The Government this week issued its response to the Productivity Commission's April 2012 report on housing affordability.  Finance Minister Bill English announced that work will need to be done across multiple sectors and with input from central and local government and private sector agencies to address the complex issue of high housing debt and its impact on the community and the economy.

Mr English announced that the Government will be implementing a work programme with the following key aims, each of which are encompassed in the 35 recommendations made by the Productivity Commission:

  • Increasing land supply - this will include more greenfields and brownfields developments and allow further densification of cities, where appropriate.
  • Reducing delays and costs of RMA processes associated with housing - this includes introducing a six-month time limit on council processing of medium-sized consents (more on this here).
  • Improving the timely provision of infrastructure to support new housing - this will include considering new ways to co-ordinate and manage infrastructure for subdivisions.
  • Improving productivity in the construction sector – this includes an evaluation of the Building and Construction Productivity Partnership’s progress in achieving a 20 per cent increase in productivity by 2020.  In addition, the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment will undertake a market-level inquiry into the construction sector to identify barriers to improving housing affordability.

The Government has asked for more work to be done on specific policy proposals to in order to address other recommendations made by the Productivity Commission, including:

  • whether Building Consent Authorities can be consolidated in a regional or national hub; and
  • the possible establishment of a competitor agency for resource consents/plan changes.

More work will also be commissioned in relation to the specific problems of the Auckland and Christchurch housing markets.