Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Far North council to tackle local housing crisis

Far North District Council says it will take a lead in tackling the district’s housing crisis by working more closely with iwi and hapū, housing agencies and developers to reduce barriers to building new homes.

The move follows the Council’s adoption of a proposal to develop a district-wide housing strategy during the final meeting for 2023.

It says development of the strategy will draw on the award-winning collaborative approach adopted by Hastings District Council to address housing challenges.

“This clearly identified areas of council responsibility and those of other agencies and was successful in improving the housing situation in Hastings,” the Council said in a statement.

In December, Council identified housing as an activity of regional or national significance and appointed Deputy Mayor, Kelly Stratford and Councillor, Babe Kapa, to take responsibility for a newly created housing portfolio.

The report delivered to councillors at the December meeting said that the Council’s role in housing had largely been as a regulator.

“The council sets housing development policy via the District Plan and applies that through resource and building consents. This had resulted in ad-hoc development with no cohesive approach across the district,” it said.

“While the Council does not have the mandate or resources to tackle the crisis housing alone, the report said that the Council is the authority best placed to lead a strategy to get all agencies around the table and working together.”

Council says the new housing strategy will have a 10-20-year timeframe and will focus on increasing affordable housing options for communities, ensure homes are healthy warm and sustainable, and improve housing options for Māori.

The report also listed actions the Council is already undertaking to better support housing development. Examples include work on a Housing and Business Land Capacity Assessment and a review of how the District Plan enables papakāinga housing.  

The report also acknowledged that development of the housing strategy would take time and will occur over the next 18 months, beginning with research and consultation with interested parties.

To start the process, Council staff and elected members will attend the inaugural Waitangi Housing Expo at the Waitangi grounds tomorrow.

“This will be an opportunity for the public to discuss housing and the housing strategy, and for staff and elected members to hear about housing issues direct from whanau,” Council said.

“Other consultations and opportunities to become involved in the strategy will be announced in coming months.”

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