I wrote yesterday how the New Zealand National Government’s simple minded focus on improving housing affordability by fixing supply had failed dismally, with Auckland’s housing shortage getting worse by the month as annual population growth of 44,500 (35,772 from net migration) overwhelms the circa 10,000 dwellings consented.
The situation is probably even worse than suggested above, with CoreLogic in August estimating that “while Auckland consents increased by almost 10,000 in the past year, the housing stock increased by less than 6000 dwellings”. Moreover, “less than half the number of new homes that Auckland needed last year were actually built”, and “the housing gap is bigger than is being talked about”.
Well, 19 days out from the General Election, and after nearly nine years in Government, National has promised to finally fix New Zealand’s (Auckland’s) supply problem by implementing new “fit for purpose” urban planning laws separate from the existing Resources Management Act (RMA). From Interest.co.nz:
A re-elected National-led government will introduce new fit-for-purpose urban planning laws separate from the Resource Management Act to encourage more responsive planning, faster development, and better protection for the environment in our growing cities, Infrastructure spokesperson Steven Joyce and Environment spokesperson Nick Smith say.
“New Zealand is growing strongly and we want to make it easier to build the housing and infrastructure for that growth while still ensuring our urban environments are some of the most liveable in the world,” Mr Joyce says.
“To do that we need to give our cities the ability to adapt and develop faster, while respecting and improving the urban environment – and the current planning system is not allowing that.
“The RMA’s one-size-fits-all approach has restrained the development of our cities, dragged on their economic performance, and restricted the supply of much-needed housing and infrastructure.
“So National will establish a fit-for-purpose planning system that allows our cities to evolve in a way that improves the quality of the local environment, and makes them great places to live and work.”
Dr Smith says the new planning legislation will have clear and separate objectives for regulating urban and natural environments.
“Over the past nine years we’ve simplified the RMA and made it easier to build but the RMA is only one part of the planning system, and we have reached the end of what can be done by making incremental changes to the Act,” Dr Smith says.
“We agree with a number of stakeholders that it is time to develop fit-for-purpose planning legislation dedicated to urban environments that includes the relevant parts of the Local Government Act and the Land Transport Management Act in one piece of legislation.
“So we will set up separate planning and environmental regulations specifically designed to encourage growth while tackling the environmental challenges found in cities, such as air pollution and storm water surges,” Dr Smith says.
The obvious question that arises from this policy announcement is why National waited nearly nine years and announced this policy just 19 days before the election?
The other obvious question is why National has chosen to run a turbo-charged immigration program into a supply restricted market, thereby driving much of the shortages in Auckland?
Bear in mind that recent population projections from Statistics New Zealand estimated that Auckland’s population will rise between 56% (medium growth scenario) and 75% (high growth scenario) between 2013 and 2043:
Driven by the Government’s mass immigration program:
Auckland will continue to be New Zealand’s fastest growing region. Among regions, Auckland is projected to receive over half New Zealand’s net migration, and account for over half the country’s growth in the period to 2043…
National can bang on about boosting supply all it wants and continue to fail to fix the problem. Because with at least 14,000 new homes needing to be actually built (not consented) in the city each year – more than double the current build rate – Blind Freddy can see that the housing situation in Auckland will continue to worsen as dwelling supply falls well short of rapid immigration-fueled population growth.