Government considers Queenstown housing affordability

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The Government is considering assisting Queenstown’s affordable housing problem.

Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith met with mayor Vanessa van Uden last Friday to discuss scheduling the district under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013.

“My officials advise that Queenstown meets the thresholds of the Act and has significant affordability issues,” Smith says.

The Government has already concluded housing accords with Auckland and Christchurch and also has discussions underway with Wellington and the Bay of Plenty.

“Queenstown has quite unique characteristics to its housing challenges,” Smith notes.

“The topography is quite difficult in that there is little easily developable land close to the town centre.

“The district also has high demand for people who work in the tourism and hospitality industries, whose incomes are not high.

“The area is also quite different to others like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in having a high number of homes owned for holiday purposes.”

Van Uden welcomes the Housing Minister’s approach.

“Although we have different housing affordability issues to Auckland and Christchurch, the problems are nonetheless equally pressing for the development of the district given our high rate of population growth.”

Van Uden says the problem of having one pf the highest median house prices in New Zealand – $664,000 – is exacerbated by a median income level that’s only about 84 per cent of the national average.

“We need to ensure that there is both good quality rental stock for the more transient tourism workers, along with a good mix of high and medium density housing for the families who are settling here.”

Van Uden says there’s no silver bullet but initiatives could include incentives for faster development projects, enabling higher-density accommodation and streamlining consenting processes.

Smith says he’ll make a decision after considering the views of the Queenstown council and consulting with Cabinet.