Housing New Zealand Chief Executive, Glen Sowry, today outlined his vision for the Corporation as the environments in which it operates look set for significant change.
Speaking to the Trans Tasman Business Circle in Auckland, Mr Sowry acknowledged the Social Housing Reform Act and the Auckland Unitary Plan as key influences on Housing New Zealand’s future. He also spoke of the Corporation’s appetite to embrace the challenges that will come with operative and legislative changes, and the central role it must play in both to shape a successful future.
“The Government is seeking to create a competitive marketplace for social housing provision. Through this reform, Housing New Zealand won’t be the only social housing provider, but rather will become one of many … bringing us into line with every other OECD country,” said Mr Sowry.
“The only constant for Housing New Zealand through this reform is that we will remain at the epicentre of a growing ecosystem of social housing providers,” he added.
The changing landscape will place greater emphasis on the Corporation’s tenancy and portfolio management – particularly its ability to provide the right properties in the right places in the two areas of greatest demand: Christchurch and Auckland.
“Helping to get Canterbury back on its feet is a huge focus for us,” said Mr Sowry.
“We’re investing more than a billion dollars over the next 10 years in the region – with an immediate goal of repairing 5000 damaged properties and building 700 new homes by 2015.”Mr Sowry also laid down a challenge to all Aucklanders to embrace the city’s changing face, as it grapples with how to accommodate a further million people over the next 30 years without acquiescing to urban sprawl.
“The social and economic growth of New Zealand will depend on the future form of its major city. Success will require a collective courage to embrace the sort of challenges that are being faced by other leading cities around the world. We must grow up – not just out.”
Housing New Zealand owns or manages 7 per cent of Auckland’s total residential housing supply, therefore how it is able to use its footprint will have a profound influence over the future form of the city. While supportive of the Council’s vision of creating a compact, liveable city, through its own submission on the Proposed Unitary Plan, the Corporation advocates for a nimble planning framework, in place of blanket overlays, enabling innovation in design that complements the architectural and cultural heritage of the city.
Mr Sowry referenced the recent transformation of central Auckland areas, such as Britomart, Wynyard Quarter and Fort Street, into pedestrian-friendly, safe, modern precincts, as exemplars of the urban design principles through which the city must evolve.
“Intensification should not be something to fear when done well.”