A leading economist has backed comments by Don Brash and Productivity Commission chairman Murray Sherwin that New Zealand has a land supply probelm, not a house price problem – and says it is making quake fallout worse in Christchurch.
"Getting land use policy right doesn't just help developers to provide low cost housing options for young families, it also builds in flexibility," Canterbury University senior lecturer Eric Crampton told NBR ONLINE.
"After the Christchurch earthquakes, the land use regulations that slowed development in normal times made it almost impossible for anybody to build new housing for those whose houses were destroyed. Bureaucracies just cannot move fast enough when the unexpected happens," he said.
"Seventeen months after February's earthquakes and it's still illegal for a homeowner to build a self-contained flat with a kitchen in his house to help ease the rental crisis."
Earlier, Dr Crampton noted that Christchurch had no natural boundaries preventing the city's expansion.
He was also frustrated at political hosility toward more intensive or high rise housing in places; unrealised potential for apartments in seaside New Brighton was a frustration.
"We can barely afford what our cities' land use policies do to housing prices in the best of times. Fixing policy before anything happens elsewhere might not be all that bad an idea," Dr Crampton said.
A recent Trade Me Property survey found Christchurch rents had risen 26% over the past year, against 4% nationwide.
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