Last year the government and the Auckland Council announced a housing accord that would designate areas within Auckland as Special Housing Areas in which the council would offer a fast tracked consenting process for developers subject to certain conditions. It was touted as a way to address the increasing cost of building new houses in response to rapidly escalating house prices. It also came not long after the government had been talking about smashing Auckland’s urban limits leaving many to fear it was just a vehicle to encourage sprawl and line the pockets of land bankers. So far three tranches of special housing areas have been announced - Tranche 1, Tranche 2, Tranche 3 - and while they have started to shift towards more urban redevelopment sites, many of the initial locations for developments we would often associate with traditional sprawl including locations in Kumeu, Flat Bush, Papakura, Pukekohe and Silverdale.
It’s now starting to appear that not all that was promised about the SHA’s is happening in reality and that instead property owners and developers are using the process to increase the value of their sites before flicking them off to someone else – colour me surprised. The Manukau Courier reports:
Are the first cracks appearing in the much-trumpeted plan to solve Auckland’s housing crisis?
Developers at four of the 63 Special Housing Areas (SHAs) across the city have pulled out of the new fast-track consent process, the Auckland Council confirms.
And planning consultant Jon Maplesden, who has clients within SHAs, says he knows of several more developers who are unhappy and others who are “just not even bothering with it”.
Their reasons include frustration with infrastructure provision and the cost of providing the stipulated “affordable” housing.
Developers are opting out at the Murphy’s Rd site in Flat Bush with capacity for 275 houses; Addison in Takanini, 500 houses; Anselmi Ridge in Pukekohe, 150 houses; and the Millwater section of Silverdale North, 472 houses.
Maplesden says some landowners haven’t applied for SHA status to build houses but to add value to the land.
“There’s a number of them that I know are trying hard to sell them.”
The council confirms the land in the Albany Highway SHA has been sold.
Housing developments in Takanini and Pukekohe are being built by McConnell Property and its plans were already well advanced before the areas were designated as SHAs, marketing manager Jo Anderson says.
“To redesign would be further time and cost to do so. On these multi-stage developments, the local staff had been involved in the development for a number of years and stages, so for consistency we preferred to have those personnel also process any new resource consent applications.”
Maplesden says developers who apply for fast-track consent for, say, 500 houses, won’t be building all of those houses at once. Historically there are “very few” projects that have built at a rate of more than 100 houses per year, he says.
“No developer, not even Fletchers, can afford to do a 500-lot development all at once.”
So a 3000-dwelling SHA could take 30 years to complete, he says.
Wow so land owners are using the SHA process to increase the value of their land before flicking it off for likely a nice bit of profit – well colour me surprised. To me the issue of land owners on the city’s fringe only slowly releasing land is an issue that has been largely ignored by many who promote opening up greenfield land. We can unleash the limits as much as we like but if the people owning the land only release it one little bit at a time to ensure they get a high price for it then there’s not much that the council or the government can do about it short of getting into the land banking business themselves.
With not many new SHA developments seemingly getting off the ground – other than those where an SHA was applied to an already underway development like Hobsonville Point – it’s shaping up that the whole idea of the SHA’s could end up a significant failure that only served to line the pockets of a few land bankers.
The winner of the apartment design competition was announced today as S3 Architects.
There will be 25 apartments on just a 325m² site – something that in some parts of Auckland is smaller than the minimum lot size for a single house. They also say the intention is to have commercial tenancies on the ground floor but I’m not holding my breath for that part just yet.
Interestingly Mike Lee has called the design “cheap and shoddy” as well as saying
But councillor Mike Lee said such apartments were not big enough for families and its exterior was ugly and not appropriate.
“I can just see this getting mouldy. If we’re going to have highrise, they need to make it durable,” Lee said.
So this will get mouldy but a wooden “heritage station” located in a damp valley in Parnell won’t? It has to be one of the weakest arguments I’ve heard against having intensification.
Back in May when the last group of special housing areas were announced the Council also announced that they would be holding an apartment building design competition in conjunction with Ockham Residential – builders of The Issac and a number of other developments – who would then build the winning design.
“This competition will be open to an architect, or architectural practice that will compete to design and document a high-quality medium density residential housing development on the land. Architects will be offered the chance to propose medium density housing prototypes that illustrate the possibilities and advantages of urban living, in recognition of the excellent opportunity that the Accord offers to create more modern housing options in Auckland,” Mr Brown says.
The competition will open on 21 May with details soon to be posted on the NZIA website at www.nzia.co.nz.
The is a small 321 m² site at 11 Akepiro St in Kingsland and is bounded by the Western railway line and near the pseudo motorway like Dominion Rd Flyover – although the latter is partially blocked by three large Norfolk Pines.
The judges have picked out the top five designs out of the 64 entries – all of which are on display at the Auckland Art Gallery from today till Tuesday. The top five are below
Matthews & Matthews Architects.
Waterfall Gunns Lowe Architects.
Andrew Sexton Architecture.
Just by looking at the pictures I’m not sure exactly which one is my favourite although I’m leaning towards the top two. Obviously there are other factors that need to be taken into account too, like the layout of the apartments themselves.
As you can expect not everyone is happy though with anti-intensification group Auckland 2040 ranting about them in the Herald the other day.
But Richard Burton of anti-intensification lobby group Auckland 2040 doubted the scheme would work and said the council had only acted because it was suffering a public backlash against the Unitary Plan.
Mr Burton said he doubted Auckland would get masses of stylish units and fears monolithic blocks rising in low-rise suburban neighbourhoods.
“The council asking for trust is like a crocodile smile. Auckland is replete with badly designed apartments and to suddenly say ‘trust us, we’re only going to get high-quality designs’ flies in the face of Auckland’s history.”
Quite why a group set up on the North Shore to try and lock the area into some kind of suburban dark age is commenting on development in a mixed use area that already contains a number of apartment buildings I don’t quite know. I also find it insulting that a group made up of people who for the most part won’t be alive in 2040 are telling those who will be how they should live. That’s not to say they shouldn’t have a say but far more weight should be placed on the opinions of those who will have to live the positive and negative consequences of how the city develops.
A couple of weeks ago Auckland Council quietly released a new version of its Capacity for Growth Study. The CFG study is an important and interesting document – it models the potential for future residential and business development under current or proposed planning rules. In other words, if you want to figure out what’s possible under the proposed Unitary Plan, take a look at the CFG study.
For example, the CFG study identifies opportunities for future residential development for throughout the Auckland region. Based on a detailed analysis of planning rules, property parcels, and existing buildings, it finds that Auckland could add up to 38,000 new dwellings on vacant lots within the urban boundaries and another 58,000 dwellings through infill development:
The CFG study also presents maps showing development potential in each local board – which is helpful for all us visual learners. Here’s the map of development potential in the city centre. The coloured areas represent vacant or partly vacant plots of land that could be developed under the proposed Unitary Plan:
One of the most interesting things about the CFG study is that it lets us get a sense of the development capacity around the three CRL stations – Aotea, K Road, and Newton. As a reminder, here’s a map of the three stations:
The CFG study really highlights the potential of Newton Station – there is a lot of vacant or underused land that could be redeveloped to a high standard. Here’s a zoomed-in map of the area around Newton and K Road Stations. The Newton station catchment is, roughly, the area immediately to the south of the white motorway cordon:
The dark blue plots represent vacant lots that could be developed, while the light blue represents lots with the potential for additional buildings. Compared to the map of the full city centre area, you’ll see that Newton has more development potential than almost anywhere else around the city centre. Certainly more than K Road, which is mainly built out at this point. It helps that the area’s zoning under the proposed Unitary Plan allows for medium-height development of 8 story buildings.
The Capacity for Growth study shows that Newton Station will really be a game-changer for the area. The CRL will put Newton on the map – and once connected directly to the rail network, perhaps with an associated bus interchange, it could easily become a second Newmarket.
When the government finally announced they would support the CRL – but starting in 2020 – they listed two targets that would need to be on track to being met to bring construction forward.
- Rail Patronage to double to 20 million
- CBD employment to increase by 25%
We’ve written about both of these a number of times before. I personally think it’s quite possible that we will reach the 20 million patronage target early, especially if we can continue the current growth of over 12% per annum. The harder target – and dodgier one – is to increase CBD employment by 25%. It’s more dodgy as it appears to be being used as an indicator of travel demand but there are many other factors that might increase demand for rail e.g. increases in parking prices and the number of students.
An article in the Herald on Tuesday highlights just how hard the employment growth number will be.
Auckland businesses are squeezed for office space, and the central city is experiencing its most critical shortages of commercial real estate on record.
So rents could be about to shoot up fast.
Chris Dibble, Colliers International’s national research manager, said latest analysis of vacancy rates surprised him because it showed that an area less than the size of a soccer field was available to lease.
“We knew it was going to be low, but not this low. The prime sector for premium and A-grade vacancy rates in Auckland CBD is just 1.4 per cent, beating our expectations of 2 per cent. It was 4.7 per cent six months ago and the 20-year average is 8.2 per cent,” he found.
“The vacant space aggregates to just 6116sq m, less than a soccer field and unprecedented in our records which began 20 years ago,” Dibble said.
“Auckland CBD property houses some of the most productive businesses in New Zealand and with little space available for expansion, we are stalling the potential growth of the country at a critical time in the cycle.
“In a market that needs to attract quality staff through quality environments, the lack of available space and developments nearing completion means we will stumble just as we were making headwinds in what has been a tough slog for many. There are only 11 prime buildings with vacant space available. Only eight buildings can accommodate more than 20 staff (currently 11 per cent of the overall CBD market).
“Only seven are able to accommodate less than 20 staff. Tenants who haven’t found suitable accommodation will have to forgo quality or wait until early 2016 for a slight reprieve from spec builds such as Mansons TCLM’s development or Goodman Group.
In effect CBD job growth – which has been strong in the last few years – is going to dry up simply because there’s not much office space left and there’s not a huge amount to come on stream any time soon. Office space will get a bit of a bump from the Precinct Properties redevelopment of the Downtown Mall site but that won’t come on stream till 2019. That development though will see at least the first part of the CRL constructed as it absolutely has to happen at the same time as the redevelopment seeing as it passes through the basement.
Auckland Council’s Chief Economist Geoff Cooper was in the paper on Thursday with a few interesting arguments about urban planning. The article is refreshing because in it Cooper challenges a few of the many sacred cows in the debate over growth and housing affordability.
In particular, Cooper discusses the “up versus out” narrative that has been wrapped around Auckland’s urban growth. In recent months, for example, both the New Zealand Initiative and consultancy NZIER have published research papers arguing that Auckland should open up greenfield land to improve housing affordability.
Cooper argues that these analyses have failed to notice the fact that the proposed Unitary Plan already does this:
Despite this complexity, discussion on Auckland’s urban policy is often reduced to “up” (intensification) or “out” (sprawl).
This simplification overlooks three key issues — Auckland Council’s proposed urban limit policy, the policies underlying a compact city, and the political economy of urban policy.
The proposed plan vastly extends the urban limit, aiming for an average of seven years infrastructure-ready land supply available at all times. Once implemented, around 20 per cent more urban zoned land will be available.
This is enough for up to 76,000 new dwellings (roughly equivalent to all of Hamilton).
Calls for more land supply miss the solutions being implemented.
In my view, a policy of greenfields growth could result in not insubstantial economic costs. These risks are discussed in a range of new studies,evidence which present evidence suggesting outlying locations are not necessarily more affordable once transport costs are taken into account (often difficult to do in advance). So while house prices might be cheaper, the costs of getting around can offset those savings. Not to mention the external costs of congestion wider society must bear from more development in peripheral urban locations.
On the other hand, Cooper also critiques debates over residential intensification. He points out that removing *restrictions* on urban intensification development, so as to enable more compact and diverse forms of housing, doesn’t amount to “forcing intensification upon communities”, as some have claimed. Instead, the Unitary Plan tends to remove barriers that prevent people from living at higher densities in locations that provide the attributes they seek, such as amenity and accessibility. Cooper comments:
Proposed policies for a compact city are also misunderstood.
Compact living policies are about creating choices, by reducing existing regulations that stop people living in higher density areas, when they want to.
The inherited planning framework by Auckland Council is heavily biased towards the “quarter acre section” through rigid regulations. This creates a push for urban sprawl.
The city’s rules prevent the supply of housing people want in the areas they want to live in – close to the city, with good transport and other amenities.
These preferences are clearly shown in soaring house prices on Auckland’s isthmus.
The draft plan was designed to create greater housing choice. But this has been scaled back significantly during public consultation.
Residents want to preserve their lot, but it comes at a cost to future Aucklanders. New height limits have been introduced in many suburbs, while existing height limits have been tightened, as have density constraints which means it will be harder to gain access to attractive suburbs.
The important thing Cooper highlights here is how policies that restrict housing supply in desirable areas come with a significant cost. There’s a wide range of international evidence suggesting restrictive planning regulations, such as minimum parking regulations, density controls, and building height limits, tend to raise the cost of housing. A 2002 paper by Edward Glaeser and Joseph Gyourko, for example, found American cities with more restrictive zoning were less affordable:
The bulk of the evidence marshaled in this paper suggests that zoning, and other land use controls, are more responsible for high prices where we see them. There is a huge gap between the price of land implied by the gap between home prices and construction costs and the price of land implied by the price differences between homes on 10,000 square feet and homes on 15,000 square feet. Measures of zoning strictness are highly correlated with high prices… [I]f policy advocates are interested in reducing housing costs, they would do well to start with zoning reform.
New evidence from Auckland suggests that our planning regulations may have a similar effect, driving up housing costs above construction costs. While the proposed Unitary Plan loosens some regulations, it arguably doesn’t go far enough to truly improve housing choice and housing affordability. Indeed, in some locations it proposes much more onerous regulations than exist under existing district plans, such as on minimum size requirements for apartment. Such requirements have the potential to exacerbate housing costs for the households that can least afford it.
Finally, Cooper also highlights the sometimes perverse nature of the political economy of urban planning. As many people have pointed out, planning regulations have significant effects on intergenerational equity. While restrictive regulations might be good for existing homeowners, they’re extremely bad for new homeowners – and by extension future generations.
It seems fairly obvious to me that if a city is systematically unwilling to allow new housing supply to be built in desirable, accessible areas, then skilled young people will increasingly face a Hobson’s choice: Either pay too much for housing in an accessible place, or pay too much for transport in a cheaper fringe location. And in the long run, we can expect these people to choose another city to live in. Indeed, unaffordable cities place will tend to be disadvantaged in the increasingly global competition for skilled young labour. In this other recent article Cooper actually makes this very point: Auckland competes for people, business, and capital more with Brisbane. Sydney and Melbourne than with other places in New Zealand.
Unfortunately our political system seems especially bad at solving the intergenerational problems even though this is arguably one of its core functions.
This Government’s inability/unwillingness to make headway on carbon emissions being the prime example. As a young Aucklander with many Kiwi friends living overseas. I am fairly sure that the people who will benefit from better housing policy are, for the most part, not voting in elections or going along to consultation meetings. Many more may have not even been born yet. It is these voices that are so often not heard, nor even acknowledged, in the debates on the Unitary Plan.
Responsibility for this issue lies jointly with our political representatives and mainstream media outlets, who tend to lack the courage to push back on even the most blatant self-interested objections to urban development.
Ultimately I think it’s really useful to have Auckland Council’s Chief Economist speaking out on these issues and highlighting that Auckland needs to both grow “up and out”. Now it’d be nice if more people at a central government level started to champion the same issues.
As Matt wrote on Saturday, the Auckland Council is going to be partnering with Willis Bond & Co on new homes at Wynyard Quarter. I thought I’d look at a couple of other interesting aspects of the announcement.
Bob Dey has written some good commentary here, including an interview with the managing director of Willis Bond & Co, Mark McGuinness. Bob notes that there’s a range of housing typologies, from apartments all the way down to (potentially) duplexes, with the overall development being medium density, and homes of up to four bedrooms. That’s a positive step, in a city centre which still has too few larger, family-sized dwellings.
Parking provision is kept fairly low, averaging 1.2 spaces per dwelling, although I’m not quite sure if this refers to Willis Bond’s concepts or the maximum planning ratios for the site. As Mark McGuinness told Bob Dey,
“Most people in the Wynyard Quarter will not need 2 cars all the time. It’s one of those places where you can genuinely walk. If you have that amenity, walking can become quite addictive – I’d use a car 2 days/week now.
“Over time, people will get weaned off car ownership. You need housing in the right location, amenity around it, which the Wynyard Quarter has, and you need reasonable proximity to work, which the quarter delivers like very [missing word here?] places do.”
It’s great to hear that kind of thing coming from a business leader, especially that first paragraph. Of course, 1.2 cars per home is probably more than we’d like to see, and it’s higher than average for the city centre, but the homes will probably be targeted more towards families with kids, and they’ll be larger than typical apartments. There may also be a bit of against-the-flow commuting. No doubt the market will dictate where things end up, and perhaps we’ll see less than 1.2 cars per home when everything’s complete. By comparison, the nearby Beaumont Quarter seems to be at around 1.3 cars per home, based on 2013 census data.
Given that the Auckland Council will retain ownership of the land under these new homes, I’m pleased that they’ll allow the ground rent to be paid up front, reducing the uncertainty around rent reviews down the track. I wrote a bit more about this in RCG’s newsletter, here, and also noted:
Another innovation is that carparks in the Wynyard Quarter residential area won’t be associated with individual apartments. They’ll be owned by the body corporate, and presumably rented out to the residents at whatever they’re are willing to pay. As Bob Dey points out, this avoids the problem of spaces being wasted because the owner doesn’t actually need them, and the hassle in trying to buy or sell them separately. The end result is that fewer parking spaces should be needed, and this could potentially bring costs down.
There will be around 500-600 homes built as part of this development agreement. By comparison, there are around 375 in the Viaduct Harbour, and 230 in Lighter Quay (which will eventually blend into Wynyard Quarter to some extent). That’s probably a bit lower than envisaged in the council’s Waterfront Plan, which targets “a residential population of 2,500–4,000″ in the long term. However, there will probably be some other homes built as Wynyard continues to develop – Waterfront Auckland refer to this agreement as “the first residential precinct in Auckland’s revitalised Wynyard Quarter”.
In my opinion, the things that make Wynyard such an appealing place are its waterfront location and its public spaces. Those are already things that draw tens of thousands of people. Add to this a pretty significant workforce – which could be 12,000 to 15,000 in the long term – and the other drawcards still to be built, such as the 5-star hotel, the theatre, the park at the northern point, and these homes don’t have too much work to do, in terms of activating or anchoring the area. They can just be great places to live, which it looks like they will be.
Waterfront Auckland have announced who will build the new residential “Urban Village” in the Wynyard Quarter.
One of New Zealand’s leading developers, Willis Bond & Co, has been confirmed as the successful candidate to build the first residential precinct in Auckland’s revitalised Wynyard Quarter.
Willis Bond will build 500 to 600 homes as part of a mixed use development in the centre of Wynyard Quarter, which will also incorporate 48,000 m2 of new office space and a five star hotel. Willis Bond, has a strong track record of delivering large-scale, high quality developments in urban and waterfront settings and has also recently been appointed as the residential developer of 4.7 hectares at Hobsonville Point.
The appointment follows an 18 month competitive tender process led by Waterfront Auckland, the landowner and masterplanner of the development, which canvassed over 20 proposals from local and international parties.
John Dalzell, Chief Executive for Waterfront Auckland says the quality of Willis Bond’s design and development process and its strong track record made it a clear cut choice.
“We want to do things differently with this next stage of development in Wynyard Quarter – to create a new residential community which is a model of medium density development demonstrating the highest standards of design and amenity.”
“We have selected a developer who is willing to embrace the design and high sustainability standards we have set. Willis Bond got that from the start with an outstanding bid and a professional and enthusiastic approach since, which indicates they’re committed to our aspirations in a diverse range of residential units.”
Willis Bond managing director Mark McGuinness said his team was excited by the opportunity to contribute to what is New Zealand’s largest urban regeneration outside Christchurch:
“Willis Bond focuses on developing mixed-use projects of scale that represent best-in-class development opportunities. Wynyard Quarter clearly meets these criteria and is an exciting project in an unrivalled location.”
Willis Bond is partnering with three of New Zealand’s leading architects across five residential sites to develop a mixture of apartments, townhouses and duplexes, available in various sizes and at a range of price points.
To meet the standards set by Waterfront Auckland’s Sustainability Development Framework the homes will be required to achieve a minimum 7 Homestar rating with provision for solar power and solar hot water heating panels.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown has welcomed the appointment of residential developer for a key part of the city.
“As we look to Auckland’s future, we need more examples of high quality medium density living like that planned for Wynyard Quarter. It will mean less pressure on our transport infrastructure and the added vibrancy created by a permanent residential population will only strengthen our city centre.”
The first homes in the central part of Wynyard Quarter are expected to be available to purchase off the plans by late 2014 and once completed, the development is expected to house more than 1,100 residents.
And here are some artist impressions that have been created.
The development is mostly centred around Daldy St and the Linear Park that has recently been created
In between the apartments will be an east west laneway
And here’s the location for those not familiar with the area.
This is a great step forward for the Wynyard Quarter.
It looks like we will be able to say goodbye to ugly – but unfortunately not the parking.
One of Auckland’s ugliest carparking buildings which its owner describes as “an eyesore” is to get a makeover and have apartments built on top.
Luke Manson of rich-list family developer Mansons TCLM, said the Auckland Council had granted resource consent for the project at 206 Victoria St West, opposite Victoria Park and next to the Victoria Park Markets.
Mansons will develop 39 two and three-bedroom 80sq m to 115sq m apartments, and instead of selling them, will rent them.
This is good because that carparking building really is horrid.
However we won’t be able to say goodbye to it altogether, in fact there will be even more carparks (presumably for the apartments).
“We have named the development The Boutique,” he said. “At this stage it is too early to confirm rents, but we will be looking for long-term leases for each unit.”
The carpark has 200 spaces. Mansons will add an extra 30, but will disguise the building with an aluminium wrap.
“The car park, which is an eyesore, will be removed from view and beautified with screening and planting of trees,” Manson said.
Steel beams would be lifted on to the top of the existing building to create an extra three levels at one point and five levels at another point.
“Because the site is a gateway corner location, we are getting extra levels,” he said.
It’s good to get more development but it does look funny sticking apartments on a massive podium of parking (the same thing is happening in New Lynn too). Mansons push the fact that most of their recent buildings have been green star rated and I wonder if they’ll push that angle with this one too. It would be a bit hard though with the amount of parking on site.
Still I’d rather have parking in this building than having Auckland Transport suggest something stupid like putting a massive underground carpark under Victoria Park.
Should parts of Eden Park be developed? That’s a possibility the herald has uncovered.
The No 2 ground and cricket pitch at Eden Park will be replaced with residential and commercial buildings of up to nine storeys, according to documents obtained by the Weekend Herald.
The Eden Park Trust Board, weighed down with about $50 million of debt and struggling to pay for future repairs and capital works, is eyeing the No 2 ground as a financial saviour.
The idea is to follow the likes of the home of rugby at Twickenham in London, which have hotels and other operations within their grounds to generate extra income.
The Eden Park board has withheld the latest development plans while the Auckland Council stitches together a stadium strategy.
Part of the strategy involves moving domestic and test cricket to Western Springs, which would free up the No 2 ground for development.
And later on they provide more detail on what could happen
On the Walters Rd side of the No 2 ground, buildings will be no higher than four storeys, and a 40m buffer has been left between buildings and Reimers Rd. The buffer will be used to bus fans to and from the ground.
Site coverage varies from 35 per cent of the four-storey limit fronting Sandringham Rd to 75 per cent for the nine-storey limit against the West Stand.
The plans are outlined in a submission to Auckland Council’s draft Unitary Plan, a 30-year blueprint for the Super City. The submission is also understood to call for doubling the number of night games, holding concerts at Eden Park, and extending night-time hours to attract games such as State of Origin rugby league.
The submission follows an earlier proposal for a range of uses on the No 2 ground, including residential, accommodation, offices, takeaway foods and retail, which was rejected by the council. Said Dr Casey: “If Eden Park develop the No 2 ground, it will have incredible consequences for both residents and business.”
It’s an interesting suggestion. Eden Park is of course right next to the Kingsland station and after the CRL the area will have superb access to the city centre and beyond. In fact it would possibly be one of the best connected locations in Auckland. From a transport and land use point of view it couldn’t get much better.
The biggest concern I would have is that if it was developed that new residents would then start complaining about the impact generated by being right next to a stadium.
Naturally some in the local community seem very against it.
Eden Park Residents’ Association president Mark Donnelly said the ground was already at the maximum level of activities and impacts that the local area could be expected to bear.
He called on the council to strongly support the status quo for the No 2 ground as open space.
Personally I think this is an idea worth exploring, what do you think