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Slums for Auckland?

Written By: - Date published: 9:05 am, June 6th, 2013 - 28 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, housing, local government, national - Tags: , ,

As noted in Open mike this morning, ominous words for Auckland:

Minister gives Brown a hurry up on plan

Housing Minister Nick Smith has told Auckland Mayor Len Brown to get a move on with the Unitary Plan so more houses can be built in Auckland.

His message comes as the Government and councils appear to be on a collision course on tackling issues of housing supply and affordability after councils rejected a law change which gave ministers power to override council plans. …

The minister has warned that Aucklanders may need to sacrifice quality for affordability. Quality is a core principle of the Unitary Plan. [My emphasis]

Now isn’t that brazen, after some of the criticisms that the Nats sprayed at KiwiBuild. Hands up all you Aucklanders who are keen to sacrifice quality? Slums for all?

28 comments on “Slums for Auckland? ”

  1. Matthew Hooton 1

    Thank you r0b for yet another interesting insight into the left-wing “mind” – challenging the notion of a trade off between quality and affordability. What are you looking for? “Affordable” mansions on Paratai Drive?

    • vto 1.1

      Yes mr hooton and thanks for the insight into the mind of the right….. i.e. big interventionist government acknowledging the failure of the free market to supply where there is a demand.

      ha ha ha ha ha ha you lot and your orthodoxy has failed all over the whole place. Affordable housing ha ha ha, mine safety via self-and-de-regulation ha ha ha (not actually funny because men were killed), finance company whizz bang stuff ha ha ha ha, dairy farming needing big government intervention and money ha ha ha, the NZX unable to fire needs big government welfare ha ha ha, central Christchurch rebuild total abandonment of the free market ha ha ha.

      Really Hooton, you lot do not follow your own mantra. Your government here is further to the left than Helen Clark’s in terms of its approach to getting things done – big government, intervention, picking winners, abandon the free market, ha ha ha.

      bloody useless hypocrites

      • prism 1.1.1

        Isn’t Hooten’s comment just using a very common deflationary device on arguments, that of raising a ludicrous, impractical example which can then be shot down with derision. Is that called a strawman argument? It is favoured by those who don’t want to spend the time actually thinking about the pros and cons of any suggestion.

    • karol 1.2

      For many of us on the left, “quality” housing means ones that are safe, secure and healthy. Nothing to do with “mansions”

      • felix 1.2.1

        +1 karol.

        I feel a slight pity for Matthew for the above comment. It would be easy to dismiss it as his usual spin and bluster, but in this case I suspect he really won’t understand what you’ve written.

        • Tigger

          That has to be Hooten’s dumbest comment. Which is saying something.

          • Alanz

            That’s a big hoot. He thinks and speaks of “mansions” when humble and healthy homes are needed.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 1.3

      Yes, because affordable cheap housing never leads to increased maintenance costs that outweigh the initial penny-pinching, does it?

      Are you such a moron that the concept of a quality two-bedroom house is beyond your imagination, or are you just lying for money as usual?

    • Sanctuary 1.4

      No, Mr. Hooton, thank you, the pleasure is all ours. Thank you for giving us an insight into the right wing mindset, where the low-quality low class only deserve low-quality low class housing. Presumably, Mr. Hooton, you think you will never have to actually have live in such a low quality house. I assme it is the same sort of thinking that drives Charter schools – give ’em unqualified teachers in converted offices in run down suburban shopping malls next to their shabby, tar paper apartments. After all, it is all the poor should expect.

      You’ve done us all a favour by revealing what you really think of those who you consider your inferiors.

    • r0b 1.5

      Ahh – in with the personal insults and straw man arguments. You seem a little desperate Matthew!

      I’m looking for quality, affordable housing in Auckland and in all NZ. If we can’t do that then we must ask ourselves what is wrong and how to fix it (rather than just meekly sacrificing quality as you Nats propose). Wouldn’t you say?

    • richard 1.6

      Nice attempt at diversion. But really, having to resort to putting up a Straw Man is more of an insight into your mind: closed.

    • tracey 1.7

      It’s National who want to rush things Matthew, including the time a consent takes. Last time we rushed consents and lost focus on quality the only people who came off well were developers. In Auckland we call it the leaky home crisis, which has effectively removed over 80,000 homes from the housing stock. It’s false “affordability”, to put people on the outskirts of the city and then have them pay over 50 bucks a week to get to and from work. But then national is like that. Build cheap houses (with good sized profit for developers) and rail against the porr who complain because it osts over 5o bucks a week to get to work.

      How quickly we forget the appalling decisions of the past and their consequences.

      Still no sign of ten year personal liability for developers I see.

    • RobertM 1.8

      It seems to indicated that Nick Smith is even more hard left than Len Brown and Hulse. It appears Nick is quite happy to house Aucklander’s in East German circa 1980 high rises like those that disfigure much of Wellington. Its difficult to distinguish Smith from say a NZ First MP or even a West Coast Labour MP. Those high rises had a remarkable effect on social life in Newtown, you don’t want to be in the pubs their after 10am. Living in Newtown a decade ago I always found it preferable to travel in the early morning thru the back channel industrial lanes that run for a mile between Newtown, and I think burst out into Wellington CBD about Webb St. In other ways you avoided the pavement outside the Tramway Hotel at about 2am.

  2. karol 2

    Not putting my hand up. And, what Phil said as in Helen’s post.

  3. vto 3

    Nick Smith is one of the most deceiving Ministers ever (some call this a good attribute).

    Perhaps Nick Smith can explain how quality can be reduced given that low cost housing already complies exactly (and no more) with the existing Building Code? Does he intend to allow houses to be built below Building Code, because that is the only way to get a lower quality than already gets built….

    …. why didn’t journalists ask this very simple question?

    How can quality be reduced? Anyone?

    • Alanz 3.1

      I recall someone saying the student loans were introduced under his watch and he admitted they were a mistake?? Would appreciate references to the latter.

  4. ianmac 4

    Mr Smith may be employed to undermine the status of Mr Brown and the Council. He is using the Housing question as a vehicle.

    • muzza 4.1

      Well spotted Ian.

      It all looks rather contrived, the *collision course*, and all that!

      Remember that Len, is on the same team as the *government*, same club, same lodge!

  5. prism 5

    In the 1970s I lived in a home unit in Melbourne. Threre were three stories. On each floor there were two units one facing front, the other back. They each had a balcony opening onto the sitting room. They had offstreet parking. They had light and air and felt open not squashed up tenement housing. They weren’t built close together as in recent stupid house design I have seen in South Auckland. They are common in Australia. I don’t see why they can’t be built in Auckland. Two sections might be needed to build a block that provides all I have described. Then there are six households living in two-bedroom units. And not too many stairs to negotiate, also they had wide stairs for ease of furniture shifting.

    It is not possible to follow the addiction to building one storey homes these days. Looking at the design of houses offered by building firms, they seem little different to those offered in the 1960s. Wake up NZ, and particularly government, and offer special interest rates to builders using housing designs drawn up by government with ‘duplex’ designs, and multi-unit designs planned for good cost, and strength and wearability and standard window and door frames and services in accessable situations. Aluminium windows while we are still making it here.

    Bigger three or four bedroom places, could be built similarly. With one unit per floor, there would be reasonable privacy and space, and providing they weren’t more than three floors it would provide good accommodation. Above three floors, a lift big enough for transport of beds etc is needed. So perhaps then over three floors, the size might jump to five floors. Not higher though.

    I feel very strongly that most people aren’t happy living permanently at high levels from the ground. And particularly if its a basic home situations. Having an apartment in a glamorous high rise is a different thing than being in a tenement in the sky. Somebody might have read that humorous little poem about a family in a Scottish high rise, and the mother dropping a jam butty from the 15th floor to feed family below on the ground, and the adventures it met on its way down. But living so far from the ground requires all the sense of humour and resilience that can be mustered.

    Auckland people shouldn’t have any councillors or politicians with a class mentality that says anything will do for the poor, and who might offer these monstrosities as desirable homes. Nor homes out in the sticks, these greenfield developments, which can be built away from community, shops, transport as has been the result of poor planning in the past or have those in the plan to be supplied sometime, perhaps never, in the future.

    • karol 5.1

      I’m quite happy living in a rented studio that’s part of a 2-storey house that has more than one household within it. It has character, a sense of connection to neighbours, and some greenery around it. It’s close to public transport and local shops and other facilities. I think a 3 or 4 storey well-designed block could have a similar sense of character, groundedness, community and connection.

      And, what’s really needed is to shift the dominant mind-set away from home ownership to giving people a real and affordable choice between secure and safe renting and buying. And more state housing – thus diminishing the strangle-hold of the profiteering, real estate rentier classes.

  6. fambo 6

    I think, but don’t expect, a re-evaluation of the design of New Zealand houses. The vast majority built these days are grotesque, impractical and have no soul. Twice the size of what they were in the 1970s but cavernous and “empty” in more ways than one. They cost more but offer less.

    • prism 6.1

      Yes I was shocked at the row of double storey soulless houses sitting unsold apparently in a South Auckland subdivision. All looking like grand office blocks, all the same, all with hardly three metres between them. And what happened to having a range of houses to choose from all costed by the developer? That’s what I was offered in the 1960’s. A choice.

  7. tracey 7

    I work with young people. By that I mean between 20 and 30. They all “flat” in apartments. They are all looking for apartments as first homes. They dont have a 1/4 acre dream. Mind you I don’t know anyone of any age who ahs that dream in Auckland. Some want a backyard but more and more understand the beenfit of living in apartments (including safety).

    • QoT 7.1

      I wish them the best of luck actually getting mortgages for apartments. Banks were asking a minimum 30% deposit when I was looking a few years back.

  8. The minister has warned that Aucklanders may need to sacrifice quality for affordability.

    I guess Nick Smith figures this was such an awesome success with no downsides or unforeseen outcomes when they did it in the 1990s, it makes a lot of sense to repeat the approach now…

    • tracey 8.1

      In the same way that MOBIE is suggesting sacrificing accessibility to buildings for lower costs int he Christchurch rebuild. Lower costs for whom? The purchaser or the developer???

  9. prism 9

    I think the problem is that housing has become the main way to earning money for the average aspirational guy. And there isn’t much else happening in NZ apart from dairy farming that is so secure an investment and earner and keeps the economy running because of that.

    Oh and alcohol too. That’s a good earner. So cows, houses and booze. Got to keep those going or there’ll just be sweepings left of NZ. Thinking along these lines would explain a lot of things.

    Why we can’t have government building a lot of good new houses, (because that’s allocated for the speculators), and why we can’t have alcohol limits (Dunedin I think is trying to have areas where they can stay open to 5am while all the rest of the town has to shut at 2 a.m. Quelle horreur!) And cows – poo, we love our Jerseys with the long eyelashes, and our Friesians and our Fonterra. But how much of it all IS ours?

  10. Lloyd 10

    In reality it is not quality but size that needs to be sacrificed.
    The incentive for every spec. builder is to build a house to the maximum size possible on any particular Residential zoned lot so that he can sell it at the maximum price (Usually based on the area of the house and not so much on the quality). This means that houses are more expensive than they need to be.
    Cheaper houses could be built but it needs a bulk purchaser to drive down the size by requiring buildings to be built to a specific size and preferably to a specific plan. The only players on the market that could possibly do this are councils and the government. The Gnats have always been loathe to let Councils have powers in housing and have removed the ability of Councils to erect housing estates. Shonkey’s government has also shown no interest in constructing significant numbers of houses. Any comment by English on how to make affordable housing available is at best a joke and at worst a fraud on the people of New Zealand.

    We need a housing corporation specification for good but efficient two and three bedroom terrace houses and a government willing to front up with the cash to have them built. Once this is sorted out finding locations for the houses would be relatively simple. Filling the need for rental housing at the bottom end of the market will have a positive effect of reducing the upward spiral of housing prices. (Its the market stupid)

    Further easing on housing cost increases would be via a capital gains tax which Shonkey has said he will not introduce.

    Therefore the first and most effective thing that needs to be done to get more housing constructed is change the government.

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