Christchurch leads the way in Rebuilding Housing stock

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
Monday, July 4, 2016

Many New Zealanders are concerned about housing and housing affordability. It’s certainly a challenge. It peaked in Christchurch in 2014 driven by the destruction of homes by the earthquakes, the need for temporary accommodation during repairs and the influx of people to help with the rebuild. The Government worked hard to manage that demand and there is now much more capacity in the city.

Across the country we’ve seen a number of factors combine over many years to boost housing demand and push up prices. They include low interest rates, growing incomes, more jobs and a rising population on the back of our growing economy.

The answer is building more houses and building them faster. So the Government has a comprehensive programme to help make this happen.

For example, we’ve created more than 200 special housing areas across New Zealand to speed up the development of land for an estimated 70,000 new homes. We’re reforming the Resource Management Act to make it easier for councils and developers to get houses consented and built. And we’re freeing up surplus Crown land for new housing.

Around 40,000 more people are working in the construction industry than two years ago. And there are currently 42,000 apprentices being trained.

We are seeing results. Across New Zealand, building activity is at an 11-year high, with more than 28,000 housing consents issued in the year to May. That’s double the number of five years ago. We’re on track to build 85,000 new houses in this term of Parliament. To put that in context, it’s nearly twice the number of existing houses in all of Dunedin.

But we need to press on.

So the Prime Minister has announced new initiatives to help speed up supply in high-growth areas facing the greatest housing challenges – Queenstown, Christchurch, Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland.

A new $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund will help Councils bring forward the new roads and water infrastructure needed for new housing where financing is a constraint. The Government will invest up front to ensure the infrastructure is in place. Councils will have to repay the investment or buy back the assets once houses have been built and development contributions paid.

As we are doing in Christchurch with the Regeneration legislation the Government is also considering setting up independent Urban Development Authorities to speed up consenting for large-scale development in high-demand areas – a successful tool used overseas to override barriers to new housing developments.

Housing supply is a long-standing issue and there are no quick fixes but we are making good progress. And Christchurch is leading the way in many respects. National’s focus will continue to be on addressing this housing challenge and helping New Zealanders and their families get ahead.