Senior Wellington journalist Georgina Campbell's fortnightly column looks closely at issues in the capital. OPINION:
Wellington is making moves to turn the dial up on new housing supply, but the wait for it to come online will be long and painful in the capital's supercharged market.
The year-on-year increase in the number of new homes being consented in the Wellington region is cause for concern in a housing crisis.
In the year ended June 2021 these consents increased by just 1 per cent, Statistics New Zealand figures show.
Meanwhile Auckland is up 29 per cent, Canterbury is up 12 per cent, and nationally the number of new dwellings consented is up 18 per cent.
But there are good news stories to find when you drill down into Wellington's figures.
Lower Hutt has close to doubled the number of new homes consented over this same time period after district plan changes for greater housing capacity took effect in February.
In Wellington City the general trend over the past five years is on the right trajectory- upwards from 614 in 2016 to 1005 in 2021.
However, there were 423 fewer new dwellings consented in the year ended June 2021 than in the previous year.
When you do spot scaffolding in the central city, it feels just as likely to be an earthquake strengthening project as it is a new build.
The residential developments which are coming online in Wellington too often share the commonly disappointing feature of being "low rise".
A massive piece of land on Taranaki St is a hive of activity with timber, hi-vis vests, and the buzz of power tools.
It's The Paddington development.
About 150 upmarket terraced houses are being built there, but the buildings are only two or three storeys high.
Nearby, the Aro development will provide 61 architectural terraces and 48 minimalist apartments.
This premium low-rise residential project will only be three or four storeys high.
The development's architect has previously pitched the stand-alone townhouses as something which will become sought after because it may not be possible to create anything like them in the future.
He was right.
Wellington City Council approved its spatial plan earlier this year that includes a minimum building height of six storeys in the CBD.
The plan also shrinks protected character areas by almost three-quarters, allows at least six-storey developments in suburban centres and along key transit routes, and expands walking catchment areas for railway station stops and the central city.
But the changes are not going to result in more homes being consented overnight, or even next year.
The spatial plan will not come into effect until it is incorporated into the council's district plan.
Critical areas of the CBD will not be unlocked for development for a few years yet.
Furthermore, Wellington City Council chief planning officer Liam Hodgetts has warned some changes will be appealed.
"We'll be in court for probably a number of years, whether it's hazard-related or heritage-related material."
But loosening the grip that current planning rules have on intensifying the inner city is not a silver bullet to getting more housing in Wellington.
It's a city with plenty of low-lying areas, reclaimed land, and is smack bang in the middle of a fault line.
Any reluctance to build sky high developments on such unreliable land is understandable.
Wellington is short of green space, unlike Auckland.
In the outer suburbs, a lot of land is constrained by steep topography that can require costly earthworks and engineering to develop.
The Victoria Lane Apartments development has gone with a reasonably drastic solution to deal with the earthquake-risk.
The building is the city's first ever base-isolated apartment building.
The development comprises 123 apartments from levels 4-16, with retail and commercial office tenancies on the ground floor and levels 1-3.
For once, Wellington City Council also has a good news story to tell.
Its apartment conversion scheme, Te Kāinga, has proven to be so successful the council has set a target of having 1000 new units either delivered or under contract over the next five years.
But the wait for more housing is long and painful when the city's property market is on steroids.
You better have a deposit and earning capacity to pay off the mortgage for a million-dollar-home if you want to buy in Wellington City.
OneRoof has reported the capital is not experiencing the same easing of house price growth as other cities like Auckland.
Recent quarterly growth in Auckland was sitting at about 3.5 per cent compared to 6.2 per cent in Wellington.
Genuine changes are being made and action has been taken to turn the dial up on housing supply in Wellington.
Unfortunately not everyone has the luxury of waiting for those to take effect.
The fallout will be measured by how many people are no longer able to call the coolest little capital home and those who didn't bother to dream of it in the first place.