Councils need to 'step up in national interest and build intensified housing - Twyford

Councils need to "step up" in national interest and build intensified housing, says Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford. 

"If we don’t allow more affordable housing to be built, then we’re stealing the future of the younger generation and all of the people who desperately need affordable housing," he said on TVNZ1's Q+A last night. 

When asked about the issue of ratepayers agreeing to intensification, Mr Twyford said it was about finding a better balance.

He said a problem many councils come up against was being "beholden to some nimby interests who say, 'You know what, we don’t want two, or three-storeyed dwellings in our neighbourhood, we don’t want to see affordable housing'".

Despite this, Mr Twyford said there had been a shift in recent years towards intensification. 

"Auckland is the most strong example of this. We want to push a lot further, and we want to apply those principles right across cities from one end of New Zealand to the other."

He said council concern over infrastructure costs was a "very legitimate concern".

"Many of the councils have used their planning rules as a way to protect their balance sheets, because they don't have the ability to borrow any more money to build the roads and lay the pipes for new developments."

Mr Twyford said privatisation to finance infrastructure was beeing looked at in high-growth cities such as Tauranga, Hamilton, Auckland and Queenstown.

"We are looking at bringing into law the ability to use private finance, so long-term debt finance or infrastructure bonds that would finance, for example, the roads and pipes in and around a new subdivision."

"That debt would be paid off, say, over 50 years by a targeted levy or a targeted rate in the community that benefits from this.

"That would mean that the debt would no longer have to sit on the balance sheet of councils who are already cash-strapped, and it would mean that many more developments, many more homes could be built much sooner, and that’s what we want."

Q+A is on TVNZ1 on Mondays at 9.30pm, and the episode is then available on TVNZ OnDemand and as a podcast in all the usual places.

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Phil Twyford explains to Jack Tame how his new Urban Development Authority will speed up the house-building process. Source: Q+A