MBIE supporting medium density housing

A denser built environment will also require changes to some current Acceptable Solutions as they aren’t applicable for medium-density housing. That’s where MBIE comes in.

Article sourced from MBIE’s Build

Since its establishment, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has focused on the complementary objectives of delivering higher-quality, more affordable housing for New Zealanders and helping shift the economy further towards more sustainable, higher-value, knowledge-based growth.

Our cities are key to generating the higher-value economic activity that New Zealand needs, reflecting the powerful advantages that concentrations of human capital bring. Successful cities develop, retain and attract the people and skills they need to grow and prosper.

Auckland the engine of growth

Auckland is projected to absorb 60% of New Zealand’s population growth, and it is critical that city in particular performs its role effectively. However, long-standing issues with its housing market and the way it has managed urban growth have hampered that performance. New housing supply has been insufficient to meet population growth, pushing up house prices and rents. Importantly, there has also been a mismatch between the type and location of new housing supplied and the underlying demand.

In Auckland, the provision of medium-density housing (MDH) has been insufficient in the more central areas where land prices and preference studies suggest it is most in demand. The reasons for this are many and interconnected and include regulatory, infrastructure and sectoral — productivity, capacity and capability — constraints.

The result is constrained housing choices and reduced access for many households to the opportunities and advantages that living in a city should provide. This will have profound effects on future prosperity and wellbeing and on the performance of Auckland and the New Zealand economy.

MBIE working to deliver KiwiBuild

MBIE is working closely with other agencies to deliver the new government’s housing and urban development work programme, which has at its heart the objective of creating thriving, accessible urban communities. KiwiBuild is the provision of 100,000 affordable homes for first-home buyers. It is an urban development authority-led large-scale project like Sydney’s waterfront and Kings Cross in London and will be focused on components of the housing and urban system that are currently undersupplied.

MBIE will facilitate and deliver new housing at price points in the lower quartile, where nationally only 5% of new houses are currently delivered – compared to around 30% in the late 1980s. We will focus on delivering smaller, more-efficient dwellings, given the average size of new dwellings has increased by more than 50% since 1989, despite declining average household size.

The emphasis will be on delivering the much-needed medium and higher-density housing, and we will be focused on development locations that align with existing and planned transport investment. Through all this, we will be focused on partnering with iwi, the private sector, community housing providers and local authorities to leverage additional capital, assets and expertise so that the work programme facilitates the delivery of many more houses than the targeted 100,000 affordable homes.

Why there’s a shortage of smaller housing

There are good reasons why smaller, denser, more affordable houses are currently undersupplied:

  • High land values and increasing construction costs make delivering affordable housing challenging in high-growth areas.
  • Developing medium and high-density housing generally involves higher levels of risk than stand-alone dwellings, both from a regulatory and financial perspective.
  • Our construction sector and our building regulatory system are not yet well suited to enabling and delivering higher-density typologies efficiently and at scale.

Compliance challenges

Tackling this will require the government to take a more flexible, bolder approach to development risk than it has done in the recent past.

In particular, the Acceptable Solutions need to better reflect the increasingly important role that MDH will play in New Zealand’s urban future. The Building Code is performance-based and sets the standards that all completed building work must achieve.

However, at this time, not all methods and solutions are specifically applicable to MDH. Resolving this will require meeting compliance challenges, including around vertical and horizontal separation, and the perceived complexity of complying with Building Code clauses for structure, durability, fire, weathertightness, acoustic design and thermal design.

This will be a challenge we need to meet if we are to deliver the government’s ambitious housing and urban development agenda. MBIE looks forward to working with the sector in that pursuit.

Article sourced from MBIE’s Build


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