a national or regional hub for consent authorities, and will consider setting up a rival agency.
English said changes to the RMA won’t impact on housing quality, which is covered by changes to minimum building standards.