PAULA'S BLOG

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It's time for Special Housing Areas in Hamilton

Now is the time to act:

The housing situation in Hamilton needs urgent attention with house prices increasing over 30% in the past 12 months. We are now reaching a point where many of our young people are being priced out of the market, families are spending an increasing percentage of their income on accommodation and our elderly, many of whom are on fixed incomes, are seeing their rates rapidly increase. I believe that we have a responsibility to look after our most vulnerable resident and should be acting to ensure our best and brightest young minds can see a future for themselves in our city.

On the 26 th of August I called on Hamilton City Council to recognize that we can't solve this problem alone and to work in partnership and collaboration with central government to address these issues. We have a number of tools available, and we need to use them.

$1B Housing Infrastructure Fund:

The Government has announced a $1B contestable fund, by way of an interest free loan, to help local councils bring forward new roads and water infrastructure needed for new housing where financing is a constraint. We must be putting our best foot forward to ensure Hamilton see our fair share.

If we can get the roads and water infrastructure in place we can get to work addressing supply issues to meet the demand of our growing city.

Special Housing Areas:

In 2013 the Government introduced the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act as a means of streamlining new housing developments in high growth areas to meet growing demand and address housing affordability issues. While this legislation was originally set to expire on September 16 th 2016 the Government voted to extend the period out until 2019.

Despite Hamilton being recognized as an eligible area under the legislation we are yet to utilize this tool, and it is showing with house prices sky rocketing at 31.5% over the past 12 months. Both of our closest neighbours, Auckland and Tauranga, have made the most of the opportunity with great success.

In order to qualify for the establishment of a Special Housing Area the Government must be satisfied that adequate infrastructure to service qualifying developments exists or is likely to exist and that there is evidence of demand for residential housing in the area. The demand is clear, and with our fair share of the $1B Housing Infrastructure Fund we will be in a strong position to get the infrastructure in place.

This legislation also gets tough on "land banking" by giving the Minister of Housing the discretion to disestablish a Special Housing Area if, after 12 months, no consent application or plan change has been lodged.

In short, we need to:
  1. Sign a Special Housing Accord with Central Government to urgently address housing supply;
  2. Identify Special Housing Areas under the Accord;
  3. Work proactively and constructively with central Government, landowners and developers to remove the existing barriers to building more homes. As one of New Zealand's fastest-growing cities, Hamilton must make a very strong bid for our fair share of the recently announced Housing Infrastructure Fund;
  4. Make it easier to get resource consents and permits for housing;
  5. Ensure essential infrastructure, including roads and water, is well planned and supports developers and communities;
  6. Explore incentives and planning tools to encourage more affordable homes and disincentives to land banking such as targeted rates;
  7. Ensure sufficient land is released quickly for development;
  8. Maintain a balance between in-fill and greenfield housing, and high and low density development;
  9. Ensure new housing areas have the amenities needed for a community.
I want Hamilton to be a place everyone can call home; the young, families and the growing numbers of seniors. Hamilton has a wonderful opportunity to harness growth.

It's important that we don't just build a bigger city, but a better city.