Is the Auckland Housing accord a good idea?

By   /   June 25, 2013  /   4 Comments

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Auckland will continue to work with the government to ensure that we get some momentum on the provision of affordable housing but we also need to retain our sovereignty as a council representing our communities in Auckland.

 Labour-NickSmith

Despite the feeling that the council and the government entering into a housing accord is a little like a shotgun marriage…neither party particularly in love with each other at the moment…I definitely think it is an idea with merit.

 

No one disagrees that there is a huge need for more houses to be built in Auckland. We need 13 000 more dwellings each year for the next two decades at least and almost 30,000 to cover the existing shortfall. What is most essential though is to get more affordable, housing choices available for our diverse communities.

 

The stability and success of communities is based on stable long term neighbourhoods made up of well housed people who are able to live in homes that meet their needs and allow them a good, safe, warm and healthy lifestyle. The answer is not simply more and more quarter acre house sites on the fringe of the city.

 

The original housing accord proposal appeared to be focussed only on opening up new Greenfield land to build more houses. A single approach to try and clumsily bring down the house process in Auckland by doing nothing more than “building more product” in paddocks was not the answer.

 

After meaningful discussions between the Mayor, myself and the Minister, Wellington officials started to understand the complexity of the housing affordability issue in Auckland and that quality, diverse and affordable brownfield and greenfield development is needed across the region. 

 

The accord as drafted now contains very clear expectations of housing development in urban and rural areas, with a focus on affordable housing.

The sticking point however is the continuation of the “override clause”. This clause allows for government to step in over the top of the council and council’s planning processes should the development and progress of Special Housing Areas and Qualifying Developments not deliver to government’s expectations. I believe that this is totally unnecessary and shows a remarkable lack of good faith as well as a lack of understanding of how local government works.

 

Local government is not a department of central government and has its own mandate and democratic relationship with its local communities. One would have to say that if an accord was not able to be developed by a council maybe there would be good reasons for that. A city like Dunedin that has appeared on the list of councils’ government has in its sights for an accord process, certainly does not have an obvious housing crisis and may well view this process with suspicion. Should they have a choice about whether or not to enter an accord? I believe they should, and should not have the threat of a government override to force them to sign on the dotted line.

 

Auckland will continue to work with the government to ensure that we get some momentum on the provision of affordable housing but we also need to retain our sovereignty as a council representing our communities in Auckland.

 

The government is now very keen for us to notify the Unitary Plan as they know the Housing Accord will not be activated without it in place. Council is very reluctant to enter the Accord until the legislation to enable it is moderated. It is an interesting case of who will blink first. I am ever hopeful that by sitting back around the table we may resolve this. It is the future of our people and our city and my passion is to get the best and most innovative outcomes we can.  Let’s keep our people in charge of the future of our city, planning from Wellington is not an option.

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. fatty says:

    Is it cool if you stop using the term ‘affordable housing’? We’re not idiots.
    It might be affordable to you, but not all of us are on a six-figure salary.

  2. Molly says:

    Thanks Penny for the update, as expected, seems the pressure is still on.

    Central government already has mechanisms (which it is deliberately ignoring) that can have an effect on housing affordability – instead they seem intent on playing “chicken” with our local democratically elected council.

    As for what Auckland Council could do, despite that – I would like to see some real innovative ideas being proposed – in smaller projects – alongside (or instead of) the housing accord:
    Dan Phillips from Texas with his Phoenix Commotion organisation. Dan recognised that discussions around affordable housing, was still out of the reach of many, and now trains builders while making truly affordable housing from recycled materials. Some of them beautiful aesthetically, as well as functionally and environmentally.

    We also have earth builders in Auckland that can teach and construct at the same time – a couple of small training units would act both as education and practical building. Earth built houses can be both beautiful, healthy and very cost effective if kept simple.

    Encouraging cohousing developments – especially in areas of low income, high social needs may be a way of filling multiple needs with one approach.

    Multiple approaches deal with the diversity of community and people much more effectively, and a local council framework that allows for this would be very advantageous.

    As for the accord, I hope that Auckland Council stands firm against this extra pressure from government. It is this stand that we trust our representatives to make for us when we elect them.

    Kia kaha.

  3. marc says:

    The Auckland Housing Accord is just an opportune “agreement” between a mayor wanting another term in government, and a central government minister realising, it is not that easy to push the National Party agenda and convince people of spread and sprawl.

    It is a marriage of convenience and will lead to nothing. It is also rather no committal, as the central government want special rights to have the last say, if consent is not agreed on by Auckland Council.

    I have expressed resolute and qualified opposition to the Auckland Unitary Plan, for a number of reasons. The intensification of many areas are not thought through, some make sense, others are insane. There is insufficient certainty on public transport development, so how can you determine certain areas will be intensified and have double the population, when there are no plans for extra public transport and other measures.

    The 30 square metre minimum dwelling size is an issue, and complexes can get away with having 70 per cent of units or apartments only be that size.

    There are endless issues re building heights, there are proposed zones that will mean up to not just 8 metres, but 10 metres will be acceptable in low intensity areas, and up to 12, if not even up to 14.5, or even higher in mixed dwelling areas, that is if you look at it more closely.

    Let us not even think of designated or proposed apartment zones.

    It needs to go back to the drawing board, and the special areas are not defined, are not costed, are leaving the government to do what it wants, Auckland Council should cancel it.

    Also cancel the expectations of another 1 million population, and tell central government to stop encouraging immigration to boost the economy, because that is stupid, short sighted and primitive economics. You may as well open the borders all over then, and also allow free movement of labour, like capital, and forgo the rest of NZers non existent “self determination”.

    I cannot believe any country like NZ proposing such stupid policies as I see being passed and introduced here. It is an idiot’s paradise, and of course one for the greedy and lying types.

  4. Scott says:

    Hi Penny

    Hopefully you read these comments as I have a few suggestions for your negotiations:

    – I have real concerns about notification. Any plan change MUST be notified. This new process allows areas that could house up to 15,000 people to be processed non notified. Its outrageous to give this much power to developers.

    – who will pay for the necessary infrastructure for these areas – transport, water supply, wastewater. Seems like another example of ratepayers subsidising developers.

    – How will you ensure the selection of SHA’s will be transparent. Developers are already directly lobbying senior staff who seem to think doing deals is ok. This smacks of corruption and cronyism!