Labour support on city limits welcomed

  • Nick Smith
Building and Housing

The new position by the Labour opposition calling for an abolition of city limits has been welcomed by Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“This is a welcome repositioning by Labour. Tight city limits and not allowing intensification is at the core of Auckland’s housing problems. It is limiting new housing developments, driving up section and house prices and encouraging land banking.

“A broad political consensus that the policy around city limits needs to change is helpful to progressing the necessary reforms to increase housing supply and to make them more affordable.

“I was given the Housing portfolio in January 2013 and immediately identified Auckland Council’s metropolitan urban limits, set in 1993 when the population was half a million less than today, as a huge barrier to meeting housing needs both now and in the future. At that time Phil Twyford insisted having no boundaries ‘will mean uncontrolled sprawl from Pukekohe to Warkworth’.

“The Government’s housing programme has involved the systematic dismantling of Auckland’s metropolitan urban limit. I have used Special Housing Areas (SHAs) to override the limits in the short-term while fast-tracking with the independent hearings panel a new plan for Auckland with adequate housing supply.

“Both the laws for SHAs and the new Unitary Plan were opposed by Labour. The new Unitary Plan is only six weeks away from going to the council, and I’m confident it will provide a far more permissive approach to new housing because of the depth of analysis that has gone into the new plan.

“It would be counter-productive to ditch this work at this time with a simplistic approach of just abolishing city limits. We still need some rules to ensure new urban areas have appropriate infrastructure and services and that we make separate provision for industry from housing.

“We are making huge progress in growing supply. Only 10 new homes were being built each working day when National came to office but that has grown to 40. I will be keeping my foot hard on the accelerator until we achieve the needed rate of 50-60 per day.

“I welcome this change of tack by Labour on city limits because the next key step is gaining support for a more enabling plan for Auckland. I hope Mr Twyford and Labour will join me in encouraging the Auckland Council to support the new Unitary Plan in July, when the independent hearings panel reports back.”