Housing situation will limit growth: report

Southland Community Housing Group chairman Shaun Drylie is worried about the present housing...
Southland Community Housing Group chairman Shaun Drylie is worried about the present housing shortage of 1659 houses in the region. PHOTO: LAURA SMITH
If Southland does not immediately address its already strained housing situation, shortages will skyrocket and constrain Southland growth, a report shows.

Great South commissioned the Southland Housing Situation Analysis last month, which provides an overview of the present and anticipated housing growth challenges for Southland.

The report estimates there is an existing housing shortage of 1659 houses.

It was forecast if the region’s population continues to grow and the rate of construction keeps at the current level, this shortage could increase to 3415 houses by 2025.

Great South strategic projects manager Steve Canny said a collective approach was needed as numbers showed the shortage could hamper the ability of the region to achieve population growth, meet recruitment and skills needs and effectively service existing and new industries in the region.

“The reality is that we need to build a lot more. It’s there where the challenges or the opportunities lay, however you prefer to call it,” Mr Canny said.

The shortage had already put pressure on the community, he said.

The existing undersupply of properties has driven significant increases in both property prices and rent.

The report shows an almost 18% increase in the region’s property values, compared with the corresponding time last year, while rents have increased an average of 50% since 2018.

Emergency housing also needed an “urgent review” as there had been a 254% increase in the need for that type of housing, the report said.

The number of people on the waiting list for public-social housing had increased from 59 in 2018 to 202 in 2021.

Mr Canny said “some excellent” housing developments had been proposed for the region — Te Puawai Residential Development, which was aimed at having 600 homes built on a 70ha block, and the Kew Bowl site, where 30 houses were planned to be built, were two examples.

However, those were not enough.

“Even if all residential properties consented for construction are constructed, this will not address the current demand for property.

“The key is to build in a streamlined manner to ensure a steady stream of residential property being developed ahead of the needs.”

Southland Housing Action Forum chairman Shaun Drylie said housing pressures were not unique to Southland, but he believed the region needed to focus on how to improve the situation.

“It does worry me because it highlights that unless we put more supply of houses into the system, we will constrain the prosperity of Southland.”

The supply of construction workers and materials had been very challenging and would continue to be an issue if not addressed, he said.

“Everybody is waiting to build at the same time, so it means the builders and tradesmen are heavily sought-after.

“How can we encourage our builders that have gone away, to come back to Southland to help grow it? That is something we need to think about.”

Priority had to be placed on the building of residential subdivisions and thinking of different solutions to construct new houses, Mr Drylie said.

There had been an improvement in both the Invercargill City and Southland District Councils’ consents processes, which were paramount for the future of housing growth in the region.

Communication between housing providers, councils and the construction sector had improved in the past three years.

“What I think is exciting is that we have a community who cares and they are talking with each other.

“We know we have a problem, we understand the need and we have a community which is very keen to make it work.”

Mr Canny agreed.

“It is something achievable but it is a big step from where we are at the present time.”

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