Arthur Grimes and Ian Mitchell's latest MOTU report is the latest. They demonstrate just how badly Auckland Council has wrecked housing affordability. Stupid "it was a good idea at the time" rules compound on one another to make it impossible for developers to innovate in providing affordable housing.
Read the whole thing. But Table Two has the main effects.
- Height limits appeal to NIMBYs, maintain viewsheds (the notion that there's infinite value in being able to see some mountain in Auckland from some point on the Harbour Bridge), and appeal to idiotic planners who reckon nobody would want to live that high up anyway.*
- Floor to ceiling height limits appeal to planners who think that it's not fair that poor people's apartments would have low ceilings; they ignore that tenants could otherwise choose between higher ceilings and higher rents and lower ceilings and lower rents. Some people prefer the cash in hand; planners imagine this stuff's costless.
- Minimum balcony area regs appeal to planners' sense of aesthetics; they ignore the cost and cannot imagine that others might prefer the cash.
- Delay is costless to planners, who imagine the costs of a poor (ie, not what they like) design to be huge because buildings last a long time.
In some cases, developers felt that they may even face additional challenges gaining planning consent if their proposal includes innovative solutions that are not typically included in other developments. Specifically, developers considered that being innovative in order to reduce cost heightens the risk and uncertainty when trying to obtain a consent, both in terms of the time required to work through the consenting process and the ultimate outcome in terms of the number of dwellings. Developers commented that urban designers do not like small uniform dwellings which are easy to produce and which reduce costs.
He also specifically cites Grey Lynn people as part of the problem around NIMBY activism.
While I broadly support Nick Smith's look at how the RMA might be fixed so it stops enabling this kind of Council ridiculousness, I doubt it goes far enough. Underpinning all of this is that Councils have zero current incentive not to behave this way. The RMA was never intended to enable this kind of mess; planners used it to set rigid district plans and to fob off blame for lengthy processes. If Councils instead had better incentives, so that growth were in their interest instead of just NIMBY-appeasement, we'd have better outcomes.
New Zealand is the 7th least affordable place in the world to live. Bad urban planning takes a good chunk of the blame.
Update: See also:
Update: See also:
* I'm not exaggerating. That was one of the reasons behind Christchurch CBD height limits. Never mind that it's developers' money on the line if they're the ones wrong about what customers might want.