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Council ratification marks further progress

Council ratification marks further progress

Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith today welcomed Christchurch City Council’s ratification of the Christchurch Housing Accord which will enable further housing initiatives to assist the city’s recovery.

“The housing challenge in Christchurch is huge with the loss of 13,000 homes from the earthquakes, the temporary housing requirements as a result of major repairs, as well as the extra demand from the rebuild workforce. This Accord will enable us to step up the pace of recovery by getting the Government and Council working more closely together on both temporary and permanent housing developments,” Dr Smith says.

The Christchurch Housing Accord was agreed in April this year by Dr Smith and Mayor Lianne Dalziel. It will see the Government investing $75 million through a new Christchurch Housing Accord Fund, and the Council $50 million in a new housing entity. The Accord will also facilitate an increase in affordable housing by encouraging private investment and improving the regulatory environment.

“The Government and the Council through the Housing Accord have planned for developments on land at Awatea and Carrs Road in Hornby and the land at Welles and Colombo Streets in the city, providing for up to 450 additional homes. We have received a large number of proposals in response to the formal invitation extended in July to prospective private sector groups interested in working together on these developments. The ratification of the Housing Accord will enable an announcement on the successful proposals in coming weeks, and enable construction on the two sites to begin before the end of the year,” Dr Smith says.

“The Accord will make a big difference in easing the tight pressure on Christchurch’s housing market and bring forward the date of the city’s full housing recovery. There is no magic solution to Christchurch’s housing challenge but this is another welcome step forward.

“Christchurch is leading the country in terms of new house build rates with building consent figures reaching record highs month after month. The 3776 consents issued in the year to July is a 109 per cent increase on the same period a year earlier, and is the highest number of consents issued in Christchurch in any 12-month period on record.

“I am also encouraged by the cooling of Christchurch’s rental market over the past six months. Average rents in Christchurch soared from $294 per week in September 2010 to $429 in February 2014, but have fallen slightly in the past six months to $420 per week according to the latest August data. This stabilisation in rents over the past six months follows growth in every single quarter for the preceding three years.

“The Government has a wide programme of work in place to support Christchurch’s housing recovery in addition to the Housing Accord, through the Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service, the Land Use Recovery Plan and Central City Development Plan, the private sector partnerships for worker accommodation, and the $1.2 billion investment programme by Housing New Zealand to repair and redevelop its 5000 homes and build 700 new ones. Our new KiwiSaver HomeStart support package will also help 11,850 Cantabrians into their own home over the next five years. We are committed to doing everything possible to support the momentum.”

“I am increasingly confident that we are through the worst of Christchurch’s post-earthquake housing woes. We are building at a record pace, and we are seeing rent increases slow. This Accord, combined with our wider housing reforms, is going to do more than return Christchurch’s housing to its pre-earthquake levels. Christchurch’s state, council and private housing will be warmer, healthier, safer and better managed when this repair and replacement programme is complete,” Dr Smith concluded.


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