25 May 2013

Nimbys need housing shake-up: Smith

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Written by: Geoff Cumming
Published: The New Zealand Herald – 25 May 2013
20130525 Nimbys need housing shake-upAucklanders need to get over their nimbyism and accept lower quality developments if they want affordable housing, says Housing Minister Nick Smith.

As residents in older suburbs grapple with possible changes under the draft Unitary Plan, the Government’s planned special housing areas threaten to override current planning rules designed to protect existing neighbourhoods.

A law change before Parliament would give more permissive consenting powers in the designated areas, to be agreed between the Government and Auckland Council under their new Housing Accord. Notification – allowing neighbours to object – would be more limited.

When first unveiled, it was assumed the designations would be on cheaper rural land in a bid to speed up home building. But Dr Smith says greenfield subdivisions earmarked for housing within the urban limits and in areas zoned for intensification could be declared special housing areas.

“Higher quality equates to high price. You end up with conditions requiring expensive sections and expensive homes.”

Fast-track consenting and less restrictive rules were needed to get affordable houses built.

“We need to have an upfront discussion about the balance between affordability and quality.

“Affordability has been given too little weight.”

Councils (not just in Auckland) were vulnerable to using planning levers in response to residents’ concerns – “and the end product is that houses don’t get built”.

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