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NZ Deal brings land opening closer

Property Here - Friday, May 10, 2013

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Government and council reach understanding over aspects of Unitary Plan
Housing Minister Nick Smith. Photo / Dani McDonald
Housing Minister Nick Smith. Photo / Dani McDonald

Auckland Council and the Government have struck a deal to fast-track plans to free up land for residential department.

Prime Minister John Key, Mayor Len Brown and Housing Minister Nick Smith will announce the arrangement today after six weeks of talks between the council and central government aimed at breaking an impasse over Auckland's housing crisis.

The deal will give effect to some parts of the council's new planning rule book - or Unitary Plan - and allow for a streamlined process for consent applications and controlled release of "greenfield" sites outside the existing urban boundary.

It is understood the Government and council have also agreed the fast-track process will apply to "brownfield" sites within the urban boundary, such as at Hobsonville and Tamaki.

The unitary plan sets out to build 280,000 new homes through intensification of urban Auckland and 160,000 new homes in rural areas over the next 30 years.

New council research obtained by the Herald shows there is only capacity for 1250 new homes in urban Auckland this year and about 2500 homes over each of the next three years.

The city needs another 13,000 new homes a year to cope with growth.

Declining home affordability have emerged as a major economic and political headache.

Dr Smith and Mr Brown have been at loggerheads over housing and the Unitary Plan, which the council wanted to have legal effect from September and the Government insisting it go through a three-year process to ensure Aucklanders were involved.

This week Dr Smith said the land supply issue required both short-term and long-term solutions.

In March he vowed to break the "stranglehold" of the council's policy of containing urban sprawl.

Solving the crisis

• Deal struck to free-up land.

• New sites to be released for development.

• Fast-track process for sites such as Hobsonville and Tamaki.