Labour's proposed Affordable Housing Authority will have powers to buy land compulsorily, Labour leader Andrew Little says.

The authority will be tasked with partnering with developers to build 10,000 new homes a year priced below $600,000 in Auckland and below $500,000 elsewhere.

Little said it would need to be able to buy land compulsorily to put together land parcels big enough for bulk developments.

"There will have to be acquisition powers with the Affordable Housing Authority," he said.


"You are trying to partner up with councils and others. The reality is the housing issue is serious and there is going to have to be the means to cut through those barriers."

At the National Party conference this month, Prime Minister John Key announced National was looking into Urban Development Authorities in areas of high housing need but did not set out what powers those might have.

The idea was proposed by the Productivity Commission in its report on 'Using Land for Housing' released in September last year. That commission recommended setting up urban development authorities with powers of compulsory land acquisition for housing.

At the time, Housing Minister Nick Smith said Cabinet would have to work out whether those authorities would be able to use the Public Works Act to force landowners in those areas to sell land.

Dr Smith said it would be a "big call."

"Obviously the issue of overriding private title for development is a big call, but my view is if we are going to get the quality of urban development, particularly in the redevelopment area where you can often have a real mix of little titles that makes doing a sensible development difficult, in my view it's one of things we'll need to consider."