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Current as of 26/09/16 07:39PM NZST
Property editor of the NZ Herald

Fletcher lobbies Govt for Auckland house plan

Fletcher Building's been talking to Govt ministers about schemes that could help get Aucklanders into home ownership.  Photo / Paul Estcourt
Fletcher Building's been talking to Govt ministers about schemes that could help get Aucklanders into home ownership. Photo / Paul Estcourt

One of New Zealand's top housing bosses says he has had talks with Government ministers about a new scheme to help more Aucklanders into buying their own home.

Steve Evans, Fletcher Building housing chief operating officer, said he met the ministers last year to advocate a new shared ownership model.

The feedback he got was that there was interest in the scheme.

He would not name precisely who talks had been held with, just referring to "a variety of ministers".

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"They're keen to explore it further. There's good traction to move forward if we can get everyone to buy into it. This is not just the Government and Fletcher," he said, also referring to Auckland Council and flagging the possible need for it to consider forgoing development contributions to ease constraints to new building.

Evans, originally from Australia was the developer of London's radical 140-residence Adelaide Wharf, acclaimed internationally for its mixed tenure of social housing, key worker housing and open market housing.

Steve Evans, Fletcher Building.
Steve Evans, Fletcher Building.

He now wants New Zealand to examine a similar new shared ownership model for Auckland first-home buyers.

Banks, pension funds, perhaps the Government would help people get on the housing ladder by providing some of the capital needed for a house, he said. The home owner would come up with the rest and that might result in a 60:40 split between an institution and an individual.

Pavletich, a co-author of the study with American-based Wendell Cox, which found Auckland one of the world's most expensive places, said he earned no money from the report, published annually for the last 12 years.

"There is no dollar cost as such. This is all simply our voluntary time. If I was offered the option of $10 million or the satisfaction with the political progress being made with these issues in New Zealand, I would without hesitation opt for the latter. It is enormously rewarding," he said of the political change he sees happening after 12 years of Demographia reports, all pushing for land to be freed up.

There's good traction to move forward if we can get everyone to buy into it. This is not just the Government and Fletcher.

However critics say Demographia is heavily biased and is not objective research.
Its calls for freeing up more urban land are routinely opposed by people including Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford who said it would not be good for Auckland.

Shamubeel Eaqub, an independent economist, said many businesses were finding it difficult to attract staff to Auckland, unless they are prepared to compensate out of towners a premium to get into Auckland housing.

The Herald revealed last year that two years after Auckland Council and the Government signed a housing accord, only 102 houses are known to have been built under its "fast-track" rules, meant to result in 39,000 new sections and places.

On Thursday, the Herald reported that Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said the Government wants prospective new state housing tenants to consider moving to other areas and financial incentives could be offered.

- NZ Herald

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