Radical reform for Wellington housing

Wellington’s approach to housing development will get a major shake up after the city council unanimously voted in favour of proposed changes today.

Thursday, September 21st 2017, 4:30PM

by Miriam Bell

Wellington mayor Justin Lester

While the Capital does not have the housing problems Auckland does, the city has been struggling with housing pressures, particularly in the rental market.

In a bid to address problems before they escalate further, this morning the council’s strategy committee voted to adopt the recommendations of the Mayor’s Taskforce on Housing.

The recommendations include incentivising affordable housing developments, increasing building height limits, simplifying consents and raising rental standards.

Wellington mayor Justin Lester said that Wellington is growing strongly and the council needs to make sure they are providing opportunities for new homes to match that growth.

While it won’t be easy they want to see every Wellingtonian well housed and the plan leaves no stone unturned, he said.

“It has three main components. First, there will be greater leadership from the Council. We’re not going to sit on the sidelines and leave it to the market.

“We’re going to be more involved by directly building new homes, setting better standards and looking at changes to rating, procurement and development policies to incentivise more development.

“Second, we want to partner with central government to free up more land and develop more social housing, especially for the homeless and those in need.

“Finally, we want to work closer with NGOs, community housing providers and developers, especially on increasing social housing.”

Lester said it’s about saying that as a city everyone is in this together and then finding ways to deliver.

The housing plan includes:

• Releasing Council land for development

• Refurbishing central city buildings into affordable apartments

• Reviewing the Council’s procurement policy to promote home building

• Simplifying consenting by introducing a one-stop shop approach

• Developing pre-approved designs to speed up consenting

• Notifying District Plan changes to encourage greater housing density and raise height limits

• Delivering direct investment in new social and affordable homes

• Working with WREDA to increase the number of skilled construction workers available to meet demand

• Creating a development pipeline of greenfield land for new homes

• Developing a Wellington-specific Housing Standard for rental properties

• Helping homeowners to bring houses up to the standard through a new grant.

The strategy committee estimated that the plan would allow 40,000 new homes to be built over the next 26 years.

Wellington City Council’s adoption of the plan builds on several housing policy announcements it has made in recent months.

These include plans to work with developers and community housing providers to convert inner-city buildings into apartments and the adoption of a voluntary warrant of fitness for rental properties.

Read more:

Inner city apartment initiative for capital 

NZPIF opposes Wellington rental WOF 

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