Forum highlights lack of land

By Sophie Price

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HDC Environmental Policy Manager Rowan Wallis (left) and HDC Group Manager John O'Shaunessy talk with John McNeil of Clive about sections in the Hastings area at HDC meeting. Photo / Warren Buckland
HDC Environmental Policy Manager Rowan Wallis (left) and HDC Group Manager John O'Shaunessy talk with John McNeil of Clive about sections in the Hastings area at HDC meeting. Photo / Warren Buckland

In a bid to manage the current pressure on the Hastings housing market, the district council staged a residential land supply forum with industry stakeholders last night.

More than 120 people packed the council's chambers to hear how their local authority was going to address the growing need for new housing development lots given the rising market.

The biggest issue that came across from the group was that there was not enough land available for people to buy and build on.

A question put to council was how was it going to cope with the high demand for land when there was "zero for sale" - land that people's livelihoods depended on.

In response, a council spokesman said the authority was in negotiation with a number of landowners in an effort to make land reasonably quickly available to the market.

However, he noted that in the high demand markets it was natural for people to land-bank and try and demand a higher price.

"So I can understand I think where you are coming from the purchaser's side of the equation," he said. "But in a market economy, if there is high demand it is also natural behaviour to tension the market and hold the supply side."

He said council did not really have a mechanism to step in and influence people's decisions along those lines.

"I think a more subtle way the council can influence the market is to make and zone more land to come on," the spokesman said.

After the meeting mayor Lawrence Yule touched on the land-banking issue.

He said there were 75 sections that "as of today" were in currently zoned land in the Hastings District that had no consents, no houses, that were just sitting there empty.

"Who owns them and why people can't buy them I don't know," he said.

During the meeting when asked if there was a way for land release to be fast tracked, such as rezoning, the council's chief executive Ross McLeod said council was addressing the issue, such as making investments to deal with infrastructure, so "they could do something sooner rather than later".

"But we believe we have picked a series of interventions that are going to - once again put land in the hands of the market and the market will do what the market will do after that," he said.

Mr Yule told the meeting council was "trying to bring as much land on to the market as we can".

"There are probably 120 or 130 sections that are serviced and can be made available quite quickly if we can get land owner agreement - we are working on that as well," he said.

He said there were still a lot of sections available and if the growth was 100 as opposed to 50 a year there was land available for that to occur.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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