13 May 2013

Mayor defends Auckland housing plan

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Written by: Dan Satherley
Published: 3News

Critics are questioning whether a deal struck between Len Brown and the Govt will really solve the city's housing crisis.

Critics are questioning whether a deal struck between Len Brown and the Govt will really solve the city’s housing crisis.

Critics are questioning whether a deal struck between Auckland Mayor Len Brown and the Government will really solve the city’s housing crisis.

Under the deal, existing consent restrictions can be overridden for housing development in some areas. It’s hoped the plan will see 39,000 homes built in the next three years.
But the Opposition says there is nothing in the agreement which says the new houses need to be affordable, and the new properties will amplify urban sprawl.

Appearing on Firstline this morning, Mr Brown said the plan allows for both ‘greenfield’ developments – opening up new land – as well as building up in existing residential areas.

“That’s the genuine focus of the Auckland plan – we’re looking for building up and out,” says Mr Brown.
“We’re looking for a real balance in Auckland, rather than our primary focus in years gone by on basically just building outward urban sprawl.”

VIDEO: Len Brown on Firstline
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei on the weekend slammed the Government’s plan to open up more land for development.

“Building new developments a long way from the city just piles on extra transport and infrastructure costs and keeps Auckland sprawling,” she said.

Mr Brown says it’s a “reasonable concern”, but wants Aucklanders to have options.

“We are looking for people to have the option for continuing to build and buy standalone homes on greenfields sites, as well as the potential for apartment or terraced housing,” he says.

The Government has dismissed Labour’s Kiwibuild policy of building 100,000 ‘affordable’ homes in 10 years, calling it impossible. The deal struck between the Government and Mr Brown is aiming for 39,000 new properties in the next three years, though it doesn’t specify how many have to be in the affordable range.

Mr Brown says the focus will be on houses in the “$200,000 to $550,000” range.

“We are primarily focused on affordable housing and housing for first homeowners, and so any application that comes up to us for the panel to consider, after the unitary plan is notified, any application that comes up, we will be looking for it to have a significant of affordable housing to it,” says Mr Brown.

“It may depend from area to area, depending on where we’re looking, you know. It could be in East Tamaki, it could be in Helensville, it could be around Pukekohe, it really depends. And so what would be affordable and an affordable section price and/or developmental cost in that community will be different.”
Mr Brown says increased building material costs have contributed to a recent slowing in the number of houses being built in Auckland, but with the city’s population projected to grow by 1 million people over the next 30 years, action needs to be taken.

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