Wellington Council housing taskforce update

Redeveloping central city buildings for residential housing and a one-stop shop for consents are among a raft of measures to be "pursued as a matter of urgency" to tackle Wellington's dire housing needs. Wellington City Council will be meeting this week to consider recommendations.

The Wellington City Council is also planning to set up a new political housing sub-committee to ensure all Wellingtonians are well housed.

There is an estimated shortfall of about 3900 homes in the city and an extra 37,000 homes will be required to meet a population growth of between 50,000 and 80,000 by 2043.


Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle says the council is planning to set up a new subcommittee to fast-track decisions about housing.

A Mayor's Housing Taskforce was established in October 2016 as an immediate response to growing housing pressures in Wellington.

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In June the independent body of experts released its plan, suggesting solutions such as increasing building heights and allowing more site coverage, stepping up council-led development, and a partnership agreement with the Government.

ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester set up a taskforce last year as an immediate response to growing housing pressures in Wellington. A number of the recommendations such as a one stop shop for consents have been earmarked for the council as a priority for implementing.

Council officers have now analysed the recommendations and a range of priorities will be presented at the council's city strategy committee on Thursday.

The committee will be asked to agree on initiatives for the first three years of the Long-Term Plan.

These include redeveloping central area buildings for residential housing, a one-stop shop for consenting, establishing a wet house and developing Government housing partnerships.

MAARTEN HOLL/STUFF

While Wellington is not yet fully facing the challenges facing residents in Auckland or Queenstown, the city still faces significant challenges to address increasingly evident housing-related issues.

Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle, who led the taskforce, said the council was also planning to set up a new subcommittee to fast-track decisions about housing.

The committee would likely be made up of five councillors and two external experts from the taskforce.

The move would signal to the city and council officers that councillors were putting housing at the top of their list, he said.

"The warning bells are ringing; the city will plunge into a housing crisis if we don't prioritise housing."

The council also wanted to work with the Government to redevelop its existing Housing New Zealand stock in areas such as Berhampore and Strathmore Park, he said.

"In essence we want to say to [the Government] 'we want to develop your land better'. It has a lot of stock that needs to be demolished."

A number of other taskforce recommendations are already underway, including establishing Te Whare Oki Oki (wet house), implementing the Strategic Housing Investment Programme to increase social and affordable housing, introducing a voluntary warrant of fitness and a review of the Wellington Urban Growth Plan (2015) .

A council document says the implementation of the full list of taskforce recommendations would have significant resource, financial and practical implications.

Therefore prioritisation was necessary to ensure that the council could strategically address the most urgent and most easily deliverable activities first.

Priority housing initiatives:

Leadership
Develop clear, transparent targets to increase supply across the housing continuum.
Develop proposals to redevelop central area buildings for residential housing.
Implement a one-stop shop for consenting.
Establish a design review panel.

Government Partnership
Develop agreement with the Government that includes extending the current Housing Accord, improved building certification processes and development of additional social and affordable housing opportunities.

Community Partnership
Implement a proposal for to establish Te Whare Oki Oki (wet house).

See the fairfax media report here.

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