Press Release – NZ Planning Institute
The New Zealand Planning Institute notes with concern Dr Nick Smith’s description of Auckland’s metropolitan urban limits as a strangle-hold that poses a real risk to housing affordability.
Dr Smith’s comments raise a number of questions for the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI). The Chair of NZPI, Bryce Julyan, said that the issue of housing affordability is a complex one and not unique to New Zealand. Countries and cities all over the globe are struggling with the issue of house and land affordability and most have recognised that there is no ‘quick fix, magic bullet’.
NZPI’s submission on the Productivity Commission’s Housing Affordability Report in 2012 noted that a range of appropriate tools is needed to address the systemic issues resulting in a housing shortage. These include a range of targeted but collective policies from monetary policy to planning policy providing holistic, sustainable solutions.
“Affordability is strongly related to the type and location of housing (how and where people want/need to live)” says Mr Julyan, “For instance, housing may be more affordable due to cheaper land costs further away from town. However residents are then faced with additional costs of getting to work, schools and accessing other services.”
NZPI also challenges the assumed correlation between section prices and the surplus supply of land for housing in any particular area, including Auckland. NZPI has yet to see any evidence that supports this assumption, says Mr Julyan. Much of the development costs involved in producing housing lie in the costs of construction.
NZPI looks forward to the Government broadening the discussion to address systematically the more complex issues around housing supply. This needs to include more specific examination of how to achieve the range and mix of affordable housing in preferred locations. These might include incentives to better use existing but under-utilised urban land, where infrastructure and investment already exists, or more effective government policy and support mechanisms for enabling urban regeneration and renewal (brownfields).
The draft Auckland Unitary Plan will contain a raft of measures to facilitate housing construction but it will take a concerted effort across the public and private sectors to address the problems of housing supply and demand and come up with innovative solutions. Changing the Resource Management Act is premature and likely to be ineffective without a more comprehensive approach.