The CRL has been approved by the planning commissioners hearing the notice of requirement. I haven’t had a chance to look through the documents about the decision and won’t fit a little while yet so let me know if there’s anything interesting in them.
Auckland Transport has today welcomed a unanimous recommendation by independent planning commissioners that the land required to build, operate and maintain the City Rail Link (CRL) be set aside for the project.
The five commissioners, who heard AT’s planning application for the CRL, have recommended that the designation for the land be confirmed, subject to conditions that address issues raised by submitters.
The commissioners say they accepted the CRL would result in significant overall benefits to the people and economy of Auckland. “There was no evidence to challenge the benefits of the project and most submitters in opposition accepted the merits of the project.”
AT Chief Executive, David Warburton, says the recommendation and related conditions would now be considered by Auckland Transport. AT has 30 working days to confirm, amend or withdraw the notices.
There was overwhelming support for the CRL and many of those who submitted in opposition to ensure their particular interests were addressed, also voiced their support for the project.
David Warburton says when a decision is made, all affected landowners and submitters will be informed of the result. Submitters will have 15 working days to appeal the decision to the Environment Court.
The documents are here.
Several recent reports and articles have discussed trends in migration and its impacts on New Zealand.
In terms of trends, net migration is at a 10-year high. The recent surge in net migration trends is shown below.
The simple reason advanced for the positive net migration trend is that our economy is doing relatively well compared to most of the countries with whom we compete for skilled labour. This is both 1) reducing the number of kiwis departing these shores and 2) attracting more people from elsewhere to come live/work here (some of whom will of course be NZers). Put simply, less out and more in = higher net gain. Trends in long term departures and arrivals are illustrated below.
So what might be the impacts of higher net migration?
Usefully, the people at NZIER have been researching the impacts of migration on New Zealand’s economic performance. They find that for every 40,000 additional net migrants, our GDP per capita increases by approximately $400 p.a. Why? Well, there are apparently a number of microeconomic channels through which migration contributes to economic output, specifically:
- They provide firms with new skills
- They increase innovation and entrepreneurship
- NZ businesses benefit from greater scale and competitiveness
- They increase returns from public investment
The general message is fairly simple: Migrants increase the diversity and scale of our labour market and firms, while also increasing the returns on public investment (which typically have relatively fixed costs, such as infrastructure and institutions). It’s worth pointing out, however, that only the first two economic channels listed above are actually specifically linked to migration. The last two microeconomic channels are pure economies of scale, which would also result from a higher domestic fertility rate.
Which brings me nicely to another (potential) benefit from migration: Greater diversity in potential partners.
I know this sounds flakey, but I’ve just recently been struck by how many of my NZ friends (including several of my fellow bloggers) are partnered up with people of foreign origin. Which raises an interesting proposition: Is it possible that higher rates of net migration have an indirect impact on domestic fertility rates? I’ve been asking my mates but they’re a bit coy on the topic. But it seems reasonable to suggest that if migrants introduce diversity/specialisation into the labour market then perhaps they do the same for the “partner market”.
I guess the net effect depends not only on the quality of the match, but also migrants’ relative preferences for making babies compared to the existing NZ population (to which they are added). This is an area that may warrant further NZ-specific research (NB: The World Bank has analysed migration and fertility impacts in this paper. The key finding appears to be that migration reduces home country fertility and increases destination country fertility, as I would expect. However the World Bank appear to attribute this to simple differences in preferences, rather than better matching).
Are there negative impacts from migration?
The most obvious is the additional demand for housing that results during times of high migration, which could in turn lead to higher property price inflation and ultimately higher interest rates. This will not only curb domestic demand across the economy, but it will also tend to inflate the currency and undermine NZ’s export competitiveness. This issue is all the more relevant in the Christchurch context and, in my opinion, supports the Reserve Bank’s decision to implement loan-value requirements as a temporary curb on housing demand in these relatively exceptional circumstances.
Some people suggest that higher net migration might reduce social cohesion, although specific details on exactly what is meant by social cohesion are difficult to come by.
Data from StatisticsNZ (as discussed here on KiwiBlog) suggests people of Asian ethnicity in New Zealand have much lower rates of criminal offending than the general population, while the opposite is true of Pasfika ethnicity. However, this difference may be attributable to differences in the relative incomes of these two migrant groups.
I can’t help but wonder that if 1) more kiwis are staying here and/or returning from overseas (where approximately 1 million currently reside) and 2) kiwis who hook up with migrants are generally happier than they would be otherwise, then it seems possible that current trends will actually bring people/families together and thereby supports greater “cohesion”. So ultimately I think this supposed “negative” effect of migration is likely to be over-stated and that, on balance, migration has net positive impacts for NZ’s socio-economic performance.
So what should we expect from future trends in migration?
Well, if the results of this international survey are anything to go by then NZ can expect to see positive net migration numbers for some time. The survey ranked New Zealand ranked fifth overall for preferred destination and subsequently estimated that our population would increase to over 9 million in the event that everyone who wanted to migrate here was able to do so. Of course, the relative performance of NZ’s economy will be the main determinant of whether current rates of migration are sustained.
All I hope is that we start to get people like Emma Watson and/or Hayley Williams migrating here to vie for my affections. Sweet.
Today is the last day, if you haven’t already, please make a submission before 5pm
Submissions for the Unitary Plan close at 5pm this afternoon so if you have been thinking about making a submission then you need to get on with it. I’ll be finishing our submission today however here are the key points we will be raising.
Specific Suggested Amendments:
|Chapter I – Future Urban Zone
||Zone should be split into two sub-zones, one which relates to areas suitable for development in the next 10 years and another suitable for development beyond that date. Zones could be referred to as “Future Urban (short term)” and “Future Urban (long term)”.
The specific controls for the zoning, especially in “Future Urban (long term)”, would reflect the direction of some future urban zoning developing earlier and some later.
|This change would give clearer direction about which parts of the Future Urban Zone are intended to be developed sooner and which parts later. This will enable infrastructure providers to plan with greater knowledge about the sequencing of land for development.
This change would also minimise the risk of ‘leap frog’ development through private plan changes and enable the provision of quality transport infrastructure at the same time as development occurs.
|Chapter I – Residential Zones
||Front yard setback requirements should be removed or reduced, particularly in zones where intensification is anticipated.
||Front yard setback requirements take up valuable space that could otherwise be used within the main area of outdoor open space (generally to the rear) and undermine high quality urban design outcomes where interaction between the dwelling and the street is encouraged.
Front yard setbacks are likely to undermine achieving the ‘quality’ urban form the Unitary Plan seeks to achieve.
|Chapter I – Residential Zones
||Density limits should be removed for development of four or more dwellings in the Mixed Housing Suburban zone.
Density limits should not apply to the Mixed Housing Urban zone.
|Density limits are an overly crude way of managing built form that undermine many of the goals of the Unitary Plan – particularly the provision of affordable housing, the provision of a variety of housing types and promoting a quality built form.
Other development controls, particularly height limits and site coverage limits, adequately control any adverse environmental outcomes. Density controls are therefore superfluous and counter-productive to the goals of the Unitary Plan.
|Chapter H –Parking Rules
||Removal of parking minimums from Mixed Housing Urban and Mixed Housing Suburban zones.
Removal of parking minimums for Tavern activities.
|Parking minimums undermine many goals the Unitary Plan is trying to achieve – especially in zones where intensification is proposed. Negative impacts of parking minimums in the Mixed Housing zones will include undermining the ability to intensify, adding unnecessary cost to the consenting process, undermining the ability to achieve quality design outcomes, acting as a hidden subsidy to private vehicle travel and undermining investment in public transport.
|Chapter I – Business Zones (Mixed Use Zone)
||Some areas zoned for Mixed Use development should have a significantly higher height limit to reflect their location close to high quality public transport infrastructure (e.g. Morningside, Newton).
||Some areas zoned Mixed Use (e.g. Morningside & Newton) are suitable for higher density development than the rest of the Mixed Use zone. This is because they are close to strategically significant existing or proposed railway stations and other amenities/services.
Enabling higher development densities in parts of the Mixed Use zone will enable best value to be achieved from significant investment in projects such as the City Rail Link.
|Maps – Morningside
||All areas between Morningside train station and St Lukes Shopping Centre proposed to be zoned “Light Industrial” should be rezoned “Mixed Use”.
||Morningside station is a strategically significant station on the rail network once City Rail Link is completed. The station will be less than 10 minutes journey time from the city centre and the area surrounding it is generally not constrained by heritage/character, plus has a number of large site sizes.
This is an area suitable for significant residential development due to its proximity to rail and to other amenities such as St Lukes, Fowlds Park and Mt Albert Primary School. The zoning should enable this development, which has already begun to occur over the past decade.
|Maps – Mt Roskill
||The area bounded by May Road to the west, Mt Albert Road to the north, SH20 to the south and Mt Roskill Grammar to the east should be “upzoned” to Terraced Housing & Apartment Buildings
||This area has excellent access to high quality public transport (Dominion Rd buses & possible rail along Avondale-Southdown Line) and is close proximity to Mt Roskill shops. A good location for intensification that would support many of the high level outcomes in the Regional Policy Statement such as providing housing choice and minimising adverse impacts on special character (as this is not a heritage area).
|Maps – Grey Lynn
||The sides of Great North Road between Ponsonby Road and Surrey Crescent should have an “Additional Zone Height Control” overlay applied to enable a higher height limit.
||This area has high quality public transport options, is on a ridge line and is relatively free of heritage constraints. It provides an almost unique opportunity for significant intensification in the Grey Lynn area.
|Maps – Meadowbank
||Areas within an 800m walk of Meadowbank train station should be upzoned to either Terraced Housing & Apartment Buildings or Mixed Housing Urban (or a combination).
||Meadowbank train station is one of very few stations that has not seen upzoning around it – which is anomalous and inconsistent with various objectives and policies to enable intensification in areas with good access to rapid transit. This area also overlooks Orakei Basin, which provides good natural amenity and further increases the suitability of the area for intensification.
|Maps – Central Isthmus
||Areas zoned Mixed Housing Suburban within the area bounded by New North Road in the west, the city fringe in the north, SH20 in the south and Great South Road in the east should be considered for rezoning to Mixed Housing Urban.
||The central isthmus has the best public transport accessibility of any part of Auckland, plus a gridded street network and frequent centres of various scales. It also has significant market demand for development.
Rezoning areas from Mixed Housing Suburban to Mixed Housing Urban would enable a wider variety of housing typologies in an area suitable for growth because of its public transport access and other amenities. Mixed Housing Urban would still retain the broad character of the area.
Mixed Housing Suburban area generally avoid places where Special Character overlays are applied.
|Maps – Greenlane
||Along both sides of Gt South Rd between Greenlane East/West and Main Highway proposed “Light Industrial” should be rezoned “Mixed Use”.
||This area has excellent access to high quality public transport, has good access to other amenities and is free of heritage constraints.
Areas of Support
||Specific Matter Supported
|Chapter I – Residential Zones
||3.3 – conversion of a dwelling into two dwellings
||This is supported as it is a way of providing affordable housing and allowing intensification in areas where growth is otherwise very difficult (e.g. heritage or character areas).
|Chapter I – Business Zones
||1 – Activity Tables
||The strong restrictions placed on retail & office activity outside centres zones is supported. Out of centre retail & office activity results in areas very difficult to adequately serve with public transport but quite often have high concentrations of destinations.
|Chapter H –Parking Rules
||Support not having parking minimums in the various zones listed in Table 3 of Transport: section 3.2.
||Parking minimums undermine many goals the Unitary Plan is trying to achieve – especially in zones where intensification is proposed. Not applying parking minimums in these areas is supported.
|Maps – General
||General support of zoning areas close to rapid transit or high frequency public transport to zones that enable intensification – particularly Mixed Use, Terraced Housing & Apartment Buildings or a centre zone.
||Enabling intensification in areas with good public transport options will support the increased use of public transport and enable those living in higher density environments to be less car dependent in their lives, reducing the financial burden of transport on them.
As outlined in my post yesterday the Unitary Plan submission period closes this Friday 5pm, so I am writing posts that discuss major points from the Generation Zero submission to help readers make an informed submission.
Over the next decade we are likely to see a major revolution in public transport in Auckland with new EMU’s, the frequent bus network, City Rail Link, and more busways in the various parts of town. This should result in areas with excellent public transport access becoming more attractive to Aucklanders for living. We should learn lessons from Vancouver where areas along the new Skytrain lines have been booming with residential development. The Unitary Plan should therefore ensure areas within the walking catchment of railway stations and other high quality public transport are generally be zoned to allow intensification. In some areas the plan has done an good job of this. Centres in the Isthmus with good public transport accessibility such as Glen Innes, Panmure, Avondale and New Lynn have been up zoned, usually to allow 8 or more stories.
However there are also some other areas that are mysteriously missed out from up zoning, and other prime locations where Light Industrial or Business Zones apply instead of zoning which allows residential development. The clearest example of misapplied zoning appears to be Morningside.
Proposed Unitary Plan zoning for Morningside
The darker purple colours are the large area of land zoned Light Industrial. All these areas are less than 750m from the Morningside station. Already the train is an attractive option for commuters with a 21 minute journey time to Britomart. However the City Rail Link will cut this to about 15 minutes, with the cut even greater for thus who currently bus to the Midtown/Aotea area. Therefore this area of Light Industry should be zoned Mixed Use to allow intensification. Also importantly there are no Volcanic Viewshafts here so heights of 10 stories or more would be acceptable, though there would need to be a little graduation at the east end where light industrial abuts the Single House Zone. While the Unitary Plan tries to protect industrial land, this area is generally not being used for industrial purposes but business use such as indoor sports, small scale offices and retail. With quality residential high rise development Morningside could become a buzzing and connected area, much like what we see along the Skytrain lines in Vancouver.
There are similar issues along Great South Road between Greenlane and Ellerslie, with a corridor of Light Industrial. However in reality these are largely low value office and retail use, including many car yards. This should be zoned Mixed Use to allow some residential development, especially where this backs onto other residential streets. Again this whole corridor is within the 10 minute walking corridor of Greenlane and/or Ellerslie stations so are prime places to take advantage of investment in the rail corridor.
The area around Newton will undergo substantial change as part of the City Rail Link, both through the construction of Newton station and demolition of low value for the southern tunnel portal. Newton station will only be an 8 minute ride from Britomart, so this area will really become part of the CBD proper. Some increased height is anticipated, but application seems uneven.
The bold Pink is zoned Town Centre with a height of 4 stories, with is justified to protect the heritage buildings along the streets cape here. The rest of the light purple areas are Mixed Use which is great. However the Height Limit is 8 stories north of Newton Road, but only 5 stories south of Newton Road. The whole area should be zoned Mixed Use with a height limit of 8 stories. Construction of the City Rail Link tunnel portal will result in the purchase and demolition of a large number of properties between New North Road and the railway line. On completion of the City Rail Link this will result in a large parcel of land with excellent public transport access, and ripe for a major integrated development. This will be one of largest pieces of City Fringe land that could be redeveloped comprehensively. Therefore a more permissive height limit of 8 stories could result in a better outcome.
So please submit to ask for more intensification along public transport corridors and ensure the Unitary Plan takes into account planned public transport investment. Submissions can be made on the Auckland Council site here.
Last week’s post about how considering transport costs is an important consideration when really understanding housing affordability has led to a fairly epic comments thread. This is perhaps because many sprawl advocates are so used to hammering the “sprawl is the only way to improve housing affordability” line that they feel quite threatened by a more comprehensive analysis of the situation.
To summarise many of the points made by blog authors within the comments thread:
- The research validly highlights that transport costs rise as you get further from the centre of Auckland and this counter-balances – to some extent – the higher housing prices experienced in some inner areas.
- We think it’s highly hypocritical for people to bang on about the need to remove urban limits while maintaining strong support for the majority of planning rules that limit development potential in already urbanised areas. Councillors such as Dick Quax and Cameron Brewer are particularly bad when it comes to this hypocrisy – surely height limits, building setback requirements, parking minimums, density controls and the like are just as much “social engineering” as urban limits.
- In places where sprawl has resulted in affordable housing (Texan cities are often given as the example) there has been huge (billions upon billions) spending on highways and other infrastructure to support that growth. Hardly the ‘market outcome’ that the proponents suggest.
We have supported urban limits in documents such as the Auckland Plan and the Unitary Plan. In fact we support stronger control over the release of greenfield land in the Unitary Plan compared to what’s currently proposed. The reasons for this are obviously multi-faceted but basically come down to the significant public cost of providing new areas with sufficient transport, water, wastewater, stormwater, schools, parks, medical facilities etc. With so much public investment required to make new development areas liveable, quality communities it’s critical for there to be a carefully staged plan of what areas will be developed when. Not having an urban limit makes this process extremely difficult and potentially undermines the efficiency of public investment because you often see “leap frog” development or a mismatch between where development happens and where public investment has occurred.
Putting that never-ending debate aside though and returning to the issue of how transport costs change our understanding of housing affordability, there are some additional maps in both the journal article referenced in our original post and in the thesis the article is based upon, which provide interesting further information. Please note that we have been asked by the thesis author Kerry Mattingly to not publish the thesis online.
The first interesting map looks at the proportion of household income that is spent on rent across different parts of Auckland. The author provides a number of reasons for using rent rather than mortgage repayments, which appear sound and supported by previous academic studies.
Perhaps what’s most interesting about this map is the lack of a clear pattern, with proportions being high in some areas (North Shore, southeast and parts of the isthmus) but low in other ‘patches’ – generally areas that appear to correspond to concentrations of Housing New Zealand property.
One map that does show a clear pattern is the mean annual commuter variable cost – which broadly tracks the amount of money each household annually spends on commuting.
Even though the methodology for preparing this map obviously didn’t assume everyone worked in the city centre, we still get a clear pattern that indicates the further you live from the city centre the more you spend on transport. Relatively employment-rich South Auckland sees lower commuting costs than employment poor west Auckland, but still generally not as low as the commuting costs for the inner isthmus.
The upshot of comparing these two maps is simply that when you add transport into the mix, the true ‘affordability’ of different areas changes quite significantly. That’s perhaps best illustrated in this third map – which shows how much (as a percentage of housing cost) transport adds onto the cost of living in a certain area.
This map is a little bit challenging to interpret initially, but basically it shows what proportion of housing cost would need to be added on to reflect the additional cost of commuting in that area. For most of the inner isthmus it’s less than a quarter of the housing cost that’s added on – so the housing costs make up most of the “combined housing and transport cost” that would be faced by someone living here. For areas further out – particularly it seems in the south (despite its relatively large number of jobs) – the proportion is much higher, often meaning that someone may need to add half again to the cost of housing to truly recognise the combined housing and transport cost of that area.
As a final point, I’ve overlaid (just roughly) the approximate location of land zoned future urban in the proposed Unitary Plan on top of the map above (excluding Warkworth as it was too far north to fit for me).
The concerning conclusion from the map above is that most of the land we’re proposing to urbanise over the coming years lies in areas where transport costs will be a huge added burden. In essence, even if the additional greenfield land does provide cheaper housing costs (and the high costs of Flat Bush give reasonable reason to be skeptical of that outcome), that ‘gain’ will probably be significantly undone by the high transport costs experienced by those living in these new parts of Auckland.
Since it was announced just under two weeks ago there has been a lot of interest in the proposal to build a massive tower on the empty site that is bounded by Elliott St, Victoria St and Albert St yet there has been very few details released about the building. The tower had previously been consented back in 2007 but the new owner of the site wanted to make some changes. Reader Steve D lodged an OIA request for the new resource consent documents that has just been approved. Those documents provide quite a bit of interesting information, some new images of the building, some good aspects to the building and some not so good ones.
Here are a few new images of what it will look like, there are more in this document.
The good news is that the building will have direct access to the Aotea CRL station and like I suggested in this post, it will be diagonally across the site which will be needed because of the annoying slip lane beside Albert St. It also looks like the building will be accessed off the proposed exit into the Victoria St Linear Park.
It’s been reported that there will be 300 carparks in the building in six basement levels. that carpark will be accessed from the slip lane off Albert St and gets through the building to the basement on that white box on the right hand side of the image above. What’s more is that number of carparks is actually less than what was originally consented when the tower proposal which was 481.
The biggest concern is that like the other hotels on Albert St, there will be a large Porte Cochere. When combined with the entrance to the slip lane it’s potentially going to make things quite challenging for pedestrians walking along Albert St. It appears that the plan is to retain the existing footpath on Albert St while also having one through the Porte Cochere. In the image below you can see this and the entrance to the slip lane and carpark.
Steve D has also been looking through some of the info and pulled out a couple of interesting/concerning bits like that to minimise the impact of trucks on city streets for the 30 months of construction, it’s expected that most will access the site via the Elliott St shared space. In my opinion this is insane. The current city centre plans call for reducing the width of Victoria St with a linear park. Why not get started on narrowing it down and use the space intended on it for trucks. The linear park could then be constructed at the same time/as the building is nearing completion.
There will also be space for bikes in the carpark along with changing rooms/showers although it appears it will likely be residents only.
This building is definitely going to change the area considerably.
When it comes to intensification one of the things we have long supported is the idea that it’s critically important that density is done well. It’s no use just building high density on its own and it’s the access to local amenities that will determine just how liveable a place is. As the amenities in an area increase it helps to make development much more viable and transport is one of the most important in that regard. Build a motorway through an area and it’s not going to be very conducive to residential development, build a rapid transit line and you can get quite the opposite. Vancouver is one of the best examples of this and this video from last year shows the impact over 30 years that the initial Skytrain line has had on the area it passes through.
In 2009 Vancouver built the Canada Line which is another line on their Skytrain network. This article from The Atlantic Cities is about some of the impacts that have occurred along the route.
But the light rail line is also becoming a model for spurring environmentally responsible growth around stations, where people will ride transit more and drive less. The Canada Line has sparked a development boom unlike anything in the region’s history.
The most striking transformation is happening in Richmond, a suburb south of Vancouver. Richmond was a bedroom community for decades. Since the late 1990s, it’s turned into the region’s primary settling point for Chinese immigrants. However, Richmond has still retained the look of a North American suburb, with a highway-like main street pocked with large malls and parking lots on either side.
Now, Richmond is the southern terminus of the Canada Line, with easy transit access to both Vancouver and the international airport. The train runs on an elevated track above the main street, No. 3 Road. Since the rail line opened in 2009, clusters of mid-rise apartment towers have gone up around stations. More are in the works. By 2040, Richmond expects to see 30,000 more people living around the line in its city center, and all the parking lots covered with buildings.
It would be interesting to hear how the local retailers near train stations are doing. But it’s not just Richmond benefiting from the Canada Line:
Vancouver is also seeing a development boom around the Canada Line. Near one station, a 1950s era indoor shopping mall called Oakridge is being redeveloped with 13 new apartment and office towers and more retail space. Oakridge is owned by a subsidiary of the Quebec credit union that is one of the main investors in the Canada Line project.
Elsewhere on the line, Vancouver currently has 12 projects approved, 13 applications underway, and 10 more inquiries. If everything gets built, that will add another 4,100 housing units to Cambie Street, whose previous life was as a sleepy row of single-family homes.
“The province and the city made a significant transit investment and now what we’re seeing is that people are greatly attracted to it,” says Brian Jackson, Vancouver’s general manager of planning. “It’s been a magnet for new development.”
Vancouver got to its planning work a bit later than Richmond did. A Cambie Corridor plan was not finalized until 2011. But even before that happened, land values along the line soared and properties started trading hands.
The city’s major developers say they have one priority when they look at project sites these days – access to transit. “It used to be about location, location, location,” says the city’s most influential real estate marketer, Bob Rennie. “Now it’s transit, transit, transit.”
One of those is this development I talked about a few months ago. Clearly the Skytrain has been immensely successful on many fronts in reshaping the city.
Over the next few years I think we’re going to increasingly see similar activity along parts of our rail network – although not likely as high and we won’t truly see any major change on the western line until the CRL is built dramatically reducing travel times to the CBD and elsewhere. The only thing that will hold this back is going to be the Unitary Plan however I suspect we will likely be on to a second version by then which will hopefully address some of these issues. Morningside is a good example of where there could be substantial changes if the zoning allowed for it.
On the issue of development Kent has kindly created this map which shows the location of the apartments in our development tracker and also shows how they would relate to the Congestion Free Network which would further open up large areas to vastly improved transport options.
It seems there’s been a flurry of news about intensification and development over the last week or so. We’ve had Len Brown trying to kick start progress on the CRL at the same time as Precinct Properties redevelop the Downtown Shopping Centre, we’ve had the news that resource consent has been issued for a massive tower to go up on the long empty site that bounds Elliot St, Victoria St and Albert St and that will be right next to the proposed Aotea Station.
Now we’ve had news that the long fought over plans to build apartments on top of the Milford Shopping Centre. The Herald reports:
Milford Shopping Centre’s development boss has welcomed an Environment Court decision allowing apartment towers to rise around the property on Auckland’s North Shore up to 12 levels high.
Campbell Barbour, New Zealand Retail Property Group general manager, said he was still reviewing the decision but said he was satisfied with it. “It signals there’s an understanding that the site is appropriate for the buildings and for intensification so it’s a long way from where this all started – that it was not appropriate,” he said.
“It creates an opportunity for the development of apartment living on the Milford site which can reflect the superb locational attributes,” he said, adding that it also supported the view that good, taller buildings would help resolve the city’s housing supply crisis.
Auckland Council officials said the company had not got as much height as it had wanted but a good compromise had been reached.
The decision on the scheme allows the towers on land now used for carparking at the shopping hub.
I’ve always liked the general idea behind the proposed Milford development as it not only makes better use of the large area the mall covers but putting more people in to the area is bound to help other local amenities more viable and the area more liveable for others. The reduction in height from what the developers were initially wanting from ~17 storeys to 12 storeys doesn’t seem too bad and it sounds like the developer is ok with it so it is likely to go ahead. From memory the plan was only for the buildings in the middle to be high with others closer to the edge of the site lower.
This is one of the images the developers were showing on the website from before this announcement so the height obviously will need to come down by a few levels.
Also in the Herald yesterday was this article about how the councils caving to a few very vocal scaremongers is going to have some potentially big impacts on the ability to build more affordable housing.
Community housing providers say the latest draft planning rules would make affordable housing impossible in 85 per cent of Auckland.
Auckland Community Housing Network chairman Peter Jeffries says Auckland councillors dealt “a disastrous blow” to young couples seeking their first house by caving in to an intense campaign by existing homeowners against high-density housing in almost all suburban areas.
The current proposed Unitary Plan, approved a month before last October’s council elections, imposes a minimum of at least 200sq m of land per dwelling in all except 15 per cent of the Auckland urban area – the 5 per cent zoned for terraced housing and apartments, and 10 per cent in a three-storey “mixed housing urban” zone around suburban centres and main transport routes.
Mr Jeffries said that at current Auckland land values of around $1000 a sq m, home-buyers anywhere else would face land costs of at least $200,000 plus building costs of up to $160,000 for a one-bedroom unit or $200,000 for two bedrooms.
“Affordability is thrown out the window,” he said.
Mr Jeffries’ Community of Refuge Trust recently built eight one-bedroom flats in two new two-storey houses on a 1000sq m site next to the commercial area in Otahuhu.
That worked out at 125sq m of land per dwelling including pocket gardens and a shared barbecue area. It cost only $240,000 a dwelling including the land, enabling the units to rent at only $250 a week.
The example used shows quite well the impact on house prices that intensification can have. Sure it isn’t the mythical quarter acre section but then not everyone wants that and what’s more not everyone has the time or money to be able to maintain a section that size. Further not everyone wants to have to spend huge amounts of money on transport from far flung suburbs.
This is one of the key reasons it’s so important to put a submission in for the Unitary Plan and the deadline being next Friday (I need to get on to mine).
Lastly there also been news that Precinct Properties are also the front runner to build the Innovation Precinct at Wynyard Quarter.
Listed landlord Precinct Properties has just announced a big lift in bottom-line profit and that it is in exclusive negotiations to develop an exclusive part of Auckland’s waterfront.
Precinct has just announced that it made $39.5 million net profit after tax in the six months to December 31, up 67 per cent on the previous $23.6 million.
But Scott Pritchard, Precinct chief executive, also said the company was now in talks to work on one of the country’s largest urban regeneration projects on 1.1ha of land where about 46,000 sq m of floors space could be developed.
Precinct’s involvement in the Wynyard Quarter had not previously been disclosed but Pritchard said the company was working with Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) which has plans for a multi-building “innovation precinct”.
Precinct could become the development partner for the commercial offices within the quarter’s Innovation Precinct, he said.
The innovation precinct is just one part of a massive redevelopment Waterfront Auckland are currently working on with a neighbouring section also under negotiation that will include a number of apartments. They’re also working on a new hotel for the area.
Here’s some images of what the development could end up looking like (and if it does it would be a very very neat place).
Do you live near Karangahape Road or Newton or have a strong interest in the area? The local board are holding some ideas evenings to help come up with some plans for the two area which are likely to see significant change after the City Rail Link is built.
I wrote most of this post back in November, when the latest CBD-specific employment data came out. We didn’t publish it at the time, since we felt we had given the topic enough coverage already, but it seems appropriate to revisit it now that the Ministry of Transport has released some new documents on progress towards the government’s targets for starting the City Rail Link early.
In a way, this can be thought of as an unofficial peer review of one of the MoT documents – a report by Richard Paling Consulting (abbreviated as RPC below). At least, it’s my own attempt to tackle the same questions as that report did, and come up with specific, measurable targets from what was actually a fairly vague government statement. Here goes, with the embedded quotes being parts I wrote in November:
Following on from our earlier posts here and here, let’s take a closer look at National’s employment target for starting to build the City Rail Link early (i.e. around 2015, not 2020). When John Key announced that the government would consider making an early start, he gave two conditions. Auckland doesn’t have to meet these conditions immediately, but simply show that it is on track to meeting them.
The employment target is for “Auckland city centre employment [to increase] by 25 per cent over current levels – that is half the increase predicted in the Future Access Study”
As far as we’re aware, National hasn’t actually explained how the employment condition works. There doesn’t seem to be a formal policy relating to it: just John Key’s initial announcement. There are several questions which need to be answered (and should have been already) if National sticks with its current position:
- What data source is used?
- How is the “city centre” defined?
- What base year is used?
- What final year is used?
What data source is used?
The census is probably the most accurate data source on employment at the local level. The employment results from the 2006 census are out, but the 2013 ones aren’t. The next census is still years away – a year for it hasn’t even been finalised – and the data would come out too late to make a difference to the CRL start date. For a 2016 census, we’d be looking at the data coming out in 2018. Overall, I don’t think the census will be much help in showing whether the city centre is on track to reach National’s target.
The other data source is business demographics. These aren’t as accurate, but they are released each year. This is the data source that National will probably need to base their condition on, and it’s what our analysis has focussed on so far.
RPC reached the same conclusion – that business demographics data are the most suitable for measuring progress against the target.
How is the “city centre” defined?
The definition of the city centre is something we’ve looked at several times on the blog. The “CBD” is usually defined as the area bounded by the motorways. However, when you’re dealing with data, the most common definition is based on Statistics New Zealand boundaries, and those are slightly different. It cuts out the southern side of Karangahape Rd, including Ironbank, and some of Auckland’s more colourful nightlife spots. It cuts out the eastern part of Symonds St south of Wellesley – plenty of university buildings there.
If you limit the CBD definition to the area inside the motorways, you cut out everything west of the Northern Motorway, including Beaumont Quarter, Freemans Bay, the new GHD building, Victoria Park New World, and so on. You cut out everything east of Stanley St, including the Carlaw Park precinct, the creative quarter on the southern side of The Strand, and so on.
As far as I can tell, the City Centre Future Access Study which John Key refers to uses the traditional CBD definition, whether it’s based on the Statistics New Zealand boundaries or something slightly different.
In fact, Nick and Matt have argued that the “central city” covers a larger area than just the traditional CBD. Given that central areas like Newmarket, Parnell, Grafton and Newton will benefit significantly from the CRL, you can make a strong argument for their inclusion.
In short, it’s hard to find a perfect definition for the city centre – but the choice of definition can be pretty important. This is especially true given that the Freemans Bay area unit (immediately west of the CBD and including all those developments west of the Northern Motorway) saw major employment growth in the last year.
RPC included parts of Grafton and Newton in their definition, in order to ensure that all the area inside the motorways was covered – as shown in their map below:
This is a valid definition, one of several that might have been chosen. Again, there’s the difficulty of trying to choose a specific meaning from a vague target. However, I think it’s more of an issue that the target itself reinforces a misleading view – that the CRL is mainly about the CBD. It’s not; the project has many benefits, including dramatically increasing the capacity of the rail network throughout Auckland, reducing congestion for vehicle drivers, and removing an impediment to further employment growth in the CBD. It is a regionally (indeed, nationally) significant piece of infrastructure.
What base year is used?
As for what base year is used, your guess is as good as mine. The City Centre Future Access Study uses a 2006 base year, and the most logical approach National could take would be to do the same. Otherwise, they might try to argue for a 2012 base year, although there isn’t really a clear rationale for doing so, except that they announced their ‘support’ in 2013, and the most recent data available then was 2012.
If 2006 is the base year, then we’ve already come a way since then – using business demographics data, employment in the CBD (based on Statistics New Zealand boundaries) has grown from 80,390 in February 2006 to 91,130 in February 2013. This is 13.3% growth in seven years, much faster than the Auckland or New Zealand average in that time, and despite a very flat economy.
RPC adopts a 2012 base year, although they don’t seem to give a reason for this choice. Their interpretation and mine are both valid, although I think mine is more consistent with the reference to the CCFAS in National’s targets. You could take the view that the 25% growth starts from the time of National’s announcement, or that 2012 data – and indeed, the announcement does say growth from “current levels” – but removing six years from the modelling period isn’t really fair. Following that logic, if National had made the announcement in 2017 rather than 2013, the CBD would only have a couple of years to grow by 25% – which clearly wouldn’t be possible.
What final year is used?
Just as important as the choice of base year is the choice of final year. Does employment need to grow by 25% over 10 years, or over 20? Because 14.0% of jobs in Auckland, or 4.7% of jobs in New Zealand, are in the CBD (using the tighter Statistics New Zealand boundaries). The number of jobs which need to be created is significant at the regional and the national level, and they won’t just come from nowhere, overnight.
The City Centre Future Access Study assumes that CBD employment grows by 54% over 35 years, from 2006 to 2041, or annual growth of about 1.24%. National should be giving us around 17 years, i.e. from 2006 to 2023 or so – anything less would be pretty unfair, especially with the recession in the early years of that period, and with the CRL not yet built. That’s a target Auckland could meet easily, and we’re well on track. I doubt National has this kind of timeframe in mind, though, or it wouldn’t be an aspirational target.
National do seem to be talking about a 2020 end date for the 25% growth, and RPC also use this as an end year. I’ve since heard that the CCFAS, using some slightly sketchy modelling, assumed very strong employment growth to 2020 when the CRL was assumed to open, of the order of 25%, and that this was part of the rationale for National choosing the target. With that said, I still stand by what I wrote in November!
National’s targets are pretty arbitrary: they’re poorly defined, and after all, the CRL is about much more than just increasing CBD employment.
Realistically, the Council needs to stick with its current work programme, which is to make all the required preparations to be able to start building the CRL in 2015 or soon after. If National manage to stay in power after the next election, and stick to their guns over their two conditions (and choose their definitions to make them as hard to reach as possible), they could manage to delay the project.
I’d rather point to things such as the higher residential population in the CBD, or the network capacity which the CRL unlocks, or widespread support from both Aucklanders and the business community. There is still a big job to do in advocating for an earlier start to this project.
Of course, Len is now also pointing to several major projects which will be majorly benefited by an early start to the CRL.