The creation of a Government "super-ministry" to improve social housing and tackle market affordability has been welcomed by industry figures as a "sensible" approach.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford announced the new powers for his ministry this morning.

It means the ministry will become the Government's lead adviser on issues, such as homelessness, policy support for first-home buyers and ensuring rental housing is warm and affordable.

To do this, it is bringing housing roles previously performed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Social Development and Treasury under its own umbrella.


Real Estate Institute of NZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said the move seemed sensible as a way to provide "a cohesive approach to solving New Zealand's housing issues, including supply, affordability and the speed with which properties can be built".

"Given that home ownership levels are at their lowest point in 60 years, this is a problem that needs to be urgently rectified," she said.

AUT professor of construction management John Tookey said the new ministry would have a familiar look because it was arguably a re-establishment of the old Department of Building and Housing.

But while naysayers might call it "arranging deckchairs on the Titanic", he said there would likely be benefits from having all heads under one roof so long as the "super-ministry" maintained a balanced outlook.

"You don't want a one sided and entirely social-housing mindset because housing homeless is a different proposition to, say, assisted housing for low-income families, which is different again to helping low- to middle-income families," he said.

Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend said commercial and large-scale residential developers also welcomed the move in the hope it would speed up building consents and reduce unnecessary delays.

But he called on the Government to adopt a broader outlook by overhauling the entire planning process to remove red-tape associated with the Resource Management Act.

"We recommend lining up the Local Government review associated with development contributions with the Productivity Commission's inquiry into alternative local government funding options," he said.

REINZ's Norwell also looked forward to Twyford releasing further details about a proposed urban development authority.

Twyford said the authority would be the "delivery agency" for Kiwibuild and large-scale development projects.

"That would be a powerful delivery agency to speed up the building of housing and these large complex development projects," he told Radio NZ.

"We need an end-to-end approach to the whole housing system."

The new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development will start operating on October 1.