A new unit will be established to begin work on the Government's promise to build 100,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years.

The development has been dismissed by National leader Bill English, who said the Government would find it wouldn't be able to turn its "slogans" into reality.

"If you think bureaucrats are going to work out how to build 100,000 extra houses, you've got to be joking," English told media today.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the unit would get work going while a new urban development authority, called the Housing Commission, was set up – a process that will take at least a year.

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The unit will be tasked with purchasing or underwriting new homes off the plans in private developments, as well as building homes on state housing or Crown-owned land.

It will also investigate major greenfield and urban regeneration projects, which will be approved quickly when the Housing Commission is established.

In last week's half-yearly update, Treasury said efforts to build more houses won't gather pace until 2019, and construction firms were struggling with getting enough skilled workers and rising material costs.

Land shortages and local planning regulations have also constrained activity.