Six thousand new homes for Auckland

By Patrice Dougan

Photo / Chris Gorman
Photo / Chris Gorman

The first batch of `special housing areas' in Auckland, which will bring 6000 new sections onto the market, have been revealed today.

Housing Minister Nick Smith and Auckland Mayor Len Brown made the announcement of 10 areas in addition to the Weymouth community project of 282 homes which was announced last week.

Areas that will see development are located across the city, including Orakei, Pukekohe, Papakura, East Tamaki, West Harbour and Kumeu.

"Land supply is the most critical issue we must address to improve housing supply and affordability in Auckland,'' said Dr Smith.

"This first batch of special housing areas will bring 6000 sections onto the market and is a significant step towards the Auckland Housing Accord's target of consenting for 39,000 new homes over three years.''

The special housing areas have been provisionally approved by Cabinet, and are expected to be formally approved by the end of the month.

"There will be requirements across the special housing areas for a proportion of the completed homes to be in the more affordable range,'' said Dr Smith.

"This will vary from 100 per cent in some areas like Weymouth, to a smaller proportion in others.''

He said the projects represent the "start of getting real momentum into Auckland's residential construction'' market.

"Alongside freeing up land supply, we need to constrain the impact of development contributions on section prices, get better value for building materials, make efficiency improvements in building consents, and improve productivity in the construction industry,'' he said.

"The Government is also helping Auckland home buyers by expanding the Welcome Home Loans and KiwiSaver First Home Deposit Subsidy schemes.''

Dr Smith said he expects more special housing areas to be approved by Christmas.

Mr Brown said the designated areas will help boost the building of affordable homes across the city.

"We will be setting affordability criteria of up to 10 per cent minimum for each of the SHAs announced today, but I'm actively encouraging developers to deliver even more than that where possible,'' he said.

The minimum threshold will vary between areas, with some less than 10 per cent. Affordable homes are defined as less than 75 per cent of the median house price for Auckland region.

Mr Brown said while the housing accord isn't enough to solve Auckland's housing problem, it "provides an opportunity to bring forward projects that may have otherwise sat on the backburner - and in particular to secure more affordable homes for Auckland families''.

"Today is just the start and I'm very encouraged by early discussions with developers,'' he said.

However, the plans have been met with derision by the opposition, with Labour's housing spokesperson Phil Twyford branding them "McMansions'' and unaffordable.

He said the Government's announcement "offers little hope for first home buyers, but developers will be laughing all the way to the bank''.

"What we are likely to see is row upon row of McMansions,'' he said. "First home buyers and middle income families have been thrown a few crumbs as only up to 10 per cent of the promised 6000 homes will be in the affordable range.

"Currently five per cent of new builds are classed as affordable, so this will make little difference.''

Mr Twyford criticised the special housing areas as a "token gesture'', saying they will do "nothing to address the underlying factors that make new homes so expensive''.

His comments were echoed by Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, who said the announcement was a "huge disappointment for young families''.

"We have a serious shortage of affordable housing in Auckland and National has just passed up an opportunity to help fix it,'' she said.

"Building as few as 600 affordable houses over three years in these special housing areas will do nothing to help the tens of thousands of young Kiwi families looking for a home.''

The locations for the 10 Special Housing Areas are:

# Addison, Papakura, 500 homes, 32 hectares

# Alexander Crescent, East Tamaki, 148 homes, 8.1 hectares

# Anselmi Ridge, Pukekohe, 64 homes, 6.8 hectares

# Flat Bush Murphys Road, East Tamaki, 275 homes, 37.8 hectares

# Flat Bush School Road, East Tamaki, 300 homes, 7 hectares

# Hobsonville Catalina Precinct and Marine Industry precinct, 1,200 homes, 28.2 hectares

# Huapai Triangle, Kumeu, 2000 homes, 65.1 hectares

# McWhirter Block, West Harbour, 166 homes, 10.1 hectares

# Orakei, Auckland City, 75 homes, 0.8 hectares

# Wesley College, Pukekohe, 1000 homes, 277.7 hectares

- APNZ

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