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Affordable housing key issue for World Planning Day

NZPI's Susan Houston - article by Make Lemonade NZ

Auckland – November 6, 2015

The issue of affordable housing remains one of the largest economic and social challenges facing some parts of New Zealand, New Zealand Planning Institute chief executive Susan Houston says.

New Zealand, like many other developed countries, faces problems relating to land availability and housing affordability with poverty evident in some of the provinces, Houston says on the eve of World Town Planning Day.

“There is no one single catalyst at work. The planning framework within NZ is just one piece of the jigsaw that can be used to influence housing affordability but the problem is endemic across the world, regardless of the planning system in place so its role needs to be kept in perspective.

“Nevertheless throughout New Zealand there is a general recognition that the Resource Management Act requires changing. On that point, NZPI commends the work by the Productivity Commission on this issue and looks forward to being a part of the discussions as the Commissions work progresses,” Houston says

Other pieces of the puzzle that have a significant impact on levels of affordable housing are the inability to build at scale, the relatively high cost of building materials within New Zealand, land banking by developers, our tax structure, our interest rates and profiteering.

“Simply releasing land for housing does not unfortunately equate to more affordable houses. If that were the case then the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013 operating in Auckland could be reasonably expected to already have taken the heat out of the affordable housing issue within that region.

“Auckland’s case is just one example of where planners are being innovative in responding to the vexatious issue of housing affordability. The Act reduces notification requirements and appeal rights, emphasises urban design and allows a proposed plan to be implemented and varied before submissions are heard and decided.

“We at NZPI encourage the Government to constructively consider a raft of issues that could make a real difference to the affordable housing issue within Auckland, such as discouraging land banking through investor incentives, developing new infrastructure funding policies and building material competition within New Zealand.

This week has seen the New Zealand Planning Institute and hundreds of Kiwi planners celebrating and discussing World Town Planning Day which is commemorated annually on November8 after being founded in Argentina in 1949 by Professor Carlos Mara della Paolera to advance public and professional interest in planning.

The NZPI is the professional organisation representing planners, resource managers, urban designers, and environmental practitioners in New Zealand. This country’s planning profession deals with urbanisation issues such as the need to convert land from natural habitats to urban built areas, the development of transport and other infrastructure as well as ensuring environmental protection while allowing for the use of natural resources and habitats.

NZPI World Town Planning Day events are being held in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Nelson.

For further information contact Susan Houston, NZPI chief executive on 021 555754 or Make Lemonade media specialist Kip Brook on 0275 030188.

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