Will he follow through though?
Minister of Finance Bill English in Question Time yesterday indicated that Auckland might very well needing greater housing density to achieve the aims of both the Auckland Plan AND to house the extra million people without excessive sprawl (i.e beyond the proposed Rural Urban Boundary).
Bill English: Auckland may need to allow greater housing density
VERNON SMALL: Last updated 15:34, June 24 2015
Finance Minister Bill English is calling on the Auckland Council to ensure the supply of houses meets expected demand, suggesting it may need to loosen the rules to allow for greater density in the city.
His comments come after a draft Productivity Commission report last week forecast a huge shortfall over coming years.
The commission said 40,000-60,000 new dwellings were needed now against a total of about 20,000 currently included in the known plans of developers.
Building and Housing MInister Nick Smith said his officials put the shortfall lower, but acknowledged the city faced a big problem.
“There’s no question Auckland has a significant housing supply deficit, but interpreting the size of it is quite difficult.”
English said as Auckland prepared its unitary plan it needed to ensure projected supply met its figures on demand.
“If it doesn’t that’s an issue we’ll have to grapple with.”
The 30-year plan “allocates 30 to 40 per cent of the growth to greenfields and 60 or 70 per cent of the growth to brownfields. But that requires reasonably liberal rule about densification in the city and that’s been controversial.”
Cities were only “moderately responsive” to demand and there was a national interest in Auckland allowing enough new housing to meet the strong demand, English said.
“The first step is that Auckland city produce a plan that meets their own projections of demand.”
A spokesman for the Auckland council said the independent unitary plan hearings panel (AUPIHP) has asked council experts and other submitters to produce a new market-based model on the capacity for housing growth under the proposed rules. The work is due to be reported to the AUPIHP in the middle of July.
It said there was a mismatch between supply and demand, with a particular lack of lower-priced new dwellings. Far more expensive houses were being built and far fewer lower cost ones in relation to the current housing stock.
It said there was a “race for the top” for both new house prices and land prices.
Also, the cost of land as a proportion of total property value was much higher in Auckland and the average size of new dwellings rose by more than 50 per cent between 1989 and 2014.
“All the reports confirm there is substantial undersupply and the arguments for increasing the house build rate are absolutely correct.”
The point in bold is the is about the development capacity modelling which becomes public on July 17.
From conversations I have heard Bill English warm to the ‘no density’ rules applying to areas like the Mixed Housing Urban Zone currently set in the Unitary Plan. Whether he would like such liberal rules expanded or even the Mixed Housing Urban Zone expanded across Auckland will need him to follow through.
Bill also needs to tell the North Shore and eastern Auckland National MP’s to pull their heads in and stop subjective scaremongering over the intensification provisions of the Unitary Plan would be a great help. The Productivity Commission (a National born scheme) has called we need to do more for intensification and Bill English is also warm to that call.
There is general appetite from what I am hearing to expand the Mixed Housing Urban Zone across more areas in Auckland. In my submission I have requested that the entire Isthmus be placed at minimum Mixed Housing Urban Zone (with respective overlays over the top) while larger portions of Southern Auckland come under that zone plus Terrace Housing and Apartment zones.
If we are going to get serious about bringing affordability back into line then we need our intensification as much as we need some Greenfield developments as well. Rather pure and simple (as it doesn’t need to be complex).