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Using land for housing

The Productivity Commission has completed its inquiry into using land for housing and our final report and other key documentation is available below.

We are very grateful for the insightful submissions and observations received from many participants including from local government and the development community - thank you!

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  • Our brief
    September 2014
  • Consultation and engagement starts
  • Issues paper
    5 November 2014
  • Submissions closed 22 December 2014
  • Draft report
    17 June 2015
  • Submissions closed 4 August 2015
  • Final report
    21 October 2015
  • Evaluation
    December 2015
  • Government response
    19 August 2016

The inquiry

The Government asked the Commission to examine the processes and practices of local planning and development systems across New Zealand’s faster-growing urban areas. We were asked to identify councils that are effective in making enough land available to meet housing demand and processes that could be adopted more widely. The Commission also examined overseas approaches to identify leading practices that could provide valuable lessons for New Zealand. Read our brief here.

What did the inquiry find?

Chair of the Productivity Commission Murray Sherwin shares the key findings and recommendations of the inquiry in this short video:

Key recommendations

The Commission found the operation of our planning systems needs to change if New Zealand cities are to have enough land for housing.

In our final report, the Commission makes a number of recommendations to increase the responsiveness of planning to demand, including better cost-recovery for infrastructure, proper cost-benefit analysis before planning rules are introduced, and more support from central government to help councils develop higher-intensity housing on inner-city sites.

It recommends that councils and the government need to create a credible commitment to release and service more land and to bring land price inflation under control.

A sufficient supply of land for housing, an adequate supply of affordable housing, and the effective functioning of our cities, are topics of national importance. Central government has a legitimate interest in resolving those issues, where local councils cannot.

Find out more, by reading the following key documents:

Government response

In August 2016, the Government announced its response to the Commission's inquiry into Using land for housing. Included in the response is the development of a National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity and the creation of the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

Read more details of the Government's response on the Treasury website.

The Government is under no obligation to implement recommendations made in our reports. The Commission is an independent research and advisory body that does not run nor implement any policies or programmes. We are not a policy agency and do not have a mandate for ensuring action. However, by carrying out high quality, innovative research and evidence-based inquiries, we aspire to influence conversations towards changing policies and inform decision making. 

Insights into local government

Local government insightsThe learnings from this inquiry has informed a Local government insights report. Understand the major challenges for both local and central government, what they need to get right, how to do things differently and the benefits of making these changes - read the report here.

This report brings together the learnings of five of the Commission's inquiries into local government performance: Local government funding and financing (2019); Better urban planning (2017); Using land for housing (2015); Towards better local regulation (2013); and Housing affordability (2012).