[Welcome Kiwiblog, Herald and NBR readers. Please also see my more immediate reaction to National’s proposals: “Government finally plans to address unaffordable housing. But…”]
The debate over affordable housing is already being framed as a facile debate between “sprawl” and “intensification”—a debate between those who wish to release (just a little) the planners’ ring-fences around NZ’s major cities to allow new homes on “greenfield” sections, versus those who insist we build with more intensity within the ring fence on so called “brownfield” sites.
The latter group characterise the former as being in favour of “sprawl”; the former characterise the latter as promoting the construction of the slums of tomorrow.
Both are right, and both are wrong.
What’s missing here is choice. In talking about about development on either “greenfield” or “brownfield” sites, both advocates insist that folk do things their way. They completely ignore the fact that people have the right to choose where and how they live, particularly if they own the place on which they choose to settle down.
Let people live where they wish to, as long as they bear the costs. And let those choices themselves—choices based on people’s own values for which they are prepared to pay the cost—organically reflect the way the city develops.
Ironically, it’s the very promoters of intensification, the planners themselves, who have done the most to make decent intensification more difficult. Here's just some examples of a few urban housing types that are enormously popular overseas, but could barely be even contemplated here…...