Luxon hints at intensification changes
A National government would have another look at controversial housing intensification laws that have riled councils around the country, leader Christopher Luxon has revealed.
‘‘Absolutely, we’ll take the consultation and hear the challenges that we’ve been hearing in different places up and down the country in due course,’’ Luxon said Thursday in Te Awamutu when asked if he’d consider change in light of local concerns in Waikato.
New ‘‘three and three’’ rules – covering big cities and high growth areas – allow for up to three homes, three storeys high in certain places without the need for a resource consent.
Hamilton city and parts of Waipā and Waikato districts are caught up, along with other parts of the country, sparking concerns from local politicians and councils who feel their control is being eroded.
A senior Hamilton councillor has expressed fears about parts of the city turning into a ‘‘dump’’, Waipā’s mayor says the rules risk harming the ‘‘village’’ feel of his local towns, while Waikato’s mayor shares fears that expensive infrastructure upgrades would be needed to cope with intensification.
On whether National support for the ‘‘three and three’’ legislation could weaken in light of such concerns, Luxon said the rules were important in light of the housing shortage.
‘‘We need to intensify our cities in particular and we obviously need to keep opening up greenfield spaces as well.’’ But in a meeting Thursday Waipā’s mayor Jim Mylchreest had raised with him the concerns he had, especially around providing supporting infrastructure – such as for three waters services – and whether the council could afford it.
‘‘Obviously in newer areas, where assets and infrastructure [do] support intensification, that’s fine.
‘‘But there are challenges he was just talking about to me about around that,’’ said Luxon.
Dealing with the housing crisis was a must though.
‘‘The reality is if you’re a young person in New Zealand at the moment...you want to know that you can work hard and on your income you can actually afford and to be able to buy a house.
‘‘And so we’ve got to find that balance of being able to intensify our cities and expand into new areas and new lands.
‘‘But we are also happy to hear what’s working and what’s not working, and make amendments as needed in government.’’
Mylchreest said Thursday that Luxon indicated he was ‘‘sympathetic’’ to concerns.
The mayor said he had pointed out the issues Waipā had with the rules and related affordability issues. The district was to prepare a briefing paper for Luxon on what it wanted to achieve.
‘‘He was very open to that.’’ Mylchreest hoped Luxon would be able to make some ‘‘noise’’ about the need for change and that Labour would listen and allow cities and districts more flexibility over intensification.
Rather than having the Government ‘‘dictate on high’’ Mylchreest said he’d prefer to take a more co-operative approach over issues, suggesting people should only ‘‘dictate if you’ve got it right’’.
He noted that some developers in Waipā had started to put in place covenants to effectively reinstate conditions, such as parking provision, that the council would be barred from insisting on in places under the new rules.