Housing politics in the UK vs NZ

Housing is expensive in NZ so the government commissioned a report into why that is. It said the problem was (largely) zoning restrictions constraining supply. The authorities were unimpressed.

Housing is expensive in the UK so the government suggested opening up more land to housing. The papers are unimpressed.

I doubt that the populations of Auckland and the UK are all that different in their views, so what is causing the divergence of political views? I’m sure there’s some inference to be made here about the politicians’ constituencies based on public choice ideas, so let me know in the comments if you can join the dots!

4 replies
  1. JC
    JC says:

    One commonality is that both urban administrators in AK and UK mentioned in those articles is that they have a substantial amount of brownfield within the urban boundaries that can be built on.. both intimate they own these sites.

    Both articles mention that they have double or treble the number of brown sites planned within the urban boundary than outside it.. which raises the possibility that these urban sites are currently neither fashionable or desirable at present.. perhaps they need to tighten regulations even further to make such sites appear to be a cheaper and less hassle alternative?

    Both councils have a direct financial interest in selling their sections for the highest price by restricting greenfield development.. and the Nimbies living on their 2 acre plots outside town have an incentive to support said councils.

    A wee while ago I read a comment how in one NZ town there were a surprising number of the environmental consents people and town planners lived out of town.. I checked this with my own town and found exactly that as well.. they lived in places with splendid views, on greenfield developments and on 5 acre blocks.. good on ’em, but they also have an incentive or bent to protect their own dwellings from “poorly planned” development.

    I have a hunch that once you feed in all the reasonable pros and cons for urban development human emotion, at least initially, determines the result.


    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      One thing I’ve heard a lot is the desire to sell subdivisions on these large sections – but finding that the cost of subdividing is insane!

      If that is that case that is a starting point – and it explains both sides, as it is a limited amount of density that is the issue.

      The thing is, then you get the people who come out complaining about density …

  2. jh
    jh says:

    What do you make of this:

    Productivity Commision:
    We recommend that you:
    a agree to
    the inquiry selection process set out in Appendix 1
    agree that Commission’s second tranche of inquiries be selected on
    the degree that

    • are relatively uncontroversial given the desire to establish broad political support for the Commission


    Should a productivity commission be avoiding controversy or resolving it?

    • jamesz
      jamesz says:

      Wow, I’m surprised that they’re so explicit about it! Odd that they want to avoid controversial issues to build consensus: surely that wastes the PC’s time investigating things that are already clear-cut. I agree with you that they should be spending time on matters of national importance, where evidence could help resolve the problem.

      However, given that the PC is not yet established as an essential institution, it might be sensible for them to ensure long-term survival by tackling less political topics. Once they have a reputation to stand on it will be much easier for them to be controversial without risking their funding.

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