Housing Minister Nick Smith falls short on Crown land promise

Nick Smith took media on a tour of Auckland last year to inspect some of the publicly owned land to be turned into housing. Photo / Nick Reed
Nick Smith took media on a tour of Auckland last year to inspect some of the publicly owned land to be turned into housing. Photo / Nick Reed

Housing Minister Nick Smith has so far only managed to secure 25ha of spare Crown land for housing in Auckland after promising to deliver 500ha in last year's Budget.

The plan to find pockets of publicly owned land to turn into housing in Auckland was a key plank in National's Budget last year which Dr Smith said could result in thousands more houses. Dr Smith later took media on a tour of Auckland to inspect some of the sites. However, he revealed on One News that only 25ha had since been secured for housing and the $54 million budget for the project had been exhausted.

However, he had not given up and was still confident he could get to 500ha in the long term, saying he expected to make further announcements soon and had asked Finance Minister Bill English for more funding in next month's Budget.

Labour's housing spokesman Phil Twyford said Dr Smith's project was a "fiasco".

"This was a rushed policy which was scrambled together in the last minutes before Budget Day to appear as if National was doing something to address the housing crisis."

He said a full list of the 500ha obtained under the Official Information Act also showed it included several school sites, substations, cemeteries and Government House so were not suitable for housing.

Last year Dr Smith had denied Mr Twyford's claim that most of the sites were unsuitable, saying officials were sieving through the options and none of those presented to him included such sites. He said of more than 150,000ha of public land in Auckland he was confident 500ha could be found.

- NZ Herald

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