Media Release: Land use restrictions caused the housing crisis

Media Release
20 July, 2017

Wellington (20 July 2017): Superu’s report on land use planning confirms what The New Zealand Initiative has been saying since 2012. Restrictions on land use have driven Auckland’s housing crisis. And restoring housing affordability requires fixing land use planning.
Superu today released a report showing that land use restrictions are responsible for over half of the current cost of housing in Auckland. Restrictive regulations drive up land prices and are the primary cause of unaffordable housing.
Said Initiative Executive Director Oliver Hartwich, “We knew that planning rules that prevent building up and prevent building out result in unaffordable housing, overcrowding, and misery. Superu’s report shows just how bad the situation is. 56% of the price of a house in Auckland comes from the regulatory mess.”
Hartwich continued, “When we started the Initiative in 2012, we saw that housing affordability was worsening. We quickly found that land use restrictions were to blame. For five years we have called on the government to put in place measures to restore housing affordability.”
“Everyone now recognises that bad urban planning rules drive up house prices. But fixing that requires understanding why Councils set these rules. Councils prevent growth and drive up house prices because they see all of the infrastructure costs of development and little of the benefit. They need better incentives if we want better outcomes.”

The Initiative’s policy recommendations for housing affordability are summarised in Manifesto 2017 and include:

  • Using Community Development Districts to fund infrastructure, with the infrastructure paid off over time through targeted rates on the housing benefiting from the infrastructure. This would allow Councils approaching their debt limits to accommodate growth;
  • Refund the GST from new construction to Councils, to help them to defray infrastructure costs and to encourage them to allow growth;
  • Abolish rural-urban boundaries as well as height and density controls;
  • Strengthen property rights by introducing a presumption in favour of development into the Resource Management Act.

New Zealand’s housing crisis is too big for the government to continue to ignore.

Read, Manifesto 2017: What the next New Zealand government should do.
Read Superu’s report on land use planning.


Media contact
Simone White, Communications Officer
The New Zealand Initiative
Phone: +64 4 494 9109
Mobile: +64 21 2937 250

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