12 Jul 2017

Authorities told Auckland solutions won't work for Queenstown

12:01 pm on 12 July 2017

Creative solutions are needed to tackle rising house prices in Queenstown, with the government to invest $50 million to help new developments in the town.


Queenstown Photo: 123.rf

The government yesterday announced it would give interest-free loans to pay for new roads, sewage and water systems in the town, to enable new housing developments to proceed.

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay said the investment would speed up the construction of 3200 homes in the district, with 40 percent of those to be 'affordable'.

However, Mr Barclay and the Queenstown Lakes District Council could not confirm what would be considered an affordable house price.

Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust chair Martin Hawes said there were not enough houses to go around.

The trust aims to match low-income families with affordable housing, and has over 450 groups on its waiting list.

"All the time I'm hearing stories of, we offered so and so a job, everything was agreed, but then a week later they call back and say sorry I can't take the job because I can't find a decent house to live in," he said.

Mr Hawes welcomed the extra money, but said there needed to be more ideas put forward to tackle rising house prices.

"[We could] be offering affordable houses that are a leasehold of some form. Or we could offer houses in the form of long-term leases", he said.

Mr Hawes said the average Queenstown house cost more than $1 million, and that was not affordable.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has offered special housing areas, a government initiative that fast tracks re-zoning, in return for developers ensuring some of its properties are affordable, to help deal with the issue.

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Photo: Supplied: MBIE

There are seven special housing areas in Queenstown, with similar programmes throughout the country.

But Queenstown Lakes councillor and head of the mayoral housing task force John MacDonald said special housing areas were not going to fix the problem.

"We're geographically restricted. It's not like we have hundreds of acres of flat land waiting to be carved up into sections," he said.

Mr MacDonald said developers were also "drip-feeding" sections onto the market, keeping prices high.

He said the approach was designed for the Auckland housing market, which was quite different than Queenstown's.

"The approach in Auckland seems to be to provide more and more sections and free up land. If we just put more houses on the market for a million dollars that isn't going to solve our problem," he said.

More details about how Queenstown would benefit from the $50m spend on infrastructure were expected to be announced by Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith later this morning.

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