Good progress on Christchurch housing welcomed

  • Nick Smith
Building and Housing

Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith and Christchurch Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck today welcomed the release of the first Christchurch Housing Accord monitoring report, which shows a strong recovery in Christchurch’s residential housing since the earthquakes.

“There is strong evidence in the building consent, median house price and average weekly rent data that we are getting supply and demand back into balance since the earthquakes munted 10,500 homes in 2010 and 2011,” Dr Smith says.

Building consent data shows 1134 new home building consents issued in the year to February 2012, 1509 to 2013, 2818 to 2014, and 4433 to 2015 – totalling 9894 homes.

Median house prices increased from $320,000 in March 2012 to $359,000 in March 2013 (12 per cent increase), to $401,000 to 2014 (12 per cent increase), and to $415,000 March 2015 (three per cent increase).

Average weekly rents in Christchurch increased from $344 in March 2012 to $378 to March 2013 (10 per cent increase), to $418 in March 2014 (11 per cent increase), to $418 in March 2015 (no increase).

The Christchurch Housing Accord was developed in 2014 between the new council and the Government to complement the broad programme of work on Christchurch’s housing recovery, and to ensure stronger coordination between council and Government. The Accord sits under the HASHA Act, passed in 2013, and was signed in September 2014. The report released today covers its first quarter, to December 2014.

The Government has initiated 10 different interventions and committed hundreds of millions of dollars to Christchurch’s post-earthquake housing recovery. These have included:

  • Establishment of the Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service (CETAS);
  • Temporary accommodation financial assistance of over $49 million;
  • 27,000 emergency repairs on Housing New Zealand homes and its Repair 5000 programme;
  • 858 new social houses from community housing providers and Housing New Zealand;
  • Crown Manager intervention in Christchurch City Council’s building consent services;
  • Provision of four temporary accommodation villages;
  • Workers’ accommodation partnership;
  • Government support of AMI Insurance;
  • Additional support for emergency housing; and
  • Christchurch Housing Fund for joint housing developments between council and Government.

“A key component of the Accord was the new housing developments at Awatea, Colombo Street and Welles Street. A development partner has been selected for Awatea and resource consents were lodged in December. An announcement on the Colombo Street and Welles Street developments with council is due in the next month. Agreement has been reached with Christchurch City on progressing the additional housing development on Riccarton Racecourse by special legislation,” Dr Smith says.

“I am satisfied with the progress we have made in increasing the supply of new housing, but less satisfied that sufficient homes are being built in the more affordable range. I am also concerned at how difficult it is for first home buyers to get into the more expensive, post-earthquake housing market. Our new KiwiSaver HomeStart package, which came into effect 1 April, is about encouraging the housing development sector to build more affordable homes. It includes grants of up to $20,000 for 12,000 first home buyers in Canterbury over the next five years for homes under $450,000.

“The HomeStart scheme has been specifically tailored to the Christchurch recovery by allowing second chance first home buyers to be eligible, so that it will assist people who may not have been insured, or through other difficult circumstances, find themselves in a similar situation to a young person buying a first home.

“The Christchurch housing market will be transitioning over the next two years to more normal market conditions. We will be reviewing the earthquake-specific assistance packages as the market returns to normal, as well as ensuring that the momentum of the recovery continues,” Dr Smith concluded.