Af­ford­able hous­ing ini­tia­tive a ‘fail­ure’

North Harbour News - - SITUATIONS VACANT - SU­SAN EDMUNDS

Mea­sures to im­prove Auck­land’s sup­ply of af­ford­able hous­ing have been de­scribed as a ‘‘dis­mal fail­ure’’.

Auck­land Coun­cil’s Plan­ning Com­mit­tee on Oc­to­ber 10 re­ceived an up­date on the pro­vi­sion of af­ford­able hous­ing in the city’s spe­cial hous­ing ar­eas.

A re­port to the com­mit­tee re­vealed that fewer than 100 ‘‘af­ford­able’’ houses des­tined for the free mar­ket were built un­der the Auck­land Hous­ing Ac­cord, which ran for three-and-a-half years from 2013, in con­junc­tion with cen­tral govern­ment.

It had a tar­get of 39,000 new sites and dwellings to be con­sented across Auck­land.

Coun­cil data shows there were 3157 houses com­pleted in the spe­cial hous­ing ar­eas, of which just 580 were clas­si­fied as af­ford­able.

Of those, 482 were ‘‘re­tained af­ford­able’’, largely des­tined to be so­cial hous­ing.

Just 98 were avail­able for sale to the wider pub­lic, 30 of which were in Hob­sonville Point.

Over the pe­riod the ac­cord was in place, the Auck­land me­dian house price rose from $530,345 to sit at $817,119 now, the com­mit­tee was told.

Coun­cil­lor Chris Darby, who chairs the Plan­ning Com­mit­tee, told me­dia the ini­tia­tive had failed on its aim to de­liver af­ford­able hous­ing.

Prop­erty mar­ket an­a­lyst Rod­ney Dick­ens said the av­er­age sec­tion price in Auck­land had dou­bled since 2013, too.

‘‘[Coun­cil has] done noth­ing to get down land costs, to get down development costs,’’ he said.

‘‘They’ve sped up pro­cess­ing a bit but they haven’t made progress in the ar­eas that mat­ter. They’ve ef­fec­tively just sped up to some ex­tend what can come on to the mar­ket.’’

He said, in most cases the spe­cial hous­ing ar­eas were go­ing to be de­vel­oped, any­way.

‘‘In­creas­ing sup­ply doesn’t im­pact on price if you don’t change the cost of pro­duc­tion ... there’s some­thing fun­da­men­tally rot­ten in Auck­land and Hamil­ton and Tau­ranga now have got the same dis­ease.’’

He said, had the ini­tia­tive been suc­cess­ful in keep­ing a lid on sec­tion prices, the city’s prop­erty mar­ket could look quite dif­fer­ent.

‘‘If the Auck­land sec­tion price was still what it was in 2013 the av­er­age house price would be over $200,000 less.’’

Avail­able tracts of land were in the hands of too few peo­ple, he said, which al­lowed an el­e­ment of price set­ting.

But prop­erty mar­ket com­men­ta­tor Olly New­land said the crit­i­cism was un­re­al­is­tic.

He said too many peo­ple ex­pected houses to ‘‘grow like mush­rooms out of the ground’’.

He said houses were be­ing built as fast as pos­si­ble con­sid­er­ing the lack of labour and in­fra­struc­ture avail­able.

New­land said peo­ple were used to see­ing houses built within an hour of a TV pro­gramme and could not imag­ine what it was like to build from scratch.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2017 May­oral Hous­ing Task­force Re­port, the next 30 years, Auck­land’s pop­u­la­tion is ex­pected to in­crease by up to a mil­lion peo­ple.

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