Building & Housing Minister Nick Smith (pictured in 2013) struck out on Friday at a newspaper report which said only 102 houses were known to have been built under the fast-track rules of the Government’s housing accord with Auckland Council.
Dr Smith pointed to the cyclical rise in building consent numbers and ridiculed the NZ Herald report, by Simon Collins & Anne Gibson, for claiming only 102 homes had been completed out of the accord’s 39,000 target.
But Dr Smith quoted inaccurately. The reporters went into detail on how the council hadn’t set up a system to count completions.
Dr Smith said of the completions figure in his own release: “It is incomplete, misleading & selective. It only counts housing on 2 Government-funded housing initiatives at Waimahia Inlet & Northern Tamaki, where reporting requirements give us up-to-date numbers of houses that are completed.”
The minister didn’t correct the reporters because, it seems, he couldn’t. A request to builders to tell the council when they’ve finished a house might have helped. Instead, Dr Smith said the accord target “is based on new dwellings consented & sections created across all of Auckland – not completed houses and not just in special housing areas. The reason for reporting on consents and not completed homes is because we get reliable monthly figures from Statistics NZ on building consents, whereas the number of completed houses is only available every 5 years through the census. There is no evidence that the consent numbers over-report building activity, as the 2 figures have historically aligned.”
Dr Smith said the pace of residential construction in Auckland was at a 10-year high and continuing to grow: “We are making solid progress in lifting the pace of residential construction in Auckland, with the latest annual building consents at the highest level in 10 years, at 8721. This compares to the low of 3485 after the global financial crisis and amounts to compound growth of 27%, 28%, 31% & 18% in Auckland’s house build rate over the past 4 years. This is the longest & strongest sustained growth in residential construction in Auckland’s history.”
The outlook was also strong: “The recent National Construction Pipeline Report has projected an extra 80,000 new homes will be built in the 6 years to 2020 – more than double the 30,000 built over the past 6 years….
“The 21-month housing accord monitoring report released recently showed 19,921 consented as at June this year – running about 1000 ahead of schedule. The next report covering the full second year of the accord will be available in coming weeks.
“There are over 2000 building consents issued for the 97 special housing areas established so far in Auckland, out of a long-term capacity of over 45,000. There is a power of work required to convert parcels of land into completed houses through the special housing area process. A structural plan is required on the road & piping set-out, a resource consent is usually required for the earthworks & construction, infrastructure must be built, the building consents issued and the actual houses built.
“The Government is taking further steps to boost housing supply in Auckland. Yesterday (Thursday), a 9.2ha site at Moire Rd (Massey) was gazetted for state housing purposes as the first of the sites set for development under our programme to facilitate housing on Crown-owned land. We are also advancing our planned second phase of Resource Management Act reforms. I expect to announce another tranche of special housing areas in Auckland before the end of the month.”
NZ Herald 6 November 2015: 102 houses built out of target of 39,000
8 November 2015: Twyford talks ideas which unitary plan & council funding review likely to resolve
5 October 2015: Invitation to partner gets scheme for housing on Crown-owned land underway
11 September 2015: Council confirms brownfields as special housing area priority
6 September 2015: Housing area process to be streamlined with brownfield priority
28 August 2015: 11 more special housing areas approved
5 June 2015: Accord approvals behind in second year
6 May 2015: The accord ruckus: Political gamesmanship v rational development
8 March 2015: Accord consents stay on target
26 August 2013: Smith uses old statistics to justify pushing ahead with accord
Attribution: Ministerial release, NZ Herald report.