How Germany solves housing problems

Auckland is locked in a battle about housing supply. It continues to be a problem and hasn’t resulted in anything meaningful with all parties entrenched and failing to resolve differences.

On one side you have Auckland Council fighting desperately to change Auckland into being a compact European styled city that is predominantly apartments and public transport. They are so certain they will achieve their goal that they have instigated a city limit to stop the city spreading further into the hinterlands. This planning tool is blunt, and is lacking the evidential basis to support it.

On the other side you have the Government worried about housing affordability. House prices are going through the roof, partly because Auckland’s population is growing – but at the same time because the supply of housing stock is just not keeping up.

In the middle there is the property industry. They are keen as mustard to build anything that will make them a buck, but regularly point to the obvious preferences of the market towards regular houses in subdivisions, which are of course not able to be built as long as Auckland Council strangles them. They have a good point. ?

Universally the majority – Government, property industry, media and critics – all point the finger of blame at the Council, but stating clearly that the legislative landscape in New Zealand is to blame. The RMA and LGA make it easy for Councils to run riot and impose ridiculous planning regimes that don’t work.

Often Texas and the USA are used as examples of what Councils should do. But because Local Government planning in NZ is orientated towards European and British planning ideals – the USA comparisons are always ignored.

Which is interesting.

Because Germany doesn’t have the same issues that we have with rising house prices. In fact in Germany their housing market has remained static for a very long time.

?The key differences are that in Germany the right to build on one’s land is enshrined in constitutional law whereas it’s not a right in NZ. In Germany the Government rezones the land around cities and the Councils only set down the character guides and make sure that homes and buildings fit that. Consenting costs are minimal and housing is always very affordable.

Perhaps we need to do that here in NZ. Then, it might be that the problems experienced can be brought back into control.

For a more detailed explanation?check out the link for an article which explains the comparison between Germany and NZ in more depth.