Mayoral hopeful Paula Southgate says Hamilton needs a Housing Accord

 Hamilton could become the most liveable city in New Zealand.​..

Hamilton is being urged to sign up to a Housing Accord with the Government as a way of getting on top of rocketing house prices.

Mayoral hopeful Paula Southgate said Hamilton's burgeoning population and rising house prices require the city council to fast-track residential developments.

In 2013, the Government introduced the Housing Accord and Special Housing Areas legislation as a means of streamlining new housing developments.

Auckland and Tauranga both have signed Housing Accords.

Auckland's Housing Accord sets a target of 39,000 additional residential houses being consented over three years.  It's estimated Hamilton will have to build at least 1000 houses every year for the next decade to cater for its population growth.

Southgate said Hamilton needs to sign up to a Housing Accord with the Government as a matter of urgency.  "There's no silver bullet to solving Hamilton's housing crisis and the city council can't alone solve it," she said.

"But what it can do is use a number of key tools and I believe the Housing Accord option is something we need to explore."  Southgate said she had spoken to city developers, some of whom were open to the idea of special housing areas.

"I think you would negotiate for a diverse offering of houses, because I think we all realise that it's just not the number of houses, it's houses that are fit for purposes that people want them for, which is first-home buyers and its seniors downsizing. The key thing with a Housing Accord is it allows for the streamlining of the consent process."

On Thursday, city councillors gave approval to council staff to start drafting a proposal to the Government's $1 billion infrastructure fund, aimed at advancing development in the city's Peacocke area.

The $1 billion fund is targeted at high-growth areas and will take the form of interest-free loans intended for councils to build vital infrastructure and get houses built.

Southgate didn't want to pre-determine how the Government's fund could be used in Hamilton, but did support investing in infrastructure that opened up Peacocke.

She said there appeared to be broad agreement among council candidates that catering for Hamilton's population growth loomed as a big challenge for the next crop of elected members.

"All candidates are talking about growth and housing and economics and these are the key underpinners of a good lifestyle for Hamilton, but my focus is on making Hamilton a really nice place to live," Southgate said.

Hamilton has distinct neighbourhoods and communities, all of which have their own needs and wants.

But a common theme was people want to live in a city that affords residents a high-quality lifestyle.

Achieving a good standard of living means residents have access to parks, sports turfs, public transport, basic amenities such as public toilets, connected walkways, and cultural and arts facilities.

"But people are also interested in small improvements in their everyday life and people's hearts can be warmed by quite small things. I'm known for the Hamilton Halo project and people often mention how fantastic it is to see native birds coming back to the city. I do think with right decisions, Hamilton can become the most liveable city in New Zealand."

In regard to other major city talking points, Southgate favoured a proposal to build a new premier theatre in Hamilton in partnership with Momentum Waikato.

Momentum Foundation representatives believe the community foundation can raise $25 million toward a new theatre on the basis ratepayers contributed $30 million to a new facility.

Southgate said the only way the council could afford a fit-for-purpose performing arts venue was in partnership with other groups.

From Stuff.co.nz