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A housing squeeze

Opinion Piece

Population growth and a shortage of homes has seen Gisborne's median house price jump from $240,000 in 2016 to $392,000 by November last year, when only 86 properties were for sale. Rents have been on the march too, and rental properties are in even shorter supply.

Yesterday's report that emergency housing grants in the quarter to September 2019 increased four-fold on the same period a year ago (from 149 to 622) shows the worst impact of this situation for local families.

Despite rising demand for houses, our council saw a 21 percent drop in the total number of new dwellings consented from 2017 to 2018. Analysis of market constraints and our urban development capacity will be provided in a Housing Business Assessment alongside the council's finalised spatial plan, which itself is an overarching strategic document for regional development.

The draft Tairawhiti 2050 Spatial Plan says the city's population is expected to grow by at least 4000 over the next 25 years, and: “Providing an adequate supply of housing, infrastructure and development capacity . . . that suits different budgets, family sizes and area preferences is a challenge.”

Constraints on expanding the city outwards include the need to protect productive land, the geological instability of surrounding hills and the risk to coastal areas from future sea level rise.

However, the draft plan says there is enough land for residential use and lists these “opportunities” with regard to housing development:

Council can support developers by providing clearer direction and more certainty through rules and guidance in our Tairawhiti Resource Management Plan;

Providing new and upgraded infrastructure is key to unlocking more housing options — Taruheru Block and Kaiti are examples. We need to look at new funding mechanisms to achieve this;

Making the best use of available land — including infill development and redevelopment of the city centre to support mixed use with open space and medium density residential housing; and

Long-term — the progressive redevelopment of the current industrial area along Awapuni Road will allow for the movement of industry out of the Gisborne urban area and provide additional residential land in a prime location.

Aspirations by 2050 are:

Housing development is enabled within the city's current footprint and provides for a range of residential options; and

Everyone is living in affordable, healthy and environmentally sustainable housing.

  1. Mary-Ann de Kort says:

    Now that you mention new and upgraded infrastructure; when do you think we will see a sewerage upgrade so that our rivers aren’t used for overflow?

    1. Water Wallah says:

      The majority of the issues with wastewater being released into the river ways is due to the unlawful stormwater connections into the sewerage system. This means the system cannot move the exceptional high flows of rainwater. The GDC DrainWise programme offers free inspection of properties to confirm the security of the sewer but any problems are, generally, the landowners to fix.
      The second cause of wastewater release is blockages to the sewerage system due to rags, fat and other items being flushed instead of disposed to landfill.
      All sewerage systems are designed to overflow at some point to avoid blockages causing overflows in private homes.

      1. G R Webb says:

        So then, why the big Rutene Road mains renewal?

  2. G R Webb says:

    In the November years ending 2017, 2018 and 2019 Statistics NZ reports the number of new dwelling building consents for the Gisborne region to be respectively 94, 82 and 97. That’s hardly likely to solve a housing crisis. Infrastructure costs to get subdivided land to a ready-to-build stage are huge. The council has no money to assist that process and then building consent costs [which can include paying for a soil contamination report and a land geotechnical report] all add to the price the would-be homeowner has to fork out for. Then you have to find a builder.