Housing Minister Nick Smith's latest target is to improve
housing affordability in Queenstown, where the median house
price is $664,000.
Dr Smith yesterday announced the resort was being considered
for a housing accord and said he hoped to make a decision on
whether Queenstown would be scheduled under the Housing
Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013 by the end of the
The Government has initiated housing accords in Auckland and
Christchurch but their accords, which differ from each other,
would not be a blueprint for Queenstown.
A statement from Dr Smith said the district was one of the
five least affordable housing areas in New Zealand and his
officials said the resort met the threshold of the Act.
He now wanted to discuss with the Queenstown Lakes District
Council ''whether they concur with that assessment and how we
can improve housing in the district''.
A year ago, when announcing he and Auckland Mayor Len Brown
had agreed on an Auckland housing accord, Dr Smith said the
accord would ''help deliver thousands of new homes for
Auckland by streamlining the planning and consenting
He told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he was
''systematically'' working his way through areas in the
country to resolve affordability issues.
''Auckland is at the top of the list [and] we are making
really good progress there with the accord.''
A Christchurch accord, focused on social housing, was signed
last month, and Dr Smith is ''also in the process of
extensive discussions with Wellington and the Bay of Plenty.
Queenstown Lakes is my next priority''.
''Queenstown's issues are quite unique in that you have got
quite challenging topographical issues around suitable new
residential land close to the town centre; you have got this
very transient population of workers that supports the
tourism and hospitality industry and you have also got this
high level of demand for accommodation for holiday homes, as
well as for the residential population.''
''So in my view the situation is quite different to Auckland
but the similarity, of course, is that you have got real
issues around the affordability of housing.''
When asked what a housing accord would be like for
Queenstown, Dr Smith simply said that was a discussion he
first needed to have with the council.
Yesterday, he met Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden to
discuss the district being scheduled under the Act.
Ms van Uden welcomed the discussion.
''We need to ensure that there is both good quality rental
stock for the more transient tourism workers, along with a
good mix of high and medium density housing for the families
who are settling here,'' she said in a statement.
While there was no silver bullet for the problem, she said,
mechanisms which enabled higher-density accommodation,
created incentives for faster development projects and
streamlined consenting processes would be important steps in
the right direction.
''Rapid population and economic growth is an enviable problem
to have, but we must ensure our people can live here in the
long-term, and so we look forward to working further with the
Government on this proposal.''