Rachel Smalley is a radio host for Newstalk ZB. Listen to her between 5am and 6am every weekday morning.

Rachel Smalley: Consensus near on housing crisis

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Image / iStock
Image / iStock

How do you grow a city?

Once upon a time, it happened fairly organically and in some of our cities, that's still the case. But not in Auckland.

In Auckland, we're still trying to find a solution to a pretty straight-forward problem, really. There are more people then houses. And how long have we been talking about this for? Forever, it seems.

The opposing views of central and local government have hamstrung Auckland - that coupled with a failure to foresee what was coming at a time when Auckland is trying to morph into a truly international city, with record numbers of migrants arriving on our shores.

And we've argued for years now it seems about whether to go up or out. Whether to intensify city housing and the well-heeled 'not in my backyard' team has been very opposed to that. Or, whether to grow the land area of Auckland and open up more land.

What do you think? Do you go up or out - or a combination of both? And this is an issue for the entire country because if Auckland doesn't work, the country doesn't work. It's our economic powerhouse.

Auckland has to function better. It has to be able to house its residents.

Labour says Auckland needs to ditch its urban growth boundary because that boundary artificially drives up prices. It restricts land supply and therefore drives the price up.

It was designed to stop urban sprawl and it's been successful at that. But it's driven land prices through the roof.

Labour has some unlikely support on this - Business New Zealand and ACT. National says this signals some political cohesion. The Taxpayer's Union. and the Auckland Ratepayers Union support it too.

And so, finally - nothing happens quickly in Auckland, does it? We almost have a common ground. It's just the Auckland Council that needs to get on side with this.

READ MORE: Fran O'Sullivan: Politicians hop on housing bandwagon

That said, there are still quite a few large elephants in the room. Ditching the urban growth boundary is not the silver bullet. Auckland has to intensify too. More people need to live in the inner-city more people need to live in its surrounding suburbs.

And if we lift the urban boundary, who will fund the infrastructure to support housing developments? The council? Government? Should developers shoulder some of that cost too?

So there are still so many questions - but it seems we almost have a political consensus to solve an issue that has rapidly become something of a crisis.

Are you onside with this? Is it the way to grow our biggest city - ditch the urban boundary and build, baby build?

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZME.

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Rachel Smalley is a radio host for Newstalk ZB. Listen to her between 5am and 6am every weekday morning.

Rachel’s career in journalism is extensive. She has reported from Europe, Africa, Asia and America, covering elections in Britain, the United States, France and New Zealand. She joined Newstalk ZB as host of KPMG Early Edition in 2013 and also works on TVNZ’s Sunday and Q&A current affairs programmes.

Read more by Rachel Smalley

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