Council to discuss its 'aspirational' housing targets

''Aspirational'' housing targets for the Wakatipu basin under the Government's housing accord with Queenstown will be discussed by the Queenstown Lakes District Council this week.

In his report, District Plan manager Matthew Paetz said the ''stretch targets'' had been set following analysis of the resort's housing market and discussions with Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment staff.

The accord aimed to have 350 sections and dwellings consented in the first year; another 450 in the second; and a further 500 in year three.

Mr Paetz said there was flexibility with regard to monitoring achievement and no sanction if targets were not achieved.

There was also an ability to extend the accord for another two years in the final year.

''The targets are framed as aspirational in the housing accord,'' he said.

''Whilst they are considered to be `stretch targets', they are also considered to be achievable.''

In his report, Mr Paetz said special housing areas (SHAs) were the main tools used to achieve targets and objectives of a housing accord and while preliminary investigations had begun, further work would include public consultation which could include calling for expressions of interest from landowners/developers.

''It is anticipated that once SHAs are established, there will be significant interest from the development community and a consequent increase in building and resource consent applications.

''Consideration may need to be given to recruitment of additional building/resource consent processing resources.

''This cost should be offset by the additional revenue that this activity creates.''

Mr Paetz's report recommended the council approve the accord because the benefits derived from it would ''significantly outweigh'' the cons, all of which could be mitigated to varying degrees.

Negatives included the accord not addressing the causes of the housing issue for the resort, i.e. building costs; placing some pressure on council staff, resources and infrastructure; and it may receive ''negative community responses''.

Subject to council approval, Mr Paetz proposed the council considered potential SHAs in December, ahead of community consultation in January and February.

A decision on the first tranche of SHAs could then be considered by the council in March/April, ''broadly ensuring'' those were approved around the same time stage one of the proposed District Plan was notified in May next year.

The council will discuss the report at its meeting in Wanaka tomorrow.

Housing Minister Nick Smith first mooted the accord with the council in May, and in June announced the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act had been changed, enabling the accord with Queenstown.

The district was one of the five least affordable in New Zealand, with a median house price of $664,000. A mortgage repayment for a median-priced house was 93.9% of the median weekly take-home pay.

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