Housing Minister Phil Twyford is progressing a housing initiative in Auckland which began under the National government last year, funding services to bring thousands of new homes to Whenuapai and Redhills.

After last July's $300 million plan for 10,500 new houses in the two areas, Twyford and mayor Phil Goff have just announced a startlingly similar scheme.

Twyford and Goff announced the scheme today. Photo/Dean Purcell
Twyford and Goff announced the scheme today. Photo/Dean Purcell

The latest deal announced by Twyford will now cost $339.2m but only bring services for 7000 new homes.

The package is for Redhills and Whenuapai where Twyford and Goff say new developments are already going up rapidly but where more services are needed.


Read more: $300m boost for 10,500 new homes

The Government will loan the council $339.2m, in 10-year interest-free deals, Twyford and Goff just announced.

Wastewater mains and pump stations, stormwater management and arterial roading, bus and cycle lanes were all named as close to the planned western tram line to connect the area with the rest of Auckland.

Today's announcement is startlingly similar to one made by Goff and a National government minister just over a year ago.

On July 11 last year, Goff and the then-Finance Minister Steven Joyce announced $300 million of new infrastructure investment to bring forward the construction of 10,500 new homes in Whenuapai and Redhills.

"The $300 million of new funding provided through the Housing Infrastructure Fund will unlock new housing development in Auckland's north-west via investment in transport, wastewater and stormwater projects earmarked by Auckland Council as priority, fast-track initiatives," that announcement said.

Read more: $300m Auckland housing project in doubt

So last year's $300m package has become $339.2m and last year's 10,500 houses have become 7000.

Instead of the Housing Infrastructure Fund, Twyford and Goff talked today about the new Urban Development Authority.

Collins says 'spot the difference' between the two announcements. Photo/Mark Mitchell
Collins says 'spot the difference' between the two announcements. Photo/Mark Mitchell

Reacting to last July's announcement, Twyford was at the time sceptical about the money, criticising the effectiveness of the Government's $1b housing infrastructure fund, dismissing specific housing numbers as wishful thinking saying the ministers were "attempting to pull a fast one."

A report to the council's governing body meeting on April 19 last year also raised questions about the entire thinking behind the scheme, saying unlocking Whenuapai and Redhills for housing could raise expectations of unlocking land in the wider area for 13,000 new houses which the council could not afford.

Today's announcement said the loans from the $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund would enable 7000 new houses to be built at Redhills and Whenuapai - part of a wider programme of development in Auckland's northwest.:

Goff said accelerating housing delivery was a priority. The interest-free loans would allow the construction of infrastructure and bring forward the new places.

Twyford said the developments would be close to the planned western tram line to connect local communities to the rest of Auckland. Growth at Redhills and Whenuapai would support, and be supported by, the growing Westgate commercial centre which will provide local services and employment opportunities, he said.

Opposition housing spokesperson Judith Collins said it was time the Government credited National for picking up all its policies.

"Spot the difference," Collins said of today's package, which she called a mirror of one from last year under National.

Collins said today's announcement was not new.

"It was announced by the previous National Government in July last year. This isn't the first time Mr Twyford has had trouble coming up with new ideas. Despite claiming in Opposition he had the answer to New Zealand's housing woes, he has chosen to copy and paste another National announcement," she said.