Council making affordable housing a priority
Published on December 20, 2021
Horowhenua District Council endorsed a Streamlined Housing Process (SHP) at its Council meeting, 8 December 2021. Council members discussed the critical need for affordable housing and voted unanimously in favour of the streamlined consent process for housing development projects that meet specified criteria.
The District is experiencing a shortage of affordable housing, especially smaller, one-bedroom and two-bedroom dwellings. This makes it difficult for first-time buyers, retirees trading down and those on moderate incomes to secure appropriate living conditions.
Mayor Bernie Wanden says, "Like many parts of Aotearoa, the Horowhenua District has a housing problem. The shortage of houses is making housing increasingly unaffordable. Council’s pilot process aims to make it easier to build higher density housing in the district. We hope that by removing some of the barriers and making it more cost effective to build one and two-bedroom housing developments in the district, we will see an increase in affordable housing choices. Our ultimate goal is to help people build, buy and rent affordable housing in the district.”
“The new SHP initiative is designed to streamline the resource consent process for the development of new homes in the area and to encourage better utilisation of existing residential land,” explains David McCorkindale, Group Manager Customer and Strategy.
Housing affordability has been ranked one of the highest priorities by the Horowhenua community. According to the latest Infometrics Quarterly Monitor, the average house price in Horowhenua is $632,000.*
The innovative new solution, which encourages housing diversity and development in the district was born from wider community consultation. In 2019 Council realised that housing supply in the District was not keeping up with the demand and engaged the wider community. "We brought together local iwi, hapū, pasifika groups, developers, builders, government and other non-governmental organisations to discuss the housing challenges facing our district. What started as an affordability conversation turned into one around the lack of entry level one and two-bedroom housing."
From these forums, we developed the Housing Action Plan. “Its goal is to drive grass root actions and local solutions to meet our community’s diverse housing needs now and into the future,” says McCorkindale.
David Clapperton Chief Executive says, “The Streamlined Housing Process initiative is Council delivering on some key parts of the Housing Action Plan.”
During the next few months Council will pilot the process, iron out any necessary changes, and it will be launched in March 2022. If successful, it will inform future District Plan Changes to formalise a broader range of residential housing opportunities. This initiative will apply to residential-zoned land in Levin, Foxton, Foxton Beach and Shannon.
"The pilot will provide opportunities for underused residential land to be developed for housing by simplifying the process for building high-quality infill housing. It will benefit the existing homeowner, would-be developers and those struggling to find affordable housing in the area," adds Clapperton.
Our District Plan provides for housing growth, through the supply of residentially zoned land. It is a matter of fact that four bedroom, two bathroom houses have been easier to build in part due to the District Plan and consenting constraints. It has also been much more lucrative for those building these houses. This new process acknowledges the pain points of the existing process and looks to remedy that.
“In very rudimentary terms it has been described as “a paint by numbers solution for developing infill housing.” What it means, is that not just existing developers will be encouraged to build higher density dwellings, but those would-be investors, that have equity, and even those landowners that may have thought the process was too hard in the past or that their property didn’t have development potential, might be encouraged to build also.” says Clapperton.
The number of subdivision consents approved for the financial year to end of November are showing a 17% increase compared to the same period last year. The upward trend for new dwelling units shows that between 1 July 2021 and 30 November 2021 Council has consented 173 additional dwelling units, an increase of 55% from the same period last year. The number of building consents lodged are currently up by 12% for the same period.
“While we do have housing problems, like the rest of the country, we are taking steps in the right direction. This is a game changer that will create meaningful impact,” Mayor Bernie concludes.
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