Yesterday the council and government announced the first batch of special housing areas (SHAs). For those that don’t remember the special housing areas came about as part of the housing accord the government agreed with the council a few months back. In the selected areas the recently notified unitary plan comes into effect straight away and the council will have a fast tracked consenting process. The special housing areas were one of the reasons why the council needed to get the unitary plan notified as soon as possible as if they had put it off, the government was likely to step in and open up land themselves. Here is the press release.
6,000 homes in first batch of Special Housing Areas
Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith and Auckland Mayor Len Brown today announced the first batch of Special Housing Areas that will progressively bring to market 6,000 new homes across the city under the Auckland Housing Accord.
“Land supply is the most critical issue we must address to improve housing supply and affordability in Auckland. This first batch of Special Housing Areas will bring 6,000 sections onto the market and is a significant step towards the Auckland Housing Accord’s target of consenting for 39,000 new homes over three years,” Dr Smith says.
The locations for the 10 Special Housing Areas, in addition to the Weymouth community housing project of 282 homes announced last week, are:
- Addison, Papakura, 500 homes, 32 hectares
- Alexander Crescent, East Tāmaki, 148 homes, 8.1 hectares
- Anselmi Ridge, Pukekohe, 64 homes, 6.8 hectares
- Flat Bush Murphys Road, East Tāmaki, 275 homes, 37.8 hectares
- Flat Bush School Road, East Tāmaki, 300 homes, 7 hectares
- Hobsonville Catalina Precinct and Marine Industry precinct, 1,200 homes, 28.2 hectares
- Huapai Triangle, Kumeu, 2,000 homes, 65.1 hectares
- McWhirter Block, West Harbour, 166 homes, 10.1 hectares
- Orakei, Auckland City, 75 homes, 0.8 hectares
- Wesley College, Pukekohe, 1,000 homes, 277.7 hectares
Dr Smith and Mayor Brown made the announcement at the Huapai Triangle Special Housing Area in Kumeu, which has the capacity to accommodate 2,000 new homes.
The Special Housing Areas have been recommended by Auckland Council and provisionally approved by Cabinet. They take legal effect once formally approved by the Governor-General by Order in Council, expected before the end of October. Applications for subdivisions will then be able to be considered by Council under the fast-tracked mechanisms in the legislation which requires approvals within six months for greenfield developments, compared to the current average of three years, and three months for brownfield developments, compared to the current average of one year.
“There will be requirements across the Special Housing Areas for a proportion of the completed homes to be in the more affordable range. This will vary from 100 per cent in some areas like Weymouth to a smaller proportion in others. The details of these requirements will be resolved with the processing of qualifying developments, as provided for under the Auckland Housing Accord,” Dr Smith says.
“Alongside freeing up land supply, we need to constrain the impact of development contributions on section prices, get better value for building materials, make efficiency improvements in building consents, and improve productivity in the construction industry. The Government is also helping Auckland home buyers by expanding the Welcome Home Loans and KiwiSaver First Home Deposit Subsidy schemes.
“This is the start of getting real momentum into Auckland’s residential construction following the enactment of the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas legislation on 16 September and the adoption of the Auckland Accord on 3 October. I commend Auckland Council for the work they’ve put into bringing these first 11 Special Housing Areas forward. My expectation is to have many more approved by Christmas.”
There are a few surprises in there which I will go through shortly but at a regional level, here is the location of the SHA’s.
I’m going to work my way from North to South.
Huapai Triangle, Kumeu, 2,000 homes, 65.1 hectares
This one is one of the more interesting SHA’s. There is quite a bit of land around Kumeu that is already zoned for single housing but that is yet to be developed but instead of enabling that to happen easier, a section of land marked Future Urban has been selected. Possibly it’s due to the owners of the site wanting to develop already but straight away it seems to make a bit of a mockery of the Unitary Plan process by picking land that doesn’t even have any effective zoning.
2000 houses is actually quite a substantial amount and easily the biggest of the SHA’s announced today. Assuming that about 20% of the land will be needed for roads, parks etc, it suggests that each dwelling would be about 260m² which for the area is actually quite dense suggesting we will see a lot of tow/terraced house type dwellings going in here. Interestingly this one development will almost triple the size of the population in Huapai/Kumeu as based on the 2006 census there were only 690 dwellings in and around the township and that includes quite a few rural lifestyle and farm houses (due to large meshblocks). Hopefully this can be designed well and help turn Huapai/Kumeu into a neat satellite village – but it will take a lot more than just more houses to do that.
The biggest issue for this development is likely to be the impacts it puts on the transport system. I can already see the government announcing that instead of investing in the CRL they will start fast tracking an extension of the NW motorway. I can also see some suggesting that it will change the situation around what happens with the rail network and that we should now leave Waitakere open and extend rail services to Huapai. Personally I don’t think this changes that as it doesn’t change the fundamental issue with the rail network in that it is simply too indirect. It might be ok if thousands were going to Henderson and New Lynn but most people won’t be, instead they are more likely to be going to the CBD, the new centre at Westgate, Lincoln Rd or to the North Shore. Personally I still think the best solution is to put the North West busway in and extend it to Huapai with it happening before any motorway expansion. This is also what we have suggested in the Congestion Free Network.
Hobsonville Catalina Precinct and Marine Industry precinct, 1,200 homes, 28.2 hectares and McWhirter Block, West Harbour, 166 homes, 10.1 hectares
Development at both of these places was already expected and in some cases underway so it isn’t surprising to see them get SHA status. For those not sure about the location of the McWhirter block, it is the section of green land just south of the existing Westgate centre. Hobsonville is primarily zoned Mixed Housing Urban while the McWhirter Block is a mix of Mixed Housing Urban and THAB
Orakei, Auckland City, 75 homes, 0.8 hectares
Again another one that is not surprising but it will be interesting to see how some of the neighbours react when they realise that this is the start of Iwi making much better use of its land by building affordable housing for its members. Based on the number of dwellings these are likely to be apartment developments (they are in the THAB zone too) and I would suggest the sites picked are just the first of many.
Alexander Crescent, East Tāmaki, 148 homes, 8.1 hectares
I think this site is also an Iwi one but the difference is the sites will be much bigger. The number (again 20% put aside for roads, open space etc.) suggests that site sizes will be about 430m². Currently has Special Purpose
Flat Bush School Road, East Tāmaki, 300 homes, 7 hectares and Flat Bush Murphys Road, East Tāmaki, 275 homes, 37.8 hectares
Both of these sites are fairly close to what is meant to become the Flat Bush Town Centre, the Flat Bush School Rd site (on the left of the image) is zoned THAB and the numbers suggest sites will be just under 200m² which is similar to what we are seeing go in at Hobsonville. If that’s what happens here then the outcome might be ok – however the key will be in the design and how the development interacts with the town centre.
The Flat Bush Murphys road SHA has THAB zoning on the Northern, Western and Southern edges with mixed housing suburban covering the rest of the area. The numbers in the press release suggests that there would only be 275 dwellings on the site and that equals about 1100m² per section – absolutely massive and stupid with that zoning. It is possibly that this isn’t the full story though, a couple of reasons I think this could be, one is that it’s a typo and that it is meant to be 1275 homes (which would put average site sizes at 237m²) or two that the developer only intends building 275 dwellings in the three years of the housing accord but that more will eventually go in.
Addison, Papakura, 500 homes, 32 hectares
This is another development that isn’t a surprise to see on the list. The numbers suggest site sizes of only 500m² but as with Flatbush the number might only be the amount intended to be built over the next few years. I’m pretty sure it is the same developer as the rest of Addison and there are some lots there less than 150m² so I can’t see them all of sudden changing dramatically what they are doing. The site is also near the Takanini station near where the developers want a Walters Rd Station.
Wesley College, Pukekohe, 1,000 homes, 277.7 hectares
Like Huapai this is another interesting site as it is current zoned future urban and sites in between Drury and Pukekohe. Again I suspect it will eventually hold much more than 1,000 dwellings as the numbers otherwise suggest site sites of over 2,000m². One thing is it surely makes the need for electrification to Pukekohe even more urgent. As this is completely greenfields it will be crucial that the council are deeply involved with this to ensure we actually get an outcome that is not just a heap of houses with no amenities (wonder how much those will cost ratepayers). At this stage it really does appear to be a exactly the kind of thing that most people in the region were hoping wouldn’t keep happening and the only slightly redeeming feature is that it is at least on the rail network (that will have services).
You can see the scale of it in the image below wand the area is larger than all of the other SHAs combined
Anselmi Ridge, Pukekohe, 64 homes, 6.8 hectares
This is another classic sprawl development and some of it has already taken place. Further the zoning in the Unitary plan allows for up to mixed housing suburban on the site so really this SHA is just allowing for the development to happen a little bit faster. The large sections to the North, East and West of this development are also zoned MHS so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them become SHAs at some point in the future too.
There was also an SHA announced for Weymouth last week. It is for 282 dwellings on 16 hectares of land which equates to about one dwelling per 450m² which is about the size for many single house type developments these days. Basically sounds like it will be a typical suburban housing development.
Overall I’m a bit disappointed in the outcome so far. Most of the sites are within the existing urban boundaries and so would have been redeveloped at some stage however the thing that particularly disappoints me is the lack of sites for redevelopment. For example I had expected we would see some sections around Glen Innes and Panmure on the list as redevelopment is due to happen as part of the Tamaki Transformation project. Hopefully the redevelopment SHAs will come in the next batch which Nick Smith has said is due before Christmas, I’m not holding my breath though.