Council's plan won't make housing more affordable

DANIEL ADAMS
Last updated 10:45 04/12/2012

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Proposed changes to Hamilton's district plan will "fan the flames of an already overvalued housing market", says the head of one of the country's largest building firms.

Jennian Homes' director Richard Carver says the changes, already being enforced in Rototuna, require living areas to be visible from the street front in an attempt to improve community safety.

The proposed "interface" rules prohibit garages being set forward of living areas, require at least one window and the front door to face the street, and stipulate that clear visibility must be maintained between house and road.

A slew of builders and other industry professionals have slated the proposals over the past week, many claiming they were in the dark over the proposals.

They warned higher prices would inevitably result from rules which would reduce the number of house designs that could fit on existing sections.

City bosses have reacted to the furore by saying they will work with people affected by the new rules, but have been unwilling to waive any processing fees.

But Mr Carver said the moves limited privacy, reduced design options and would take away people's right to choose how they lived in their homes.

"While the council's goal of increasing home security is admirable, placing restrictions on home design is misguided and will negatively impact on homeowners. The changes to the district plan effectively tell people what their home will look like and how they will live in it. I disagree with that," he said.

In an email exchange last week between Mayor Julie Hardaker and council management, Ms Hardaker said the council had to seek a "pragmatic and practical" solution for people caught out by the rule changes.

But Mr Carver said the changes to home-building rules would send clients who might have built back into an already stretched existing home market, and went against recent government directives to make housing more affordable.

"The style of home the council is advocating requires a wide and shallow section, which won't always result in optimal use of available land," he said.

"Jennian Homes often custom designs homes for long sections with narrow street frontages.

"In Hamilton, these designs would become obsolete and the infill and subdivided sections which are essential to the council's hopes for intensification would become increasingly unattractive to homeowners."

Privacy and best use of sunlight were peoples' key considerations, he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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