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.

Milford Stage 3

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.

Wynard Innovation Precinct map

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).

Wynyard Central

Wynyard Central 2

Wynyard Central 3

Wynyard Central 4

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  1. Matt, I am keen to submit to the Unitary plan but struggle with exactly what to say. I am in favour of intensification.
    Is there any way you contributors could put together a proforma submission/template that others could follow?


      It’s best to address specific provisions in the plan. If you want higher densities in residential zones density rule is PART 3 »Chapter I: Zone rules»1 Residential zones»3. Land use controls»3.1 Maximum density:

      I suggest supporting the “conversion of a dwelling into 2 dwellings” rule that allows granny flats to be built. That will help affordability a lot.

      There’s setback and site width rules in the Terrace Apartment zones such that you won’t be able to build terraces and apartments without amalgamating sites (which is very hard to do). Also with setbacks to side boundaries how do you get a decent street frontage?

      there proposing a 1m side yard which currently doesn’t exist in Ithsmus Plan – object to that waste of land.

      If you support intensification there’s stacks of rules that will reduce it in commercial zones such as:

      Lower height limits in parts of CBD (like between Wellesley and Mayoral)
      APUP Mixed Use zone has 4 levels maximum height – this is less than existing mixed use zones
      Manukau commercial areas currently have no height limits (other than for airport) – APUP brings in height limits way less than current buildings.
      Most misguided rule is Affordable housing part 3H 6.6 that will require 10% affordable dwellings in 15+ unit developments. This will mean that 90% of units will be more expensive to subsidise them and the average price will be higher as costs will also have include all the legal work required to ensure that these units are subsidised for ever.
      Object to raising the minimum unit size up to 40sqm – surely you should be able to live in 39sqm if you choose? (or less if you choose)
      Object to locations where they are downzoning existing commercial zones next to the CBD on major PT routes to residential zones.

      One would assume that no site should be losing height, bulk or density that already exists in a Plan (and has been accepted by the community). This is not the case.

      I’d supporting the new traffic rules that have maximum parking allowed rather than minimums as providing required carparks is a major driver of lower density.

  2. But all of those Wynyard Quarter ‘artist’s renditions’ fail to show a car; how will the poor people get there? Surely AT is planning to put in a four lane arterial somewhere to remedy this problem. And where’s the parking; you definitely can’t have people without their cars? To populate the place in the last rendition alone would require at least thirty car parking spaces. It’s quite evident AT hasn’t been consulted over these airy-fairy proposals.

    1. I presume the second to last image shows the airbridges linking the 2 1000 car parking buildings that seem to be required for every development area in Auckland. And the last image where the 4 lane road will end up. We all know that you can’t waste such valuable space by allowing people to walk on it. We can’t have an innovation precinct without serious people, and serious people drive cars.

    2. In all seriousness however, I hope the Council and AT are a) reserving land for a future Wynyard underground station, and b) planning and designing a new wider bridge across the Viaduct entrance that includes a transit ROW back to Britomart.

    3. Yes all this utter waste of space, better putting good and approved 4 lane roads between the buildings. Or how else should people get there from the new suburb of Pokeno? *sarcasmoff*

    4. Wynyard Quarter actually has a rather ambitious – and statutorily relevant – target of only 30% of their traffic coming via cars in the long run. While I share some of that cycnicism you exhibit, it does help to support developers who want less car parks, and creates more pressure to create good PT and active mode links.

      While Wynyard right now is certainly not car-free, it has a reasonably urban feel already, with lots of walking and a small but notable bit of cycling. Adding more movement space for peds/cyclists only – like the canal lanes, will help that.

      1. I agree, if they built it like the proposals show, I would be probably one person considering immediately move there. But I fear that AT and Auckland Waterfront work bidirectional. So the 30% arrivals by cars are quite ambitious. I have not seen any improvement on PT since e.g. the ASB headquater opened. In fact, the three times I was down there during weekdays, I experienced a larger number of cars already. And if the box of Pandora is opened by the Fonterra HQ with multilevel car parking. I think as a result, all of these proposals will be changing a lot to accomodate a lot more roads. Most other city builds first the PT infrastructure before starting developing, a Bus hub or similar (best of course light rail for the start and an underground heavy rail station) would be really important to get there sooner than later.

    5. This is a terrible place for development. We’ll need to demolish it to build a 7 lane motorway tunnel entrance into Queen Street.

    1. Lots of bikes, but no where to park them from the pictures.

      There are many young kids in the pictures too, will the long swimming pools require 1.2m fences to protect the children from drowning?

      1. Hush, keep silent. There’s already ALL SORTS OF WATER around Wynyard Quarter without fences preventing you from falling in. DON’T TELL ANYBODY ABOUT THIS.

        1. Don’t laugh too much, one study of a new suburban developments in Melbourne featuring such rain garden swales indicated it’s child drowining mortality rate was over a 1000% higher than the average. I believe they had two outdoor drowning deaths in one year when you might expect one every decade or so based on the population.

  3. @Milford Development Opposes


    That’s all I’m hearing from the North Shore direction.

    1. One of them was suggesting that they couldn’t build the apartments without including a police station in the building. ‘Cause you know what apartment people are like, all thieves and rapists.

  4. I disagree with the principle that city quarters are given the power to decide on prescriptive rules for the development of their area (esp.: building height, mandatory carparks). The best example is the Mt Eden / Epsom zone, one of the lowest density suburbs in all Auckland abutting the city centre. How can the city be expected to develop harmoniously with the silly constraints in one of its most central suburbs, is development supposed to forever sidestep Mt Eden? The rules on building height are an unjustifiable barrier to development there.

  5. A wonderful opportunity for Milford!

    I believe that a reasonably significant high rise development is also about to be announced for Takapuna.

    It’s all a triumph for economic common sense, fairness and sensible development.

    And 30k might have dropped off the value of my house, but so what

    1. Your property would lose value because of urban development and reviatlisation nearby? If so it would be about the first time in the developed world.

      For every one person who thinks Milford is ruined, there will be 10 queuing up to buy in a dynamic, vibrant area.

      1. Property values are increasing at a huge rate in Takapuna because there is a significant supply shortage (supply and demand). A significant increase in supply of any type of housing may well change that balance and lower prices. It’s economics 101 so no surprises there. Will the current imbalance be restored at some future time? Yes it might. Will property prices increase because the land becomes more valuable if you can build up? Yes it might.

        Can I tell you of cities where revitalisation has caused property prices to fall? I am not an expert on international property prices, but I can tell you of one city that I visited recently where there is significant population pressure. Sao Paulo has at least 12 million people. It also has huge development projects over many parts of the city. This seems to have kept a significant check on property prices and in some cases caused old places to become unwanted. The difference between SP and NZ is that development here is so constrained that at very few times do we have a massive surge in supply and so invariably the housing market, at least in Auckland, is arguably out of balance caused by a shortage of supply.

        House prices in Auckland are not touching Melbourne levels simply because we are better able to afford them. I assert again that a surge in inner city housing development may well cause house prices to come off current levels. It’s an unspoken argument because its unpalatable for most people to say, “I don’t want more houses in my area because of my rampant greed and that my personal wealth will be diminished” so they reframe it as, “I don’t want poor people in my neighbourhood as they are a risk to me.”

        Am I in support of intensification? Absolutely! Should the Milford towers have been higher? Yes they should! Should there be high rise on the site of the Takapuna Fire Station? Certainly!

        1. Supply and demand are not the only forces at work, what ever our sprawl supply obsessed friends think. For example if your property is able to be up zoned because of a less restrictive UP then it will go up in value because of the increase in what can be built on it.

        2. Well Sao Paolo is still part of the developing world, albeit as one of the BRICS. I think in countries like that with a large number of really poor people, the dynamics are quite different. If people cant afford housing in a city like Sao Paolo they just head out to the favelas and make a house out of whatever they can find or they live in the rubbish dump.

          In places like Bucharest people (especially orphans once they turn 18 and are chucked out of the orphanages) live in the sewer next to warm pipes. I dont think those people are really worrying about getting on the property ladder, more just eating.

          My point above did refer specifically to the developed world. I still stand by the statement that no property values have ever fallen in the developed world because of nearby urban revitalisation or the construction of grade separated PT nearby. That is usually one of the biggest complaints about it, the property prices go up too much.

  6. I just noticed in the Herald that the Single House Zone has been changed from 500m2 minimum section to 600m2. A lot of the Res 5 zoned areas in Auckland City which are currently one per 500m2 will become Single House, meaning they will be less sub-dividable than they are now. There are a few 1000m2 sections still around (I own one), but very few 1200m2.
    Why on earth is the Unitary Plan increasing minimum section size?

  7. Could it be that the massive profits extracted by Precinct Properties (who have just announced a $39.5 million net profit after tax in the six months to December 31, up 67 per cent on the previous $23.6 million) might also be contributing to housing un-affordability?

    I very much doubt Precinct Properties will be matching Mr Jeffries’ Community of Refuge Trusts recently built eight one-bedroom flats in two new two-storey houses. They cost only $240,000 a dwelling – including the land – and the units rent out at only $250 a week.

    1. They are making around a 10% return on assets. I’m not sure that counts as massive.

      Given that they are set up to develop downtown office space I’m not sure what effect their profitability is having on the wider housing market. I suspect it would be minimal.

      And I have no doubt they that will not be looking to emulate the very good work of a charitable trust in building low cost housing.

    2. Precinct Properties only own office property, so I don’t think they have much of an effect on housing affordability either way.

  8. I suspect creating a minimum threshold for development is to disincentivise chopping sections in half and inscentivise more comprehensive developments that yield more houses, such as terraced developments. Most residential property is owned by people who aren’t property developers. If they want to make some money by subdividing, they’re going to go for the option with the least hassle and best return. Currently, that’s chopping your property in half. That’s what has happened to the majority of the North Shore – and that’s car heaven. If we want higher residential densities we need to incentivise larger scale developments (terraced housing etc) and they need more land to do that properly. Land assembly is one of the biggest obstacles to higher density development so we need to encourage property owners to choose to either go in with their neighbours and do something decent or else sell to a developer. To do that, it needs to be either not possible or uneconomic for them to do something on their own. My only concern is that does the Unitary Plan go far enough with this or like everything else is it too watered down?

    1. I can understand your concern around in fill housing. There are a lot of examples where that hasn’t been handled well, and larger development could suit an area better. But to demand a 600sqm minimum for the single house zone is crazy.

      I live in Grey Lynn where you are lucky to get 400sqm, next door in Ponsonby 300sqm. And these areas are mainly zoned single house zone in the UP. Obviously this isn’t going to change what exists now, but to say ‘all this popular real estate selling for millions is on sections that we don’t think are big enough by half’ is flying in the face of what the market is actually demanding.

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