16 Oct 2008

Questions raised over cost of Labour's HOPE housing scheme

4:44 pm on 16 October 2008

Builders and affordable housing groups have raised doubts about the true cost of the Labour Party's latest affordable housing scheme.

The Home Ownership on Public Estate, or HOPE scheme would see up to 1,500 starter homes built on Crown land in Auckland over the next four years.

Labour estimates homes could be built for as little as $165,000, with the land remaining in Crown ownership.

Party leader Helen Clark says what is offered is bare land, raising the question of who pays to prepare the sections for building.

Certified Builders Association chief executive Derek Baxter says this can cost many thousands of dollars, including council services such as roads and plumbing, as well as council levies.

"For the $165,000 you would certainly get the construction costs of a modest three-bedroom dwelling. The real question will be around things like council-imposed development levies and reserve contributions, and just how they manage the subdivision of the land."

National Party housing spokesperson Phil Heatley says his party's Gateway Housing programme covers the cost of land development and also allows homeowners to eventually buy the land they build on.

"National said very clearly that we would be supplying first-home buyers with a ready-to-build section which means that the consents are there, in terms of RMA consents, and also utilities are there."