SHA land-banking not a problem -- Nick Smith

SHA land-banking not a problem -- Nick Smith

Land-banking in Auckland's special housing areas (SHAs) is not a problem according to Minister for Housing Dr Nick Smith, although he admits having written to developers telling them to hurry up construction.

The latest monitoring report to the end of 2015 shows of the 48,000 sections created since the introduction of SHA's in 2013, only 700 houses have been built.

The Minister says more recent data he's seen suggests the number of completed homes is actually around 1000 and building rates are increasing.

"I ask you to take your cameras out around those special housing areas. You will see builders going mad. You will see massive amounts of earthworks occurring".

Despite denying a land banking problem, Dr Smith told TV3's The Nation he had urged SHA landowners to pick up the pace.

"I have written to...some of those people who have that [SHA] status on their land and said 'Get on and get your resource consents, your infrastructure, your subdivision progressed, or myself and the council will withdraw that special housing area status'."

The Minister added there isn't anything he can do to force developers to build and that the two-to-three-year delay in building is due to "pipeline" issues.

Labour's housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says the Minister is deep in denial.

"National has allowed land bankers and property speculators to run riot in the Auckland housing market for the last eight years," says Mr Twyford.

"For [Dr Smith] to now be writing to the owners of land in special housing areas pleading with them to develop [it] is pathetic."

Mr Twyford says the Government should have included a "use it or lose it" clause in the SHA legislation to force land buyers to build within a set time frame.

"The land values are increasing so rapidly it's a disincentive to build."

He adds Labour would stop foreigners from purchasing existing property and embark on a "massive" government-led housing construction project.