Apr 4, 2022 • 12M

Dawn Chorus: The great down-zoning disaster

Infrastructure Commission research finds house prices rose 69% more than they should have because of down-zoning of housing capacity by councils in 1970s and 1980s and effects of traffic congestion

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Bernard Hickey
Bernard Hickey and friends explore the political economy together.
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TLDR & TLDL: A new research paper from the Infrastructure Commission has estimated house prices rose 69% more1 than they would have if councils had not down-zoned both close to city centres and on the fringes over the 1970s and 1980s to allow fewer houses to built. Prices would have been 50% lower than they turned out to be because of this downzoning catastrophe.

Insufficient investment in transport infrastructure over the last 30 years also slowed traffic and commuting speeds from the 1990s onwards, which increased demand for homes closer to the city centre just as the number of new homes close to the centre was broadly frozen. I go into more detail on the analysis below the paywall fold for subscribers and will have a fuller article for all to read tomorrow with an interview with the paper’s author.

From the 1970s, town planning began to focus more on “maintaining the character of existing neighbourhoods by stopping the construction of blocks of flats and apartments”, says Peter Nunns. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/TheKaka

Elsewhere in news overnight:

  • France called on Europe overnight to stop importing Russian oil as outrage grows over evidence of war crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine, with Joe Biden again calling Vladimir Putin a war criminal and saying their needed to be a war crimes trial;

  • infighting between US and Chinese officials over the details in a summary of a landmark climate change report delayed its release overnight and highlighted the difficulties in reducing emissions fast enough to keep warming to 1.5 degrees celsius; and,

  • global stocks nudged higher overnight after Elon Musk disclosed he had bought a 9.2% stake in Twitter, which shunted its shares 22% higher, while the US bond yield curve is now firmly inverted and indicating a coming US recession.

Coming up today, I’ll be in Parliament covering Question Time and the first reading of the new Fair Pay Agreements Bill, and will have the opportunity to ask questions of the PM, ministers and the Opposition’s leaders. I welcome lines of inquiry or notice of things I’ve missed in the comments below from paid subscribers. I’ll also be interviewing Peter Nunns and welcome questions.

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