3 Aug 2021

Dunedin Council looks at new plan to increase housing capacity

7:18 pm on 3 August 2021

Dunedin is expected to need more than 11,000 new homes to cater for its growth by 2050 but the local council predicts it will fall significantly short if changes aren't made.

Views towards the city from the lookout at the Centennial Memorial on Signal Hill Dunedin Otago South Island New Zealand

Dunedin City. Photo: 123RF

Based on the current second generation district plan, the city is forecast to be 3040 houses short - a quarter of the homes needed.

But that could be slashed to 100 if new district plan changes are given a green light.

This afternoon, Dunedin City councillors discussed a housing capacity report along with the changes.

The proposed changes - known as 'Variation 2' - would include rezoning some areas, removing restrictions on who can live in family flats, allowing smaller site sizes, creating more flexibility for development, improving provisions for social housing, and encouraging good urban design and well-managed infrastructure in greenfield sites.

The report suggests that, in two years time, the city needs 1810 additional homes.

The current plan - which started in 2012 - will leave a 480 home deficit while 'Variation 2' is forecast to create a 180 home surplus.

By 2030, the report suggests 5820 additional homes will be needed with the current plan increasing capacity by 3660 - leaving a 2160 shortfall - and the 'Variation 2' proposal boosting capacity to 6290.

Council city development manager Dr Anna Johnson said 'Variation 2' was not a guaranteed fix, but it was expected make a difference to available housing capacity.

"What a plan does is create an opportunity for somebody to do a development. It doesn't do the development and so all we can do is create the opportunity for people to build houses and to try and make that opportunity as easy as possible," she said.

Council policy planner Nathan Stocker agreed.

"We're not assuming that all land that can be developed or what is zoned for development will be developed. Only a smaller degree of it will be economically feasible to develop and only a smaller degree of that will actually be taken up.

"Some people will own the land within those coloured areas and have no intention of selling or developing."

Average housing values had doubled to $646,313 over the last five years.

He didn't rule out the changes helping housing prices.

"All we can do in planning is to enable it to happen. There are many factors in terms of whether those do get built, like the construction industry, and then there's a lot of demand side factors as well, driving price like the low inflation rate - which we can't control. So it tackles a certain bit but we can't promise to bring down house prices with this alone."

The city's population growth rate has been significantly higher than historic trends, growing between 0.8 percent and 1.4 percent per year in the last five years.

That's compared with the annual growth rate of 0.4 percent over the preceding 15 years.

The population modelling for the city forecasts 0.7 percent growth per year over the next three years, decreasing to 0.04 percent per year between 2045 and 2050.

Only the over-65 age group is expected to experience growth.

Even with the changes, housing capacity won't be without its challenges.

The report notes the Dunedin Hospital rebuild is expected to start construction soon and involve a significant influx of workers from outside the city, increasing the demand for accommodation.

More work is needed to boost wastewater capacity, water supply, transport and other infrastructure.

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