The Prime Minister is backing plans by Transport Minister Phil Twyford to step in and override council planning controls for housing in Auckland.
Twyford has outlined plan for the Government to scrap the Unitary Plan in specified parts of Auckland and set up its own set of planning rules to build more houses under an Urban Development Authority (UDA).
This would create one set of rules for Aucklanders and a second set of rules for the Government.
Apparently it's Nimbys that are holding up development, when everyone else is saying it's building capacity and the money needed for infrastructure.
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Both Ardern and Twyford today took heart from comments by their former Labour colleague and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who said he and some senior councillors have "some sympathy" for the development of a UDA.
He said a UDA focusing on specific projects makes sense, but council needs to know how it will work and what the implications are, saying it may help increase the pace of housing development.
Goff does not accept the council is moving too slowly on housing, pointing to a 28 per cent jump in building consents over the past year to 12,845, the highest figure since 2004.
Asked if she had confidence in the council to deliver on the housing goals in the Unitary Plan, Ardern said the council was operating under constraints and the Government wanted to work alongside it to remove some of those restraints to meet a growing population.
Ardern, who is the MP for Mt Albert, denied the Government was imposing its will on Auckland, saying there is more the two arms of government can do collectively to address the housing crisis.
Twyford yesterday criticised the council for not producing enough housing fast enough and accused councillors of heading for the hills when tough and necessary decisions had to be made on the Unitary Plan.
Today, Twyford denied the Government had lost confidence in the council, saying the UDA will be set up to work closely with the council, its development arm, investors and iwi on large scale projects.
The UDA would have separate rules to the Unitary Plan within project areas, said Twyford, who plans to take a proposal to cabinet shortly and have the UDA up and running by the end of next year.
"Our Government is not going to sit around and watch a generation of young New Zealanders disenfranchised from having affordable housing and a chance at home ownership," Twyford said.
Setting up an Urban Development Authority with powers to get houses built faster in Auckland "is a long overdue initiative," says Auckland Business Chamber head Michael Barnett.
"For the past five years Auckland has needed to build 14,000 to 15,000 new houses annually to keep pace with demand, but the most it has managed was around 13,000 consents in the year to July," he said.
Property Institute chief executive Ashley Church urged caution, saying a UDA could ride roughshod over public consultation and the Unitary Plan.
He said similar proposals were floated by then Prime Minister John Key in 2016 and the Productivity Commission in 2015.
Rodney Local Board deputy chairman Phelan Pirrie said Twyford was heading down the same political path as Nick Smith by overriding Auckland Council planning, in this case the barely-ink-dried Auckland Unitary Plan.
"Twyford seems to be blaming Nimbys. Apparently it's Nimbys that are holding up development, when everyone else is saying it's building capacity and the money needed for infrastructure.
"The Auckland Unitary Plan largely dealt with Nimbys with sweeping zoning changes that are now seeing effect with over 12,000 consents issued in the last year," Pirrie said in a Facebook posting.