Mayors call for action over housing
Applying more pressure to politicians and Housing New Zealand is one way Porirua mayor Mike Tana believes residents will get access to more affordable houses.
His comments came during a recent Wellington Region’s Leaders Panel, comprising mayors Justin Lester (Wellington), Ray Wallace (Lower Hutt), and Wayne Guppy (Upper Hutt), and Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw.
Regional councillor Roger Blakeley asked the panel how each region was responding to increasing demand for affordable houses and their plans to boost overall housing supply.
Tana told a packed CQ Hotel room that buying houses in today’s market was much harder than a decade ago, and local authorities and residents needed to be vocal about the issue ahead of the general election.
‘‘We do have to put heaps of pressure on both Housing New Zealand and now that there is an election coming up. We have to put the pressure on for more affordable housing. We will have children that will want houses - it’s not the same thing that we had 10 years ago. It’s a real issue for everyone right across New Zealand.’’
In answer to Blakeley’s question, Wallace spoke openly about Lower Hutt Council’s relationship with the crown agency, and its vacant land in the region and the lack of plans for it.
‘‘We are working with Housing New Zealand, but it’s fair to say, and no disrespect to them, they have been a yacht that has had their anchor off the end of the boat. They have been dragging the chain a bit.
‘‘We have had a number of [Lower Hutt] properties that have been removed or demolished as earthquake risks that have had a vacant plan, [and the council] wanted to try partner with [Housing NZ]. The answer was no, we even tried to purchase the land off of them, the answer was no.
‘‘The big thing is, the election is coming up - both our two main political parties said they are committed to building more social housing in the Hutt Valley, which is a really good signal.’’
A Housing NZ spokesperson said in a statement that the agency is working on development options for vacant land in Lower Hutt.
‘‘Housing New Zealand meets with Lower Hutt Council regularly to discuss issues such as our overall development strategy for Lower Hutt and the council’s review of its district plan. Our intention is to develop our vacant land in the Lower Hutt area.’’
The agency have prepared detailed designs and have begun the consenting process for four sites, the spokesperson said.
‘‘We expect to be in a position to share our plans with the community soon. Most of the land is subject to a right of first refusal from iwi, which means it’s not possible to simply sell it to the council.’’
Porirua, Lower and Upper Hutt, and Wellington mayors, with Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Chris Laidlaw, discussed topics including infrastructure, roading, and amalgamation.