Waimahia – A bold new vision for affordable housing?

Project Description

Waimahia is certainly a new model for affordable housing that, in my opinion, must be successful for the benefit and well being of New Zealand moving forward.

Housing New Zealand are good property managers but have struggled to develop new property and increase social housing stock for decades. From the sidelines I have observed their attempts through a variety of models and have priced numerous developments for developers proposing to sell to HNZ. Most have consistently failed to proceed as have many of HNZ’s own initiatives. Saddled with constraints that can’t realistically can’t be removed for social and political reasons, it is hard to see how HNZ could ever be successful as a development entity and something had to change.

The Waimahia development is a new model for affordable housing that is being tackled quite differently and given our involvement it is possible for me to draw comparisons with that which has gone before.

Free from the negative connotations that dog HNZ, and with serious support from astute motivated groups who individually know their business and collectively are working well together towards well defined goals, Waimahia cannot fail to be a vastly improved model for affordable housing in my opinion. Stepping away from the “house for life” and “hand out” mentality towards the “giving a hand up” model must over the long term benefit individuals, families, surrounding neighbourhoods and ultimately New Zealand over the long term.

There are certainly major challenges facing New Zealand housing in terms of affordability, most significantly around raw land price however with the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas (HASHA) legislation enacted and Council moving quickly and proactively to free up land there are positive signs on the horizon. Waimahia was one of the first consents to be pushed through Council in late 2013 and with a 20 day turn around on a complex consent and ongoing support from the Council’s Project Housing Office staff things in this space look to be on the up. However Waimahia does have an advantage over many other Special Housing Areas in that it lies within a fully developed catchment with adequate infrastructure available. Many other areas that have been declared Special Housing Area’s, despite being able to achieve zonings will stall, based on our experience, over a lack of infrastructure or, at best, will proceed but with elevated sale prices to fund the infrastructure necessary which works against the affordability equation.

Waimahia is a great start and deserves support but if Auckland wants to control housing affordability better understanding of land development issues and processes together with more robust models for funding infrastructure are required.

Commentary based on the article: Building a new future: Bold new vision for affordable housing by Simon Collins (NZ Herald) Feb 4 2014

– John Gardiner, Director – Candor 09 579 5505 Extn 701