Affordable Housing Plan Change adopted

Dec 18, 2008

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has adopted an Affordable Housing Plan Change, the first attempt in New Zealand to utilise statutory powers to address affordable housing, QLDC senior planning analyst Scott Figenshow said.

The vote this week was tight with Mayor Clive Geddes casting the deciding vote in favour of adoption.

“The decision discusses the social, economic and environmental consequences that a shortage of affordable housing is considered to cause in the Queenstown Lakes District,” Mr Figenshow said.

This was the first attempt in New Zealand to utilise the Resource Management Act to address the social issue of housing affordability.

“The plan change supports a sustainable management principle that in order to retain a diverse, mixed community it is important to ensure housing is accessible to a range of households,’ Mr Figenshow said.

The plan change was not intended to impose any obligations on landowners who applied for consent for a controlled activity, or if the activity was permitted.

Nor would  anyone who applied for a consent to build a house on an approved section be affected.

“It is geared to capture affordable housing in new subdivisions or developments.”

Much of the discussion in submissions, at the hearing and within the decision had revolved around the scope to address Affordable Housing under the Resource Management Act (the RMA).

“The Plan Change provides a method for assessing the impact of a development and/or subdivision on the supply of and demand for affordable housing,” Mr Figenshow said.

If there was such an impact, then it would need to be mitigated through increasing the supply of affordable housing through a variety of means.

The shortage of Affordable Housing and the effect this has on the community was a matter of some concern in the District, with the Council having already established the ground-breaking Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust to administer affordable housing options for the community.

The problem was recognised by the local community.
“In the last Queenstown Lakes District Residents and Ratepayers Satisfaction and Opinion Survey 71.4% of respondents said the Council should have a key role in addressing Affordable Housing,” he said.

It was important to bear in mind that the Affordable Housing Plan Change 24 was only one action in the 32-action HOPE (Housing Our People in our Environment) Strategy adopted by Council in 2005 to address matters of housing affordability.  Other actions already underway included the Trust, which operated the Shared Ownership Programme, also another first for the District.

“Even though house prices have eased in recent months there is still a significant mismatch between the average house price and average household income in the District,” Mr Figenshow said.

With respect for the Christmas holidays, the decision would now be publicly notified on 14 January 2009.  The appeal period is open for 30 working days from the date that submitters receive the decision, through to approximately 27 February 2009.


For further information please contact Scott Figenshow 03 441 0499.