Accord signed to create more affordable homes


A Nelson Housing Accord aimed at improving the supply and affordability of housing in the district has been signed today by Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith and Mayor Rachel Reese.

The Accord aims to provide affordable housing choices for first home buyers, young families, and older people looking to downsize.

Dr Smith says Nelson’s housing issues are not as acute as those of Auckland, but council still need a focus on increasing the supply of more affordable homes particularly for young families.

“Our ratio of house price to income in Nelson is 6.8, as compared to Queenstown’s 8.9, Auckland’s 8.4 and a national average of 5.5. Census data shows home ownership amongst under 40-years-olds has declined by 30 per cent since 2001,” Dr Smith says.

The Accord, which was signed today, will see the Government and the Nelson City Council to work together to support an increase in housing and improve housing affordability in Nelson. It sets a target of consenting 720 new dwellings over the next three years.

“Encouraging more affordable housing choice is a priority for this council and the signing of this Accord marks an important step in a collaborative approach to addressing this issue,” Ms Reese says.

She says the new Accord will allow more intensive low cost housing without the “degree of nimbyism” allowed in the current council plan.

“We may well identify some areas that would be really suitable for some more intensive housing. Under our current plan rules it’s going to push us into a situation where people have the ability to reject.”

She says collaboration  with the government will be key to the success of The Accord.

“This provides an opportunity for us to sit down with housing New Zealand and look at some of those old, cold homes sitting out there and think about what better creative solutions we can put out there to create some real affordable housing for those most in need in Nelson.”

This is the eight Accord signed by local councils following Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga, Western Bay of Plenty, Queenstown Lakes and Tasman.

Dr Smith says a key goal is increasing the affordability of homes and this is to be achieved by both facilitating easier consenting and growing demand.

“This Accord needs to be considered alongside the new HomeStart scheme, which provides grants of up to $20,000 for a new home priced under $450,000. 1650 HomeStart grants are expected to be available in Nelson over the next five years. The next steps in our programme of work include our planned second phase of reforms to the Resource Management Act and the Building Act to reduce the compliance costs in developing new housing.”