Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Government's Auckland Housing Accord: Where are all the houses?


Anne Gibson Property editor of the NZ Herald

Government's Auckland Housing Accord: Where are all the houses?

5:00 AM Tuesday Jan 20, 2015

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Government has plans for 39,000 new homes in Auckland but only 350 built so far.

The AHA aims to relieve the housing shortage with 39,000 new homes, but only 350 residences have so far been built. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The Government's Auckland Housing Accord aims to relieve the city's desperate housing shortage with 39,000 new homes, but only 350 residences have so far been built in the plan's Special Housing Areas, an official has revealed.

Of those, only 20 have been a direct result of the housing accord.

Labour is accusing developers and landbankers of sitting on their hands and watching the value of their land increase instead of working to ease the crisis. Auckland Council has warned it could take action if building does not take place quickly.

Ree Anderson, Auckland Council's housing project director, disclosed the numbers when asked to respond to yesterday's survey from think-tank Demographia that showed the city is worse off than New York in terms of wages compared with house prices.

In September 2013, the Government and council agreed to the accord with a target of consenting 39,000 new homes over three years.

While 80 Special Housing Areas have been created, with a potential for 41,500 homes, construction has lagged.

Ms Anderson defended the scheme and said a platform was in place to bring thousands of new homes to Auckland.

"We estimate that around 350 homes have been completed within the 80 SHAs," she said.

"Of these 350, around 20 were consented under housing accords and Special Housing Areas Act," Ms Anderson said.

Those 20 included 18 new residences now being lived in at the Waimahia scheme at Weymouth, she said.

However, the council could not be held responsible for timeframes.

"There is always a gap between new homes being consented and them coming on to the market," she said.

Developers who fail to build could eventually lose their consent.

Housing Minister Nick Smith said the scheme was running well.

"The latest tranche brings the total number of Special Housing Areas in Auckland to 80, with a potential yield of up to 41,500 homes. This is the momentum and scale we need to improve housing affordability and supply in our largest city."

Phil Twyford, Labour's housing spokesman, said so few homes had been built because landbankers and developers were sitting on their hands and watching the value of their land increase dramatically without any incentive to build.

"It's a spectacular failure."

Auckland's only advanced SHA was Waimahia and only because of special circumstances, he said.

But Ms Anderson said even if work wasn't obvious on all 80 sites, it most certainly was happening.

"Around 70 per cent of SHAs have some level of activity happening, e.g. master planning, consenting, earthworks, houses being built. Of those not yet active, several are smaller recent SHAs and we expect activity soon," she said.

Rent-to-own home scheme finds fast fans

Stanley Caffery with his daughters (from left) Briah, Moana-Jane and Naomi. Photo / Nick Reed

Stanley Caffery thought he'd never be able to afford an Auckland house until he heard about the Special Housing Areas scheme.

He is one of 18 new residents in the city's most advanced SHA at South Auckland's Waimahia Inlet.

He bought his new two-level four-bedroom $457,000 place with only $3500 deposit around August last year and is delighted.

"It's a rent-to-own scheme," he explained of his Kohi Kai Place residence off Becker Drive, which is off Weymouth Rd.

Eventually, 282 new dwellings will be developed at the $120 million project.

Mr Caffery lives in his house with his partner and daughters Briah, 16, Naomi, 14 and Moana-Jane, 8.

New stand-alone and terraced houses have been built at Waimahia by the NZ Housing Foundation, supported by the Tindall Foundation, with the Tamaki Collective, Auckland and Onehunga Hostels Endowment Trust and Cort Community Housing helping to create the estate. Builders are now busy on other sites.

Before the election, Prime Minister John Key and Housing Minister Nick Smith visited the project and met the first residents, Lisa Myers and Wirihana Takuira.


What is the Auckland Housing Accord?
Aims to combat the housing crisis by fast-tracking consents for new homes.

What sort of housing will it be?
Apartments, terraces and stand-alone places but between 5 per cent and 10 per cent must be affordable.

What is the definition of affordable?
No more than 75 per cent of the Auckland region Reinz median house price.

What does the scheme involve?
About 39,000 places to be consented within three years by late next year.

- NZ Herald

Duane Turner
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Mobile: 027 376 4806


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