Planning and Housing
My starting point is we all deserve somewhere good to live, the place we all call home, with adequate housing as a human right. Adequate housing means the right to privacy, to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity. I want housing fit for the diverse needs of all of us.
Wellington has wonderful urban spaces and suburbs each with its own unique features and housing. I want to build on our strengths to maintain great places to live for our increasing population.
Housing is one of our big issues in Te Whanganui a Tara, the rest of Aotearoa and many places globally. Wellington needs to provide quality affordable, accessible housing for all of us. For me quality is the key for both rental and owned housing as a minimum, not a nice to have.
My starting point is we all deserve somewhere good to live, the place we all call home, with adequate housing as a human right (UN Declaration of Human Rights 1949). Adequate housing means the right to privacy, to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity. I want housing fit for the diverse needs of all of us.
Great places and quality housing need to be near the destinations that people want to use daily. I support the 15 minute neighbourhood concept as a good model to aspire to and plan for. This means that people can walk to meet many of their needs within 15 minutes of home or easily travel further afield in sustainable ways. Destinations people need on a daily basis include fresh food shops, schools, parks, and jobs. Travelling further afield with public transport we can access libraries, galleries, sports facilities and entertainment places. Planning to allow for all these destinations needs to be in our District Plan.
Wellington needs places and housing that are age and child friendly. Places that take into account our demographics; the 25% of disabled people, children and families, and increasing numbers of older people living on their own. We need vibrant urban spaces that are free to use and cater to the needs of nearby residents and visitors, public space that you can enjoy without purchases.
The two issues I see for housing relate to building quality, and having affordable places. They need different actions.
Quality housing is important for both renters and owners of homes. We can have win-win solutions if we have a clear vision of housing for all, and a robust discussion on what quality housing is and how we can get it. This is essential so we can cater for future generations for years to come.
The 35% or so of Wellingtonians who rent deserve for their homes to meet the Healthy Home Standards. I want to see city council take a more active role in ensuring that standard is met.
For owners of homes there are a number of issues (eg apartment building insurance) with some the council can directly address. Quality housing needs to be in places that are resilient to natural hazards and with good services and infrastructure provision as the bottom line. Quality housing and public spaces require modernised pipes and infrastructure to meet our current and future needs.
The District Plan needs to include ALL the quality elements, currently only some make it in there – include a minimum accessible build, privacy, sunlight, social space in high rises, like outside clothes drying areas, and large green public spaces within 300m of all new developments – a development contribution can help with this.
Well-constructed housing is essential for the future and resilience, no more leaky homes. I see Wellington as becoming the leader in building for wind, earthquakes and how to build on hills. We need to see examples of quality housing, and how new can be mixed in with existing housing in a good way. Making it easier to redevelop older houses into multi-units, like we had in the 1960s in Wellington. More organic city growth that meets the needs of people living in them.
We can have a wonderful mix of interesting places, old and new housing working well together – win-win.
Affordability is a significant part of the equation for both renting and owning. Affordable rentals require public investment and public housing, I totally support the Council owning housing. Renting may well be the way of the future and owning houses become unnecessary – similar to other countries.
Wellington City Council is unusual in New Zealand with its high number of council owned housing, we need to keep that and get renting right. Longer term we need to see more work on how renting for life can be a secure, viable alternative to owning.