9 Dec 2018

Nelson people team up to tackle housing problem

6:56 pm on 9 December 2018

Different industries are teaming up to help curb the rise in unaffordable housing in Nelson.

No caption

Housing in Nelson often costs 50 to 70 perecent of people's incomes, say support agencies. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

The latest figures show the average cost of a home in Nelson is just short of $600,000 - and government figures show 80 percent of people renting in Nelson-Tasman can no longer afford to buy a house.

According to Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) housing affordability measure, about two thirds of households could no longer afford typical rents in Nelson or Tasman.

An affordable home was defined as no more than 30 percent of income on housing costs, and the purchase price was no more than three times the annual household income.

Local support agencies in Nelson and Tasman report most households are now paying 50 to 70 percent of their weekly income on rent or a mortgage, leaving some families with less than $200 a week for other expenses.

Support agencies met with city planners, designers, developers and council officials this week to look ways of easing some of the pressure on housing.

Is Nelson running out of land?

The Community Action Nelson trust said it was hard to fathom why a one-bedroom apartment in Christchurch's Hagley Park was about $400,000, when in Nelson it was twice that.

Trustee Kindra Douglas said it was linked to how Christchurch re-zoned after the earthquakes.

Community Action Nelson trustee Kindra Douglas.

Community Action Nelson trustee Kindra Douglas. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

"My understanding is that basically, the council took a compass and drew a big circle around Christchurch and said, 'This is a special housing area.'

"I've had a recommendation from a Christchurch developer saying 'could we not put a circle around Nelson, Tahunanui, Stoke, Richmond and Motueka, and councils say this is a special housing area'."

Denmark was an example of good planning around housing, Ms Douglas said.

"People keep saying we've got no more land left, when I think we've got buckets of land right in the centre of our city."

Clare Barton said under zoning rules, Nelson had only nine years left of land for residential use.

"We certainly know we have areas within Nelson we can grow into, but part of the equation also is how we deal with more in-fill development and inner-city living."

Housing think tank nelson

The housing think tank in Nelson. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Developer Ian McComb, who took part in this week's forum, was part of a company planning to build 120 small or tiny homes on four hectares in Featherston.

He said the benefits of a tiny home were that people built only what they needed - about 30 to 35 square metres per adult. The average home was more than twice that size.

"There are all these mechanisms that are pushing people towards houses they don't actually need in terms of size, which means it costs a lot more than they need."

Nelson City Council is working with Tasman District Council on a future development strategy to ensure land supply beyond the nine-year mark.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs