Working party for Auckland housing crisis
Tuesday 26 Mar 2013 5:29 a.m.
Auckland Council and the Government have agreed to set up a working party to look at ways of increasing the supply of land in Auckland.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Housing Minister Nick Smith met in Auckland yesterday after weeks of debate on how to cool the city's housing market and how to house hundreds of thousands expected to arrive there in the next 20 years.
Auckland Council says the fastest way to increase housing supply would be to fast-track the implementation of its Unitary Plan, which allows for inner-city intensification and new Greenfields developments.
The Government says the plan needs to go through a full public consultation process, and Dr Smith has threatened to intervene to free up more Greenfields land.
Mr Brown wants the Unitary Plan to begin in September, whereas Dr Smith says a three-year appeal period was needed.
Dr Smith and Mr Brown emerged from the meeting saying council and Government officials would meet weekly, and there would be meetings at a political level fortnightly.
"This really is going to move with some energy and some commitment," Dr Smith said after the meeting. He would not say whether Government intervention to free up more land was still on the table.
Mr Brown said the new working party would help the council work more closely with Government on the issue.
"I'm pleased that the Government agrees with Auckland on the need to address housing challenges on a number of fronts, not just through land supply," he said in a statement.
"It's right that we respond to Auckland's housing challenges through the framework of our draft Unitary Plan and the broader vision set in the Auckland Plan.
"These plans reflect two-and-a-half years of careful consultation with Aucklanders and provide the balanced approach we need for Auckland."
"We've agreed that our officials will meet weekly; at a political level, fortnightly, so this really is going to move with some energy and some commitment."
Mr Brown said on Firstline this morning the council was already freeing up new land for development, within the existing city limits.
"We're freeing up land right around the city right now," says Mr Brown.
"Within the existing frameworks we've got land being freed up and developed in and around East Tamaki, out through the south in Karaka, up north through Helensville, Massey, so there are a number of places where we have… open field development going on at the moment.
"What we are both focused on… is ensuring some greater pace around that, and how to achieve that. What are the right tools and mechanisms to do that?"
- VIDEO: Len Brown on Firstline
Mr Brown says some inner-city golf courses are being converted to residential housing.
"There are some of those golf courses which are in the private ownership of the golf clubs, and/or individuals, that are now coming up for subdivision… so golf courses are looking up their viability."
He says the Government and the council agree on the vision for Auckland – "the world's most liveable city", in Mr Brown's words – and the only debate left is how to achieve it.
"Now the rules, which is the mechanics of achieving that, are what we're debating now."
NZN / 3 News