Media release from Conor Hill
Wellington mayoral candidate Conor Hill is calling for a change to rates that would make it more expensive for landowners to ‘bank’ land that could be used for housing.
And he’s taking aim at Justin Lester, asking why he has not followed through on his plans to incentivise ‘landbankers’ to release sections consented for housing development more quickly.
Hill says a change to the way rates are calculated would be an easy change for the Council to make, and could help unlock more city fringe land to be developed for housing: “Basing rates off land value would lead to more housing and better land use. Our current rating system rewards bad land use – like car yards along main roads in the city.
“Right now, rates are based off capital value – the value of the buildings and the land – which means there is less desire to build more. We’ve got it backwards – people who don’t develop land are rewarded by paying low rates to the Council, because the rates are based on the capital value of the property.
“I want to change this, and set rates based on land value to encourage more new homes and discourage land bankers and central car yards.”
He acknowledges it’s not a new idea: “It’s a move the Productivity Commission has repeatedly recommended, in its Better urban planning report and again in its Using land for housing report.”
He’s questioning why this step hasn’t been taken by the City Council already. “It’s been two years since Justin Lester said ‘we will look at every available option – including financial incentives or penalties – to ensure our city has the pipeline of new homes it needs’. But nothing has changed since then. Wellington’s house prices are fast approaching Auckland’s. The number of people on the social housing register has almost doubled. The basic human right to a home is not available to all in our city.”
“The switch between capital and land value rating is an easy enough one for a council to do. If I am mayor in October, I will be looking to incentivise homes and building over car yards and land banking by making this change. I encourage Justin Lester to remember his rousing rhetoric, and do the same.”