The “Housing Accord” – what does it mean for Queenstown?

Resource Management

Queenstown is one of the least affordable housing areas in New Zealand with a median house price of $664,000. The Government recently announced Queenstown will be added to the list of areas where the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act will operate.

On 23 June 2014 the NZ Government announced that the Queenstown Lakes District is being added to the list of areas where the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act (housing accord) will operate. Accords currently exist for Auckland and Christchurch and are being negotiated in Wellington and the Bay of Plenty.

Inclusion in the list of areas is an acknowledgement of the housing issues, in particular the availability of affordable housing, that are being experienced in Queenstown. It is one of the five least affordable housing areas in the country with a median house price of $664,000. The issues Queenstown faces are unique due to the particular requirements for housing stock. As well as the usual mix of residential dwellings to meet the demand of permanent residents, a high number of dwellings are owned as holiday homes. There is also a high demand for affordable rental accommodation, especially for tourism and hospitality workers who tend to be on lower incomes.

The demand for more affordable housing for Queenstown has been recognised for some time and was the catalyst for the Queenstown Lakes District Council (Council) promoting plan change 24 to the District Plan that requires developers to provide land or funds for affordable housing development according to the likely demand for housing generated by their development.

What are the housing accords supposed to do? Essentially they provide a forum for collaboration between the Government and the Council to devise methods to deal with the housing issues facing different areas of the country. Affordability is a key issue nationwide and the accords allow for a tailored solution that reflects the needs of an area. They may result in more streamlined consenting processes or allow the promotion of innovative housing solutions.

One of the possible solutions being touted for Queenstown is more multi-level housing developments. These could be provided for in areas close to central Queenstown, thereby also providing a part-solution to the increased traffic congestion being experienced on Frankton Road, as many of the tourist or hospitality workers that Queenstown attracts do not own vehicles. Being able to develop central locations more intensely would better provide for their needs. Such a solution would require relaxing some rules in the District Plan, including those relating to height restrictions and car parking.

The multi level option would also assist in addressing the key issue for housing in Queenstown, the availability of suitable land that can be economically developed. However, there may be other possible solutions and the intention is that the accord will be able to provide solutions tailored to Queenstown’s needs.

The accord will provide new opportunities for Queenstown property developers, who may also want to be part of the discussions leading to the housing accord. Cavell Leitch, with its dedicated office and team at Queenstown, with access to other specialist expertise such as resource management advice from Christchurch, is well placed to assist, please get in touch with us if you would like any further information.

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