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Fletcher Building on housing

Fletcher Building is the biggest construction company in New Zealand, and a major home builder, so it’s worth keeping an eye on what they say about their residential business and the market. They recently gave a presentation on this.

Fletchers are now established in the “high density” market, having built several apartment buildings at Stonefields in a joint venture with Todd Property. There’s still more to come, both at Stonefields and Three Kings – where the first building, on Mt Eden Rd, is already going up.

As for their “low/ medium density” offerings, Fletcher’s “product range [is] increasing in density and will include light-weight apartments”.

Slide 18 of their presentation is interesting, showing the journey from raw land worth $80-$200/sqm, to subdivided sections at $600-$800/sqm, to completed houses, with a “build margin” of $50,000-$100,000 or more.

Slide 18

This is obviously based on detached houses, with the model a bit different for higher density homes. But the gap between raw land and sections is a big one – it has to accommodate infrastructure (including local roads), development contributions and GST, among other things.

 

Slides 20 to 22 show how Fletchers want to scale up the number of homes they build, from 200-400 a year over the last decade to 1,500 in the future – although it will take them a while to get there, beyond their 2018 forecast horizon.

Slide 20

This would make Fletchers the biggest home builder in New Zealand, although of course other companies will also be aiming for growth.

These slides indicate that Fletchers are moving back into being a developer, not just a house builder, and that they’ll be building more ‘attached’ homes – those are a major focus of most of their Auckland and Christchurch projects.

 

Lastly, Fletchers have an interesting slide looking at the market overview, saying “There is a structural shortage of housing in Auckland”, and “on current estimates this will take 10-30 years to reverse”.

Slide 37

I agree with them, although I note that this doesn’t mean we’ll have rapidly increasing house prices for 10-30 years. We simply need to get to the point where people have confidence that housing supply is increasing, and that we’ll be starting to chip away at that shortage, and that should help to reintroduce some sanity to the market.

The Herald have covered the presentation here, mainly in relation to Three Kings locals opposing Fletcher’s plans for the old quarry. I’ll just quote one comment here:

Garry Bryant, Three Kings United president, said… “Why does Three Kings, which is the smallest in land size [than plans for three other sites] have the most residential density which is 50 per cent more than Whenuapai which has a land size of 31ha? The very area that needs the most open space has next to nothing compared to the other three sites where land is abundant”.

It’s pretty obvious to me why Three Kings (brownfields, 8 km from the CBD along Mt Eden Rd) will have much higher density than Whenuapai (greenfields, 24 km from the CBD). The density planned there will also enable better quality, better utilised public open spaces. Putting my economist hat on, why is the community group trying to regulate what other people do with their land? What’s the externality they’re trying to solve? Surely the density of the site is a question for the developer and the eventual residents?

101 comments to Fletcher Building on housing

  • Sailor boy

    Opposing the development in the quarry is proof that Bryant and cast don’t actually support the lower wealth residents locked out of the housing market like they claim.

    • Bryce P

      That’s a highly generalised argument and isn’t correct for a lot of the opposition. A much bigger issue, and one I agree with, is that the proposed Three Kings quarry development (as planned) will share much of the downside of Stonefields – severance from the rest of the local area and this bit has zero to do with density.

      • Frank McRae

        I don’t see how a 15 metre elevation change is such a severance issue. It’s like saying an office on the fourth floor is severed from neighbourhood it’s located in. Also severance is an issue for the people who choose to live there. How does that actually effect the complaining residents?

        I wouldn’t feel that cut off if I lived 15 metres elevation + 7 km from the city. I would if I lived 24 km away with no elevation change.

      • Matthew W

        So what are they asking for – paths through the development to make it more permeable?

        • Most of them want the quarry to be filled in to reduce the elevation drop. And they dont want higher density housing in their nebourhood – that stuff belongs out west were it wont add to congestion on mt eden rd.

        • Frank McRae

          They want Fletchers to ditch their own plans and instead accept their plan which has less dwellings and includes land that Fletchers don’t own.

      • Sailor boy

        A comment about two people is generalised?

    • Matthew W

      Ok – filling in the Quarry is clearly not something you can just do easily short of wait for a major construction project with excess cut.

      Can they not put stairs down the highwall? I’ve thought that should have been down at Stonefields to give access up to the Lunn Ave shops and also to the north.

  • Ran Derson

    There’s a lot to like about the development, which is why I’ve had my eye on the Three Kings development for a while.

    I’d suggest the Union take a trip to Hobsonville Point to see what proper density looks like in real life.

  • mfwic

    The gap between raw land and subdivided sections also includes a profit margin for the developer and rightly so. There is a risk in buying land to subdivide and that risk requires a good return before a rational investor will take it on. But I suspect part of the difference in the economic rents you can get as a result of the Council artificially restricting the supply of land. And don’t forget the impact of the Council’s various arms length organisations wanted to clip your ticket. (We want 1.8m footpaths, cyclelanes, onstreet parking, space between parking and cyclelanes, wide traffic lanes for buses, swales, berms for underground services and all the other stuff they provide free in centres).

    • Bruce

      Considering that even dead-end residential cul-de-sacs used to be built by developers at nearly double the width of many current roads in developments (along with much wider berms) I think developers get a pretty good deal these days.

  • Bruce

    I have BIG concerns regarding the costs of converting raw land into subdivided sections.
    Yes there are a lot of infrastructure costs associated with this (council etc) however looking at any greenfields development I am flabbergasted by the amount of earth works undertaken! It is quite simply RIDICULOUS!
    Yes people like flat sections, Yes it is cheaper to build on a flat section.
    BUT the amount of earthworks have got to be adding in the region of $50k+ to each section! This is often on land that in the past has been built very close by (on similar land) without the earthworks. I have seen recently earthworks (Woodridge Whangaparaoa for example or the latest stage of Pine Hill) where they have dug down approximately 20 metres then built a huge retaining wall (presumably at huge cost) and for what?
    There are a whole range of things that drive up housing prices in New Zealand (and Auckland in particular): Central Government costs, Local Government Costs (including things like infrastructure etc), landbanking developers, developers overdeveloping the bare land for little purpose, developer margins, building material costs, red tape with box ticking inspections (which often miss out on important building errors – such as Albany recently, Millwater, and of course the whole leaky issues of the past).

  • Angus Robertson

    Putting my economist hat on, why is the community group trying to regulate what other people do with their land? What’s the externality they’re trying to solve?

    The community of 3 Kings are not allowed under council regulations to develop their own land. The council grants permission to Fletchers to develop freely, but at the same time denies permission to the rest of the community. This smacks of favouritism and creates resentment in the community and is achingly stupid – this is Auckland. The council has come into 3 Kings, picked out one person from the community and said “You can do whatever you like, but the rest of you can’t.”

    The problem is the difference in value Fletchers is allowed to add to its land in the quarry development, relative to the amount of value the other residents can add to their own land.

    • John Polkinghorne

      I’m a bit confused by what you mean there – are you pointing out that planning controls make it hard for the average punter to redevelop their own property? If so, I agree absolutely, and yes it is easier for a major developer like Fletcher to navigate their way through the planning/ legal process thanks to their scale (although still not easy). But that’s not really the issue here, and I haven’t seen it raised in the Three Kings debate.
      I don’t think there’s any ‘favouritism’ here. Fletchers have lodged their own private plan change, which differs from the aims sought by the local board (and, frankly, the board’s comments sound like they’re only interested in avoiding the ire of existing resident/ voters). They’ll have to go through that process in the usual way.

      • Angus Robertson

        The underlying cause for these disputes is always money. Politically many other things will be mentioned without mentioning the money, but it is always the money.

        Every additional home Fletcher can build in the quarry lowers the value of each surrounding house. In a normal city this wouldn’t be that much of a problem, because the surrounding residents would be able to sell their land for an equivalent development potential to having additional homes built up on top of the property.

        Unfortunately we live in Auckland and each house in the surrounding area is going to remain a single house on a single section forever. The majority of 3 Kings is Single Dwelling and Mixed Housing Suburban, these properties cannot navigate their way through the planning/ legal process to convert into apartments – they are simply not allowed to.

        • Matthew W

          I dont think this is the issue though, is it? I mean it would be good if the area was upzoned, but there is no evidence that is what the community group want, and indeed there has been general resistance to upzoning in the unitary plan (admittedly I dont know about the Three Kings community views specifically though).

          The fact is there appear to be no externalities identified. Apparently in the past they illegally quarried part of one of the cones. Well they should be prosecuted if that is the case. I assume this was a long time ago.

        • If the residents were agitating for the density controls to be eliminated for everyone in the area, your argument might have more teeth. However, like all NIMBYs, they are just trying to stop someone else building at high density on their own land.

          So they aren’t focussed on the things stopping them realising the full value of their land as you claim. Juts trying to stop someone else exercising their property rights.

          • Angus Robertson

            All the residents want is for everybody to share the same property rights. They want Auckland to be fair.

            Fletchers has obtained property rights far in excess of everybody else. How is that fair?

          • OK so grant everyone the same right to develop at the same density as Fletcher. But the NIMBYs there will not want that.

            Like all NIMBYs they want to preserve their area in amber as if it is some kind of perfect unchanging Platonic ideal. They want to drag Fletcher down to their level rather than asking to be elevated to Fletcher’s level.

            There is a massive difference between the two.

      • What other organisations have been allowed to tender on the proposal to develop the 3ha of public greenspace that the council wants fletchers to turn into housing?

    • Peter Nunns

      So are you saying that the residents’ association should really be lobbying Council to liberalise building height and density controls throughout the suburb so they can develop on their own sites and outcompete Fletchers’ development?

      Great idea! I fully agree!

      • Angus Robertson

        As long as they can rely on their allies to keep the MUL in place, they are be better off lobbying to stop all new development.

        • Matthew W

          Yes the existing property owners are effectively acting as a cartel. So, given everyone agrees cartels are undesirable, lets ignore them.

          • Angus Robertson

            We have democratic controls over this particular situation, democracy does not benefit from ignoring the views of people.

          • Matthew W

            Whatever. My view is that we should not pander to cartels.

          • Sailor boy

            We do have Democratic processes for this and that is the process fletcher are going through atm and look likely to complete

          • Angus Robertson

            If the residents association is a cartel, does that make Fletchers the battling little multi-national conglomerate we should all applaud or just a better organised cartel?

          • > If the residents association is a cartel, does that make Fletchers the battling little multi-national conglomerate we should all applaud or just a better organised cartel?

            It makes it a cartel in a completely different industry, large-scale construction and construction materials. (Or rather a monopoly, since it’s just one firm with no real competition, not an agreement between firms).

        • bjfoe

          SHAs are a response to what is perceived to be a crisis, and your response is to doggedly defend your patch. Let’s just say that you’re not giving Angela Merkel a run for her money for Time’s Person of the Year award.

  • Greg N

    That first slide contains some information which is given in more detail in the main presentation on the amount of vertical and horizontal integration with other Fletcher group companies in the building products market. The comment on the first slide shown indicates that 30% of the construction cost is spent on other Fletcher companies in the same group (the “Pull through” line).

    This means that 30% of the build costs are not subject to competitive tendering elements – its just farmed out.
    No wonder Fletcher make $50-$100k “plus” profit on each house and then also guarantee that 30% of the money spent on building goes to other Fletcher companies.
    Presumably 30-60% of construction costs is labour/sub-contractor costs, so theres not much left in the building material market for anyone else not a Fletcher company or employee to get a look in here.

    The main presentation has examples of where for a given house, the spend goes to other Fletcher companies – nearly every single part of the build is farmed out to other parts of Fletchers.

    • John Polkinghorne

      Vertical integration isn’t usually seen as a big competition issue – there are often efficiencies created. Economists tend to get more concerned about horizontal integration, where you have competitors buying each other – e.g. Fletchers buying up other home builders, or PlaceMakers (which is owned by Fletchers) buying Bunnings.

  • donna

    Putting my economist hat on, why is the community group trying to regulate what other people do with their land?

    Goodness me, that’s putting those pesky community groups back in their box. On that basis, what right does anyone have to have a voice on developments that materially impact on them even though they don’t own the land? The future residents of the 3 Kings development will not live in a vacuum. They will be part of the surrounding neighbourhood. The neighbours might be nimbys, but they have a right to voice their concerns.

    • John Polkinghorne

      Fair point, but note that the next couple of sentences were “What’s the externality they’re trying to solve? Surely the density of the site is a question for the developer and the eventual residents?”. So yes, to the extent that the development impacts on existing residents, that’s an externality. But I’m questioning what externalities there will be. People often worry about shading; well, that’s not relevant when the homes are built in a quarry. They worry about traffic and parking, but those are Auckland Transport’s job, and the new homes will mean development contributions which partly go into transport funding, and new ratepayers who will contribute to transport via their rates, and the higher density will make public transport more viable.
      There may well be valid externalities to be taken into account, but I haven’t heard the community groups talking about any.

      • Peter Nunns

        I agree with John. People opposing the development need to define what _specific_ negative externalities will arise as a result of the development. If it will “materially impact” them, it should be possible to provide evidence for that.

  • The community has no issue with a residential development happening at the Three Kings Quarry on Mt Eden Road. The community have been wanting to work with Fletchers for the past 20 years on the development, but for some unknown reason the community, including the Puketapapa Local Board. have been shutout of any say with the design, density and links to the surrounding area.

    The major issues are:

    1. Lack of consultation on the final contour of the land which includes Fletcher’s desire to fill the quarry to 15 meters below the level of Mt Eden Rd at the northern end and sloping down to the (south) Western Reserve. This is a condition of their fill consent which has been ignored by Auckland Council and Fletchers.
    2. Fletchers (via Winstone Aggregates) have spent the past 90 years leveling the cones that made up Three Kings. Big King or Te Tatua a Riukiuta is the only cone left and it has had its eastern flank illegally quarried. Over many years Fletchers have promised to rehabilitate their land to compensate for the lost volcanic heritage but instead want to develop dwellings up to the Maunga as they have done at Stonefields. There is very little respect for the Maunga from Fletchers and their development consultants.
    3. Connectivity (without the use of motor vehicles) north south and east west has been given little thought except to install two public lifts, a 200 metre long ramp and a 93 stair staircase to connect the development with the rest of the community.
    4. Fletchers and the Auckland Council want to swap good land for quarry filled land. The land that is DOC/Council reserve land will see Fletchers build apartments on solid, north facing land with cascade 10 story apartments over the quarry lip. The community gets two playing fields (they already have one on the western reserve so the gain is one) built on filled quarry land. The fields have been designed as stormwater retention ponds so can flood in heavy rain. Hardly an equitable land swap.

    To answer a few comments above:
    Sailor Boy: There is no condition that Fletchers have to build affordable housing except on the Special House site where they have started earthworks for 79 dwellings. They are required to provide 7-8 (10%) dwellings that are affordable. What is affordable? $550,000? Hardly affordable!
    Bryce P: Agree
    Frank McRae and Matthew W: See 3 above. Not easy to move out of the hole unless you use a car.
    mfwic and Bruce: The land is free. Paying $44M to a subsidiary (Winstones) is just a book entry. They are charging to fill the hole. Fletchers just about manufacture all products that make up a dwelling (see slide 33 of their Investor Presentation)

    More than happy to discuss further.

    • Frank McRae

      “Not easy to move out of the hole unless you use a car.”

      So this seems to come down to the fact that the existing resident’s want driving conditions to remain convenient for them but don’t want new resident’s to take up space on “their roads”. They need to accept that in a growing city, without road pricing, roads will be used by others.

      About the only relevant public issue is if Fletcher are neglecting their obligations to repair the Maunga.

      • Neil

        The same issues were raised by neighbours to Stonefields, and Fletchers added no roads, so Lunn Ave is now heavily congested most days, specially Saturday. Why do we want to repeat the same mistakes? Many members of this blog advocate the end to cul-de-sacs and building through roads, yet as soon as they see the words “high density” they want to throw these ideas out the window. This is just another “cul-de-sac” suburb like Stonefields.

        • Matthew W

          Neil,

          The “mistake” is a lack of road pricing. I agree we should not continue this mistake!

          • Scott M

            Road pricing is not the answer. Charge people for parking instead.

          • Matthew W

            Charging a market price for parking is a good idea, but if the issue is congestion, let’s price road use directly. One issue with charging people for parking is that so many private properties provide parking, so it won’t affect people who can park on private property. As a result there may be no price the council can set on parking which will prevent congestion. Also charging for parking as a proxy for road is not fair insofar as you are only charging some users.

          • Peter Nunns

            Actually, the inefficiencies associated with minimum parking requirements (and hence under-priced parking) are of a comparable magnitude to the inefficiencies associated with a lack of congestion pricing. Furthermore, parking pricing can be used to obtain most of the benefits of congestion pricing. See e.g. Calthrop, Proost and van Dender (2000).

            In summary, if you think congestion pricing is a good idea, you should be equally enthusiastic about removing MPRs and pricing parking.

          • Matthew W

            Peter, I hear you sorting out parking is a very good idea. Would it be a good substitute for road pricing? It will certainly help reduce the overall demand for road use, I would have thought parking supply is going to be far more elastic than road capacity however so we would not necessarily get rid of congestion just by pricing parking and getting rid of MPRs. Also pricing parking isn’t going to deal that well with peak congestion – ie there’s no reason to think the parking market would incentivise off peak travel, if people are parking all day once they get to work.

          • Peter Nunns

            Take a look at the paper I linked to – it argues that “second best” parking pricing – set at a level slightly above the market price for parking – would capture the majority of the benefits of congestion pricing. Not 100%, but a majority.

            These results seem intuitively sensible. The areas where parking prices are highest, due to high demands for space, will also tend to be the most congested. Keep in mind that demand-responsive parking prices can also vary by time of day – i.e. you’d pay more to park during the busiest time periods.

          • Matthew W

            Sorry, should have looked before I commented. I see, they are proposing to tax parking as a type of pigouvean tax I supose. I was thinking of a situation where private operators would be free to supply parking to the market, hence it would not be possible to raise parking prices above the market rate.

            I guess both options are available – I would personally have thought road pricing is fairer but maybe parking is administratively easier.

          • Matthew W

            Thinking more about this I can’t see how you could efficient get time of day parking prices with taxation. Sure with council owned parking you can do what you want. With heavy handed regulation you might be able to get privately owned casual parking facilities to have time of day parking, but i think it would be very difficult. Private parking spaces are surely going to be Impossible to price by time of day, short of implementing technology that you might as well use for road pricing. So an unintended consequence may be private car park ownership is incentivised. Which wouldn’t be great.

          • I guess the real point is that parking is the only pricing mechanism that Council has got, for as long as gov won’t allow road pricing.

        • Sailor boy

          Cul due sac for cars not people

      • “existing resident’s want driving conditions to remain convenient for them but don’t want new resident’s to take up space on “their roads”.

        Aren’t they just asking for more walking/cycling/public transit connections in the site design?

    • JimboJones

      Garry the herald implied that your biggest issue was that it’s twice as dense as whenuapai. Surely you understand that should be the case due to proximity to the city?

    • Peter Nunns

      Hi Garry

      You say that you represent “the community”. According to Census data, around 43% of the households in the Puketepapa Local Board area are living in rented accommodation. (This is substantially higher than the Auckland average of 38%.) Presumably, some of these households would like the opportunity to buy a dwelling in the area. More development would give them this opportunity, either directly or indirectly.

      So I’d like to know: What share of your membership is living in rental accommodation? If it’s lower than 43%, have you sought to consult specifically with renters to understand their views on the issue?

    • Matthew W

      “3. Connectivity (without the use of motor vehicles) north south and east west has been given little thought except to install two public lifts, a 200 metre long ramp and a 93 stair staircase to connect the development with the rest of the community.”

      That sounds like they have put some thought into connectivity – that is four separate means of entry/exit. Are you advocating for additoinal entries? I would support that if it materially improved connectivity, but there will be diminishing returns from addtional stair cases etc.

    • John Polkinghorne

      Thanks Garry, those may well be some valid points you have raised there. And yet, searching for your statements on the Herald website on the last couple of years, there’s very little on those topics, and plenty on other ones – perhaps because you’re now trying to refine the arguments in advance of a court appeal, which is fair enough.
      In one article http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11254309, you’re quoted as saying that “Fletcher should heed the calls for a full refill” of the quarry, and that “filling it in would enable Fletcher Developments to create cycleways and walkways through the entire project which would establish an east-west and north-south link to Mt Eden Rd”. Those sound like some pretty expensive cycleways, given the size of the quarry! And would no doubt give rise to a flood of new concerns about residents re: shading and loss of views.
      Another article at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11196142, and to be fair it’s not clear which comments are yours and which are Cr Casey’s, it’s “the apartments and houses look like military barracks and the scheme lacks imagination, has no solar power or water recycling, would create traffic congestion, clog up Mt Eden Rd and does not create good walking links up to the Big King”. Perhaps some of those things are true, but I’m not sure to what extent they’re externalities on the local community (I’ve talked about traffic in another comment).

    • Sailor boy

      So what if they don’t have to be affofdable. Increasing supply of a product reduces the cost.

      Two public lifts and ramps shows they have learnt from stone fields.

      Also ten storey cascading apartments On north facing solid land is a massive benefit to the community.

  • Frank not what I was meaning. Connectivity is all about moving easily between areas. It is proposed as part of the quarry development that access to the Maunga, the Three Kings Plaza and Community Centre, including the library can be done on foot or cycling. If the development is in a hole 15 meters below road level people are expected to use a public lift (they are not pleasant to use after awhile), 93 stairs or a 200 metre long ramp. Hardly easy to carry shopping home, get children to sports fields, library, etc or for the elderly to negotiate.
    So they will use their cars to go 400 meters(?)
    This is nothing to do with existing residents wanting the roads to themselves.

    JimboJones I am talking about open space in my comment. There is not enough compared to the other Fletcher sites. “Why does Three Kings, which is the smallest in land size [than plans for three other sites] have the most residential density which is 50 per cent more than Whenuapai which has a land size of 31ha? The very area that needs the most open space has next to nothing compared to the other three sites where land is abundant”.

    • Feijoa

      Would an outdoor escalator fix it? I’ve seen them used in a few places in Europe and they are fast and convenient – certainly quicker than driving that distance (at least for the able bodied, would probably need the lift too). They don’t need as much cleaning as a lift with the natural exposure to rain and wind. Has this been discussed with Fletchers or Cathy Casey?

    • > If the development is in a hole 15 meters below road level people are expected to use a public lift (they are not pleasant to use after awhile), 93 stairs or a 200 metre long ramp

      This isn’t exactly unusual for Auckland, though. If you live in, for example, Kingsland, Ponsonby, Parnell or Eden Terrace you could well live at least 15 vertical metres from your local town centre, up sloping streets, and all of those areas are very walkable relative to much of the city. The street layout, mix of destinations, and treatment of pedestrians on the street seem to be far more important than terrain.

      There certainly may be issues with the specific current proposal, but there’s nothing wrong about building 15 metres down per se.

    • Sailor boy

      You should tell Vero that the office lift Is unpleasant. Doubt their millionaire clients would tolerate that.

      The only valid concern is the breach of consent

  • Scott M

    The biggest housing developer says its going to take 30 years to reverse the current shortage (and that assumes from now on enough houses are built to match demand) and your conclusion is we wont have rapidly rising house prices.

    How on earth do you reach that conclusion?

    • Sailor boy

      Because you buy a house for future value. In the future supply will be larger price will be lower and that effects the existing price. Classic boom bust cycle.

      Google dutch tulip bubble

  • SDW

    Broadly speaking, the RMA basically requires developers to maintain and enahnce the quality of the environment. From what I have seen, it would be hard to argue that Fletcher’s are not enhancing the quality of the local environment. Whilst elevation drops or rises of 15m might not be the most perfect solution, the solution odes indeed enhance connectivity represents a benefit based on the opportunities and constraints presented by the site. If opposition arguments rest largely on achieving a flawless or exponentially more expensive (complete fill of the quarry) outcome, it is correct that they should be given substantially less weight in the planning process. That is to say they arent realistic, so there isnt any point in wasting time on them.

    I’d also say the fact that Fletchers/ Winstones have been quarrying there for the past 90 years and have ruined the enviornment/ maunga doesnt hold much sway. It has to be acknowledged that when quarrying operations started that were operating in a substantially different legislative environment with a lot less knowledge of environmental impacts. We can look back with hindsight and criticize such developments based on our current values and understanding, but if someone is using it as a key argument to oppose a housing development I’d say they are clutching at straws.

  • I frankly don’t understand the issue around elevation changes, these are fundamental to many cities of character, be it Wellington, San Francisco, Hong Kong, or Medellin. They are to be negotiated with technology and fast become important part of the identity of a place. Flat cities are boring, or at least require a great deal of cultural character to rise above the monotony of their topography. Give me Lyttelton over Christchurch any day.

    Zigzagging paths [Wellington], outside escalators [Medellin] gondolas [Medellin, Barcelona etc], lifts [everywhere], are was to deal easily with a mere 15m drop.

    • Angus Robertson

      Auckland is not a flat city, having a lovely character of rolling hills and proximity to water. We have thousands of acres of easily developed low density suburban areas which would be far superior to this old quarry. Yet we are forcing new developments into holes in the ground or onto old rubbish tips or onto green parklands. Of course people are going to object.

      • That is assuming people don’t value living more centrally. A glance at a land price map will quickly bust that assumption.

        • Angus Robertson

          I refer to the low density suburbia of Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Three Kings, Green Lane.

          • Why not redeveop a quarry? I don’t get your point.

          • Angus Robertson

            If we ever do progress beyond fear of the nimby and Auckland becomes like a halfway normal city, this whole area is going to become developed. Most of it will be apartments or row houses sited upon typical rolling landscape with a smattering of parks in between bathed in Auckland sunshine. Then there will be this place 15 m down a hole.

          • Sailor boy

            Ponsonby and grey Lynn are not low density lol

          • Low density is a relative thing. In Auckland the density may be a bit higher than average. But cities in Europe usually have much higher density this close to the city centre.

          • roeland and Angus, yes density is relative and the relativity that is relevant in this case is that Ponsonby and the other Victorian low rise suburbs actually have a density of dwellings that’s basically impossible under currents plans.

            Interestingly though the population density of the areas is dropping as these houses now contain fewer people than pretty much anytime in their history -> gentrification.

            However thanks to the existing mixed use in Ponsonby Grey Lynn, apartments on converted commercial sites are now being added which is counteracting this trend. But these suburbs are still getting older, it’s the kids and young people that are increasingly absent. Depressing.

            But yes it is a shame if these neighbourhoods are locked down further, especially if the owners of detached houses try to even prevent terraces and apartments happening near by on sites that don’t even contain them already..

          • That population loss, let me guess. People get older, their kids leave the house, but they are staying in their homes. Kind of makes sense.

            The downzoning is interesting though. Would that mean, if one of these villas topples over, the owner is no longer allowed to build a new house?

            Coming from Europe it’s mesmerizing to watch that discussion. The reference is so completely different. 1 dwelling per 600 m² at 2 km from the centre of a big city, that is totally unheard of.

          • roeland here are the data on changes in pop and age: http://schiff.co.nz/2014/10/more-dotmaps-youngish-versus-oldish/

            Grey Lynn Ponsonby deep red [decreasing] for the younger and fairly blue [increasing] for the older. Same in Devonport and most of the single house so-called character burbs.

            The mass en-greying of these areas is evident. Not good for the city; how will these areas rejuvenate? The only conceivable way is through the addition of smaller typologies sharing land costs; ie apartments.

          • Sailor boy

            The zoning is an obscenely Unfair on anyone not already rich enough to buy in. Not to mention how bad it is for the city

      • But you know the reason. NIMBYs fight against any changes to density rules in those areas and the Council rolls over.

        You are exactly right about where the development should be taking place. But brownfield sites are much easier to get home on.

  • What I am trying to convey is a development of this size and the past quarrying operations have completely ignored community aspirations for the area. It is not just the quarry development but Antipodeans who own the Three Kings Plaza are proposing an intensified residential/commercial development. Housing NZ who own a considerable number of properties around the quarry are also considering intensified residential developments on their (our) land. Where will the required open space (>20sqm per dwelling) come from? Where is the Auckland Council’s Master Plan for the Three Kings area?
    The Puketapapa Local Board created the Three Kings Plan (was call Three Kings Precinct Plan but was watered down and renamed by Council Planners!). This plan has basically been ignored by the majority of Councillors, Council Planners, Hearing Commissioners and Fletchers. Why?

    • Perhaps not everyone shares your assumption that more city is a bad thing? I have apartments, terrace houses and a supermarket in my street Victorian suburb, near by there are commercial buildings and more retail; these have all been added to what were industrial properties since we lived here and have led to a considerable improvement in shopping and employment options and the vitality on the street in our immediate neighbourhood. Intensification is better. It is certainly for locals, many of whom fought against these changes before they happened but now are happier with the area. And it is certainly better for the city as a whole than sprawling all the way to Hamilton.

      Yes there is more traffic, but there is also now a better bus service, and with more nearby it is easier to not always drive so it is more possible now than ever before to not take part in the congestion game. Without some intensification there will never be improvements like Light Rail up Mt Eden rd. People always seem to fear change and catastrophise about it, they never seem to count the upside, or even seem to be able to imagine it.

      The size of this development looks modest given the scale of the site. Additional neighbours mean new opportunities for the community. By all means get in there and get public realm improvements to the Maunga and the wider area, but please don’t try to argue that more people is a bad thing. All a city is is people and change. The only places that successfully reject both these are failing ones, like Detroit, and even then they still get change; decline, just fewer people.

    • John Polkinghorne

      Garry, I’ve had a look at your website now, and it seems like there may have been some well-founded disputes over issues like subsidence from the quarry pumping out water over the years. But often “community aspirations” for an area involve it not changing; existing residents, or a subset of them, keen to protect their own patch and having little regard to the desire of others to be able to live there too. This kind of thing is regular fodder for the NZ Herald; cue photo of displeased-looking residents with arms crossed, often with a local politician along for the ride, agreeing that some proposal shouldn’t be allowed to go ahead. No one sticks up for the people who don’t live there yet, because the homes haven’t been built.
      Why shouldn’t the Three Kings Plaza be intensified? Seems like an ideal place for it to me. Town centre, close to public transport? Check. Currently run down and due for a revamp? Check. Concentrated ownership, making it easier to get a development over the line? Check. Area of high housing demand? Check.
      Housing NZ own their properties on behalf of all New Zealand, so yes it’s ‘our’ land but it belongs to people in Waipukurau as much as it does to nearby residents. And Housing NZ look at the housing need of their clients, and say, we should have more housing in central areas, and make better use of our scarce central land, and why shouldn’t they? Who’s sticking up for the rights of those people to have well-built homes close to jobs, except for Housing NZ?
      Fletchers obviously have a vested interest in maximising the commercial value of their land, and councillors and local board members in staying elected, but “Council Planners and Hearing Commissioners” don’t – they’re supposed to use their professional expertise to weigh up the value of a proposal or a set of zoning rules. The value to all Auckland, not just the effects on local (current) residents, although those should be taken into account.

    • Peter Nunns

      Again, what is your basis for claiming a consensus among the community? How many people have you spoken to? How representative are they of the demographics and household tenure (43% renting!) in the area?

      Also, do you have any empirical basis for your claim that 20m2 of open space is required per household?

      • John Polkinghorne

        Plus, why is “required open space (>20sqm per dwelling)” a problem for the existing community? You won’t be living in it; surely it’s a matter for the people who will be? What gives you the authority to say how much open space other people should have on their homes?

  • This has to be my last effort to get across two major issues.
    We are not against an intensified development by Fletchers, it is welcomed. We have been waiting 20 years for proposals and were promised full involvement in any proposal. Neither are we against intensified development by Antipodeans or Housing NZ. What the two issues are, and I state then again: “where will the required open space (>20sqm per dwelling) come from? Where is the Auckland Council’s Master Plan for the Three Kings area?”
    There is a better way to develop these sites but one developer has come along proposed one plan (with many interactions which the community was not privy to) and the Council says as long as it doesn’t cost us anything we support it go for it! It will cost the Council in the long term when they have to maintain a very poorly designed residential development.

    • Frank McRae

      “where will the required open space (>20sqm per dwelling) come from?”

      The site is next to a huge park and reserve. Why do you need 20 sqm per dwelling? It is not possible to keep adding open space in an inner city suburb. Fortunately this site is already adjacent to some great open space. It won’t harm to have a few more people using it.

      “Where is the Auckland Council’s Master Plan for the Three Kings area?”

      Master plan? Council is responsible for open space and right of ways, and attempts to control externalities of development but after that private land owners have some freedom to use their land. We don’t really have “master plans” in the sense of an all controlling plan on an area imposed from above. The area plans council does produce are more marketing brochures than anything else.

    • Angus Robertson

      This area falls under the Unitary Plan and is a special purpose area, exempt from rules that are applied to the rest of the city. Can be viewed here:

      http://acmaps.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/unitaryplan/FlexViewer/index.html

      • John Polkinghorne

        Angus, it sounds like you’re trying to make that sound sinister, but it’s not. Special purpose zones have their own rules too. And they’re all over the city – most schools have them, for example. The one the quarry is in reflects its current purpose as a quarry. You can look this stuff up in the text of the Unitary Plan.
        The current zoning doesn’t let them turn the quarry into housing, hence they need a plan change to do that, which will rezone the land as something which allows residential.

        • Angus Robertson

          Well I am sure I did not mean to sound sinister.

          I’m anticipating the rules that will be applied to this land will not be aligned fairly with neighbouring residential area, they will be a special case.

    • Sailor boy

      Any one of us could pull any number out of our anatomy and claim it is a minimum open space.

      The current owner has spent years coming up with a plan for the space that is theirs (not ‘the local community’s’). The proposal has net positive impacts on the local area so legally and morally shouldn’t be stopped.

      • Dan C

        The current owner of the quarry has come up with a plan to build houses on what is currently council owned public open space. It’s not as simple as it’s their land they can do what they like, the land swap changes all that. 3.5H of public open elevated space paved over to provide access to the new homes on the mountain and in the quarry. Exchanged for 2.5H of stormwater overflow ponds at the base of the quarry.

    • Dan C

      If you are not opposed to intensification at Three Kings, why state at your pubic meetings that intensive development isn’t suitable for the quarry and should be left to happen in New Lynn because they have a new train station?

  • Mike F

    http://transportblog.co.nz/2015/09/22/the-case-against-publicly-owned-golf-courses-part-3/

    This Fletcher data shows that your values of undeveloped land (Chamberlain Golf Course) are way out ? Just look at what Fletchers have paid for the Golf courses they are developing.

  • I was rather reluctant to get involved in this discussion (not least because it was well established when I became aware of it, and is even longer now) but I’ll give it a go.

    1. As with any issue, there are a range of reasons why people share a view – yes some will be NIMBYs in this case, but that’s not the key issue for most of those involved, from what I’ve observed.

    2. The Puketapapa Local Board (which I chair) has repeatedly resolved to support residential redevelopment in the quarry, has put a lot of resources into the Three Kings Plan (which Sacha has already linked above) to provide a positive starting point for that, but has been shut out by both the main developer (Fletchers) and parts of the Council organisation which appear to prefer to just look at the Fletchers proposal rather than considering anything broader. I can understand this as it is work that Council doesn’t have to put as much staff time or money into developing, but given that Council is supposed to be a democratically controlled organisation, not a corporate, it does have obligations to the community (and the Board) that it seems to be short-cutting in this instance. Yes the bulk of the land is owned by Fletchers, but far from all. One of the constant refrains from council staff (not all, some have been supportive of the Board and community’s role) has been that we can’t do planning work on the development of other people’s land – what’s the Unitary Plan process then? what about area planning? what’s the point of Panuku? The Board has asked for a broader approach to planning in the area, based on a larger precinct area that includes a lot of the potential redevelopment (mostly residential) on HNZ sites to the west of the quarry, the existing town centre to the south. Personally I’d love to see apartments on top of the existing shopping centre.

    3. Adjacent “huge” parks – people will no doubt be aware of the significant shortfall in open space (and sports fields) in Albert Eden Local Board area, which is immediately to the north of this development. Creating open space (and potentially sports fields) here, just south of the border, is one of the many solutions that will be needed to address that. The reserve around the maunga itself (Big King Reserve) sits with the Maunga Authority and is not suitable for sports fields. The park to the south is Three Kings Domain which isn’t “huge” to my mind, but I walk through it often so maybe I take it for granted – certainly it is no Monte Cecilia or Keith Hay Park. It is home to one sports field big enough to host cricket and often there are athletics there as well. There is some additional park land to the west of the quarry hole, which is generally referred to as Western Reserve – it currently has a sports field on it. If the land exchange goes ahead this will largely be redeveloped into residential land by Fletchers, and a section at the bottom of the quarry floor will become sports fields in exchange. There are also some scrappy bits of reserve land at the southern boundary of the quarry which are undeveloped and will be part of the land exchange too.

    4. The alternative plan – Richard Reid’s plan (which Sacha has also linked). This was commissioned by the Board, to show that there are other ways to lay out the land and redevelop it to get a good residential redevelopment that provides a lot more dwellings and also meets the objectives of the Three Kings Plan (particularly in relation to connections east-west, to the town centre, and some rehabilitation towards the maunga). As you might imagine, it has had a lot less money and time go into it than the Fletchers’ plans, however it is generally supported by the community as a better starting point for redevelopment. The Board has not yet been able to get the work done to investigate yield, but my understanding is that it is likely to provide in the area of 1000 extra dwellings, compared to the 1200 Fletchers plan.

    Genuine question: is it a NIMBY position to support 1000 but not 1200? Particularly if the support for 1000 and opposition to 1200 is based not primarily on density but on issues of connection and urban design?

    5. Most of the public consultation Fletcher points to for their plan was actually done by the Board for the Three Kings Plan. Fletchers involvement was to participate alongside many others (and generally they didn’t actually say anything in the discussions I was at). There has been quite a lot of bad faith on their part not least submitting their Private Plan Change a few days after the Three Kings Plan was voted on (and before the final version was published) yet saying it is based on it. They continue to say the Three Kings Plan work and outcomes are part of their plan. This has been a theme throughout, unfortunately, and I guess part of my question to those who support this proposal would be are you ok with a developer undertaking this kind of bad behaviour? Particularly as in this case the community was actually having a discussion leading to intensification and redevelopment already? I’ve just found out last night that the developer has announced a name for the SHA they have on part of the site, saying they have consulted with community stakeholders – I didn’t know about it at all, and if the Board elected to represent the area isn’t a community stakeholder who is? I didn’t particularly expect that we would be consulted on this, there’s no obligation to do so, but why say you did when you didn’t? This stuff just keeps happening and I don’t think it is unreasonable for a community, both individuals and institutions within it, to get pissed off with this kind of treatment.

    Ok I’m going to leave it there. Other than to say – I have been arguing about this on Twitter with one or two of you for the last few weeks, and that’s another reason for my reluctance; this is not a simply NIMBY situation (of course I would say that I guess) – most of those opposed to Fletchers’ plan do want a residential development and support intensification in a place such as this, close to a town centre, community facilities and strong PT links. Most even accept that Fletchers will be the ones doing most of it. The Board certainly does.

  • Frank McRae

    “is it a NIMBY position to support 1000 but not 1200? Particularly if the support for 1000 and opposition to 1200 is based not primarily on density but on issues of connection and urban design?”

    Yes it is a NIMBY position. You are opposing 200 houses. And the Reid plan does not cover the same land area so is not a viable development for Fletchers.

    • Thanks Frank, I think I got that the first couple of times you tweeted it at me. Would be interesting to know what others think, particularly those of a less libertarian bent (eg your comment above the council has no role in determining how private land should be developed). However it looks like with my late entry to this discussion I’ve missed my chance.

      • Angus Robertson

        No it doesn’t make you a NIMBY, but you will be called one. The council cannot afford to have a failure to launch occur on this Fletchers site and Fletchers can afford to walk away. Fletchers hold all the cards.

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