Hobsonville Point: Housing Announcement

  • Phil Heatley

Today we’re unveiling the Government’s business plan for this development, agreed with the Hobsonville Land Company.

In large part this is a continuation of the work that’s been going on here, and there is certainly no change to the vision of a high-quality, diverse urban community for all New Zealanders.

However, since the cessation of the Gateway programme, there have been questions raised about the role of affordable housing at Hobsonville Point.

Including a range of price points for new housing in this development has never been at issue. But the new business plan lays out  targets in this area more specifically, and this is what I want to share with you today.

This element of Hobsonville’s business plan is just one element in a broad range of measures the Government has announced to address the issue of affordable housing.

The key role we see Hobsonville playing in this policy mix is developing commercial solutions so that the commercial property sector has new options in terms of providing lower cost housing – without compromising quality.

I am sure that solutions developed here at Hobsonville Point will, in time, be applicable across Auckland and the rest of the country.

We seek to stimulate these solutions by setting specific targets and price points for a portion of the new homes at Hobsonville Point.

So what are these targets?

Specifically, 20 per cent of all new homes here at Hobsonville Point will be sold for $485,000 or less. And of these, up to half will be priced at less than $400,000.

These homes will be provided by the commercial market – in other words there is no Government subsidy going to home buyers or builders to meet these price points.

It is up to the Hobsonville Land Company to work with its commercial partners to deliver on these targets, and the company is already working closely with the Auckland Council and its builders and developers to find ways of delivering lower cost homes.

This is what I mean by an opportunity to lead commercial solutions. The sector needs to get better at offering a range of price options, house sizes, and types of homes, as part of addressing this issue in Auckland.

So while these targets represent 500-600 homes in the coming years at Hobsonville Point, the larger opportunity is the new solutions and approaches we hope it will foster across the commercial property sector.

This is one way the Government, using its agencies and assets, can show leadership in the housing market.

Of course 500-600 homes at more affordable price points is a very worthwhile goal. But my point is we recognise this isn’t a silver bullet in terms of Auckland’s needs, but rather one important element in addressing Auckland’s need for more affordable housing.

Developing new commercial solutions closely involves the Auckland Council and its planning and regulatory functions, and we’re very happy with the way all parties in this initiative are working together to innovate and improve the way we do things.

May I also compliment Chris Aiken and his team whose awards and achievements at Hobsonville Point already demonstrate the high standards and long-term vision being set for the development. They have shown they can deliver and this is why we feel Hobsonville Point is the vehicle to focus on the commercial dimension to the affordable housing issue.

We don’t envisage any community or social housing being required here because we expect this reasonable portion of homes to come to the market at the price points I’ve discussed through the usual commercial channels.

Providing homes at affordable price points is just one part of the equation.

The other is ensuring that they can be purchased or rented by those who might otherwise find home ownership or renting difficult or unaffordable.

So part of these targets is ensuring a significant portion of these new homes can be bought by people earning up to or around the average Auckland household income.

The Hobsonville Land Company’s board is finalising a programme to prioritise criteria for eligibility, and they will announce more detail on this in the coming weeks as the programme is finalised.

But the focus will be to ensure a significant portion of homes priced at up to  $485,000 are allocated for owner occupying home buyers earning up to or around the average Auckland household income.

The remainder will be sold on the open market alongside other housing stock with an expectation that some of the homes in this price range will become rental stock as well.

This element to the development is entirely consistent with Hobsonville Point’s vision to be a diverse urban community encompassing all parts of New Zealand society.

We’re confident, based on the success of the development thus far, that it can drive the innovation and new approaches that will be needed to deliver on these targets.

We see this as the Government’s best investment on this site both socially and commercially.

The other main feature of the Hobsonville Land Company’s business plan, from Cabinet’s perspective, is that we have provided for greater flexibility in releasing or developing super lots and sites at a faster rate.

This is to assist the acceleration of development.

Contributing to affordable housing solutions is one important dimension, but Auckland also has a need for more homes right across the board.

That is what these accelerated divestment features of the plan allow.

Hobsonville Point remains a long-term project that requires Crown stewardship to achieve social as well as commercial aims, but we need to move as quickly as we can because of Auckland’s need for new homes.

Once again it will be for the board of the Hobsonville Land Company to consider how it utilises this greater flexibility. But we are hopeful that this mean we can increase housing supply more generally at Hobsonville Point more quickly.

I’ve been able to look around this development on a number of occasions - it bears repeated visits if for no other reason than it changes and grows so rapidly.

The development is already pioneering new commercial solutions in a number of areas, and we are confident that its contribution to addressing issues of affordable housing will be no less significant in the long run.

Thank you for your attention, and I am happy to field questions at the end of the briefing.