Last week LGNZ organised a symposium on the country’s worsening housing crisis as solutions to it involve local councils throughout the country.

It’s not possible to cover what everyone said in a few ‘soundbites’, and we’re not going to try, but Wellington Mayor Andy Foster sounded the right warning note when he spoke of his dismay about ‘dreary urban sprawl’.  It’s something that has a big risk of happening in Kapiti and particularly in the present open space between Waikanae and Peka Peka.

Other speakers told attendees they should be thinking around how all these new housing agglomerations are going to not only appear, but be like to live in.  Continually plonking houses in every bit of open space that is available is short-sighted and inadequate.  Is going upwards rather than outwards the answer?  Currently, three stories is the limit in Kapiti.  The obvious breach of that restriction at the beach end of Kapiti Road goes back quite some years, but maybe it has its merits?

The other problem accompanying the potential sprawl is that there needs to be the local and regional infrastucture to support it, and the country has not just a housing crisis, but also an infrastructure crisis.

And another problem is the very high cost of construction materials, 2 to 3 times what they cost in Texas, according to economist Eric Crampton. Even in Australia they are significantly lower — why?

Not mentioned in all the presentations is what is done in many parts of America — trailer parks, what we would call super caravans, which can be moved if need be, but are usually permanently placed in a park of them.  In America one costs about $60,000 to buy and the ground rent which includes all utilities — power, water, sewerage, wi-fi and tax — runs to about $900 a month depending on the location.