WHAKATANE District Council wants to do more to encourage affordable housing in the district.

Councillor Victor Luca raised concerns about the lack of affordable housing when the organisational performance committee heard that Whakatane urban property prices had risen 6.1 percent in the past year.

“I can’t think of anything else that is going to worsen wealth disparity like this,” he said.

“What is the council doing to address the problem?”

Mr Luca said, in his view, the best course of action for the council was to make more land available for developers.

General manager David Bewley said land available for development in the district tended to be coastal and therefore high value.

He said the easiest way to make land available was to subdivide.

Mayor Judy Turner said developers were unlikely to want to construct affordable housing as they were in it for the money.

She said she was told by a housing developer that in New Zealand, people didn’t tend to buy one home and live in it for a lifetime. Instead they started modest and worked their way up the housing ladder.

The developer said as they constructed upmarket homes, people would move up the ladder into them and free up more modest homes below. She said she was not sure she believed this theory.

Mrs Turner said more affordable options could be papakainga housing or leasehold land, although she noted New Zealanders liked to own the land under their feet and had “little appetite” for this model.

She also said prefabricated homes could be a solution.