25 Mar 2013

Housing costs could be ‘unnecessarily inflated’ – lobby group

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Written by: Bernard Orsman
Photo by: Chris Gorman
Published: The New Zealand Herald – 25 March 2013
20130325 Housing costs could be unnecessarily inflated - lobby groupThe Government will drive up Auckland’s red hot housing market if it fails to ratify a new planning rulebook for the Super City, says a business lobby group.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association is backing calls from the Auckland Council for the unitary plan to come into effect when it is formally launched in September.

Environment Minister Amy Adams has refused to give legal effect to the unitary plan for three years to ensure that stakeholders and the community would be properly engaged in its development.

But Employers and Manufacturers chief executive Kim Campbell today warned the Government’s proposal would only add to the price of housing.

Latest figures show that the average house price in Auckland is $618,000.

Housing Minister Nick Smith yesterday said a part of the kiwi dream was slipping away for Auckland families trying to save for a house deposit and seeing prices going up by $50,000 or $60,000 a year.

Mr Campbell said Auckland business could not afford a delay of three years for the unitary plan to come into effect.

“The costs to Auckland new home owners and ratepayers will be unnecessarily inflated.

“The costs will result from Auckland Council having to manage seven different consent processes under the city’s seven former legacy councils.

“This is simply too much to ask. It will add a significant cost to the building of new homes just when we need them to be cheaper,”said Mr Campbell.

He was speaking ahead of a meeting tonight between Dr Smith and Mayor Len Brown to discuss the issue of land supply and housing affordability.

Earlier this month, Dr Smith vowed to break the “stranglehold that the existing legal metropolitan urban limit has on land supply” – a policy he said was “killing the
dreams of Aucklanders” by driving up house prices.

He said the council’s plan to contain 60 to 70 per cent of new housing within the current
built-up area would fail due to “community angst over intensification”.

Mr Brown hit back, saying Dr Smith was advocating a flawed Los Angeles model of
“suburban sprawl and unbridled land availability”.

Dr Smith appeared to take a more conciliatory approach when he appeared on TV One’s Q+A programme on Sunday ahead of last night’s meeting.

“Me and Len are in the same paddock,” said Dr Smith, who acknowledged that along with land supply, the costs of infrastructure, building materials, labour and compliance costs
were critical to making homes more affordable.



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