Lots of noise, little action on housing

Despite the hoopla created by the previous National Government when it announced its Special Housing Areas (SHAs) legislation in 2013, little headway — if any — has been made to build a single additional home, let alone an “affordable” one.

The SHAs allowed developers to cut through planning regulations and encouraged the release of land by reducing consenting costs. But a new report reveals that though 35,000 consents were issued for SHAs in Auckland, only 2000 buildings were built — and most of them were already under way.

Building Better Homes Towns and Cities National Science Challenge research — involving Professor Laurence Murphy and Dr Bev James — reveals that relatively few houses have been built as a direct result of the legislation.

James’ research also reveals that the SHA legislation avoids defining what an affordable house actually is and does not require that affordable housing is produced.
The report says Hobsonville is producing family houses that are mostly too expensive for low to middle income earners to afford.

“People think we will get affordable housing if we just build more houses,” says Murphy. “But actually the houses we are building are neither affordable nor targeted to meet the needs of those middle to low income earners, who make up a significant part of our economy.”

Researcher Dr Kay Saville-Smith says: “People who provide key services to a community are often not high income yet are vital to the local community. Inclusionary requirements and incentives can ensure that communities have a balanced building stock.”

The report says if we are to produce enough affordable housing to meet the needs of low and middle income earners, such as service workers, teachers and nurses, then positive planning and investment will be required.