Akld housing hindered by lack of workers

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 05:00 21/05/2014

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Efforts to address Auckland’s chronic housing shortage by building thousands of homes in special housing areas could be hindered by a lack of tradesmen, the industry says.

The comments come as the Government accuses Auckland Council of being too slow to issue consents to get construction under way.

Special housing areas catering for a projected 39,000 future homes are being established in Auckland in a bid to boost supply and curb price inflation, but Finance Minister Bill English said they still hinged on consents.

The Government wanted to see the council follow through on the special housing area announcements and process the required consents to allow construction to start.

"They’ve had pretty positive leadership in this area, but I think they’re yet to show the kind of urgency about really changing how they do business,'' English said.

"Their decisions have an impact on the whole economy. They have an impact on thousands of households, so they need to understand that impact and get on with the job.''

But a spokesman for Auckland Mayor Len Brown said more than 95 per cent of consents were processed within the required time period and the council had introduced a number of measures to speed up the issuing of consents.

Under the legislation, consents had to be processed in under six months for developments outside the urban limit and three months for those within it.

Consents were just one aspect of the housing issue, he said.

‘‘There are a whole range of constraints on housing supply and affordability in Auckland and we’re working on the bits that we can but it’s not something that has a single solution to it.’’

On top of his concerns over consents, English said a lack of capacity in the construction sector could hinder efforts to boost supply, but he was confident the sector would cope.

"There is growth in the cost of building, which tells you the construction market is getting pretty tight, but our experience from Christchurch is that if there’s a clear pipeline of work to be done, you’ll be surprised who shows up to do it,'' he said.

Registered Master Builders Federation chief executive Warwick Quinn said the industry could struggle.

‘‘When you factor in the fact that Canterbury will be in the same level of activity… and the rest of New Zealand is also starting to show signs of life in the regions, it’s still pretty tough out there, then we will be struggling for capacity.’’

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This was in spite of Government efforts to boost the numbers of apprentices and changing migration patterns which could help address skill shortages, he said.

He also questioned whether there would be sufficient demand to build 39,000 new homes in Auckland.

- Stuff

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