Expert Enironmental Law advice

Proposed NPS on Urban Development Capacity not solution

Fri June 3rd 2016

The Berry Simons team has concerns about whether the recently released proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity can effectively address Auckland’s housing crisis. While the proposed NPS has a number of laudable objectives, the NPS proceeds on the assumption that rising house prices and a shortage of affordable housing in Auckland is caused by a lack of land supply rather than a demand for housing that outstrips supply. This is overly simplistic.

First, in terms of Auckland, the proposed NPS is at least three years too late to provide useful guidance in developing Auckland Council’s first combined plan. As a result, the development capacity provided by the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan is well short of what Auckland needs – as acknowledged by Auckland Council when it sought to introduce the out of scope zone changes to the Plan. The proposed NPS will not alter this for at least two years, if not longer.

Partner Andrew Braggins says: “While the proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity contains a number of laudable objectives, it is sadly at least three years too late and it will not alter Auckland’s housing supply for at least two years, if not longer. Worse, if Auckland Council considers that it will be ‘business as usual’ under the NPS, then we probably will not see any meaningful change in Auckland’s housing supply.”

Second, the proposed NPS will not do anything to deliver the infrastructure required to support new development – something which is delaying progress in many of Auckland’s Special Housing Areas – this is a matter that needs to be carefully planned by the Council and its key CCO’s, Watercare and Auckland Transport. Adding further new urban zoned land without concurrent funding could easily distract Council and the CCOs from providing infrastructure to existing zoned land and Special Housing Areas.

Third, the lack of housing for New Zealanders in the city is not due to lack of land supply but rather the high level of demand (for both new and existing housing stock) from investors (including overseas investors). As all real estate agents and resource management practitioners in Auckland know from their daily dealings, a very large number of both existing housing and that being built are being snapped up by overseas investors – young and low income New Zealanders are simply unable to compete. That trend is now spreading to the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

No doubt the Government’s reluctance to face facts is due to the contribution that overseas investment makes to the economy. However, they should address the other factors that they should know are the root cause of the problem before turning to the proposed NPS.

Media coverage: NZ Herald, Stuff and Scoop

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