Affordable housing: Labour will buy private land - Twyford

Labour's housing spokesperson Phil Twyford has responded to the National Government's latest housing announcement, saying Labour's KiwiBuild policy would see townhouses, flats and apartments on sale for under $500,000.

He also revealed a Labour Government would be willing to buy private land if it had to.

"We are going to work with the council, we are going to work with Ngāti Whātua, we are going to work with other investors, and if necessary we are going to buy private land to develop," he told The Nation on Saturday.

"We've committed $2 billion to kick-start KiwiBuild and we're going to establish an affordable housing authority to act as an urban development agency.

"We'll put capital in to get it started, but it's going to manage the Crown's entire urban land holdings. It will use that balance sheet to buy land and develop land with other partners."

On Tuesday Social Housing Minister Amy Adams announced a plan for the Government to build 34,000 new homes in Auckland as part of the Crown Building Project.

But Mr Twyford says only about 2000 homes in the proposal will likely be deemed affordable, by the Government's current definition.

"Is 650,000 affordable? That's the Government's definition of affordability and the reason they use it is because that's the threshold for people who get a Home Start subsidy. By definition, if they need a Government subsidy to buy a $650,000 house, I don't think it is affordable.

"We're going to build large urban development projects - many of them around the railway network in Auckland. Places like Henderson, Manukau, Mt Wellington, Onehunga, Panmure, Avondale.

"Auckland Council's already done much of the work on this. Their development agency Panuku has already identified all of those sites as being appropriate for development."

Prime Minister Bill English says the Government's priority is those most in need of housing.

"Then we've got the opportunity to flex just how many are market houses, how many are built at lower prices and therefore more readily available at lower incomes.

"As we work our way through this, we'll see how the market goes, where the prices are, because as you can see in Auckland, the house prices are flattening, some cases falling. In another two or three years when we have met our social housing needs, which are pretty important first, we'll see what the situation is then."