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English, Smith and Adams call on Aucklanders to push council to open up more land; tell NIMBYs to do what's right for economy and allow development

English, Smith and Adams call on Aucklanders to push council to open up more land; tell NIMBYs to do what's right for economy and allow development

By Bernard Hickey

The Government has followed up its criticism of Auckland's Unitary Plan with a call for ratepayers to push their council to open up more land for new housing for the greater good of New Zealand's economy.

Finance Minister Bill English, Housing Minister Nick Smith and Environment Amy Adams said Aucklanders needed to take into account the effects of limiting land supply before protesting about more development in their suburbs or in the paddocks next door.

Their comments follow the strong criticism by Adams in a submission on the Auckland Unitary Plan saying it was too complex, costly and restrictive to allow the building of enough homes to cope an increase in Auckland's population to 2 million by 2031. The Unitary Plan's original push for more intensive residential developments near the centre of the city was watered down after protests by local property owners concerned about their views being obscured. See more on Adams' submission here.

Adams told reporters before National's caucus meeting in Parliament that the Unitary plan had failed to meet its own objectives for housing supply over the long term, with estimates for the number of houses to be built being half the forecast demand.

"We don't think the plan goes far enough to meet its own objectives," Adams said.

"It's up to communities to hold their councils to account if they keep that supply of land short," she said when asked if the concerns of NIMBY home owners had been too dominant in the debate over the Unitary Plan.

"I'd say to Auckland that if it wants have enough land coming onto the market to address the largest part of the housing supply issue, they need to have a very long hard conversation as a community with their council about how they're going to provide for that in the future," she said.

"It's no good to say no to everything. You can't complain about more development and more growth and then also complain about high house prices. The reality is if we want to bring down the cost of housing, we have to bring forward the availability of land to keep those prices low," she said.

"That's not going happen just by wishing. Somewhere along the line those decisions have to be made in a planning process."

Smith said he was happy with the Auckland Council's short to medium term progress in increasing the number and speed of consenting, particularly around the Special Housing Areas set up in conjunction with the Government.

He said the Unitary Plan was focused on the future after the completion of the Special Housing Areas.

"I've got great confidence in the board that is hearing submissions on the Unitary Plan. It's absolutely essential for Auckland's housing affordability long term that those unitary plan issues are solved," he said.

He rejected a call from Labour Housing spokesman Phil Twyford (see parliamentary question above) for a National Policy Statement under the Resource Management Act to force Auckland to open up land supply.

Smith said such a statement was only possible if the Government was successful in reforming the RMA and section 2 in particular, which would reduce the protection of the environment as the prime consideration agove economic development.

Asked later in Parliament by Twyford how long it would take for house prices to return to historic average multiples to incomes and rents, Smith later told Parliament the multiple of house prices to incomes had deteriorated by 24% from 4.8 to 6.3 between 2000 and 2008 under Labour, but had improved by 15% to 5.5 under National.

He said it would take another 12 years to 'reverse the damage' done to the housing multiple during the 2000 to 2008.

'More houses in paddocks'

English said the Govenrment would keep working with councils to open up land supply.

"We've gone about as far and as fast as we can without actually taking off them the job of approving sub-divisions and building consents," English said.

"The council has an increasing understanding that there are more people queueing up for houses and they need to allow more land for development and they need to allow more houses to be built at reasonable cost," he said.

English said Auckland's NIMBY home owners had to consider the greater good.

"Part of the argument here is to make sure people understand the bigger picture -- what's good for New Zealand and the economy," English said.

"It may mean that if they live in a house with a view over some green paddocks that actually we've got to build some houses on those paddocks."

The ministers' comments follow the release by the New Zealand Initiative of a report on compact development.


The Property Council said it fully supported Adams' submission to the Auckland Council on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP).

"PAUP, as it stands, requires developers to provide affordable housing, leading to more risky and costly projects, stalling developments altogether," Townsend said.

"The Plan also fails to clarify whether Auckland Council has up-zoned sufficiently to enable dense development as the Plan envisages. There is also the concern that the PAUP does not provide sufficient land for business developments which will have a direct impact on communities," he said.

"The Minister’s criticisms are a timely reminder for the PAUP to be sufficiently amended to allow for a dense, desirable and economically viable Auckland."

(Updated with Property Council comments)

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Does he even know what a NIMBY is? It's NIMBY's that want 'houses in paddocks' - anywhere that's not in their back yard, out of sight out of mind. That's what NIMBY means. 


NIMBYs don't just live in the city.  Lifestyle block owners are some of the worst NIMBYs around.  


Heres a challenge to developers/architects/builders/Auckland City Council:  construct something aesthectically pleasing that doesn't leak.  Until you can put your thinking caps on and come up with a solution then don't bother.  The amount of apartments in the CBD/fringe area that leak, will leak is a DISGRACE.  Repeat: is a DISGRACE.


'asia pacific' is a large place.  I've stayed in hundreds of shonky hotels in Asia, some that leak, and that the least of their problems.


I've seen the figure bandied around that the average lifespan of Japanese housing is 25 years, at which point it is torn down and rebuilt.


Not all blocks have leaked - just those cheaply built by el cheapo developers maximising $$. Mostly using products starting with H and rhyming with Pardy...


HP - maybe you should look at the Building Industry Act 1991? and the Building Industry Authority which was established at the same time.


It is not a challenge to design and build something that doesn't leak that is aesthetically pleasing.....I'm not sure where you got this idea from.

Maybe a read of the following will allow you to understand that regulation more often than not creates problems.

"he purpose for adopting a performance-based building code was to improve the economic performance of the New Zealand economy by facilitating greater innovation and efficiency in the building sector.[1] The building sector is a significant component of the economy in its own right and provides important inputs into most other economic activities. Its efficiency and rate of productivity improvement are important to the performance of the whole economy.…




Have you seen anything built by Ockham? The Ockham in Kingsland, The issac in grey lynn etc.


Asthetically pleasing and non-leaking.  But not affordable housing either.


As we all keep being reminded, it is all about supply AND demand. Then why do the government just focus on increasing supply and ignore fixes to demand issues?

Not necceearily the correct answer but stopping overseas investment in current residential stock would be an option, surely there are others?


The Governments are still tinkering with lip service - all hot air.

More decent sized attractive apartments with car parking and public landscaped areas are needed in Auckland city and fringe.

Take traffic of roads, lessen public transport load and infrustructure cost.


Auckland no longer has the roading infrastructure for expansion. Anyone who has to drive to work in the morning knows this and there is no room to improve it. We needed a 5 line highway from Whangarei to Wellington to keep travel times down to allow for building way out in the wop wops so people could still travel to work in a reasonable time.


The Ministers have summed up the problems very well!!

Opposition MP's who have not supported changes to the RMA should be seen as failing in their duties.

Is owning a house or having an affordable roof over one's head an ancient Right or Liberty? I would have thought so......

Have the Politicians on the opposition benches allowed for redress of all grievances and amended the laws which gave rise to the grievances in the first place.  No they haven't! Opposition MP's in not supporting changes to the RMA are not doing the job they were sworn in to do.

All Members of Parliament when sworn in take the allegiance oath. Taking this Oath means that you will uphold the certain standards, principles and obligations that have been provided to the people through the Bill of Rights Act and other Constitutional matters.

Bill of Rights 1688 Frequent Parliaments
  • And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening, and preserving of the laws, Parliaments ought to be held frequently:

    And they do claim, demand, and insist upon all and singular the premisses, as their undoubted rights and liberties; and that no declarations, judgments, doings, or proceedings, to the prejudice of the people in any of the said premisses, ought in any wise to be drawn hereafter into consequence or example, to which demand of their rights they are particularly encouraged by the declaration of His Highness the Prince of Orange, as being the only means for obtaining a full redress and remedy therein:

Subjects' liberties to be allowed
  • Now, in pursuance of the premisses, the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in Parliament assembled, for the ratifying, confirming, and establishing the said declaration, and the articles, clauses, matters, and things therein contained, by the force of a law made in due form by authority of Parliament, do pray that it may be declared and enacted that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and claimed in the said declaration are the true, ancient, and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom, and so shall be esteemed, allowed, adjudged, deemed, and taken to be, and that all and every the particulars aforesaid shall be firmly and strictly held and observed, as they are expressed in the said declaration; and all officers and Ministers whatsoever shall serve their Majesties and their successors according to the same in all times to come:


    Now the question is have all offices and Ministers whatsoever served their Majesty according to the Bill of Rights?

    I'm thinking a few planners in Councils (officers) and Councillors and MP's have very litlte regard for the Bill of Rights.  How many MPs on being sworn in have altered the Oath in someway?.... this oath is the guarantee that MP's will uphold ancient rights and liberties and promise to hold frequent Parliaments to address the issues. There is not meant to be doings or proceedings which prejudice the people!!!!!  Isn't delay in taking action likely to prejudice the people. The word filibustering comes to mind.


    When the Treaty of Waitangi was signed it guaranteed these Rights in Articles 1 and 3. The same Royal Protection of Rights and privileges were granted to all people as if they were British subjects. The Bill of Rights 1688 is the gift to all people of NZ.

    I always find it very interesting when Political parties like the Greens want to change the Oath (or modernise it as they call it).  Have people seriously thought about the ramifications to their constitutionally granted Rights?…

    ‘Article the first

    The Chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand and the separate and independent Chiefs who have not become members of the Confederation cede to her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty which the said Confederation or Individual Chiefs respectively exercise or possess, or may be supposed to exercise or to possess over their respective Territories as the sole sovereigns thereof.

    The Rights and Powers of Sovereignty granted the Bill of Right 1688.

    Article the second

    Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession; but the Chiefs of the United Tribes and the individual Chiefs yield to Her Majesty the exclusive right of Preemption over such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to alienate at such prices as may be agreed upon between the respective Proprietors and persons appointed by Her Majesty to treat with them in that behalf.


    In this article the Queen confirms and guarantees full exclusive and undisturbed possession.......this is a Right......which is further clarified by Article 3.....In consideration thereof.....her extension of Royal protection is imparted as Rights and Privileges of British subjects.

    Article the third

    In consideration thereof Her Majesty the Queen of England extends to the Natives of New Zealand Her royal protection and imparts to them all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects.’


Having the Right to protect your plot of land for your full and undisturbed possession does not give you the Right to stop neighbouring development from full and undisturbed possession of theirs. Yet this is what the NIMBY's and Councils practice daily.


I prefer the idea of a national policy statement on Affordable Housing - requiring ALL council's to address the issue


I agree that there should be consistant policy across the Country. Would a national policy statement stop NIMBY's? Not likely!!

The findings of an environment court is meant to be part of a consistant approach along with other court rulings.

However the cost to applicants to take matters to the court for a decision is very expensive and hence it is generally only large organisations that can afford to do this.


Have you been through the RMA process? If so did you have objectors? Many objectors are often frivolous and vexatious, they do not have to provide any evidence and use the word affect to mean anything they like so long as they can stop or at a minimum get unreasonable consent conditions imposed. The applicant wears all the councils costs.

Some councils place a higher degree of importance on existing rights of owners over applicants!  This is a failure by councils to treat people equally and fairly. This is why I bring in the Bill of Rights as there is no protection for those who are being treated with contempt. The courts are too expensive to use for most people.....and an applicant is only as good as the lawyer he/she uses. The applicant is also mainly in front of 1 judge. One day in court is around $ is a national policy statement going to change any this!


I think many of the vexious people are just looking to receive some cash graft in return for agreement, not realising that it's highly illegal.  it's the way of modern NZ (thanks to many of the immigrants)



Opposition (Labour) do support the changes related to affordable housing.  But National refuse to join them and is only interested in replacing the RMA with a completely different law (that would share the same name).


example in Sydney - build more and price will drop…



Well, since NZ useta be renowned for a social lab-rat approach, hows aboot another Experiment?


After all the last Experiment - letting Councils, oblivious to the economic effects of their actions:

  • ramp up land prices via zoning and squiggles on maps and a lengthy, adversarial subdivision consents process,
  • ramp up housing costs by a rule-bound approach to consents and injected time, and
  • ramp up all costs including rates and development taxes because of the 'four wellbeings carte blanche spending permission


- has run its course, and had its wicked way with the entire property market.


Ask any FHB.


So another Experiment could start to address the issues:

  • designate some area (the South Island, f'rinstance, no-one down there except Dairy Coos and Shaky Cities) as an Enterprise zone.
  • Wipe off all zoning, planning maps and other excreta
  • Apply the RMA in its original, judge-by-effects mode (before it got taken over by the zonerators and plannerizers) to decide all matters
  • Remove Councils' power to levy any development taxes whatsoever
  • Apply the Capital Gains legislation to all land and property transactions especially where a rural/urban price differential exists, and apply the proceeds of said tax to subsidies for the hopeless and helpless
  • Encourage the factory provision of multi-proof consent homes, apartments, rabbit hutches and other abodes, again from the proceeds of the CGT
  • Stand back and watch 'er rocket away.


OK, common taters.

What could Possibly go wrong?


Waymad I get your idea.  But by saying in the South Island you would get rid of zoning and everyone who wanted to change the use of their land, for example by building a house would need resource consent.


Unintended consquences my dear fella.....