Housing unaffordability catastrophic

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A new survey suggesting New Zealand’s houses are more unaffordable than those in London or Los Angeles reiterates the need for urgent attention from central and local governments, according to the Property Council of New Zealand.

The Demographia International Housing Affordability survey is a timely reminder that Auckland’s Unitary Plan needs to encourage and facilitate development as a direct means of addressing the housing crisis.

The Plan as it stands, has a number of rules which act as a dampener to development, and make it difficult. These include blanket heritage protections and other overlays.

The council says it is perfectly acceptable for the Unitary Plan to contain a mix of restrictions and protections, and it must strike a balance between the two. We have a responsibility to protect our heritage, but we must also encourage development to address our housing problem. Auckland’s Unitary Plan does not strike a proper balance in its current state.

The Unitary Plan’s rules requiring developers to provide affordable housing inevitably lead to more risky and costly projects which puts developers off. The Plan also fails to clarify whether Auckland Council has up-zoned sufficiently to enable dense development as the Plan envisages.

Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend says until development is actively encouraged in New Zealand, housing unaffordability will become an intergenerational calamity.

“If the Plan does not adequately permit and encourage development, housing supply will not increase to the desired extent. New Zealand must address its issue of housing unaffordability,” Mr Townsend says.