Labour pledges to fix Chch housing crisis

TIM FULTON
Last updated 12:56 27/06/2014
Kiwibuild houses
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ

CONSTRUCTION PLEDGE: Labour leader David Cunliffe, left, with Christchurch East MP Poto Williams, right, and Stonewood Homes managing director Brent Mettrick at a Burnside building site.

Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford
PHIL TWYFORD: "We’re going to roll up our sleeves and actually build houses, which is what the current government is not doing."

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A Labour government would build 100 "high-quality modular" houses for Christchurch in its first four months and have a further 300 of its Kiwibuild homes ready within six months.

The commitment is part of a plan to build 10,000 affordable homes in Canterbury, addressing what Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford calls the broken free-market "tweaking" of planning laws in National's rebuild.

Labour's approach would fill the shortage, plug the gaps and fix the housing crisis, Twyford said.

"We're going to roll up our sleeves and actually build houses, which is what the current Government is not doing."

Fewer than 1000 of the 12,000 to 15,000 houses needed in Canterbury had been built after three and half years, he said.

Only 25 per cent of the state house repairs has been done, and of the 700 state house rebuild that had been promised a year ago, only 29 had been completed.

"Those numbers aren't flash and they don't lie," he said.

"And the painfully slow pace of the residential rebuild is holding up the rebuild. Building large numbers of affordable houses is what will make the difference."

Labour would finance construction, use Crown or council land or buy land where necessary, engage the country's "finest developers and construction companies" and use bulk-buying power to strike deals.

Twyford said the party would not allow labour constraints to stand in the way of building large numbers of houses.

Labour would "do whatever it takes", including bringing in skilled tradespeople from overseas if the home-grown work force could not meet demand.

He did not believe house prices would rise.

"When we're building 10,000 houses in four years, it gives us unprecedented ability to strike deals with suppliers, and that's exactly what we'll be doing," he said.

Many of the Kiwibuild homes would be built using off-site manufacturing, and it was estimated this could knock $32,000 off the cost of these homes.

That did not factor in the savings that could be made in bulk-buying materials, Twyford said.

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