Auckland needs to build houses at scale, unlock land with appropriate infrastructure and provide more innovative consenting, says a report released today by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.
The report of the Auckland Mayoral Housing Taskforce, released to Goff, outlines major changes needed to address the city's housing crisis.
Goff set up the taskforce early this year to identify barriers and constraints to building new homes in Auckland at a speed and scale needed to meet the demand caused by population growth.
Unless we address these problems, housing shortage and unaffordability in Auckland will not only continue to cause serious social pressures, but will also hold back Auckland's and New Zealand's economic growth
Auckland is growing by 45,000 residents a year and figures released last month show the city is failing dismally to build enough houses to meet the demand and an historic shortfall.
Auckland needs 14,000 new homes a year, but council figures show only 7200 new homes were built in the city last year.
In the 2015 and 2014 years, 6520 and 5550 houses were built respectively.
Housing strategist and former Housing New Zealand manager Leonie Freeman last month said Auckland was short of 35,000 houses now, "yet in 2016, only 7200 were completed".
The taskforce brought together developers, builders, bankers, economists, architects and central and local government officials.
Goff welcomed the report, which sets out strategic changes needed to address Auckland's housing crisis.
"It is important for central and local government and the industry to analyse and respond to the report's recommendations. Auckland has become unaffordable for first home buyers and renters.
"Unless we address these problems, housing shortage and unaffordability in Auckland will not only continue to cause serious social pressures, but will also hold back Auckland's and New Zealand's economic growth," he said.
The report makes recommendations in three key areas:
• developing at scale which includes building through the economic downturns
• unlocking the availability of land with appropriate zoning and infrastructure
• enabling efficiency and innovation in consenting and risk management.
"Firstly, the report says that unless we can provide greater continuity and certainty in building work, the industry will not scale up sufficiently and we will continue to build fewer houses than needed," Goff said.
It recommends a deliberate policy to build through the economic dips.
"In a small country like New Zealand, central government has in the past played a key role in this and today still needs to," the mayor said.
"It also recommends ways to tackle skills shortages that create constraints and cost pressures.
"Secondly, the report emphasises the constraints created by shortage of funding to invest in the infrastructure needed for development to occur.
"The Auckland Unitary Plan has freed up land by zoning it for development. However, for development to take place roading, water and community facilities need to be provided in order for the build to occur," said Goff, whose council is financially constrained.
The report addresses the role that the Government's $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund must play in allowing this to happen in Auckland and recommends the broadening of revenue sources for council, including road pricing and devolution of funds from central government.
The Government and council last week said they would take a fresh look at tolls on Auckland roads, but said they were years away.
Goff said the report promotes the potential to use other sources of funding such as targeted rates on those realising windfall profits from rezoning and new infrastructure so they contribute to the cost of that infrastructure.
"It raises concerns that changes in lending policies from banks and regulatory agencies could start to act as a drag on construction.
"Thirdly, the report makes a series of recommendations on consenting and risk management to facilitate housing being put in place.
"It recommends a warranty and insurance scheme to give assurance to consumers and to allow council to be more supportive of innovation in building methods," Goff said.
"It calls for the Consenting Made Easy process being trialled by council to be fully implemented, and also says the Building Code and other legislation such as the Unit Titles Act requires an update.
"Also noted in the report is the advantage of innovation such as prefabrication to improve the speed and quality of construction and lowering costs.
"It points a way forward to better tackle the problem of housing shortage and affordability which Aucklanders and New Zealanders have signalled are major problems calling for new approaches.
"This report reflects the consensus findings of a cross-section of individuals representing groups across the housing industry. It deserves the close attention of central and local government," Goff said.