Development update: November 2015

Spring is usually a busy time in the residential property market. I’ve always thought that the best time to check out a house is winter, so you can get an idea of whether it stays warm or not, but what do I know?

This spring has also been a very busy time for launches of new residential projects – i.e. they’ve started going on sale, whether or not they’re actually being built yet. Since September, 13 apartment/ terrace projects have launched by my count, with 810 homes between them, and there’s still half of November to go.

Launched in spring 2015:
West Edge (stage 1)
Daisy apartments
Juliette Lofts
Wyndham Residences
The Maritime Apartments
The Antipodean
Connect Anzac Apartments
St Marks
Stonefields – Verto Apartments
Whitaker Park Central
Stonefields – Bellus Apartments
Merchant Quarter MQ2

It’s a pretty big ‘pipeline’ of potential new apartments, most of which will be completed in 2017, assuming they sell well. You can take a look at these, and another 500+ projects around the country, over on our RCG Development Tracker page. It’s quite amazing how much is going on around the CBD and the fringe suburbs like Ponsonby, Grey Lynn and Eden Terrace.

There’s not much to report this month in terms of building consents. Some news articles said that consents for Auckland had dropped, which they had relative to the previous month – but not the same month of the previous year. So, like the are-house-prices-going-up-or-down stories this month, it depends on how you want to look at the data.*

Building consents are a good ‘leading indicator’ of how many homes are going to get built in the next year, because when the consent has been approved, the builder is free to get on with building them, and the consent lapses if work isn’t started within a year.

Auckland Dwelling Consents to Sep 2015

The graph above looks at consents on a “moving annual” basis, so it’s showing how many homes are consented in each 12-month period – in this case, the latest data is for October 2014 to September 2015. There’s only been a small rise vs last month, driven by detached homes (4,966 consented in the last year). However, I think we’ll see apartment consents heading upwards in the next few months.

* Similar issue there – REINZ were looking at Oct 2015 vs Sep 2015, QV were looking at Oct 2015 vs Oct 2014

Gentrification and heritage buildings

K Road is changing. The city’s long-time boho heart is, in a way, sitting between a rock and a hard place. On the one side, there’s a city centre that’s bursting at the seams with university students and suit-clad professionals; on the other, post-gentrification Ponsonby.

A recent post on Public Address by Tina Plunkett took a look at the potential impact that some new developments on K Road might have on the area’s culture:

The shutting down of cultural institutions across Auckland to make way for towers of small, shoebox apartments is becoming almost epidemic – but at the same time we need growth of quality, spacious, inner-city living areas.

In the past year Karangahape Road has lost every single one of her original sex shops – but is this a bad thing? The landmark Las Vegas Girl is the last to succumb to closure. K Road is definitely in the throes of switching over.

But there are shimmers of hope popping up. In recent years we’ve had additions to this strip that are community focused, culturally aware and importantly, kind. Coco’s Cantina and Flying Out records are both prime examples of new businesses that are wholeheartedly embraced by our  community, and by their own cultural communities. We need to support them. By supporting them, we keep our dream alive.

But what is next on the chopping block? The King’s Arms? Whammy Bar? The Old Folks Ass?  Can they survive in a market of growing rents, amid the sound of the developers’ diggers?

This is an interesting and important issue. There isn’t necessarily a single right answer, but there is the possibility of a useful conversation.

Tina asks the following question about the trade-off between culture and growth:

We need to ask at what point we draw a line and stop sacrificing the culture for accommodation. The outer wings of our city highlight our relationship with heritage, history and culture.  K Road has been a haven for ideas, community, music, arts, freedom and a shitload of fun for successive generations. Are we happy to toss that aside?

What’s worth more to us in Auckland? Our identity in our music, culture and arts – or six more flats?

This is a good question to ask, but I think we have to re-phrase it to get a meaningful answer.

In particular, I think it’s important to distinguish between two things that people often conflate:

  1. The buildings that exist (or no longer exist) in a place, and
  2. The social and economic function of a place, which is mainly about the people that use it.

There’s a relationship between built environment and social and economic functions, of course. Run-down warehouse space with high ceilings is famously amenable to starving artists in search of live/work space and punks in search of squats. But it’s not as direct a relationship as you might think.

That’s because buildings change uses over their lifetimes, and cycle through periods of high rents and low rents depending upon when they were built, vacated, depreciated, renovated, etc. Think of Ponsonby – twenty years ago, many of the pre-war wooden houses in the suburb were run-down and quite cheap. As a result, they provided housing for people on lower incomes.

203-209 Ponsonby Rd in 1960s

Terraced houses on Ponsonby Road in the 1960s. (Source)

Today, the buildings are largely the same from the outside, as heritage preservation rules and changing aesthetic preferences have kept people from demolishing them. But they now serve a totally different social and economic function: housing rather well-off people at a premium price. In the process, the old Ponsonby society has been displaced – or simply melted into thin air.

203-209 Ponsonby Rd in 2010s

The houses remain the same… but the place has changed. (Source)

Apply these lessons to K Road. What do they tell us?

The first thing is that we should be less concerned with the buildings on the street (and the ownership of the buildings) than we are about the social and economic function of the place. Old buildings can be important and interesting and there are valid arguments for their preservation.

But if the aim is to preserve K Road (or any other place in Auckland) as a place for culture and creativity, only focusing on the buildings will result in failure. The buildings may not be demolished, but if there’s demand for the space rents will rise, the spaces will be renovated with sleek Danish interiors, and culture will be priced out in the process.

So what can be done?

Tina’s post offers a few insights about what might work.

We need to start by recognising that some degree of change is inevitable and probably beneficial. New buildings will be constructed, and some old ones will be torn down in the process. This is good for several reasons.

First, as Tina notes, Auckland’s got a shortage of affordable living space at the moment, so more apartments would be helpful. More small, affordable dwellings will make it easier for the people who make K Road what it is to keep living in the area.

Second, although it would obviously be bad for K Road if it were all dynamited and rebuilt in one go, a steady trickle of new construction tends to support the ongoing cultural vibrancy of an area. It means that there will always be some buildings that are getting a bit shabby and thus providing a low-rent place for various creative endeavours.

In short, new buildings are probably alright. But, as Tina notes throughout her article, we need to ask whether they will function in a way that reinforces (or undermines) the existing culture.

The existing community can influence this process for the better by engaging with developers and new entrants to help them to understand what makes the place tick. This obviously works best when a place already has a strong community and identifiable values – as K Road does. It’s certainly encouraging to see examples of new businesses in the area that want to enhance K Road rather than replace it.

What do you think about what’s happening on K Road?

Development update: October 2015

The RCG Development Tracker page has just been updated for October, and there’s plenty of new stuff in there. There are a few areas which are getting major makeovers in the next couple of years – Sale St is one, and Beach Rd/ Anzac Ave is similar with three sizeable apartment projects just about to launch (technically they’re only doing ‘expressions of interest’ at the moment, not actually selling the apartments off the plans). That’s The Maritime, Connect Anzac and The Antipodean, all of which are down around lower Anzac Ave. Several hundred new residents and a few new shops could really help to rejuvenate the area, tidying up a few of the more run-down sites in the process.

On a smaller, more local scale, Browns Bay has seen quite a bit of development recently. The Norfolk Apartments were marketed in late 2013, with the building completed in late 2014. The developers bought the neighbouring site as well, and that’s now under construction as The Pines apartments.


Norfolk Apartments, with the site to the lower left now under construction as “The Pines”. Image source:

The Anzac Lofts terraces are currently being marketed, and the former New World supermarket has been designated as a Special Housing Area. Of note, the SHA mentions:

“The proposed scheme has been developed in close liaison with local real estate agents who have identified significant demand, particularly from older residents seeking to downsize and remain in the suburb”.

Overall, that’s about 170 new homes being added to the town centre, which will give it a boost. I’m sure the ‘wanting to downsize but stay in the same area’ point will be on the minds of a lot empty nesters over the next few years.

The Development Tracker also shows some changes at retirement villages in Browns Bay – new units at Aria Bay, and a comprehensive redevelopment of the 55-bed Maureen Plowman Rest Home into a integrated facility with 62 retirement village units and 40 rest home beds.

In retail, there’s a range of things happening – too small to show in the Tracker (I don’t show retail developments smaller than 5,000 square metres), but there’s a brand new New World supermarket which replaced the old one, and the old Palmers garden centre has been redeveloped for convenience shops, and I’m sure I saw another new convenience block somewhere (Inverness Rd? Maybe a local can help me out here).

It’d be great to see this kind of thing replicated around the city, or the country for that matter. I’m sure there would be lots of town centres which would love to see new investments there, whether it’s new homes, new shops or better public spaces.

Development update: September 2015

I didn’t manage to get a “development update” post out last month, but I’ve now finished doing a pretty major update to the RCG Development Tracker page. Among other things, there’s been a new tranche of Special Housing Areas, a bit more info on things happening around Westgate, and I’ve updated a lot of apartment projects around the city (which ones have begun construction, expected completion dates, etc). Plus there’s been the usual array of new projects being announced.

The Tracker does actually cover the whole country, but taking a “Greater Auckland” perspective, there are currently 4,605 apartments or terraces under construction, with another 1,541 completed since 2012, and 2,694 currently selling off the plans but not yet being built.

On the Special Housing Areas front, since I don’t think we’ve mentioned it before, the council will now be focusing on getting brownfields SHAs approved in the remaining 13 months of the Housing Accord. In the first two years of the Accord, there’s been a massive amount of greenfields (i.e. urban fringe/ sprawl) land granted SHA status, which we’ve been quite critical of. It’s good to see that the focus, and hopefully the resources, will now be shifted to making development easier within the existing city. That’s the goal of the Auckland Plan, after all.

Also in positive SHA news, a recent Herald article announced who the developers would be at two Special Housing Areas which had already been announced. Ockham Residential will be developing the site at Avondale Racecourse, and Avanda Ltd will be tackling a large site on the edge of the New Lynn town centre, including the Monier brickworks factory.

In both cases, it now seems that the sites are going to get more homes built than previously thought. For Avondale, Ockham are planning 52 dwellings, up from the “at least 15” mentioned when the site was initially identified as an SHA. For New Lynn, the master plan aims to create 1,800 homes, up from 600.

Building Consents

July was a good month for consents, with growth across the board. The problem with looking at “moving annual” figures, which is what I usually focus on, is that each month you’re only changing one figure out of twelve – so changes in the trend can take a while to show up. That said, it seems like Auckland is starting to build more homes of all kinds – consent numbers are up for detached houses, apartments and other housing types.

In the last year (the year to July, at least, which is the latest data available), there were 8,567 dwellings consented in Auckland.

Auckland Dwelling Consents

We’re still not building enough homes, though. With three people per household in Auckland, we’re building enough homes for 25,000 people a year – but our population is growing by at least 40,000 people a year. This is not something that can be solved overnight, and we need to keep growing supply to provide adequate housing for the city.

Christchurch, in Cashel St I Wait

We haven’t talked much about Christchurch recently, but it’s an important part of this fair nation and we should all be keeping an eye on what’s happening there. Four and a half years on from the February 2011 earthquake, the Christchurch rebuild still has many years to run. The video below, posted by Cera last month, shows progress on some sites (including some of the government’s “anchor projects”) while much of the CBD is still vacant.

This video shows the progress at various anchor project sites such as the Innovation and Retail Precincts as at the end of July. There is significant development happening on the Avon River Precinct, the Innovation Precinct, and the Retail Precinct with several more anchor projects moving along. This footage also shows the huge changes on the Margaret Mahy Family Playground site, which is well under construction now and will be opening in December.

The “Retail Precinct” is actually a major office precinct as well, and is made up of several large developments by the private landowners. That includes Antony Gough’s The Terrace, which began construction in 2013 – the first of the big projects to do so – but then stalled until July this year. It’s now back in action. In the mean time, some other big projects nearby – the BNZ Centre, aka Cashel Square, and the ANZ Centre – are also under construction.

Then there’s the Bus Interchange which opened a few months ago, the Justice Precinct which is well underway, and a range of other things which you can explore in the Development Tracker map (or Cera’s Progress Map). However, there are still many sites which don’t seem to be making progress, and developments which were announced to great fanfare but have now stalled – this includes a Cathedral Square site which was to have been known as ASB House, but ASB has now pulled out.

The city continues to evolve and grow, and it’s good news to see things moving forward in the private-led Retail Precinct and the public sector ‘anchor projects’. On the other hand, it’s tough to look at the Cathedral Square area, and the Cathedral itself which you can see right into via a missing wall, and not be able to find many visible signs of rebuilding. As for the Cathedral, church leaders and the government have agreed to appoint a consultant who will review the situation, and a final decision on its future could be made by the end of the year.

Do it right the first time

Several months back, I took a look at the way we’re designing street networks and neighbourhoods in greenfield subdivisions. It’s not a pretty picture. The reigning assumption seems to be that places on the edge of the city are car-dependent now and will be car-dependent forever. As a result, developers and planners build places where it’s difficult to walk, cycle, or take a bus.

In my view, this ignores the reality that today’s fringe suburbs are tomorrow’s urban fabric. That’s nicely illustrated in this map from the Auckland Plan, which shows how the city has expanded since 1840. Suburbs built in the 1950s and 1960s are now firmly in the midst of the city.

Urban Settlement Patterns post-1840

In other words, urban growth wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that it is often pathological from a transport perspective – i.e. a developer goes to the edge of town and builds a bunch of cul-de-sacs, single use suburbs, and non-connective street networks, under the assumption that it will be a car-based place forever. Then somebody else comes along and develops the next paddock, and before long you’ve got this unworkable mess in the middle of an urban fabric.

In my previous post on the topic, I took a look at some research into how we can transform car-dependent suburbs into workable urban places. Here’s one such design from Galina Tachieva’s Sprawl Repair Manual. It’s a great idea, but it would require the purchase and demolition of 5-10% of the houses in the neighbourhood. The end result would be a net increase in dwellings as sites are redeveloped, but I can’t imagine it would be easy to implement.

Sprawl repair manual subdivision rebuild

Wouldn’t it be better to simply do it right the first time?

Now, I’m no urban designer, but it seems like there could be a role for strengthened structure planning in greenfield areas. This could entail, for example, local governments establishing (and rigorously enforcing) structure plans for street networks and street designs in new developments. The aim would be to ensure that streets functioned well for all modes of transport, rather than just cars, and that they didn’t create any “holes” in the urban fabric that would be difficult to travel through later on.

There are a number of great examples from the Netherlands, but I figured that it would be good to highlight some local examples where people are taking steps in the right direction. I haven’t comprehensively surveyed new developments, so I can’s say how representative these examples are.

First, here’s the development plan for Hobsonville Point. Hobsonville’s quite interesting as it’s conceived as a mixed-density, mixed-use place with a ferry connection. Here’s the plan for the street network at the Point itself:

Hobsonville Pt road hierarchy

The street cross-sections seem to be designed in emulation of the city’s most successful urban/suburban places – with street trees and relatively narrow lanes (by Auckland standards, at least). The two “boulevard” sections (red lines on the above map) are designed with 1.8 metre cycle lanes. It would obviously be better to have safe, separated cycleways, but hey, it’s a start:

Hobsonville Pt boulevard cross-section

A bit further west, at a Special Housing Area site in Whenuapai, they seem to be going one step further and installing separated cycle lanes on two major streets from the get-go. (All images are from the plan change released by Auckland Council the other week.) Although Whenuapai is following the classic “boxes in a paddock” model of suburban development in Auckland, it seems to be aspiring to something a bit different on the transport front. Here’s the map of the development:

Whenuapai SHA street network

It’s a bit difficult to understand how all of this will fit together without knowing more about proposed street networks for surrounding areas. The streets within the SHA seem like they may be quite wide, without consistent cycle provision. But take a look at the street cross-sections for the main arterials, Brigham Creek Rd and Totara Rd. They will have safe separated cycleways from the start:

Whenuapai SHA arterial cross-section

Of course, a few cycleways in new subdivisions will not compensate for the street design mistakes made in previous developments. If you start riding the Brigham Creek Rd cycleway, you’re probably going to be mixing it up with traffic on some pretty inhospitable roads before long. That will take time to fix. But I’m hopeful that these projects are an indicator that we are in the process of overcoming our pathological approach to street design in new subdivisions.

Lastly, I’m aware that I’ve mainly talked about cycle design here, and omitted public transport. That’s because safe cycle facilities are particularly easy to install in advance, and challenging to retrofit. (Once people have moved in, adding cycle lanes means taking away their essential human right to free on-street parking – cue uproar!) But we also need to ensure that the area is served with good rapid transit choices, as proposed in the Congestion Free Network.

Given the growth out near Hobsonville and Whenuapai, perhaps we should be talking about accelerating the installation of busways on state highways 16 and 18? I honestly can’t see those areas working, long-term, without congestion free transport options:

CFN 2030 + Light Metro

What do you think about street design in new subdivisions? How could we do things better?

Literature: W.G. Sebald on urban growth

A while back, I read the following passage in W.G. Sebald’s spectacular novel The Rings of Saturn. In the book, Sebald tours the coastline of East Anglia, along with his own memory and England’s history. In a book full of striking, thoughtful passages, I was particularly struck by the following one:

Over the centuries that followed, catastrophic incursions of the sea into the land of this kind happened time and again, and, even during the long years of apparent calm, coastal erosion continued to take its natural course. Little by little the people of Dunwich accepted the inevitability of the process. They abandoned their hopeless struggle, turned their backs on the sea, and whenever their declining means allowed it, built to the westward in a protracted flight that went on for generations; the slowly dying town thus followed – by reflex, one might say – one of the fundamental patterns of human behaviour. A strikingly large number of our settlements are oriented to the west and, where circumstances permit, relocate in a westward direction. The east stands for lost causes. Especially at the time when the continent of America was being colonized, it was noticeable that the townships spread to the west even as their eastern districts were falling apart. In Brazil, to this day, whole provinces die down like fires when the land is exhausted by overcropping and new areas to the west are opened up. In North America, too, countless settlements of various kinds, complete with gas stations, models and shopping malls, move west along the turnpikes, and along that axis affluence and squalor are unfailingly polarized.

Does this ring true to you?

Development update: July 2015

This month I’m going to look at one of the fastest growing types of housing – retirement villages. There are often several different typologies in a retirement village, from detached villas to duplexes, independent apartments, serviced apartments through to rest home, hospital and dementia care – but let’s set that to one side.

The RCG Development Tracker shows that there are new retirement villages, and expansions to existing villages, happening around the country – even places that don’t have a lot of population growth.

Retirement villages

We can get a good gauge on how much retirement village development is going on by looking at building consents. As the chart below shows, the sector is expanding faster than it ever has before.*

Retirement village consents

Growth has really kicked up a notch in the last few years, with two major growth spurts in 2011-12 and 2014-15 and that growth being sustained. around 1,900. There are around 25,000 retirement village units in New Zealand, so we’re talking 7% or 8% growth a year.

With the major players all holding “land banks” for future expansion, and an ageing population, it’s a pretty safe bet we’ll be seeing more retirement villages in the future.

Auckland Housing Growth

May 2015 wasn’t a great month for building consents in Auckland – 651 new dwellings were approved, up from 611 in May 2014 but a smaller increase than we’ve been seeing recently. In the last 12 months, 8,195 homes were consented. That’s still a long way short of Auckland Plan targets or current demand.

Auckland Dwelling Consents

As noted previously, most of the growth in the last year or so has been in the higher-density dwellings: apartments, townhouses, retirement villages.

Long Train Running

Various projects have been added or updated in the Tracker, but perhaps of most interest is that I’ve added in the Wellington rail network (although I haven’t shown it all the way out to Wairarapa).  Rail in Wellington is a very different kettle of fish to Auckland – five lines winding their way through valleys, hills and tunnels, converging on a single station at the northern end of Wellington’s city centre.

Wellington rail lines

With trains a long-established part of the Wellington environment, and electric trains running on some lines since the 1930s, the city has about 12 million train passengers a year. Auckland has only recently overtaken this.

Swanson Developments

I rode out to Swanson on the weekend to have a look at the two developments that have been happening out there.

The first was to see what $2.5 million of Auckland Transport and NZTA money buys us. The answer, a new park n ride facility with 136 carparks. This is in addtion to the small existing carpark. The new addition works out at over $18,000 per carpark highlighting just how expensive it is to add capacity by way of park n ride. If every space is used every working day in a year it would add about 34k trips per year.

Carparks are fairly boring but the images below highlight the location of the carpark in relation to the station. The second image is taken from the platform

Swanson Park n Ride 1

Swanson Park n Ride 2

AT say the works are completed however there’s no sign of the covered walkway or station upgrades as initially mentioned.

The proposed improvements at Swanson include

  • Construction of a Park and Ride with an additional 136 car parks and a covered walkway to the station. This is expected to cost $2.5 million and be completed in March 2015.
  • A station upgrade which will include improved lighting, signage, CCTV, additional platform shelters, walkway canopies to the footbridge and stairs, and new platform surfacing and marking. Design is expected to be completed at the end of 2014.

Note: the original carpark below

Swanson Park n Ride Original

The other and more interesting development is the Penihana North development that’s happening to the south of the tracks.  This is the only greenfield development next to a station served by electric trains and as such it will be interesting to see what impact the development. I’d suggest it will probably lead to a greater gain in patronage than the Park n Ride will – although it obviously takes up more space too. I understand it has taken over 13 years to occur due to a lot of opposition from local residents – some who suggest it will be an urban ghetto (I suspect they don’t know what a real urban ghetto is). Perhaps one positive is I suspect the delay has meant the development is better than it would have been as if if occurred 13 years ago the idea of the station being important wouldn’t have crossed the developers mind.

The development basically covers the area below that is (was) lined with hedges.

Penihana North Area

It seems that a lot of bulk earthworks are going on but I’d suggest we’ll start seeing houses sprouting up later this year as the sections closest to the station look almost ready for them – including with formed roads. In total it is expected there will be about 330 dwellings in the development with those closest to the station being terraced houses. One aspect that I really like that has already been completed – but is not open to the public – is a shared path that runs alongside the tracks from Pooks Rd/Oneils Rd at eastern edge of the development. Importantly the path leads directly in to the station platform where there are also some new bike racks, this is something we need at many more stations. You can see it in the image below along with some of the development.

Perihana North new path to station

Oh and yes there is a small gap in the railing between the platform and the path at the end allowing for more permeability – it just needs some more HOP readers installed.

Perihana North new path to station 2

The new bike racks are slightly protected from the elements by the stairs for the pedestrian bridge.

Perihana North new path to station bike racks

From the station the development stretches up away from the station

Penihana North Development 2


The map below gives an idea of how the development is being laid out

Penihana North Development Concept Plan

My guess is that all the developments at Swanson – including the electric trains – will help considerably boost patronage from the station which has been one of the lesser used on the network

Penihana North Development 1



The future of Eden Terrace?

Last year Auckland Transport announced it was dropping the Newton station from the City Rail Link in favour of a redeveloped Mt Eden station. Some of the key reasons cited included:

  • That heritage and view shaft restrictions severely limited the redevelopment potential around the station. Also much of the redevelopable land probably has easier access to the K Rd station with the entrance to Mercury Lane.
  • It allowed them to build a grade separated junction instead of a flat one (like all the other Auckland ones are) which is better for reliability.
  • It saved around $120 million

On the first point they noted the restrictions around Newton aren’t present around the Mt Eden station so there’s the potential for a lot of development. This is especially the case seeing as a huge chunk of the area will be dug up to build the tunnels leaving lots of vacant land available.

An image in a recent presentation shows how much the area could be developed once the CRL has been completed

Mt Eden TOD

That could represent a substantial number of dwellings. It would be interesting to know how much money raised from the redevelopment and sale of that land could contribute towards the cost of the overall project – something I don’t think is able to be included in the business case.

This is image if the potential street pattern that was shown when the change as announced

Mt Eden Station Plan

And an idea of what the redeveloped station might look like.

Mt Eden Station Artistic Impression

Development update: June 2015

It’s been a busy month for development: Auckland Council announced they’d be selling off some of their surplus land, and so did the government (which Matt wrote about here).

This makes good headlines for the council and government, making it look like they’re taking steps to tackle the supposed housing crisis. However, I’m not sure how much of the land is actually “new” to the scene – e.g. the council’s announcement includes the land being developed for the Flat Bush town centre, which has been a work in progress for many years, the government’s announcement includes Hobsonville and the McLennan subdivision in Papakura, and so on. Anyway, I’ll look at this more in the next few weeks, and see what needs to go into the RCG Development Tracker as a result.

Developments around New Zealand

Speaking of the Tracker, I haven’t written much about what’s happening in Wellington yet. Using the fantastical power of computers, let’s whisk you away to the nation’s capital, where you can see a number of projects in the city centre or nearby.

WGT development

Te Aro continues to transition to a more residential environment, and accommodation and mixed use projects are reshaping Wellington’s waterfront areas. A lot of the projects on this map are now coming to an end, and it’s not immediately clear what will replace them. Based on a recent visit, there certainly aren’t as many cranes visible in Wellington as there are in Auckland or Christchurch.

As for Auckland, there are a number of new things in the Tracker this month (including 1 Mills Lane, which could be the tallest office building in the city, as well as Mitre 10’s new head office building, the Oasis and SOMA apartments and more).

I was also down in Christchurch a couple of weeks ago, and it’s due an update as well – but that will have to wait until next month. In the meantime, you might enjoy looking at CERA’s Progress Map or the Avenues Four page.

Auckland Building Consents

Turning to building consents in Auckland, April was a massive month for apartments: 438 units were granted consent, with 392 of those in the Waitemata and Gulf Ward. This probably reflects two or three major projects getting the go ahead from Council (I’m guessing it might have been Park Residences and 88 Broadway, as the numbers more or less match up and both are now underway).

The graph below shows moving annual totals for these and other higher-density consents:

Apartment consents


In fact, when you stack these lines on top of each other and add in the consents for standalone houses, you can see that most of the growth in consents over the last two years or so has come from higher-density dwellings:

Auckland total consents

There’s a tendency in some circles to suggest that Auckland’s housing issues stem from a lack of land on the fringes. However, higher-density dwellings are going to play an important role in Auckland’s growth, and in housing the extra people who want to live here. Let’s hope they’re getting the attention they deserve from the council and government.