Less Growth please!!
August 19 2019 by John Glover
Less Growth please!!
We are repeatedly told that, as a high growth council, we must plan for and facilitate even more growth. Central Government has set a series of measures that Council has to report against to show it is doing its bit, with the threat often expressed that if it doesn’t deliver then Government will step in and do it for us.
Well, we’ve done our bit to create sprawling suburbs and what has it delivered?
- Cheaper houses – nope.
- Well-connected public transport – nope.
- A plethora of community halls, local convenient shops and reserves – nope.
- Better, higher paid jobs – nope.
- Gridlock, pollution, disenfranchisement- yup.
It’s demonstrably easy to carve up large areas of land for houses and build them within a short timescale as funds for this are provided by the developer and the process has been fast-tracked by Council.
Contrast that, with the time it takes e.g. to build a new bridge across the Kawarau and the frustratingly long wait for funding or the years of begging for as yet unfunded bypasses.
We (the community) have had all the pain with none of the gain. Yes, some much needed land has been delivered to the Housing Trust, but Council could have just bought some or used land it already owned and achieved the same outcome.
The reality of housing is that building more of it doesn’t make it cheaper. To achieve that outcome, you need a lot more public housing, a good supply of high quality regulated rental housing, a lot more social housing and controls to remove the lure of capital gains so that a house is just seen as a ‘home’.
Given most of that is not within the scope of local government, it’s unreasonable to require it to endlessly carve up its land to produce yet more unaffordable dwellings and associated growing pains.
It’s time to have a serious conversation around growth and take that one to Wellington rather than the message that we want more and more and just need a way to pay for it.
We need to focus on using land for local food production, carbon sequestration and if it is to be developed at all then use it to supply low impact, economically productive employment that broadens our economy.
Local government is about local accountability. Is there a mandate from the community for continued housing, tourism and shopping centre growth at the rate we’ve had? I very much doubt it and those in Council who tell us it’s our duty to cater for ‘more’ are simply not representing the community they live in.
Candidate for QLDC