Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Council fights to deny Govt housing control

Minister says such action is a last resort if accords with councils to fast-track plans cannot be reached.

Housing Minister Nick Smith has made it clear the Government will not remove the power to intervene. Photo / NZPA
Housing Minister Nick Smith has made it clear the Government will not remove the power to intervene. Photo / NZPA

The Auckland Council will today ask the Government to scrap provisions in new legislation allowing Wellington to take control of housing developments in Auckland.

The Government says it will take control of housing planning and the consent process from councils if they do not act quickly enough to free up land for houses.

The "override" provisions have been inserted in the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill, which was introduced last month under Budget urgency.

Housing Minister Nick Smith has made it clear the Government will not remove the power to intervene, given the importance of housing supply and affordability.

However, he said such action was a "last resort" if the Government could not reach housing accords with councils to fast-track planning processes.

Auckland Council and the Government are negotiating a housing accord which sets a target of 39,000 new homes over three years. Yesterday, the council finalised its submission on the bill, which rejects the override provisions and calls for "special housing areas" to be subject to a new rulebook - or Unitary Plan.

Senior officers said work was under way to meet the "challenging" targets of 9000, 13,000 and 17,000 new houses over each of the next three years - well up on the projected 4700 or so consents this financial year.

Councillor Cameron Brewer said he had no confidence the council was doing enough to involve the property sector and developers in determining where the special housing areas should be.

Councillor Mike Lee said the word "accord" was demeaning to the council and people of Auckland given comments by Dr Smith and the Government treating the new Super City like a "B-grade government department".

Mayor Len Brown disagreed with Mr Lee, saying the housing accord was about the two parties working together to get appropriate momentum to build more housing.

- NZ Herald

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