There have been quite a few battles in parliament between Housing Minister Nick Smith and Labour’s housing and Auckland issues spokesperson Phil Twyford over the past couple of weeks on the issue of urban limits, land supply and affordable housing. Here’s today’s stoush (transcript here):
One thing that keeps confusing me in this argument is why everyone seems to be focusing so much on opening up additional land for rezoning to urban uses (effectively the “busting the urban limits”) when it seems like the real problem is that existing land zoned for urban development and serviced with main roads and bulk water/wastewater simply isn’t getting to the next stage of being subdivided up and put on the market.
This is the difference between the 15,000 units worth of land that’s ‘ready to go’ in the sense of council having done everything in its power to rezone, provide main roads and bulk infrastructure – and the 2,000 subdivided sections which are ‘ready to go’ in the sense that someone could build a house on them tomorrow. In Flat Bush, the two sit side by side:So not only is ‘busting the urban limits’ completely stupid in that it sets up an urban form nearly impossible to service with infrastructure (because the powers to be just never know where future development might occur), it also seems like such a policy would make absolutely no difference to what’s holding back the delivery of sections on the market which are ready to build on. That seems to be a problem largely caused by the development industry – whether wilfully (in the form of land-banking) or just because the owners can’t get themselves into a position to do this work.