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Unitary Plan – affordability requirements removed

Written By: - Date published: 10:12 am, July 28th, 2016 - 63 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, housing, local government, national - Tags: , , , ,

Lots of reaction to the Unitary Plan this morning. Much of it positive: Proposals will let Auckland thrive, industry expert says. Some of it focusing on the NIMBY reaction: ‘My wife is in tears, it’s pretty awful’ (expect more of this as the NIMBYs get organised).

One angle which should particularly concern lefties: Maori significance reference deleted from Auckland plan. The link is to RNZ audio but the summary is:

Treaty of Waitangi principles and cultural impact assessments for Maori sites of significance have been removed from the Auckland Unitary Plan. Mihingarangi Forbes reports on how mana whenua fare in the new scheme.

The main problem with the plan, however, has been highlighted by Labour:

Government scuppers affordability requirements

The Government must explain why the panel considering Auckland’s unitary plan removed affordability requirements at the behest of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Housing NZ, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.

“Labour welcomes the Independent Hearing Panel’s recommendations to substantially free up restrictive controls that are stopping Auckland growing up and out. The pressure is now on Auckland Council to do the right thing, and back the recommendations.

“However, it recommended removing the requirement for developments over 15 dwellings to contain 10 per cent affordable houses (report section 6.2.6). It beggars belief the Government asked the panel to scrap affordability requirements when Auckland is desperately short of affordable housing. …

WTF? What are the Nats doing removing a proposed requirement for affordable housing – exactly the housing that Auckland desperately needs!? The only people who benefit from this move are big property developers. Oh – wait…

63 comments on “Unitary Plan – affordability requirements removed”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Why the hell is the government telling a city what it can and can’t put in it’s plan for development?

    The only thing that a government should be doing is setting general rules that the cities and regions need to stick to. It should have no say in how the cities and regions achieve that.

  2. save nz 2

    Hope the penny is starting to drop for the Greens and Labour. National does not want poor people in Auckland. Unitary plan and RMA reform are not about creating affordable houses, it is about the opposite, creating more profit opportunities for them and their cronies and influencing the demographics of Auckland.

    So the opposition mocking MIMBYS (who are often National voters and potential swingers to Labour and Greens), getting involved in the housing debate and largely backing National on the unity plan being forced through, talking about falling house prices, forced land sales and so forth are really confusing the issues and giving the Natz cover for their long term plans and adding to their ability to influence the election….

    Housing is a poisoned chalice. If the opposition had stayed out of it, National would get enough rope and hang themselves. Now Greens and Labour are grabbing as many ropes as they can, to hang themselves at the same time.

    Labour does it too. If only it wasn’t so.

    And Metiria has really screwed up.

  3. save nz 3

    And as for the unity plan, it was full of barristers and planners and paid ‘experts’ influencing the results to ensure their rich clients got what they paid for.

    Not a shred of social good or real debate throughout the whole process. Just like the Super city, a charade of democracy.

  4. Pat 4

    “WTF? What are the Nats doing removing a proposed requirement for affordable housing – exactly the housing that Auckland desperately needs!? The only people who benefit from this move are big property developers. Oh – wait…”

    if you’re building for an international market then local affordability is irrelevant…….until that market collapses, then the locals may get a bargain or two

    • Ch_Ch Chiquita 4.1

      How will the market collapse if no restrictions are being put in place? There are so many rich off shore buyers out there that they could turn Auckland to a ghost town while buying and selling amongst themselves.

      • Pat 4.1.1

        won’t happen ..rich offshore investors can’t vote….the political pressure will force restrictions at some point, the only question is when and at what point will it cause an exit

  5. Sabine 5

    affordable housing is for suckers.

    the poor of AKL and other Cities in NZ can just rent beds and sleep in shifts.

    or maybe the rich can house and feed them in exchange for a 60 hour + work week.

    • AmaKiwi 5.1

      Sabine

      That was a tv show: Upstairs Downstairs.

      Nostalgia for the good old days when you could get good help.

  6. mauī 6

    As far as I know it would be fairly unusual for Councils to set affordability levels of houses in their District Plan. They often have seprate documents on key areas like sustainability strategies, and maybe an affordability strategy could be done in a similar way. Then it all comes down to how closely they follow such strategies which in my experience is not really at all. For instance covering Auckland with 180,000 new houses and shitloads of new roads, concrete and building material means sustainability doesn’t exist. The affordability thing in my view has to be set by national Government,

  7. dv 7

    SO the govt expecting the council to vote on the plan without reading it all.
    As someone calculated it will take about 55 days to read and only have about 21 days.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/82487719/aucklands-unitary-plan-would-take-55-days-to-read

  8. srylands 8

    “What are the Nats doing removing a proposed requirement for affordable housing ?”

    Because it doesn’t mean anything.

    • Stuart Munro 8.1

      More likely it is as odds with the essential evil the Gnats represent – betraying and fucking over New Zealand people at every opportunity is their raison d’etre.

    • framu 8.2

      you do spot that your arguing that words dont have meanings?

    • Lloyd 8.3

      Amazing. I agree with Srylands about something. So-called affordable housing in SHAs is a joke. We will only get affordable housing when the government pays builders to build it, then controls prices by renting out the housing at well below the current market rate. Once the government adds sufficient cheap rentals to the market, then ‘market forces’ will drop both rental prices AND house prices. – Because speculators use rentals to cover their mortgage expenses. Drop the rentals enough and the mortgages might just start to bite financially.
      “Build it and they will come.”

  9. srylands 9

    “Treaty of Waitangi principles and cultural impact assessments for Maori sites of significance have been removed from the Auckland Unitary Plan. Mihingarangi Forbes reports on how mana whenua fare in the new scheme.”
    ____________________

    These cultural impact assessments increased the cost of housing. Paying $1700 for a cultural impact assessment because you found some pipi shells on your section does not go down well.

    Anyway it is goneburger.

    • mauī 9.1

      At least some recognition of the culture that the land was taken from and profited from for generations would be appropriate. But no not in your world eh.

      • adam 9.1.1

        Come on mauī – maori only their for their nice singing, and to put on a show for guests – as far as the ‘nat’s are concerned.

        Opps I forgot, and rugby. Unless it’s Kees Meeuws, then they try and forget he played rugby, because he brought up concerns about overfishing…

    • mac1 9.2

      Srylands, you are unbelievably dismissive and unreasoned.

      You wrote “because you found some pipi shells”. Do you have any knowledge, I mean serious knowledge, of archaeology, of what can be discovered from what seems to the layman to be a few pipi shells, old bones, pottery shards, food remains, middens etc?

      Look at what a few pipi shells, for which you can read any archaeological site, can teach us.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/archaeological-finds-2015_us_5678360be4b0b958f6574ff4

      My daughter examined a few bones for her BSc Hons! Amazing what could be discovered by thoughtful analysis. You ought to try it, srylands.

      • adam 9.2.1

        Well said mac1.

        This end of history buzz needs to be put to bed.

        History is on going, and if we understand our past, we can better know our future.

        I’m going to accredit the above to both Malcolm X, and Dr Martin Luther King because both we brilliant men who understood the importance of history.

  10. Brutus Iscariot 10

    I don’t think this is a sinister development.

    Increased affordability will overwhelmingly be a function of increased supply and diversity in housing choice (courtesy of loosened stipulations/restrictions) – rather than needing to say “you must make your units worth X”. The latter would just have discouraged development and probably led to some unforeseeable distortions.

    Overall, i think the plan is pretty good in terms of its ability to bring a large supply of new housing to market, and has provided some clear direction to resolving home ownership issues in Auckland.

    • mikes 10.1

      “direction to resolving home ownership issues in Auckland.”

      The only thing that will solve home ownership issues in Auckland is a massive downwards correction in house prices by around 50% (Or a massive increase in wages, which isn’t going to happen) I think I read somewhere that a 40% drop in prices would only take us back to 2012 levels, which were already unaffordable.

      A large supply of new housing will do nothing unless it is affordable housing or unless there is a corresponding price crash which makes it affordable.

  11. Michelle 11

    Bloody thieves and they call our people thieves the biggest thieves are the state, who took most of our land by the pen. Just like our people said with the TPPA, how can you trust a government to uphold the Treaty with a trade agreement when they cant even adhere to the TOW in local body politics and other important issues like water.This is why so many Maori marched and protested against this trade agreement because we know the crown is already breaching the TOW and have been since they were elected and will continue to do so until we get rid of them.

  12. The Real Matthew 12

    So the independent panel makes a decision you don’t like.

    Despite the government having absolutely no role to play in this decision whatsoever you decide without any just cause or reason to blame this on the government.

    And you think the Mainstream Media are bad

    • framu 12.1

      “the panel considering Auckland’s unitary plan removed affordability requirements at the behest of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Housing NZ, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.”

      i dont know if this is correct or not – but it seems you didnt even read that bit

  13. James 13

    Actually – the reasons are very clear – just read the appropriate section – it is clearly explained.

    ctrl-F 6.2.6

  14. Siobhan 14

    It is interesting we are all debating ‘affordability’, when here is no agreed New Zealand definition or measure of ‘affordable’ or ’unaffordable’ housing.

    “For the purposes of the Auckland Plan, we use two complementary measures: the 30% gross income benchmark, measuring whether a household pays more than 30% of its gross income on housing costs; and the Median Multiple Measure, which compares house price to income (see Priority 4)”

    “Labour’s KiwiBuild programme will build 100,000 high quality, affordable homes over 10 years, with 50% of them in Auckland. Standalone houses in Auckland will cost $500,000 to $600,000, with apartments and townhouses under $500,000”

    Affordable to whom exactly?? Certainly not families struggling to pay the rent each week.

    Dropping the affordability clause is probably the most honest thing National has done in a long time.

    • mikes 14.1

      The internationally recognized measure is the median house price to median household income ratio. If the median house price is 3 or less times the median income that is considered affordable. The Auckland median house price is 10 times the median income. That is classed as severely unaffordable.

  15. Bob 15

    I can take a guess at the affordability requirements being scrapped based on my personal experience. My wife and I couldn’t afford to continue going to auctions to buy as it was costing us around $1,000 per property in due diligence each auction, just to be beaten out by white, middle age investors (6 properties in a row ended up going on TradeMe within weeks of the auctions closing, including one property that tested positive for ‘P’), so we decided to buy land in a new subdivision. Currently, every piece of land in the subdivision has sold except for the ‘Affordable’ lots. I was told by the Real Estate agent that no-one wants to touch them as you are not aloud to sell on at a profit in future (for 5 years from memory?) and first home buyers are saying they don’t want to take the risk of a budget blowout while building.
    Before anyone automatically thinks mo-one is buying them due to greed, imagine if you built a house, in 3 years time you get made redundant and have to sell up and move on, you will be selling below the market rates and potentially further behind financially than when you started (mortgages tend to cost more than rents, and you have made no capital gain to offset the difference). It just doesn’t make sense to buy the affordable houses unless you are 100% sure you will be there for more than the 5 years.
    It is a great theory that in my experience isn’t working in practice.

    • framu 15.1

      yeah – auctions are a real problem for first home buyers – we avoided them for the exact reasons you state

      interesting to see what the reality is on affordable sections – theres been stories of late that people looking cant even find them to start with (sections and/or completed house). No one knows where they even are or how to show interest in one. The council dont know, the govt doesnt know, the developers cant be found and arent even recorded in a list at the council offices

      somethings not quite right up in AK on the affordable thingy – seems like theres a whole bunch of stuff going no with zero oversight

    • lprent 15.2

      Yeah, I thought it was pretty unworkable in practice. It introduces a high risk level because of the inability to sell if everything goes pear-shaped.

      The instabilities in the market are great. Volatile interest rates, volatile employment agreements, lack of builders, lack of legislation on things like building control quality -> leaky buildings, health, babies, and simply the risk of a value drop etc.There are simply too many to make it possible for someone buying a first home to take those levels of risk.

      The most efficient way to build affordable homes in a pure market economy is for developer to do so. However in a time of shortage caused by high nett migration across the board and especially into Auckland, a market economy will build the housing with the highest return for the land value. ie more expensive buildings. If they are accepting all of those same risks, then developers want the biggest return possible for the dollar if building affordable homes carries the same risk levels as higher priced homes and the biggest cost is the land.

      Besides the developers are locked out of those affordable pepper potted land plots. And they generally want to do large swathes of lower cost homes on greenfield sites out in the cheaper land at the periphery of the city – where there is no public transport because the government doesn’t want to pay for it, and nor do existing rate payers.

      Basically the state needs to take a role in building affordable housing. It has the ability to carry the risks that others cannot. It also means that it changes the whole housing market, and that is exactly why we started building using housing nz and ancestors back in the 1930s.

      But as we know, conservatives are usually too stupid to read actual history. 🙂

  16. Infused 16

    Rob. You clearly show over and over again you are out of your depth and pretty much click bait every post here.

    The govt had no role.

  17. Neil 17

    “However, it recommended removing the requirement for developments over 15 dwellings to contain 10 per cent affordable houses (report section 6.2.6). It beggars belief the Government asked the panel to scrap affordability requirements when Auckland is desperately short of affordable housing. …

    Even if this section of the unity plan was implemented, it would easily be got around by limiting the build of a development to 14 dwellings therefore by-passing the need to have 10% as affordable houses.

  18. Penny Bright 18

    FYI

    28 July 2016

    ‘Open Letter’ /OIA request to Auckland Council CEO Stephen Town

    “Please provide all information relating to the NZ Property Council and all/any Auckland Council staff relating to the ‘recommendations’ from the Independent Hearings Panel and the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.”

    Please be reminded that I raised my concerns about this matter at the Auckland Council Governing Body meeting (today) 28 July 2016, and was ‘live-streamed’ so doing.

    (Scroll through to 8.30 minutes for the start of my presentation.)

    http://councillive.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/video/280716-governing-body-items-05-07-part-01

    BACKGROUND:

    Auckland Council (and some Auckland Council Controlled Organisations – CCOs) are members of the NZ Property Council.

    MINUTES OF THE AUCKLAND COUNCIL GOVERNING BODY MEETING 31 MARCH 2016:

    “10 Notices of Motion

    10.1 Notice of Motion – Cr Mike Lee – Auckland Council’s Corporate Membership in the Property Council New Zealand

    ……

    MOVED by Cr ME Lee, seconded by Cr C Casey:

    That the Governing Body, in recognition of the Council’s statutory planning role in the Unitary Plan process, and in order to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest:

    a) direct that Auckland Council’s corporate membership in the Property Council New
    Zealand be terminated as the latter is a major submitter in the Unitary Plan.

    Resolution number GB/2016/26

    MOVED by Cr AM Filipaina, seconded by Cr CM Penrose:
    That the Governing Body:

    a) agree that, pursuant to Standing Order 1.6.1, the motion under debate now be
    put to a vote.

    CARRIED

    Note: Pursuant to Standing Order 1.8.6, Cr C Darby requested that his dissenting vote against the closure motion be recorded.

    The motion under debate was put:
    A division was called for, voting on which was as follows:

    For
    Cr C Brewer
    Cr C Casey
    Cr ME Lee
    Cr D Quax
    Cr SL Stewart
    Cr WD Walker
    Cr J Watson

    Against
    Cr AJ Anae
    Mayor LCM Brown
    Cr W Cashmore
    Cr R Clow
    Cr LA Cooper
    Cr C Darby
    Cr AM Filipaina
    Deputy Mayor PA Hulse
    Cr DA Krum
    Cr CM Penrose
    Cr JG Walker
    Cr MP Webster
    Cr GS Wood
    Abstained

    The motion was declared LOST by 7 votes to 13.

    Motion

    Resolution number GB/2016/27

    MOVED by Mayor LCM Brown, seconded by Cr MP Webster:
    That the Governing Body:

    a) resolve that the minutes show the reasons why the Notice of Motion to terminate the Council’s corporate membership in the Property Council did not pass include an
    acceptance of legal advice to the Council that:

    i) the Council’s corporate membership in the Property Council does not raise a
    conflict of interest, in fact or appearance; and

    ii) proper management of conflicts of interest is enhanced if decision-making
    regarding the Council’s corporate membership of external organisations remains
    with the Chief Executive.

    CARRIED

    Note: Pursuant to Standing Order 1.8.6, Crs C Brewer, C Casey, D Quax, SL Stewart, WD Walker and J Watson requested that their dissenting votes be recorded. ”
    ________________________________________________________________________

    I understand that Auckland Council staff are responsible for ‘briefing’ Auckland Council elected representatives regarding the recommendations of the Independent Hearings Panel on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

    Please provide the following information, under the ‘urgency’ provisions of the LGOIMA:

    1) All/any information (reports/briefing papers / minutes /memos/ emails /texts and the like) relating to the NZ Property Council and all/any Auckland Council staff relating to the ‘recommendations’ from the Independent Hearings Panel and the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

    2) The names of all/any Auckland Council staff who attend / have attended meetings / functions / briefings of the NZ Property Council, particularly regarding the ‘recommendations’ from the Independent Hearings Panel and the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

    3) The ‘conflict of interest’ provisions / requirements which cover Auckland Council staff involved with the NZ Property Council, and their providing ‘advice’ to Auckland Council elected representatives particularly regarding the ‘recommendations’ from the Independent Hearings Panel and the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

    Penny Bright

    (2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate)

  19. TC 19

    Cynical and calculated.

    Stacked up against nationals beligerence on social housing with state houses being flogged and a hobbled winz this was predictable.

    Ya gotta hand it to them, they excel at comprehensive shaftings.

    • srylands 19.1

      It is not cynical. Removing this provision will have no impact on housing affordability.

      And on your second point remember that the Government is selling State houses to improve access to social housing. You make it sound like it is a bad thing.

  20. weka 20

    Some of it focusing on the NIMBY reaction: ‘My wife is in tears, it’s pretty awful’ (expect more of this as the NIMBYs get organised).

    Are we to assume then that anytime the govt or council or developer does something that affects someone’s quality of life they should suck it up and not complain because it’s for the good of the collective?

    The couple in question could probably be criticised for buying where they did knowing that this would eventually happen. Or not doing their homework. But what if they bought ten years ago? There is a line of what’s reasonable but I don’t think writing off people as NIMBY’s brings us closer to solutions that build community and wellbeing for everyone.

  21. Cricklewood 21

    What do you define as an affordable house? A price set at 3 times median income?
    I don’t think there is a hope of building an ‘affordable’ house in the current environment the industry is already stretched in terms of skilled trades. Sites overseen by builders who have nowhere near the desirable amount of experience for the role, so called certified builders signing off multiple sites without any real idea of what lies underneath mistakes are been made and we run a risk of repeating the leaky disaster already.
    Even the materials side is maxed out 3 weeks for concrete and if it rains on the day you go to the back of line . Beware any politician or beaurocrat that says we can build x 1000 more houses per year….

    • Sabine 21.1

      oh dear,

      the we can’t do it again brigade.

      Seriously there is an element within the NZ population that excells in whinging that
      We can’t do it, We are too small, We don’t have the resources, We don’t have the skills, We don’t have the people etc etc etc.

      While all they should say is We Don’t Want To as IT is not convenient for us.
      Bunch of whingers.

      • tc 21.1.1

        Yet we’ve done it before in times of less availability and global mobility of labour also we were smaller then.

        Must’ve been magic then.

      • BM 21.1.2

        Unrealistic bull shit does more harm than good.

        • Sabine 21.1.2.1

          mate if we can import
          “Cafe Managers”
          “Cafe Supervisors”
          “Chinese Fry Cooks”
          under the skill category then we can import

          “Plumbers”
          “Builders”
          “Sparkies”
          “Tile Layers”
          “Painters”
          “Masons”

          under the skill category.

          You however seem to subscribe to the “We can’t do shit cause we have not got the skills, the knowledge, the people, the will, the stomach, the imagination, the vision, and all the other things that are needed to be successfull in business.

          maybe that is the reason the only thing the National Party and its supporters can argue for is to sell the country, sell the assetts, sell sell sell until they themselves have run out of a place to live. Fucking useless and shamefully lazy lot.

          • BM 21.1.2.1.1

            Politicians and their supporters who state that the government can build 10000 homes a year in this current economic environment are delusional fuckwits who haven’t got a clue.

          • Chuck 21.1.2.1.2

            The Government has provided extra funding re- apprenticeship training for the building trades.

            An extra 5000 apprentices over the next few years, along with an extra 2500 Maori and PI apprentices 2016/17.

            The balancing act is to have a sustainable building industry, so we don’t have a boom – bust cycle in regards to employment for chippies / plumbers etc…

            However Its clear we are going to have a very large requirement for skilled trade persons for the foreseeable future.

            • Sabine 21.1.2.1.2.1

              you can import fully trained people.

              I say it again, if we can import ‘cafe managers/supervisors” on the skills category then we can import skilled trades men / women.

              and the government could be very clear to our businesses, IF ya don’t start training our future work force you don’t get no business from the Government’

              If you want to import some several million people into this country you better start building some housing unless you are happy to have New Zealand go the way of certain places in China, India, Africa, Turkey etc etc where really it does not matter if you are born in a ditch and or die in a ditch.

              there is one thing i absolutely hate about this government, namely that it is lazy. Lazy intellectually, lazy in its working ethics, lazy in its ‘goals’, and utterly ruthless when it comes to screwing the taxpayer of this country over again and again.

              • BM

                screwing the taxpayer of this country over again and again.

                What bullshit are you babbling on about now?

            • George 21.1.2.1.2.2

              Some of the trades can now take up to (and well over in some cases) 5 years to qualify in. So even at a push that’s going to be pretty impossible. The whole situation has been left too long to fester into a massive mess.

          • srylands 21.1.2.1.3

            Have you finished that rant?

            All those categories of tradesmen are migrating here in large numbers already. Have you been to Christchurch?

            I don’t know who this “we” is. Do you mean the Government? It is not the Government’s role to build residential housing. That is why it is called a housing market. Builders are perfectly free to apply to bring in any tradesmen they need.

            On the “sell sell sell” rant, what privatisation programme are you referring to? The New Zealand Government doesn’t have one. That is a shortcoming in my view. You must be thinking of some other country.

    • BM 21.2

      Beware any politician or bureaucrat that says we can build x 1000 more houses per year….

      I agree, anyone that speaks that sort of horseshit shouldn’t be let any where near the purse strings, they obviously have no idea or they’re out and out lying.

      Waste a billion or two, who cares, it’s only taxpayer money.

  22. jcuknz 22

    Listening to John Campbell last night it stuck me that ‘affordable homes’ is a fools idea.
    None of those interviewed could even afford to save a deposit, except the guy who worked in Aussie mines.
    What is really needed is more state housing at reasonable rents so that people can save their deposit. Perhaps leave rents at current levels but allocate a proportion of the rent to be a deposit … staying with the government until it is used that way.
    I am sure there are fishhooks but there must be a way to solve the problem.

    • Sabine 22.1

      you need both.

      You need State Housing for those that can’t pay market rent.
      You need affordable Housing for those that would like to buy a house, may even have a deposit but can’t afford to pay ‘market rates’ that are inflated due to exterior demand.

      and then the ones that want to buy million dollar hovels well they can go ahead and buy a soon to be submerged property on the shores of Auckland.

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