1493774106116 - Hamilton’s first special housing areas could be declared before 2017 ends

Hamilton’s first special housing areas could be declared before 2017 ends

Sites for new, fast-tracked Hamilton housing subdivisions could be announced in the next eight months.

Social housing and affordable, smaller sections will also get a boost if Hamilton city councillors follow a staff recommendation on Special Housing Areas policy.

Residential developers in those areas may be able to fast forward the consent process and could benefit from conditions such as a greater height allowance and no public notification.

Hamilton’s Special Housing Areas (SHAs) won’t be declared until the end of 2017 at the earliest but planners say there are about 20 residential-zoned spots that could work.

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Council can also pick areas not zoned as residential.

The city’s SHAs will be activated under the Hamilton Housing Accord signed in December 2016 – the idea is to get more houses available, faster.

Under Hamilton’s suggested policy, private developers would need a plan for at least 10 dwellings, planning and economic growth manager Luke O’Dwyer told councillors at a briefing.

“It needs to be of scale. If you look at the consent numbers, we get lots and lots of consents for things that are less than 10 dwellings,” he said.

High-level staff analysis showed about 20 residential-zoned sites around Hamilton that would have the room for such a development.

“Whether or not [landowners] are interested, that will come out in the consultation.”

But staffers suggest exempting social housing providers from the 10-dwelling threshold.

“We want to incentivise them because they are genuinely going to provide something affordable. They’re not private market players,” O’Dwyer said.

Encouraging 20 per cent of dwellings to be smaller houses or sections – which generally have a lower purchase price – is also suggested.

Staffers proposed a floor area of less than 150sqm and/or a section of 350sqm or fewer.

“It’s very difficult in a policy context to actually set what a price is for a house, in a planning document,” O’Dwyer said.

“Generally smaller dwellings, both in land area and in terms of floor space of the houses, sell at a price point that is less than the median and would at least allow for some comparative affordability.”

Council will ask landowners for expressions of interest in creating SHAs around July, he said.

Staffers will spend about a month assessing the responses and make recommendations to council, which will choose what to send to the minister.

“The first SHAs, at the earliest, could be declared before the end of the year. And that just depends if, first, that we get the expressions of interest and, two, the number of them and that we work through any issues associated with them. So the first consents under any SHA designation would likely come through early next year.”

The draft Hamilton City Council Special Housing Area policy will formally go to councillors at a June 1 meeting.

* a tool to help boost housing supply
* defined areas – can be greenfield (being developed for urban purposes for the first time) or brownfield (ie, infill)
* chosen by councils and approved by Government
* give developers “more permissive and faster resource consent and planning processes”
* provided for by the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013 (HASHA Act)
Source: MBIE

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