Property Institute chief executive Ashley Church has asked the Government to consider setting up multiple urban development authorities in Auckland rather than the single authority which Prime Minister John Key floated last week.
The single agency would oversee major building projects, buy building sites, masterplan large residential developments and partner with private sector groups to deliver them. The Productivity Commission proposed the idea last year.
However, Mr Church said competition & private investment were the keys to fast-tracking the development of new housing projects in Auckland, and yesterday he encouraged the Government to consider a commercially focused multiple-agency approach along the lines of the energy company reforms of the 1990s.
“Most of the focus of those reforms was on price competition – but we forget that an equally important aspect of them was a need to rapidly find new ways to generate energy and avoid ‘brown-outs’. In that regard the creation of Mighty River Power, Genesis & Meridian was a huge success and solved a problem that was every bit as serious as the Auckland housing crisis, at the time.”
Mr Church said the Government should take the same approach to housing by establishing a series of competing urban development authorities – possibly domiciled in different parts of Auckland but with free rein to operate throughout the city. He said they could be Crown-owned entities, council controlled organisations or a combination of both.
Mr Church said the creation of the super-city provided a stark example of why a single authority wasn’t the solution for Auckland: “If the creation of a single authority was the answer to the housing problem, Auckland would now be well on the way to solving its housing issues.”
Instead, Mr Church said it hadn’t gone unnoticed that this property boom – the first since the creation of the super-city – was taking much longer to resolve than any previous boom since at least the early 1970s.
“To be fair – that’s not all the fault of the Auckland Council. It’s also the result of strong migration & a strong economy. But I don’t think anyone gets the sense that Auckland Council ‘has matters under control’ – so the last thing the city needs is a new ’Soviet-style’ central planning agency.”
Mr Church said it was ironic that the multi-city structure of Auckland before the super-city was created would have been much better equipped to handle the current housing problem: “Under the old structure, cities competed with each other for residential development & investment – so, by now, you would have expected to have seen areas throughout the isthmus opened up for commercial & residential development in a way which would also have encouraged private investment at a local level.”
Attribution: Institute release.