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Housing affordability and the metropolitan limit

Housing affordability and the metropolitan urban limit - response to NZ Herald story of 21 January 2008

Statement from Paul Walbran, Auckland Regional Council (ARC) Regional Strategy and Planning Committee chairman.

The reported comments from Demographia and the Real Estate Institute in today’s New Zealand Herald advocate that the Auckland region changes its urban limits to free up the supply of land for commercial and residential housing, to ease affordability

Paul Walbran says that that releasing land on the outskirts of cities is an over-simplification of a complex issue.

“Releasing land on city fringes does not make housing more affordable. The gains are illusory and it can cause more problems than it solves.

“Uncontrolled urban sprawl brings with it inefficient demand for transport, water, waste removal and other social and physical infrastructure. Their associated costs are inevitably borne by the wider community through traffic congestion, environmental degradation and rates rises.

“The Regional Growth Strategy promotes the co-ordination of development and infrastructure both within the existing urban area, focused on town centres and linked to passenger transport, and in green field areas.

"The urban limits have in fact been extended five times since 1999, adding nearly 1500 hectares of land for urban development.

“The ARC is currently considering requests to move the Metropolitan Urban Limit at Takanini, Mangere and Massey North. If accepted through the public process, this will add further capacity for both residential and commercial activity.

“This approach results in an efficient mix of development options, providing opportunities within the existing urban area through redevelopment, as well as opportunities at the fringes.

“Independent research clearly shows that a more compact city results in lower housing costs per capita, an increased average income per person and is a more efficient, cost effective way of providing infrastructure.

“Urban sprawl that results in dormitory suburbs at great distance from employment and services negates the benefits of cheaper homes through higher transport costs, wasted time and poor access to services and employment.

“Ironically, this will be felt most by those who least can afford to own their own property – those on low and fixed incomes.”

“We only have to look across the Tasman. On the Sydney fringe development levies to cover the cost on infrastructure are running at $100,000 per household. On the outskirts of Melbourne it’s reported that people spend 35 to 40 per cent of their income on transport to and from work."


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