Hamilton approves Special Housing Areas

By Tom Rowland

Special Housing Areas may be created on land put forward for  development that may not be zoned residential. Photo / Supplied
Special Housing Areas may be created on land put forward for development that may not be zoned residential. Photo / Supplied

Hamilton City Council approved a Special Housing Areas policy on Thursday, but failed to include measures that would specifically address home affordability and social housing needs.

The policy does allow the council to prescribe that any SHA development must - on a case by case basis - contain a percentage of affordable dwellings. Although there is no criteria for what is "affordable".

Special Housing Areas may be created on land put forward for development that may not be zoned residential. The policy was created to enhance housing affordability by facilitating an increase in land and housing supply.

During the council meeting on Thursday, Cr Mark Bunting attempted to make a late amendment to the policy stating the council "approves the inclusion of a clause to the policy to target a minimum of 20 per cent of total SHA stock over the life of the accord (3 years) be set aside for affordable and social housing initiatives."
The amendment was seconded by Cr Siggi Henry, but came up against stiff opposition.

"What I'm trying to do is say, yup, keep 80 per cent for developers to do what they will, but don't expect them to deal with affordability," Cr Bunting said.

It would then be on trusts and organisations like Habitat for Humanity to build 20 per cent of affordable housing within that area.

The wording of the amendment as first crafted brought concern to Cr Gary Mallet, who said it would prevent other housing from being built if that 20 per cent was not reached.

Cr Dave MacPherson attempted to come Cr Bunting's rescue with the structuring of the amendment, saying that it should be changed to "that the council approves that 20 per cent of total SHA stock over each year bet set aside for co-housing initiatives."

"I think there is a problem, and Auckland has clearly shown this problem, that SHAs are not delivering the expected number of affordable housing," Cr MacPherson said.

Mayor Andrew King was supportive of the intent of Cr Bunting's amendment but said he could not back it.

"The wider that we can leave this policy open, this council gets to choose which applications are in and which applications we reject," said Mr King.

"We've got to be careful we don't stall the market with an amendment like this."

"It could distort our decisions later on."

Cr Geoff Taylor had sympathy for Cr Bunting but could not support the amendment to approve 20 per cent of SHA stock for co-housing initiative.

"We're muddying the water again I believe if we over complicate it."

"I support the stripped back version as I believe it'll get the job done."

The amendment failed to pass with a vote of seven against and three for - Dave
MacPherson, Siggi Henry and Mark Bunting voting in favour.

The council voted unanimously to approve the Special Housing Areas with a vote of 10-0.

Councillors Angela O'Leary, Paula Southgate and Phillip Yeung were absent.

In September, land owners will be able to present proposals for their land to become a Special Housing Area, the proposals will then be assessed by the council.

- Hamilton News

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