Budget to develop housing on Crown land

3 News can reveal a major part of tomorrow's Budget will be a plan to develop housing on parcels of Crown land in Auckland.

A work tender mistakenly placed on a government website today details how the programme aims to deliver housing developments "at pace".

Finance Minister Bill English and Prime Minister John Key are keeping quiet on tomorrow's Budget.

The problem is one of the big secrets is out, bizarrely, with a tender advertised on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website for development of housing on Crown land, including residential land parcels and government land parcels.

It's looking to: "Identify suitably qualified parties or consortia with the capability and capacity to deliver housing developments at pace in Auckland."

After 3 News saw the advertisement, the Government gave over a document (see below) admitting more details. The Government will open up 430 hectares of public land in Auckland for affordable housing – that's more than 50 rugby fields of land.

Housing Minister Nick Smith said he expected "thousands" of houses would be built on the land by private companies.

Dr Smith said money from the Budget would be provided for the Government to buy some of the land off universities.

Dr Smith said the private companies that built houses would not have to pay for the houses upfront, instead paying the Government once the houses were sold.

That is likely to be controversial, as it will be seen as the Government giving a leg up to private companies. 

So the Government wants to start building houses and put them on public land, like that owned by the University of Auckland on its Tamaki campus.

"I'm having a pretty close and hard look at where there are land holdings that will help deal with the challenges over housing that we have in Auckland," says Dr Smith.

Dr Smith is talking about land owned by universities, schools, tertiary institutions, health boards, defence, Housing New Zealand, the New Zealand Transport Agency and Department of Conservation reserves.

"You'd be quite astounded by some areas of reserves, and when you say the word reserve you assume that's a park or land that is effectively vacant or being under-utilised," says Dr Smith.

But playgrounds are safe.

"Those that have got playgrounds are being well utilised."

Dr Smith wants public land that is being wasted.

"At the moment I am in the investigation stage and we are looking at hundreds of parcels of land and looking at every possibility to create new housing for Auckland."

In total, the land could be worth billions.

"We're talking big numbers," says Dr Smith.

The audit has so been strict the Government has double-checked its own agencies' word on available land.

"Government agencies have been looking and understated the result, so we've employed independent contractors," says Dr Smith.

 

3 News

source: newshub archive