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Further delays to Dunedin’s new planning rules may exacerbate the city’s housing crisis, it is feared.
At the Dunedin City Council’s planning and environment committee yesterday, councillors noted an extension to a change to the second generation district plan (2GP), until February 3, when the change will be publicly notified.
Some councillors raised concerns about the time it was taking.
Changes were delayed by six months, in part due to the Covid-19 lockdown and the rate of progress on 2GP appeals that needed to be resolved before notification.
Cr Carmen Houlahan said the 2GP process was lengthy, costly and "tied up in red tape".
"When it becomes slow and costly for builders and developers, it increases the cost of getting housing done."
Cr Andrew Whiley said while it was good to see some progress had been made regarding 2GP appeals, it was not as fast as the community would like.
"We don’t have a housing problem — we have a housing crisis.
"The cost of housing in Dunedin is unbelievable ... speeding up opportunity for development is vital."
When first-home buyers missed out on a home worth $580,000, it was the council failing the community, he said.
"The 2GP has taken forever ... let’s get this signed off, let’s get the developers building."
Mayor Aaron Hawkins, who was a 2GP commissioner, said the time it was taking for the plan to become operational was largely out of the council’s control due to the Resource Management Act.
"It’s disappointing for the lack of progress perceived to be sheeted home to council staff when ... the staff have so little influence over how long these processes take."
Cr Lee Vandervis said the ability to provide housing in Dunedin was "severely constrained" by factors the council had a great ability to affect.
"One of them is the price of land. The cost of land has increased largely because insufficient land has been provided."
It was good to hear staff had accepted the initial plan did not allow for expected growth, but there were still fundamental issues like only allowing development in a limited area within the city boundaries, he said.
"We have to accept as a council that one of the reasons we have such a housing price issue here is because of decisions we have made relative to the rest of the country.
"The cost of land, the cost of compliance and the frustration that developers have in trying to get planning through is something that comes to me on an almost weekly basis.
"If we as council continue to deny any of this is our fault ... we can look forward to the housing crisis becoming more of an issue."
The debate ended when Cr Jim O’Malley reminded fellow councillors that what they were voting on was simply the change in date, rather than a wide-reaching debate on housing.
All councillors voted in favour of noting the revised notification date.