Govt wants councils to do more to fix housing crisis, Goff says he's doing 'a lot' already

Lloyd Burr 19/10/2021

LISTEN: In a rare move Labour and National have united to help solve the country's worsening housing crisis and are urging local councils to step up.

Both parties held a joint press conference on Tuesday morning with Housing Minister Megan Woods and Environment Minister David Parker joined by National leader Judith Collins and housing spokesperson Nicola Willis at the Beehive podium.

They want to force councils to build up in urban areas and allow more subdivisions, as outlined in the Government's National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) released in 2020. It is yet to come into effect but Labour and National have united, in a surprising move, to help speed up the process.

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.

But Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says his council is doing "a lot" already to support building more houses.

"I welcome the government coming onboard with the idea of having intensification. What I'm just a bit cautious about is when you build a whole lot of houses close together you've got to really be careful that you make sure the design and the open space, as such, that you're building attractive dwellings," he told Lloyd Burr Live.

Goff says intensification in Auckland is happening now and faster than ever before. 

"Building consents issued, around 20,000 in the last year, are the highest in the city’s history. In August this year, 70 percent of dwelling consents issued were for multi-unit dwellings, such as apartments and terrace housing," he said.

“Since the passing of Auckland’s Unitary Plan in 2016, Auckland has addressed most of the criticisms the government is making of restrictive district plans. What is currently holding us back is not planning controls but access to funding to build the infrastructure required to enable the current huge growth in housing."

Housing Minister Megan Woods said 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," she 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."

Meanwhile, National Party leader Judith Collins said it was a "truly historic moment" when two major political parties stepped up together.

"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," she said.

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. 

Listen to the full interview with Phil Goff above.

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