Slew of not-so-new ideas come out of Auckland mayor's housing taskforce report

Auckland mayor's housing taskforce releases recommendations. 

The Mayoral Housing Taskforce has produced a high-level 47-page report with no silver bullet and little that's new.

The acknowledged problems facing Auckland’s housing crisis have been traversed again and this time with 14 recommendations for the next steps the council should take to close the gap between the city’s 7000 houses a year being built and the 14,000 houses a year on average that need to come out of the ground to fix the 30,000-40,000 shortfall.

 The taskforce was set up by Mayor Phil Goff early this year with terms of reference asking it to identify barriers and constraints to building new homes in Auckland at a speed and scale needed to meet the demand caused by population growth.

The taskforce brought together developers, builders, bankers, economists, architects and central and local government officials.

“Unless we address the housing shortage and unaffordability in Auckland, it will not only continue to cause serious social pressures but will also hold back Auckland’s and New Zealand’s economic growth,” Mr Goff says.

The report makes recommendations in three key areas:

  • developing at scale, which includes building through the recessionary dips;
  • unlocking the availability of land with appropriate zoning and infrastructure; and
  • enabling efficiency and innovation in consenting and risk management.

Mr Goff says unless the council can provide greater continuity and certainty in building work, the industry will not scale up sufficiently and fewer houses continue to be built than needed. The report recommends a deliberate policy to build through the economic dips.

 The report also recommends ways to tackle skills shortages that create constraints and cost pressures.

Secondly, it emphasises the constraints created by the shortage of funding to invest in the infrastructure needed for development to occur. “The Auckland Unitary Plan has freed up land by zoning it for development, however, for development to take place roading, water and community facilities need to be provided in order for the build to occur,” Mr Goff says.

The report recommends the broadening of revenue sources for the council, including road pricing and devolution of funds from central government.

 “It raises concerns that changes in lending policies from banks and regulatory agencies could start to act as a drag on construction,” Mr Goff says.

“Thirdly, the report makes a series of recommendations on consenting and risk management to facilitate housing being put in place.

“It recommends a warranty and insurance scheme to give assurance to consumers and to allow the council to be more supportive of innovation in building methods.

“It calls for the consenting made easy process being trialled by the council to be fully implemented, and also says the Building Code and other legislation such as the Unit Titles Act requires an update," Mr Goff says.

“Also noted in the report is the advantage of innovation such as prefabrication to improve the speed and quality of construction and lowering costs.

“It points a way to better tackle the problem of housing shortage and affordability which Aucklanders and New Zealanders have signalled are major problems calling for new approaches.

“This report reflects the consensus findings of a cross-section of individuals representing groups across the housing industry. It deserves the close attention of central and local government,” Mr Goff says.

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