Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Minister gives Brown a hurry up on plan

The minister has warned that Aucklanders may need to sacrifice quality for affordability. Photo / Natalie Slade
The minister has warned that Aucklanders may need to sacrifice quality for affordability. Photo / Natalie Slade

Housing Minister Nick Smith has told Auckland Mayor Len Brown to get a move on with the Unitary Plan so more houses can be built in Auckland.

His message comes as the Government and councils appear to be on a collision course on tackling issues of housing supply and affordability after councils rejected a law change which gave ministers power to override council plans.

Dr Smith said he had made it clear to Mr Brown he wanted to work at "pace" so the Auckland Housing Accord between the Government and Auckland Council could start.

Before the housing accord can take effect, the council has to notify the Unitary Plan.

Speaking on radio yesterday, Dr Smith expressed some sympathy with the council, which he said was caught between opposition to the Unitary Plan and the important national issue of ensuring more houses were made available.

A spokeswoman for Dr Smith said the minister was not prepared to put a deadline on the time for notifying the Unitary Plan, but the Government wanted to move at pace.

The minister has warned that Aucklanders may need to sacrifice quality for affordability. Quality is a core principle of the Unitary Plan.

Mr Brown has said the draft Unitary Plan, which has attracted a chorus of complaints and more than 13,800 submissions, could be put off until after October's local body elections. The council has been aiming to notify it in September.

A select committee began hearing submissions on the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill yesterday after it was introduced two weeks ago under Budget urgency.

The bill would enable accords between Government and councils to allow streamlining of plans in regions where housing affordability is a problem. It would also give ministers power to override council powers to issue consents and zone land.

Labour Party housing spokesman Phil Twyford said a "head-on collision" was looming because Auckland Council would not sign an accord which fast-tracked 39,000 new homes unless the legislation was amended.

- NZ Herald

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