Hamilton's recently-signed housing accord, urban growth strategy and partly operative district plan were top of the agenda at Tuesday's growth and infrastructure meeting at Hamilton City Council.
A decision was sought from council regarding the city's draft Special Housing Area Policy before it is put to consultation with landowners and developers.
Mayor Andrew King moved the motion, saying the purpose of the Housing Accord signed in February was to improve the supply of affordable housing in Hamilton through an increased supply in land.
"This is about as effective at increasing affordability as trying to scare away a mouse by hitting it with a piece of cheese"
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"For me it's just bringing some desperately-needed land to the market quickly, before we have big things come out through the Housing Infrastructure Fund, like Peacocke and Rotokauri, so this is supply to the market from now over a one to three-year period," Mayor King said.
"It will be three to five years before we fully open up a growth cell."
He said the policy asks for new pockets of land to be opened up for housing development before the Accord comes into action. This policy wouldn't cost Council any money to join the new housing to the network, with developers taking care of the capacity to ensure it happens.
It was unanimously approved by the rest of council, but not without reservations.
"Make no bones about it, this approach - special housing accord areas - does provide good opportunity for Hamilton, but they will leave a legacy," Cr Paula Southgate said.
"They will leave something behind for a very long period of time, so we've got to do this properly and we've got to do it well. I just put a flag up also that I'm watching with interest how this can and should provide a range of housing that is truly affordable and does address that entry level to the market, plus the ageing population who are downscaling from their bigger houses into smaller places."
Cr Southgate emphasised more housing will also require libraries, swimming pools, parks, and the need for Council to fund that work.
"I do think it's really important that we don't just grow great big subdivisions, but we grow a really good quality city, especially if we aspire to be the third most significant city in New Zealand, then we really need to start being that."
Cr Angela O'Leary expressed cynicism.
"When I talk to my constituents out there who are living with young families, who actually are in their first home, they can't move up the property ladder. They're stuck," Cr O'Leary said.
"Food prices have never been higher, wages aren't moving and haven't moved for years, and they are struggling to hold on to those homes."
O'Leary said she would be holding back on her final support of the policy until it had been through public consultation.
"By opening up new areas - sure, that's going to provide new housing for people that can afford it, but I don't think we're going to see that migration of people already in their first homes out of them and moving up the property ladder.
"I think people are stuck, and I think they're going to remain there," she said. Cr Mark Bunting said he would follow the example of O'Leary.
"This won't get people into homes. This is about as effective at increasing affordability as trying to scare away a mouse by hitting it with a piece of cheese," he said.
"I stand for ratepayers in the city - I don't just stand for developers - and I think this is incredibly developer-focused."
Committee chair Cr Dave Macpherson emphasising what other councillors did - including Gary Mallett, Geoff Taylor and Martin Gallagher - said.
"Realistically, this is the only game in town at the moment to get some fast things happening in the housing area, so I'll be keen to see the input we have in the consultation," he said. The council hopes to approve of the final policy in August following consultation with developers and landowners.