Property editor of the NZ Herald

Budget 2016: Housing moves welcomed, but more needed

Housing impediments cited in reaction to today's Budget.
Housing impediments cited in reaction to today's Budget.

Property experts welcomed Budget housing initiatives, but one said much more was needed due to extensive impediments.

David Whitburn, a former lawyer turned major residential investor, welcomed the measures but described issues.

"The $100 million funds allocated to free up under-utilised Crown land in Auckland is a good idea. However, the land needs resource consents, which are subject to the cumbersome Resource Management Act rules. Then, to have residential dwellings, we need building consents and construction workers," Whitburn said.

"This is not a quick fix and will not deliver in a timely fashion. The under performance of the Tamaki Redevelopment Corporation and Housing New Zealand Corporation in the Auckland market are embarrassing compared to the number of houses being built," he said.

The private sector is much better placed to address the shortfall. This land should be sold to the private sector," Whitburn said.

Instead, he called for the Government to abolish urban limits, consider infrastructure bonds and more training incentives to produce more tradespeople.

"I think the Government has missed a trick to announce tertiary training subsidies to construction trade based courses, particularly with reference to learn and work schemes - perhaps bonded scheme would have been good," Whitburn said.

He praised the $36 million healthy homes initiative and said $258 million for social and emergency housing was massive. This includes 750 social housing places and 3000 emergency housing places per year.

"This is a good initiative which is part of a decent caring society. This will help protect our nation's most vulnerable people. I am pleased with this initiative," Whitburn said.

Peter Thompson, Barfoot & Thompson managing director, said the Budget was aimed squarely at social issues and affordability.

No matter how much money was allocated to Auckland housing, it would not go far enough to resolving major issues facing the city where land prices were rising fast and where there was a critical building sector skills shortage, he said.

Housing impediments cited in reaction to today's Budget.
Housing impediments cited in reaction to today's Budget.

Those factors, combined with RMA issues, meant it still took too long to build a new house, Thompson said.

Nick Smith, Minister of Building and Housing, said the extra $100 million "will add momentum to the programme of using public land for increasing the supply of housing. The programme's goal is to increase the pace of housing development and to put a greater focus on bringing more affordable housing to the market."

But more is to come.

"The Government recognises that the Auckland housing situation is one of the biggest challenges the city faces and will soon be releasing its National Policy Statement on Urban Development, which will direct councils to adjust their plans to allow for more development if necessary.

"In Auckland, which is still functioning on 1993 planning documents implemented when there were half a million fewer people living there, that will mean going up and out," Smith said.

What's in the Budget for housing?
• $100m to free up Crown land in Auckland
• $36m for healthy homes
• $258m for social/emergency housing

- NZ Herald

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