Mike Hosking: Refreshing to see political unity over housing

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Oct 2021, 9:23AM
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

Mike Hosking: Refreshing to see political unity over housing

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Oct 2021, 9:23AM

Surely in these dark and troubled times, a level of cooperation from unlikely foes has to be welcomed. 

The deal done between the Government and National over housing at last addresses, at least in part, one of the biggest obstacles to supply. The councils. 

We have, for years, argued around all the other issues that prevent supply growth in housing. That includes labour, materials, and interest rates. But above and beyond it all, is the councils and their determination to hang onto to land come hell or high water, or at least make the process so difficult people simply give up. 

And so, the new Statement on Urban Development which is designed to replace the Resource Management Act, but hasn’t really seen any action, is being backed by both parties. They are forcing the councils' hands and not a moment too soon. 

It started, you might remember, when Sir Bill English was Prime Minister. He threatened, particularly Auckland Council, over access to land and threatened to legislate. But like all before him he never actually pulled the trigger. 

The council are the biggest criminals of all in the so-called housing crisis. They have allowed mechanisms to persist where getting things done are nigh on impossible while sending you broke trying, and while also insisting on a regime of inspections that costs a fortune. And when it turns out the houses built are crap anyway, they run for the hills. 

The new deal, among other things, flips the onus. The builder doesn’t have to prove their project needs to be done, the person objecting needs to prove it shouldn’t. That helps, but it's not the total answer. People will still suffer nimbyism. 

The new default is three stories up and three units per block of land. The working theory is over the next handful of years somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 homes will be built. 

The current issues of supply, labour, and costs of both aren't solved. But as the Government found from their historically botched Kiwibuild, housing is a many faceted issue. And a lot of stuff needs addressing before you get the sort of results you are after. 

One thing I worry about is the quality. Quantity is only good if it doesn’t fall over. We run the risk in the mad rush of building yet more rubbish and creating yet more leaky homes. 

But as far as things that need addressing go, cooperation around getting councils out of their fiefdom mentality and into line is a major box ticked. 

A good day at the Office of Cooperation.