Exposing the hidden politics of housing provision in Aotearoa New Zealand: The complex governance landscape of new housing in Hamilton
Dodd, F. J. (2020). Exposing the hidden politics of housing provision in Aotearoa New Zealand: The complex governance landscape of new housing in Hamilton. (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14341
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14341
Delivery of sufficient affordable, quality new housing in New Zealand has been high on the political agenda since the 1990s and, despite considerable government activity and policy attention, achieving that goal remains elusive. Access to an affordable house that is fit-for-purpose is, therefore, becoming increasingly remote for many New Zealanders, including those who earn above average incomes. In fact, it has become common to refer to the problem as a housing crisis. This research aims to analyse the effectiveness of the governance arrangements involved in delivering new housing in Aotearoa New Zealand, by examining the logics and discourses of public and private actors within that process and the decisions that emerge from those interactions. In approaching this question, it begins by exploring past approaches to governing new housing provision, before reporting on a case study of planning for new housing in the rapidly growing city of Hamilton. The in-depth qualitative study approaches decision-making for the provision of new housing in Hamilton through a network governance lens. It involved reviewing the local District and Structure Plans and other planning documents prepared by Hamilton City Council, including strategic documents about the future growth of the city. It also included interviewing 31 participants involved in making decisions about new housing for the city. These were from the public sector, largely council planners but also practitioners from the Building Unit and Growth and Analytics Unit. They were also from the private sector, including developers, architects, consultant planners and lawyers. One participant from an NGO was interviewed as well, to get a national perspective of the problems with new housing delivery. The study examined their interactions, and the ideas and logics that informed the decisions about new housing that emerged from the governance network. It finds that entrenched beliefs and ideas about what constitutes a normal house in terms of who it is built for, the type of property it is, and the way that property should be delivered profoundly shape the decisions of actors within the governance network, although new ideas are emerging. Underpinning these ideas and beliefs, the market was consistently referred to as a credible source of information about the types of houses and communities householders needed and desired. Reference to the market was therefore an accepted way of explaining decisions about the size, design, location, type and density of new housing. The analysis also provides insights into the forces of inertia that continue to mean suboptimal outcomes are delivered. These included the complexity of the network, with multiple agencies involved in decision-making. Conflicting interests and imperatives within the governance network was also a barrier to change. The concentration of resources in the hands of developers was found to underpin conservative attitudes to development. Prospects for change were found within the network, such as examples of local authorities exercising leadership over built outcomes. Also, developers with innovative perspectives, and the resources to implement housing developments inspired by such perspectives, were found to exist in Hamilton. In taking a governance approach to understanding decision making for new housing provision in New Zealand, the study extends traditional research approaches that have focused on policy solutions. It develops our understanding of the housing crisis, and why resolving it remains difficult.
The University of Waikato
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