Compulsory land acquisition

In September last year the Productivity Commission, in its ‘Using Land for Housing’ report, recommended setting up urban development authorities with powers of compulsory land acquisition for housing.

At the time Housing Minister Nick Smith said:

“Obviously the issue of overriding private title for development is a big call, but my view is if we are going to get the quality of urban development, particularly in the redevelopment area where you can often have a real mix of little titles that makes doing a sensible development difficult, in my view it’s one of things we’ll need to consider.”

Just over a week ago at his party’s annual conference John Key said that National was looking in to ‘Urban Development Authorities’ but appears to rule out compulsory land acquisition for housing.

Urban Development Authorities on the way

The government intends introducing legislation later this year to create Urban Development Authorities in areas of high housing need, Prime Minister John Key says.

He told the National Party’s annual conference on Sunday UDAs were being considered, and firmed that up at his post-cabinet press conference on Monday.

“We will consider the best approach to establishing these over the coming weeks with a view to introducing legislation later this year,” he said.

The aim is to give the authorities powers to override barriers to large-scale housing development.

Mr Key says they’ve been used widely and successfully in other countries.

“What’s made them successful is they have total control over the particular area they’re developing, extremely broad-ranging powers,” he said.

Questioned whether they could be given powers to seize land from “landbankers” – people who hang onto land without developing it – he said that wasn’t the government’s intention.

“In the practical world we live in we are not trying to march over the top of peoples’ property rights,” he said.

In policy announced yesterday Labour said they plan to set up a similar type of authority but one that will be able take over private land.

Labour supports compulsory land acquisition for housing development

Labour’s proposed Affordable Housing Authority will have powers to buy land compulsorily, Labour leader Andrew Little says.

The authority will be tasked with partnering with developers to build 10,000 new homes a year priced below $600,000 in Auckland and below $500,000 elsewhere.

Little said it would need to be able to buy land compulsorily to put together land parcels big enough for bulk developments.

“There will have to be acquisition powers with the Affordable Housing Authority,” he said.

“You are trying to partner up with councils and others. The reality is the housing issue is serious and there is going to have to be the means to cut through those barriers.”

However compulsory land acquisition isn’t stated in Labour’s policy as far as I can see, but there are possible hints. From Establishing an Affordable Housing Authority:

LABOUR WILL:

  • Establish the Affordable Housing Authority, an independent Crown entity with a fast-tracked planning process, tasked with leading large-scale housing developments and cutting through red tape

The Affordable Housing Authority will have access to fast tracked planning powers to cut through red tape and speed up development

This coordination with communities and the private sector, combined with the Affordable Housing Authority’s powers and control of Crown land, will enable rapid development of large-scale projects focused on affordable housing.

So suggestions of powers without specifying what they will be (and “cut through red tape” would have to have significant power over or make changes to the Resource Management Act).

Perhaps the compulsory acquisition of land at low prices is one way they will keep the houses ‘affordable’.

15 Comments

  1. David

     /  July 11, 2016

    If the silly councils didnt make it such a huge hurdle to convert land for housing and did it in a timely fashion there would be no need to acquire anything because developers would need to get a wiggle on before their neighbour does and snaps up all the buyers.

  2. Blazer

     /  July 11, 2016

    Taxing prime land not being built on would affect land banking.No chance of happening of course.

    • Dougal

       /  July 11, 2016

      No, because, as a wise man once said, “taxing your way to prosperity is a fools paradise”.

      • Blazer

         /  July 11, 2016

        2 sure things the wise man forgot…..death….and…taxes!

    • David

       /  July 11, 2016

      The tax would then be added to the cost of the land for the buyer, what sort of tax would be fair to charge a landowner who couldnt develop their land until the council has the infrastructure in place (paid for by the developer) or while some council loon insists on dozens of reports for various things as they always do.

      • Blazer

         /  July 11, 2016

        The landbanker knows the protocols before he buys the land.Blame anyone you like,theres plenty of land in NZ and plenty of building materials.Red tape is a problem but not the only one.Look at the leaky homes debacle,and the buckpassing that ensued then.

        • David

           /  July 11, 2016

          If the councils encouraged and facilitated land development no one would land bank, its a very risky and can be quite expensive in what is usually a flat market. You cant just pluck tax policy of the air to suit what are quite unusual times in a particular market caused by a hopeless council.

  3. Best response to this is to transfer ownership of the real property to a trust and put a caveat on the title equal to the market value of the real property.

  4. Brown

     /  July 11, 2016

    ”LABOUR WILL:
    Establish the Affordable Housing Authority, an independent Crown entity with a fast-tracked planning process, tasked with leading large-scale housing developments and cutting through red tape
    The Affordable Housing Authority will have access to fast tracked planning powers to cut through red tape and speed up development

    This coordination with communities and the private sector, combined with the Affordable Housing Authority’s powers and control of Crown land, will enable rapid development of large-scale projects focused on affordable housing.”

    If you were to present a lecture on contradictions this would be a great statement to start with. If the govt gets involved it will be a shambles.

  5. insider

     /  July 11, 2016

    The Public Works Act allows government to buy any bit of land it wants. But it must pay market price. I can’t see Labour going into an election campaigning on platform of nationalising property without compensation

  6. We have compulsory schooling, compulsory driver licensing and vehicle registration, compulsory lots-of-other-things; speed limits, gun licensing … I don’t see the problem with a bit of compulsory land acquisition?

    Let’s put Maori people in charge of it, then we’ll know how they’ve been feeling for 176 years!

    • The problem is that injury of people’s rights is a crime to matter how often it occurs.

      • Isn’t it a crime against Rule of Law only if it’s recognised as such and something is done about it? If Rule of Law says its legal and justified to confiscate peoples’ land on tenuous pretexts then surely it isn’t a crime to do so, even though their Natural Law rights have been impinged?

        • Brown

           /  July 11, 2016

          That gets to the heart of the matter. Making it legal is not the same as making it right but that was forgotten by politicians the day after politicians were created.