New Zealand’s housing minister Nick Smith will send warning letters to developers about 14 out of 100 Special Housing Areas (SHAs) which have failed to make any progress in the past 18 months.

Smith feels that some developers have been sitting on land in Auckland which has been earmarked for fast-tracked housing, and he intends to warn them that they will lose their special priviliges if they fail to start using the land. The privileges include the ability to fast-track planning consents and get other concessions on their developments.

Prime minister John Key said yesterday that the letters were not a threat, but made it clear to the developers that “if you want to have Special Housing Areas…we want you to speed up supply for the Auckland market and the other areas around the country.”

The SHAs were introduced in late 2013 as part of a deal with Auckland Council to grant consents for 39,000 houses by 2016, in a bid to address the shortage of housing in the city. The most recent update revealed only 170 houses have been built within the Auckland SHAs.