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Govt talking up next housing announcement

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/05/2016 Sarah Robson
John Key © Getty John Key

There wasn't much in the budget to tackle the housing crisis, but the government is on the offensive, talking up the unveiling of its upcoming national policy statement on urban development.

"Let me make this crystal clear, because this is what the national policy statement will do over the next few years: it will ensure that councils must make available sufficient land to accommodate growth in the community," Prime Minister John Key told parliament on Thursday.

"It's no longer a matter of choice or debate for those councils - land will be zoned residential and developed in quantities sufficient to meet demand. Period."

Mr Key later told reporters there will be no room for councils to debate.

"This policy statement will demand that."

The national policy statement will be announced by Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith in the next week or two.

As well as directing councils to allow more housing development where necessary, councils will also have to measure the impact of their decisions on house prices.

In Thursday's budget, Dr Smith got another $100 million to continue looking at whether 500 hectares of vacant Crown land in Auckland can be used for housing developments.

He's already spent the $52m he was allocated for the programme in last year's budget, but just 13ha of land across in four different areas have been opened up for the building of about 940 houses.

Meanwhile, there was a $258m boost for social housing, with $200m of that going into reducing the number of people on the waitlist for a state house, mostly in Auckland.

There was also the previously announced $41m package for emergency housing, including funding for 3000 beds and a new special needs grant.

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