Is The Housing Situation in Auckland That Hard to “Solve?”
I see the Main Stream Media and Central Government have got on the bandwagon about Auckland’s housing affordability situation. Much as I hate to say it, the MSM I am having no issues with reporting the news (when they do) but I am having issues with Central Government interfering in what is a debate between Council and its ratepayers.
I say that as two particular articles have cropped up from the NZH in regards to housing affordability:
Prime Minister John Key says fast-tracking the supply of land will help solve the housing affordability crisis.
The Government is to work with councils to open up more land for development as it seeks to rein in New Zealand‘s high house prices.
Finance Minister Bill English will unveil the Government’s response to theProductivity Commission’s inquiry into home affordability after the Cabinet meets today.
He said it would act to address one of the main issues identified by the commission – a lack of land for building new homes – but the package was a broad programme.
“There isn’t really one simple initiative that changes the way the housing market works.
“It’s a very complicated beast so I wouldn’t get expectations too high about changing the trajectory of house prices next week.”
The commission focused on the need to free more land on city fringes for home-building, but Mr English said some of the best opportunities for development, particularly for low-priced housing, were within cities.
And the second article – actually an opinion piece
Package? What package? No wonder National avoided over-selling the contents of their plan to make housing more affordable. The plan looks more like a rough first draft.
As Annette King, Labour’s housing spokeswoman noted, the Government’s long-awaited announcement was a combination of “considering new ways”, “undertaking more inquiries”, “doing more work” and “undertaking evaluations”.
The lack of detail serves to illustrate one thing: when it comes to increasing the housing stock, there is not a lot central government can do unless it is willing to spend big bikkies.
The two parts I am going to raise were both in bold in the first article:
“Prime Minister John Key says fast-tracking the supply of land will help solve the housing affordability crisis.”
Opening up supply of the land will help and was mentioned in the Auckland Plan, Long Term Plan and the Civic Forum (that I attended) for the Unitary Plan. What it needs is Council to follow through with the plans and get opening up that land now rather than later. So no need to worry John, already ahead of you there mate.
And from the Minister of Finance:
“The commission focused on the need to free more land on city fringes for home-building, but Mr English said some of the best opportunities for development, particularly for low-priced housing, were within cities.”
Well that seems to be more hitting the point on the head there. And the easiest way to accommodate what the Minister is saying is to:
- Zone appropriately
- Lower the cost of construction
- Lower the regulation hurdles to build
Get on top of those three points via adopting the Keeping It Simple Stupid philosophy and you might find the above points going some distance (but not all) into helping get on top of our housing affordability and supply situation.
I was pondering over my coffee this morning a few things. First of all acknowledging that a house is deemed affordable when the price of purchasing your house is not more than three times above the total gross income of the people going to be paying the mortgage for that house. Four times above the income is indicating stress but still okay, but anything above five times the income (Auckland is at 5.3-6.0 times) is deemed unaffordable and the situation needs to be addressed FAST!
The second thing I was pondering over was; who is actually getting in the way of solving the housing affordability situation here in Auckland. Traditionally I would stick my boot into our planners, however after the Civic Forum on the Unitary Plan last Saturday I concluded that actually our Planners can and are redeeming themselves here are actually not the ones in the way for the most part. I told our planners at the Civic Forum that the biggest hinderance to urban development were our planners and they simply need to get out of the road. That point still stands in my eyes but to a lesser degree now after talking to them at length on Saturday. Planners have their shot at redemption if they can work with the Local Boards and ratepayers in a multi-way partnership as urban development occurs. Saturday showed the potential there from our planners in working with that partnership with the Local Boards and the ratepayer and I am hoping that potential can develop and flourish (rather than go backwards and me having to stick the boot back into them again – which I don’t honestly want to do as I do that enough with our beyond hopeless CCOs).
Now I know there are planners reading this who I talked too on Saturday and my message is this: Lets work together (planner, ratepayer and Local Boards) in developing an outcome forward for Auckland and its development through to 2040. The foundations were laid on Saturday and a lot of good faith and will was set at that Civic Forum. I extend my hand as a ratepayer to you – our planners as I don’t want to stick the boot in no more to you guys. I have ideas, you have ideas, we all have the same outcome as the Civic Forum showed, lets work together rather than apart. And that I make as a serious genuine offer. As for the ideas I have, you can read my rather extensive submission to The Auckland Plan which I will translate over to submissions for the Unitary Plan in due time. Oh and even though I am advocating the decentralisation of the urban development processes, Planners will be still flat-out if not even more flat-out as they buddy up with the Local Boards in delivering and providing advocacy during urban development phases !
So then if Planners are not getting in the road, then who is?
Sorry hate to say it but it is our Councillors and Central Government Politicians and in my next post, I am dedicating my boot to you both and how YOU are causing the housing affordability situation…
For Auckland Council Planners Consumption – My Submission to the Auckland Plan, and due to be translated to the Unitary Plan submissions