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Nats sign up for KiwiBuild?

Written By: - Date published: 6:16 pm, May 10th, 2013 - 26 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, housing, len brown, local government, national - Tags: , , ,

Last year Labour shook up the political landscape with KiwiBuild – a serious plan for addressing the crisis of unaffordable housing in NZ. At the time the Nats and their spinsters were scornful (of course), saying among other things that we couldn’t build 10,000 new homes a year:

Prime Minister John Key said he thought Labour were in “fantasy land” over their proposed policy. …

“They are proposing 10,000 homes a year. I think there were 535 built by the top three residential building companies in Auckland [in a similar timeframe].”

Looks like KiwiBuild has already been a success, however, by scaring the Nats in to producing (in conjunction with Len Brown’s Auckland) a more significant housing policy of their own:

Auckland housing: 39,000 new homes in three years

39,000 in three years? Now my maths isn’t as good as it should be, but isn’t that like, more than 10,000 per year? I hope that those that ranted that Labour’s KiwiBuild couldn’t do it will be making the same criticism here? Oh no, of course not.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown and the Government have struck a deal that will enable 39,000 new houses to be built in the next three years.

The Auckland Housing Accord has been agreed to today by Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith and Mr Brown to “urgently increase the supply and affordability of housing in Auckland”.

It’s great that this issue is now seriously on both sides of the political agenda.

The legislation, to be introduced to Parliament as part of this year’s Budget, sets a target of 9000 additional residential houses being consented for in Year 1, 13,000 in Year 2, and 17,000 in Year 3. …

The unitary plan sets out to build 280,000 new homes through intensification of urban Auckland and 160,000 new homes in rural areas over the next 30 years.

My my – more than 10,000 a year for more than 10 years. I guess it’s only impossible when Labour propose it.

While it is a step forward, this plan is certainly no KiwiBuild:

Too little, too late from Nats on housing – Shearer

The Government’s housing accord will not solve the country’s housing affordability crisis, and is too little too late, says Labour Leader David Shearer.

“The Government has had almost five years to tackle housing affordability. I welcome the fact they’ve finally woken up to this issue – but National’s proposals don’t go nearly far enough.

“Making more land available for development is a good idea. But by itself, it won’t cut it. It won’t ensure that affordable homes are actually built.

“This announcement is woefully short on detail. It talks about ‘clear requirements’ for affordable housing, but is silent on how many affordable homes will be built and how much they will cost.

“Currently just 5 per cent of new homes built are in the affordable range. There is nothing in today’s announcement that will change that.

“Labour’s KiwiBuild policy is a bricks and mortar solution. Rather than sitting on the side-lines the next Labour Government will oversee the building of 10,000 affordable homes a year right across the country. …

Behind the scenes work continues to make sure that KiwiBuild is ready to go after the next election.

26 comments on “Nats sign up for KiwiBuild?”

  1. Ad 1

    This is a quandary for Labour: go hard and early with something pathbreaking, and run the risk that the Nats will respond, or hold fire until election season proper and battle for remaining political policy-space. Labour made the right call, because the public saw it as leadership.

    However both political sides are looking at this from an essentailly end-buyer and regulator point of view.

    The effective collapse of mezzanine finance following the GFC has left too few developers, let alone developers who give effect to the public good. A part – not the only part – of Labouyr’s policy is to revisit 1946 and form entities that develop social housing blocks within the inner city and close to other core employment centres.

    Housing NZ used to do that. Auckland Council used to own whole blocks of flats. Wellington still does. It’s time Labour formed Urban Developmetn Authorities – referably in particership with Cities – adn stood in the market and developed sites themselves. Some for sale, some for public ownership. Undo the fire-sale excesses of previous Minsiters and John Banks. Come on Twyford: be more than a regulator and buyer. Step in and be the developer. Come on Len, enough with the plans. Turn your Public Works Act machine on.

  2. I thought I’d entered a parallel universe reading the Government & Auckland City proposing they can build 39,000 houses in 3 years.

    • Eddie 2.1

      of course, they’re not building shit – they’re hoping someone else will

  3. There is quite a bit of politics behind this. The Government and Auckland Council have been locked in really intense negotiations in the background over the past few months.

    It has gone a bit like this:

    1. Auckland Council (at least a majority of Councillors) wanted the Unitary Plan to have effect from the date that it was first advertised. So from this September it would start to affect Auckland’s urban form.
    2. The Government did not want to even think about this. The state of the relationship is that anything Auckland wants the Government opposes. Amy Adams made it clear that she was not going to even contemplate the plan having even the slightest bit of effect before the hearings had been concluded and the decision released. This would be a few years away.
    3. Then there was a crisis about affordable housing. So how did the Government respond? It tried to blame Auckland Council for the problem.
    4. This threw the Government is a real predicament. On the one hand it was refusing to allow Auckland’s plans to have any effect for a few years but on the other hand it was blaming Auckland Council for not changing things.
    5. I understand that there were plans to take away Auckland’s planning functions but if the Government did this there would have been severe consequences. The basic problem is that the Government is perfectly happy with urban sprawl whereas Auckland Council accepts the logic of a compact city form although the right wing councillors were able to dilute the restrictions on development outside of the current urban limit.
    6. So we have this messy response where the Government has actually backed down but is still trying to sound tough.
    7. The devil will be in the detail. From my cursory reading of the releases Auckland gets to propose “Special Housing Areas” but the Government has to agree to them. Once they are agreed to then development is sped up in those areas.
    8. The proposal applies to greenfield and brownfield areas. But I am sure if the Government has its way they will all be greenfield.

    This is just the start of a potentially really fraught system. I bet the Government is hoping that this year’s election results in a change of Mayor and a more right wing council.

    • And (scuse me for replying to myself but) Auckland Transport Blog are as usual doing a sterling job at the analysis of the details (http://transportblog.co.nz/2013/05/10/auckland-housing-accord-announced/).

      There is a 6 story height restriction on brownfield development areas. And there is absolutely no teeth in policies for the provision of affordable housing. And it is cheaper to do the greenfields development because the cost of all the infrastructure such as motorways, water and sewerage not to mention community facilities will be borne by the Council and hence the ratepayer.

      How this will work out will be really interesting.

      • Ad 3.1.1

        Until there is a functioning market ie developers who are prepared to work at some scale, the policy will fail. Everyone knows what they want. But who will do it? Even Fletcher Residential is pissing around over a total gimme like Manukau Golf Course.

        • Colonial Viper

          Unless there is a “functioning market”?

          What an oxymoronic joke.

          • Ad

            Clearly you are not in Auckland. It’s a joy of perfect information perfect capital and of course perfection itself. Come on up and enjoy! Everyone else is.

      • xtasy 3.1.2

        So I’d be interested to see where these “special housing areas” will be, again Hobsonville and some other areas are popping up. I also note this is not allowing building upwards, so this is using land the council has to find to suggest to central government (who need to agree), to build on, brown land or green land.

        In all honesty I cannot see this working, it seems like a desperate effort from both sides, who cannot really agree, but see that the pressure is getting so big, they have to make some announcement to keep face. No, I am not convinced that this will deliver. The devil lies in the detail, and that is where Len and John will be caught out and get onto loggerheads again, sorry.


      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3

        And it is cheaper to do the greenfields development because the cost of all the infrastructure such as motorways, water and sewerage not to mention community facilities will be borne by the Council and hence the ratepayer.

        So, not really cheaper – just massively subsidised by the ratepayers.

    • Ad 3.2

      This will require legislative change. Can Labour keep its previous housing leadership position? The challenge is to Twyford now, because Brown just said he can cut deals with the Nats and the Nats just outflanked Labour hard.

      The key player to turning this from a mess into a deal was Auckland’s Chief Planning Officer Roger Blakeley. His exchange of papers with Wellington officials last weekend, together with the Cabinet Strategy meeting this week, have been vital to turning the tone from dismissal to better engagement.

      This however is against a backdrop of central government continuing to legislate the gut local government generally and accrete more power back to the centre, still going through the House.

      Also important this week, interestingly, was the INFINZ gathering this week in which many of the major power brokers in town voiced strong dissatisfaction with Government out-of-hand dismissal of the Alternative Funding paper from the Consensus Group.

      The government will understand within the next month that it does not have the capacity or skill to engage real estate capitalism hard. Even Brownlee is now starting to read his papers then speak. Brownlee is up for the Transport Summit on May 29-30.

      This finally is leading up to the Central-Local Government meeting on July 17th led by English and a good posse of Cabinet, with Council. Papers are being drafted for this now.

      • mickysavage 3.2.1

        This however is against a backdrop of central government continuing to legislate *to* gut local government generally and accrete more power back to the centre, still going through the House

        Yep for the first time in a long time Central Government can veto an Auckland local government planning decision.

  4. Binders full of women 4

    Kiwibuild is a ‘serious plan’ if your definition of serious is ‘lotto-type policy’ that ballots cheaper houses to middle and upper class families. (there will be NO targeting, and ballots will take place and you still need a sizeable deposit). I usually hate the Greens (now Rod & Jeanette have gone) but I like their progressive ownership model which plans to build just as many houses with families with children given priority.

    • felix 4.1

      I usually hate the Greens (now Rod & Jeanette have gone)

      Bahahahahahahahahaha! Good one.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    Last year Labour shook up the political landscape with KiwiBuild – a serious plan for addressing the crisis of unaffordable housing in NZ.

    Was it going to create a lot of affordable $250,000 houses?

  6. BrucetheMoose 6

    Goes to show how out of touch Key is with reality. In Christchurch, though the rebuild is not materialising at the levels anticipated, the building activity is definitely on the increase. The shortage of skilled workers is starting to show now and will seriously be exposed in the coming months as consented works start translating into active projects. In particular, the larger commercial buildings, while not as numerous as it would be liked, they will still soak up large numbers from the skilled workers pool. Companies in Chch are struggling to get suitable staff now are resorting to poaching from each other to cope, and it will only get worse. They have been also relying on a degree of these workers and companies coming down from the Auckland region. With the Auckland area only building around five thousand homes a year, the numbers of skilled workers will need to be increased by at least twice. You don’t train people properly in less than 1 year and the more skilled core trades some it takes 3-4 years. Added the fact the constant demand in Canterbury….? Not sure who is going to build the 700 home Key promised at the end of last year. Wouldn’t hold the breath on that one anyway.
    Sounds good for tackling the unemployment issue, but either they haven’t done the maths, or looks more like good ol’ electioneering to me. Either that, or we are going to solve Ireland’s unemployment problem.

  7. xtasy 7

    Hey, Anthony Robins, I am sorry, but this to me sounds more like a desperate sellout by Len Brown to the government!

    The news at least report this is all going to happen on “green field” land. And transport will need to be made available. So it is more like a two edged sword scenario. Where the government will make a deal with desperate Len (struggling to get the cash to even get Auckland transport investment together) to now have 39 thousand homes built out of the established built up city area.

    This is NOT intensification, it is NOT about additional sections in areas handy to centres, this is about further expansion in some pockets on the fringes!

    Len Brown has backed down to National’s proposals, to sprawl in areas, and he is left the fig leaf to prove he can still do some intensification under the Unitary Plan. Indeed this is undermining the Unitary Plan, from what I have heard. And even Shearer does not believe that the homes talked about will be affordable as suggested under Kiwi Build.

    I am not sure what gets you enthused on this topic, and I see that Labour are now in disarray again, not knowing what is going on, Shearer contradicting, you apparently interpreting this as the government coming to the party with Kiwi Build.

    No get a better advisor for your party, please, this is not convincing, I am afraid! Of course the Nats are despairing also, but hey, who will pay for the infrastructure to these proposed new dwellings? Len has not got the money for the city rail link, so is he getting the money for Hobsonville, South Auckland and other pockets of expansion then? FAIL!

  8. xtasy 8

    So what the hell does it all mean? We get Len Brown tell us his story, we get Key and Smith tell us another one. Agreement upon proposals by the Auckland Council appears necessary. I read though Helensville, Takanini, Pukekohe, and so there are supposed to be sections readily available?

    Not wanting to build out but up is still Len’s words. So are we getting cheapo apartment blocks out there, or what? Except Pukekohe, it is all out on the fringes. To me it seems that Len agreed to have the greenfield developments go through fast lane first, and the rest (of his Unitary Plan) will be dealt with later.


    I see in that photo three men pretending to smile, it is all HUGE FAKE, for a smile at least, and that does not forebode anything good to me!

    • Jim Nald 8.1

      “I see in that photo three men pretending to smile, it is all HUGE FAKE”

      One thing Key must be strongly acknowledged for is that his smile is consistent and persistent.


  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    The one question that no one seems to have asked:

    What gives central government control over a city?

    It really isn’t the central governments place to tell a council and the local people how to develop their city.

  10. Herodotus 10

    To develope a green field development , there needs to occur planning, design, earthworks , civil works then the construction of a dwelling. This excludes the construction and location of infrastructure such as storm water ponds. These take time and resources which are currently employed in existing developments like long bay, stone fields, Orewa, so given the Christchurch situation where is this capacity and what will these added developments do to the tendering prices?
    Nat and Len will be far gone when this policy fails to deliver but at least to appearances someone is making headlines as of they are being proactive and doing something.

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