Property Institute decries 'Soviet-style' Productivity Commission proposal

"The creation of such an authority could potentially make matters worse for the city," said the institute's chief executive, Ashley Church.   Sally Lindsay and Chris Hutching talk about the latest in property on NBR Radio and on demand on MyNBR Radio.

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The Property Institute of New Zealand says a proposal to create a national Urban Development Authority to help deal with Auckland's housing shortage is a 'Soviet-style' solution. The proposal was advanced by the Productivity Commission in its draft report on Using Land for Housing, issued this week.

"The creation of such an authority could potentially make matters worse for the city," said the institute's chief executive, Ashley Church, in a statement. It risked "stepping on the feet of Auckland Council."

"Isn't this why the super city was set up?" said Church. "Didn't it incorporate the powers of a range of other authorities so that it could coordinate planning and infrastructure development across the Auckland region? If anything, the super city provides a stark example of why a single authority isn't the solution for Auckland.

"If the creation of a single authority were the answer to the housing problem Auckland would now be well on the way to solving its housing issues."

Finance Minister Bill English endorsed the commission's draft report, which is open for public submissions. It includes recommendations dear to Mr English's heart such as proposing that district plans should not be allowed to include building requirements that exceed the standards set in the Building Act. This would see rules such as compulsory apartment balconies, minimum apartment size and minimum parking requirements dropped, favouring affordability over increased amenity that adds cost.

The commission's proposed creation of a national UDA with compulsory land acquisition powers to help overcome current problems, such as the difficulty of assembling large land parcels for cost-effective developments, getting large-scale private developers involved, and spurring local body investment in the infrastructure required for new housing. It would also be able to combat the self-interest of home owners in preserving their own property values rather than easing housing shortages, since a national UDA would be less influenced by local body political dynamics, the commission said.

It found that higher-income people and home owners were more likely than low income households and renters to vote in local government elections and to be engaged with local body processes.

However, Mr Church said the old multi-city Auckland model might have been more competitive about providing new land for housing and said there were "already too many organisations, with contradictory interests, already active in Auckland."

"We already have the Reserve Bank, the government and the council – all working in contradiction to each other and skewing the housing market in Auckland. The introduction of yet another agency would just make that situation even worse," Church said.

(BusinessDesk)

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