Mayor has concerns over extent of Kainga Ora powers

Aaron Hawkins
Aaron Hawkins
The Government’s new public housing provider should work with local government and abide by local planning documents as much as possible, the Dunedin City Council says.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said he appreciated the council staff’s ‘‘difficulty in managing the tone’’ of the submission concerning the Urban Development Bill, which sets out the powers for Kainga Ora-Homes and Communities.

Growth projections had been wrong in the past but there was no doubt the city’s housing issues were real.

Although he was supportive of the general aim of the replacement for Housing New Zealand — Kainga Ora — he did not think the powers it was granted should come ‘‘at any cost’’.

‘‘I think it’s a little brutish,’’ he said.

The council’s submission notes ‘‘the availability of affordable and high-quality housing is one of Dunedin’s most pressing problems’’.

‘‘The demand for housing is expected to continue as major redevelopments in the city, such as Otago University’s capital works programme and the hospital rebuild, get under way.’’

It also cautions that Kainga Ora’s powers to remove and replace 3 Waters infrastructure; override district plans; issue resource consents; and compulsorily acquire private land to create specified development projects should face clear tests as to whether the project is in ‘‘the national interest’’.

Last month, the Otago Regional Council opposed the ‘‘extraordinary powers’’ the Bill sought to grant Kainga Ora.

In a statement late last year, Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said Kainga Ora would not only act as a public housing landlord, it would help ‘‘struggling’’ cities.

‘‘Kainga Ora’s mandate to lead large-scale urban development projects will allow us to build the homes people desperately need using quality intensification.

‘‘Large-scale urban developments are often too complex for the private sector to do on their own.

‘‘By giving Kainga Ora the powers to be a one-stop shop, the agency can reduce their risks and set up investors, and private sector designers and builders, to build great communities.’’

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