10 May 2013

Auckland accord wants to double home construction

8:08 pm on 10 May 2013

The Government has launched a plan to nearly double the number of homes being built in Auckland, warning of economic consequences for the country if it fails.

It will push through legislation to fast-track parts of the Auckland Council's Unitary Plan in a bid to ease a housing shortage and stem rising prices.

Auckland's housing shortage is estimated at 30,000 homes and rising, as are prices.

An accord thrashed out in six weeks between the Government and the Auckland Council hopes to tackle these problems.

Higher density urban housing, and building on rural land will be able to happen sooner than under the plan's normal path.

Prime Minister John Key said on Friday he is sure if rising house prices in Auckland aren't slowed down, the Reserve Bank will lift interest rates for all.

Mr Key said some rights to appeal housing developments may be lost - but there is a bigger economic picture to be considered.

The agreement has been driven by the Government, which believes increasing land supply in Auckland will see more homes built sooner and more cheaply.

Under the deal, developers may be able to build on more rural land than currently available and higher density urban housing will also be possible.

Developments under the new rules can be submitted once the Unitary Plan is formalised later this year.

Consents for 4700 new dwellings were issued in Auckland in the past year. The agreement targets 9000 in 2014, with increases of a further 4000 in each of the next two years.

Minister says greenfield development necessary

Housing minister Nick Smith says if new housing is built only in central Auckland then property prices in the region will keep going up.

Dr Smith says the accord with the Auckland Council provides for both greenfields and brownfields development.

He says there has to be greenfields development because constraining building to the metropolitan limit will just push prices higher.

Dr Smith says there will still be an opportunity for people to have a say about developments in their community.

Auckland mayor says new builds are necessary

The Auckland mayor says the new agreement with the Government to increase the number of affordable houses being built is necessary.

Len Brown the council and the Government are working together to streamline a process for some housing consents to get builds moving.

He says the council cannot sit and watch the median house price rises that are happening.

Mr Brown says the targets of 9,000 consents for new dwellings next year - up from 4,700 this year - are realistic.

Developments under the new rules can be submitted once the Unitary Plan is formalised later this year.