Government allocates $1B housing infrastructure fund to Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga
By Sophie Boot
July 11 (BusinessDesk) - The government has allocated its $1 billion housing infrastructure fund across five areas of New Zealand which it says are "critical high growth areas" for the country.
The funds will go towards nine projects in five different council areas - Auckland, Hamilton, Waikato, Tauranga and Queenstown - to accelerate house-building projects, Prime Minister Bill English announced this morning. Housing is seen as a major issue in the upcoming general election, with Auckland a major cause for concern as an expanding population and shortage of new housing has pushed up prices.
"The infrastructure projects announced today will speed up the delivery of 60,000 houses across our fastest growing population centres over the next 10 years,” English said. "These projects will make their contribution to lifting housing supply alongside the government’s own Crown building project, the Special Housing Areas, our planning changes, and the already record levels of new home construction taking place across New Zealand."
The contestable fund, announced last July for use mainly by Auckland Council, offers interest-free loans to councils in high-growth areas. The programme uncovered a lack of ready-to-build projects and an unwillingness by the Auckland local body to take on substantial new debt because it is already close to limits that could affect the city's AA credit rating. Last month, Minister for Building and Housing Nick Smith said the government was looking into 'special purpose vehicles' – separate debt entities – as an alternative approach for councils facing up to their debt limits.
Smith today said that the councils and government will now work to complete detailed funding agreements over the next few months before earthworks begin this summer. The first homes will get resource consent early next year and are expected to be built by late 2018.
"The government expects to make statements on further new funding options and tools for housing infrastructure in the coming weeks," Smith said.
Auckland Council will get the greatest share of the funding, with $300 million for infrastructure supporting 10,500 houses in greenfield development at Whenuapai and Redhills. Hamilton City Council will receive $272 million to support 8,100 houses at Peacockes, while Tauranga City Council has $230 million for 35,000 houses including a greenfield development at Te Tumu as well as a capacity upgrade to the Te Maunga Wastewater Treatment Plant and a new water treatment plant at Te Puke.
Waikato District Council will get $37 million for 2,600 houses in a new development at Te Kauwhata on the shore of Lake Waikare, while Queenstown Lakes District Council will get $50 million to support its development of two new greenfield sites on the Frankton Flats and extension of the Kingston township.