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New Research Shows Auckland Unitary Plan Serves Developers

New research shows the Auckland Unitary Plan serves developers interests not Auckland’s housing needs

Thursday 13 July 2017 - A new research report from the think tank Economic and Social Research Aotearoa (ESRA) shows that the Auckland Unitary Plan will not solve the housing crisis and will instead provide opportunities for developers to profit from further land speculation.

“Instead of building affordable housing, the Unitary Plan encourages developers to profit from displacing the poor and increasing gentrification in low-income communities,” says Vanessa Cole, ESRA Researcher and author of the report.

In a recent interview with Kim Hill, Prime Minister Bill English claimed housing affordability in Auckland had been improving as a direct result of the Unitary Plan.

However when confronted with the evidence that developers who have received fast track approval in return for building affordable housing have sat on land waiting for this requirement to expire with the introduction of the Unitary Plan, English responded that “Developers want to see a [profit] margin”.

“The Unitary Plan protects wealthy residential areas, and is freeing up land supply in low-income communities for development. Developers do not want to build affordable housing in these communities, they want to produce profit. This is why they buy up cheap land, develop it into private market housing, and then sell it to benefit from increased land values,” says Cole.

While developers are building some social and affordable housing, land values have skyrocketed. Median land values in the area have increased from $400,000 to nearly $1,000,000 since the redevelopment began in 2011.

“The only way to create real affordable housing is for the state to build public housing for low-income communities,” says Cole.

Building massive amounts of state housing would force landlords to drive down rents and maintain healthy standards of properties by compromising their monopoly control of the rental market.

The research shows that rather than being an issue of generational divide, the housing crisis is clearly an issue of economic class rooted in the history of capitalist colonisation in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

“Developers, investors and financiers are not interested in planning for a better city where all people can live. Their motivation is the profitability of land in the city,” says Cole.

“Auckland needs urban planning, but it needs planning based on principles of equality and social need, not profit,” says Cole.

The research shows that the solution to the crisis in housing affordability in Auckland lies in state housing.

The full report is available here: https://esra.nz/why-landlords-and-investors-love-the-unitary-plan/


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