Let us be constructive on housing problem

Mark Thomas –

Mark Thomas

There has been a lot of discussion about housing in Auckland lately.

We do not have enough housing that is affordable – particularly for people keen to buy their first homes.

Whereas my Mayoral opponent Phil Goff insists on blaming the government for this problem, I know there is more that the Auckland Council can do.

After nearly six years as an elected member of the Council, I know that we are not providing enough funding to new housing infrastructure (roads, water pipes, new parks and so on) and we are still too slow at processing consents.

Policy Statement

Readers may have heard that the government recently issued a ‘National Policy Statement’ (NPS) to force the Council to zone more land for housing.

But we have already provided for 110,000 new houses in green fields areas around Auckland. However, these cannot be brought forward because we do not currently have the funding for all the new transport, water and other infrastructure needed.

Some of this have been caused by poor Council spending such as the $20 million spent on a white water rafting park.

But another key issue is the Council’s reduced ability to charge developers more for the fair costs associated with their developments or let developers even provide this infrastructure themselves if they can do it more cheaply.

Delayed consents

The Council is also very slow in processing consents. Despite claims that the statutory time-frame is met 97% of the time, last year’s Government Rules Reduction Taskforce (of which I was a Member) highlighted this as misleading.

I meet developers every week who are prevented from building houses in Auckland by the Council’s slow processes.

Auckland Council needs to sort this out and I will use the knowledge I have of Council and our consenting processes to do this.

The NPS does help by adding further pressure on Auckland Council to resolve land supply problems, and that is a very good thing.

But it needs more effort by Auckland Council to be the genuine circuit breaker Aucklanders need.

Tardy progress

Even with the most aggressive Unitary Plan delivered by the Hearings Panel which the Council will receive on July 22, 2016, Auckland will not make quick enough progress building new, more affordable housing using business-as-usual.

Therefore, in the housing and growth policies that I have announced, I will establish Special Development Areas in Auckland to fast-track new housing and to make quicker progress fixing particularly transport bottleneck that the recent house- building has created. You can read more about these policies on my website at www.mark-thomas.co.nz

I will also advance the Auckland Council Chief Economist’s recommendations to allow private providers to supply their own infrastructure if they can do this cheaper than Auckland Council’s monopoly providers Auckland Transport and Watercare.

Rather than blame others for the housing problems we have, your next Mayor needs to prioritise Council spending better and get it working more effectively.

I know that will make a big difference and provide more, cheaper houses.

Mark Thomas, a Mayoral candidate for Auckland this year, is an experienced business owner and executive within a diverse range of industries. He has been an elected member of Auckland Council since 2010.

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