Friday was an important day not only for Universal Homes, but for Auckland Council and the Government. We had the soft launch of West Hills, our latest master planned community in the new suburb of Redhills www.westhills.co.nz. Auckland Council and the Government announced the confirmation of a 339m loan to advance infrastructure in the Redhills area, as part of their 1bn Housing Infrastructure Fund.
Significant work has gone into securing this funding. We first met with Council and MBIE over a year ago to put forward the Redhills case. From that point on, Auckland Council and the CCO’s have worked with NZTA and MBIE to get it over the line. The people involved need to be commended for their efforts.
What may have not been apparent from the media coverage was the significance of what was going on in the background of the announcement, and what it represents. The first 7 of the 94 houses in stage 1 were under construction. These homes are being built simultaneously with the installation of the civil infrastructure. What this means is that by the time titles for stage 1 issue, there will be a number of homes complete ready for people to move in, a time saving in the order of 10 months.
Its examples like this, together with a number of other initiatives we and others are working on, which shouldn't go unnoticed. These are a direct result of the commitment from Government, Council and the wider industry to ‘do things differently than in the past’, to ensure an adequate supply of housing and ultimately improve housing affordability.
There has been significant coverage in the press of late, on Auckland Council and building consent processing. Whilst there is no denying the issue, what can’t be ignored is the commitment and work going on in the background.
We build in excess of 300 homes per year in the Auckland Council area. We are qualified partners under ‘Consenting Made Easy’ and meet regularly with the regulatory services senior leadership team. So it’s fair to say I’m in the thick of it.
Consenting Made Easy is working. With the recent expansion to include resource consents, engineering and the 224c process, I have no doubt the programmes success will make a significant impact on delivery. Yes there are still areas and issues that need to be resolved, but I can confirm first hand that Council are listening. Their leadership team is highly motivated and they are acting on the feedback we provide. The trial of simultaneous construction mentioned above, is a great example of this.
We all agree there is no silver bullet. What is good to see is the wider industry responding and working together. It is this working together that will ultimately solve the housing shortage and is why I believe we are on the right track. Could we get there faster? 100%, but it will require your contribution.