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Greens slam Govt affordability package

More development on Auckland’s fringes is not the answer to the housing affordability crisis, the Green Party says.

It was announced today that, as signalled, easing urban boundaries is one of the Government’s proposed solutions to increasing house prices.

The Government package, in response to the Productivity Commission inquiry into housing affordability, emphasises the need for more land inside cities and on their fringes, for housing development.

The Government will also place a six-month time limit on councils processing consents for medium-sized projects, such as housing developments.

Finance Minister Bill English said there was not one solution to the problem.

"Many of the changes that will make a difference lie with councils and the Government expects them to share the commitment to improving housing affordability.”

But Green Party housing spokesperson Holly Walker said expanding cities were not the answer.

"Urban sprawl will not make housing more affordable because the types of houses that tend to be built in new developments are large and expensive.

"Housing developments on the urban fringe come with hidden transport and infrastructure costs which can be crippling for families' budgets."

She said outer suburbs could become poverty traps because they lacked transport, amenities or employment opportunities.

"Medium-density, small dwellings centred around existing community amenities with good transport and recreational services is a better model for helping the average first home buyer in Auckland get a foot on the property ladder. We also need greater Government commitment to affordable housing. The Government should lead the way with the construction of new state and social housing, not push desperate home-owners and renters out to the fringes and create even greater inequality in our biggest city.”

English said the Government had asked officials to do more work on other Producitivity Commission proposals including whether building consent authorities could be consolidated in a regional or national hub.

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment will look at the construction sector to identify barriers to improving affordability.

Tags: bill english - holly walker


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