Labour announces new policy to tackle housing affordability, wants infrastructure bonds, more 'medium density' and relaxed height limits

Content supplied by Phil Twyford, Labour’s housing spokesperson

Labour’s ground-breaking new policy on reforming planning rules will make housing more affordable, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

“Labour will free up density and height controls to allow more medium density housing and reform the use of urban growth boundaries so they don’t drive up section costs. This will curb land bankers and speculators.

“The other new element is changing the way we fund infrastructure for new developments. Currently those costs are either subsidised by the ratepayer or passed by the developer onto the price tag of a new home. That makes houses much more expensive. It also means they are paid off through mortgages at expensive bank interest rates.

“Our new policy will see infrastructure funded by local government bonds, paid off over the lifetime of the asset through a targeted rate on the properties in the new development. This will substantially reduce the cost of new housing.

“Reforming the planning rules will stand alongside Labour’s commitment to crack down on speculators, and build 100,000 new homes for first home-buyers. These are the game-changing reforms that will fix the housing crisis and renew the dream of Kiwi homeownership.

“National has been blaming councils and the Resource Management Act for rising house prices for the past 10 years, but have done precious little to fix the problems.

“Labour has the policies and the political will to get the job done,” Phil Twyford says.

Twyford has sent through the actual policy wording. It is …

That Labour in government reform urban development rules, through using an NPS on affordable housing under the RMA to give Councils clear direction:
* on freeing up density and height controls to allow more medium density affordable housing; and
* to reform the use of urban growth boundaries.
And alongside these changes, Labour will reform infrastructure funding based on principles of user pays, access to local government borrowing rates, and repayment over lifetime of the asset.

Twyford was quoted a saying that Auckland Council is “facing pretty staunch opposition from some nimby groups.”

“That’s denying a whole generation of New Zealanders affordable housing options in areas where they want to live. We are going to say from central Government’s view that affordable housing is a matter of national importance and we are going to require councils, like Auckland Council, to restrict the use of density and height controls so they can’t be used to prevent affordable housing being built.”

“It will be a reduction in the veto power of existing residents. At the moment … they put a premium on the right of neighbours to object in a community. What we are saying is we have to take into account the whole of New Zealand and future generations who desperately need affordable housing.”

(Updated with exact Labour Party policy wording.)