21 Mar 2013

Tensions rise over Auckland housing land supply

10:46 am on 21 March 2013

Housing Minister Nick Smith is leaving unanswered the question of whether the Government will step in to speed up the supply of housing land in Auckland.

Auckland Council leaders fear the Government is intending to grant itself the power to make decisions that at present lie within the council's 30-year development blueprint.

Senior council figures say they are perplexed at repeated comments by cabinet ministers in Parliament which they say misrepresent the problem and overlook the council's solutions.

Dr Smith has again told Parliament the council must free up sufficient land for housing to take pressure out of the market, and make homes more affordable.

He told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme he won't debate in the media what action the Government may take, but that housing land will be part of discussions he will have with council leaders on Monday.

He said the new urban limit proposed as part of the council's new Unitary Plan has not been finalised, so he cannot say whether it includes sufficient new land for housing.

Dr Smith has previously flagged the possibility of intervention to speed up land rezoning, but the council says that would be meaningless without new infrastructure to service it.