Budget 2015: Crown land housing development due 6 months

  • 21/05/2015

The Government wants its first development agreement for housing on vacant Crown land in Auckland signed within six months.

More details of the plan to develop the land to help the city's housing problem were detailed in today's Budget, with the announcement of $52.2 million for a capital contingency fund to facilitate the development of housing.

The announcement confirms what 3 News reported last night, after a tender for the development was mistakenly placed on the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website several days early.

Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith says around 500 hectares of Crown-owned land in Auckland owned by various agencies has already been zoned residential.

Allowing development on that land, which includes reserves and tertiary education land such as Auckland University's Tamaki campus, will speed up the building process, Dr Smith says.

"[The land has] no existing buildings or tenants to manage, meaning houses will be able to be brought to market faster.

"The next step will be to identify the specific parcels of land for possible purchase. Our aim is to have a signed development agreement for the first land parcel within six months."

Dr Smith says the approach is based on housing developments in Christchurch already underway, such as construction happening at Awatea, Welles St and Colombo St.

Fletcher Residential, which has partnered with the Government, is set to deliver 400 homes with "a proportion" priced in the affordable range.

Labour's Grant Robertson said the Government needs to commit to build affordable houses, rather than just having a "proportion" of them available in future developments.

"There's nothing going to happen here for at least six months. No contracts are going to be signed for six months. This looks to me like a package that hasn't been fully thought through yet," he said on The Nation this afternoon.

"We obviously want to see houses built, but remember there's a backlog of 20,000 houses plus, plus the 10,000 a year that'll need to be built. This will go some way towards that, but the Auckland housing crisis isn’t solved by this measure."

The fund was one of several housing-related announcements in the Budget, which also included a $35 million reform programme for new operational expenditure in social housing over four years.

Around $30 million will also be funnelled into social housing from reprioritised money which had been earmarked for capital grants through the Social Housing Fund.

The money will go toward the Government's push to move housing into the realm of community housing providers and away from Housing New Zealand (HNZ).

Consultation is underway with community housing providers to transfer between 1000 and 2000 Housing New Zealand properties by the end of the year.

"We are making a clear choice to support people, as opposed to being single-mindedly focused on how many properties the Government owns," Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says.

"That attitude was failing taxpayers and most of all it was failing tenants, who need assistance to lead more independent lives."

Legislation will soon be introduced into the House which Ms Bennett says will "enable a more flexible approach" to contracting with social housing providers.

It will ensure payments for residential social housing contracts are exempt from GST and clarifies HNZ won't be required to provide policy advice to ministers.

MBIE has been advising ministers on the issue since 2011.

Meanwhile, $35.5 million has been allocated in operation funding over four years to improve housing outcomes for Maori families.

Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell says the money will go toward practical assistance to whanau and Maori housing developments coordinated through the new Maori Housing Network.

Of the $35.5 million, $5.7 will fund the new organisation to pay for regional housing development facilitators, who will give practical assistance at local levels.

An additional $1.5 million will boost the Special Housing Action Zone which has been administered by Te Puni Kokiri since 2004. The programme is distinct from other housing initiatives because it looks at community solutions to housing, rather than individual households.

3 News

source: newshub archive