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More land not the whole answer: NZPI

Making more land available for development isn’t the complete solution to the New Zealand housing affordability problem, the NZ Planning Institute says.

Wednesday, January 21st 2015, 12:00AM

by The Landlord

It has made a submission to the Productivity Commission’s Using Land For Housing issues paper. The commission has been asked to investigate possible improvements to the ways local authorities regulate to make land available for housing.

NZPI chair Bryce Julyan said he supported an investigation into the best use of land to ensure New Zealand had enough housing.

But he said NZPI believed housing supply was a complex issue that required a range of tools.

“We are unconvinced that the immediate availability of more land for development will, on its own, provide a long term, sustainable solution to the problem. Understanding the current and future demand for housing, including type and location is critical to understanding what supply is needed now and in the future.”

Julyan said things such as the Special Housing Areas legislation and upcoming RMA reforms were measures that allowed development but did not actually build houses.

“Simply releasing land for housing does not mean more affordable houses. Factors that may influence the affordability of or access to appropriate housing include the number of houses on the market. While the land can be zoned and consents approved this doesn’t actually physically get the houses built. Investors may choose to sit on such approvals or choose not to build due to resource availability or the costs of materials,” Julyan said.

“Other factors that influence housing affordability include the cost of infrastructure provision … as well as broader economic issues such as tax and lending policies.”

Delays in development could be due to the cost of developing the land, personal circumstances or investors wanting to hold land as an investment.

He said as well as more effectively managing resources and optimising land use, public perceptions might need to be changed as part of the solution.

“In our growing urban areas, for example, we may need to challenge our expectations about the way we live and offer choices such as higher density housing in attractive, high amenity environments.”

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