John Palino on Auckland’s housing issues

John Palino has an opinion piece in the NZ Herald this morning about the Auckland housing issues.

He is the first politician to actually lay the blame where it belongs, at the feet of Auckland Council.

Make no mistake, Auckland is in crisis and it is a crisis of the council’s making. Housing is unaffordable due to artificial restrictions on land supply. The existing council’s compact city growth vision has not worked and has led to a chronic undersupply of houses. Many people in Auckland cannot afford even our cheapest homes.

Restricting development through something as blunt as a metropolitan urban limit has prevented large scale construction and forced growth into suburban areas without the services to handle density.

The urban limit and its replacement, the rural urban boundary, must be removed so those who are prepared to develop new homes can do so. It’s about enabling an efficient market which reflects the value of land rather than speculative investment.

Removing the urban limit is not about encouraging unconstrained sprawl. Infrastructure will always place limitations on development.

The key is managing infrastructure investment to balance the need to support competition in the property market and keep overall costs down for current and future residents; there’s no point building cheap housing if there’s no access to jobs and recreation.

The Auckland Council has been trying to force rapid intensification on ratepayers with little or no consultation. The problems are massive, the existing infrastructure actually can’t and won’t cope with intensification without very, very expensive retro-fitting.

That’s why I am campaigning on reprioritising council investment to support massive new housing and commercial development along transport spines.

This means shifting our growth focus away from grossly inefficient retro-fitting of suburbs and channelling it into new satellite cities in the south, northwest and north.

The exact location of those centres is more a decision for property owners and developers than it is council planners. The council should be working with land owners and major developers and identifying where we can get new, dense centres of housing and employment so sprawl can be disincentivised rather than prohibited.

It is ridiculous that people travel across the city for jobs. This just creates congestion. But they way Auckland Council has been planning they want everyone forced to do business in a central location in order to justify the billions they are spending on a train set. Our planners should and must be encouraging businesses to establish and operate in other areas, creating local jobs in local areas.

Agreements should be signed with developers to ensure minimum house construction targets are met in return for priority council infrastructure investment.

Developers must have the capacity to build through the good times as well as the bad, or next time there’s a housing slow-down we’ll again see all our subbies shift to Australia.

The best thing about new greenfield, master planned development is not just that we can plan for density and provide the services which meet intensified demand, it is that we can provide employment closer to where people live.

Sensible stuff.

The current council’s focus on the CBD is disastrous for house prices and congestion. The road system cannot handle demand when so many jobs are concentrated in the central city but most of the housing elsewhere.

The public transport we are planning is not sufficient to get people to and from all these diverse locations.

Try and take public transport from Whangaparaoa to Botany and see how you get on.

Focusing council investment in a few new centres along transport spines so that we get commercial alongside residential development would ease pressure on all our major transport arteries. By making it possible for people to live close to where they work we would reduce congestion and end the council-created housing affordability crisis.

I’m pleased to see John Palino has put some considerable thinking into his plans. I wonder if Phil Goff has done as much?


-NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.