Labour and National unite to help solve housing crisis by forcing councils to build up

Labour and National have united to help solve the housing crisis by forcing councils to build up in urban areas and allow more subdivisions. 

In an unprecedented joint press conference on Tuesday, Housing Minister Megan Woods and Environment Minister David Parker were joined by National leader Judith Collins and housing spokesperson Nicola Willis at the Beehive podium. 

It concerns the Government's National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) released in 2020, which is yet to come into effect. It directs councils to make room for growth both 'up' and 'out' to help solve the housing crisis. 

The NPS-UD had a long implementation timeline, with much of its effects not being fully felt until 2024. But Labour and National have united behind speeding up the process, with councils being forced to comply by at least one year. 

Parker said the implementation of NPS-UD is being sped up so councils in greater Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch have their intensification policies and rules in place by August 2023.

It basically flips what's happening right now, so instead of a developer having to argue to build an apartment block that might obstruct another property's view, property owners will now have to argue why an apartment shouldn't be built. 

The new default will be three dwellings per section, or an apartment up to three stories high, without the need for resource consent. District plans typically currently only allow for one home of up to two storeys. 

Building code of compliance will still be needed.

"The housing crisis is a problem decades in the making that will take time to turn around. There is no silver bullet, but combined with other measures taken by this Government these changes will start to make a difference," Woods said. 

"New Zealand's housing shortage is being made worse in our biggest cities by limits on the number and types of houses that can be built. These changes will enable more homes that are attractive to first home buyers to be built in areas closer to their work, public transport and community facilities.

"Working with National, on these changes delivers stable, enduring policy on urban density. This gives homeowners, councils, developers and investors certainty about enduring planning rules."

The new rules are expected to result in at least 48,200 and as many as 105,500 new homes built in the next five to eight years. 

PwC undertook a cost-benefit analysis on the NPS-UD and found that 72,000 additional dwellings could be expected by 2043 as a result of implementing it. PwC now considers this likely to be a conservative estimate.

"Today is truly a historic moment for New Zealand: a time when our two major political parties stepped up together to give Kiwis the Right to Build," Collins said. 

"While Parliament is an adversarial place by nature, it is important that politics can be put aside in emergency situations - be it responding to terror attacks, getting the message out on vaccinations, or addressing our housing emergency.

"I see these measures as being consistent with National's commitment to cutting red-tape, freeing-up options for where new dwellings can be built, enhancing the rights of property owners and effectively creating a 'right to build' in existing urban areas."