MEDIA RELEASE: Planning Critical to Make NZ Housing Affordable

April 11, 2016

Photo: Matthew Paetz

Auckland's housing crisis largely has its origins in the policy inaction and lack of political and professional leadership that occurred 10 to 15 years ago, a New Zealand planning expert specialising in housing policy and developments says.

New Zealand's Property Group Auckland planning manager Matthew Paetz says despite directives from the Auckland regional policy statement and growth strategy that demanded policy responses from Auckland consent authorities, hardly any of the necessary up-zoning occurred.

"This was a significant policy failure. If one is to promote and enforce a compact urban form - as Auckland region did - then it is essential that widespread up-zonings are promoted and applied. For various reasons, this simply did not occur. The rest is history," Paetz says.

He will be addressing the New Zealand Planning Institute's (NZPI) annual conference in Dunedin this week where are more than 500 planners, resource managers, urban designers and environmental practitioners from all over the country are discussing crucial New Zealand planning issues.

Paetz says that in the face of strong population growth, without a sufficient housing supply response enabled with appropriate zoning and process, housing prices will rapidly inflate.

"From the outset, it is important to emphasise that planning regulation and process can have a very significant influence on housing supply and affordability. We think that the influence is compelling, beyond reasonable challenge and is embraced by all sides of the political spectrum.

"However, we also emphasise that there are a number of factors beyond planning that have a significant influence on housing affordability. Some of these factors are being investigated seriously by central government, others apparently not.

"Our focus therefore is on planning's sphere of influence. Given planning's significant influence on housing, we think there is a lot of scope for planners as professionals to positively contribute to addressing this most pressing of policy issues.

"This does not only mean reducing planning restrictions and becoming more enabling to better enable a market response. It is critical, with the caveat applied that certain regulations and checks and balances are still required, but there is the potential for other more interventionist approaches, recognising that the market by itself will not solve the issue.

"A wide range of planning / local government policy initiatives are available to make positive progress with addressing in housing issues. We steadfastly disagree with those who argue that planning does not influence housing outcomes, nor that planning cannot do anything to address the issue.

"Where there is a will there is a way. There needs to be steadfast commitment from the planning profession. Councils need to take a multi-faceted approach to addressing housing issues, preferably within the context of a multi-dimensional Housing Action Plan that brings all the disparate but often inter-related approaches together. Planners can play a leading role in improving housing affordability in New Zealand," Paetz says.


For further information, contact Property Group Auckland planner Matthew Paetz on 09 9051402 or Make Lemonade media specialist Kip Brook on 0275 030188