Auckland housing plan far too late - Labour

  • 24/07/2017

The Government's new public-private fund for investment in road and water services to new housing estates is getting a thumbs-up from many.

Business groups and councils like it, but Labour is asking what took so long.

Crown Fibre Holdings will be re-named Crown Infrastructure Partners and will set up companies, known as special purpose vehicles, to build and own roads and water systems to new housing developments.

The money comes from central Government and private investors, with about $600 million initially envisaged.

Developers are likely to pay a one-off payment while residents will pay a targeted rate or volume-based charge each year, providing revenue to the investors.

Councils struggling with debt will no longer have to fund infrastructure to new housing estates though they have the right to buy it in the future.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said it would "enable Auckland to speed up the construction of thousands of new homes in our city".

Local Government NZ president Lawrence Yule is pleased to see further funding options for those councils experiencing pressure on housing infrastructure as a result of rapid growth.

"Many of these councils are not able to fund this necessary investment through rates or without breaching debt-to-revenue covenants," he says.

Mr Yule says there are other infrastructure issues around the country which may also need some innovative funding.

The EMA, a business lobby group, says it has been pushing for different models to remedy a national infrastructure shortfall so Sunday's announcement was a "clear win in this regard".

Labour's Auckland issues spokesman Phil Twyford asked why the initiative took so long.

"Now weeks out from an election, and after nine years in office, they are desperate to look like they are doing something," he says.

Labour will abolish the urban growth boundary and replace it with a new planning approach. It will roll out bonds receiving revenue from targeted rates.

The Government's new fund will make an initial investment of $387m in transport and water infrastructure in Drury South and West, Paerata, and Pukekohe where 17,800 dwellings can be built.

A further major development will be around Wainui in north Auckland with $201m in infrastructure funding required for an additional 5,500 dwellings.

One dissenting voice was National's minor coalition partner ACT.

"Responding to a problem by a creating a new arm of Government sounds more like a Labour policy than an idea from the centre-right," said leader David Seymour.

"It's a convoluted response to a simple problem: Councils can't afford the infrastructure needed to close New Zealand's housing shortfall."

Mr Seymour says ACT would set aside half the GST revenue from building activity for local councils to use on infrastructure.

NZN / Newshub.