We now have had 3 tranches of the government Special Housing Areas announced over the past year. The first tranche in October 2013, second in December 2013 and the third in May 2014In brief these are defined areas that allow developments to be fast tracked through special consenting procedures, and the zones and rules from the Proposed Unitary Plan are applied. So far there are 63 individual SHA’s, collectively allowing 33,486 houses. The latest monitoring report shows that 18 of these developments have received a Resource Consent, 4 more applying for a Resource Consent, and another 36 at various pre-application stages.

Consented SHA's However the location and typology of these houses really matters for a variety of reasons. While fringe housing may appear cheaper, once transport costs are taken into account this is not always the case. Housing in existing areas also utilise existing infrastructure and public transport, while this must be added from scratch in fringe areas. Then of course there is market demand and changing trends, over the last few years prices have appreciated most rapidly in the inner suburbs, though this is now starting to spill out all over the isthmus.

Therefore I have looked at the SHA’s using several different measures. Firstly a classification that looks at the type of development land. ‘Brownfield’ means inside the existing built up area. “Greenfield – within the MUL” are developments that are within the Auckland Regional Council’s urban limits. They are new developments from bare land, however will adjoin the existing urban area. Importantly these areas have undergone substantial planning, such as for infrastructure, as there has been an expectation that these sites will be developed within the near future. “Greenfield – outside the MUL” is land that is within the Rural Urban boundary in the Unitary Plan, however outside the MUL. The only planning that has gone on in these areas would be broad brush work during drafting of the Unitary Plan.

Greenfield- within MUL10,41131.1%
Greenfield – outside MUL9,81429.3%

The Auckland Plan set a goal of up to 70% of development to be infill, and up to 40% greenfield. However crucially the plan set the current MUL as the boundary from which to measure from, so these greenfield developments are counted as infill! Therefore this is spot on with the Auckland Plan target, though not really the long term intent of where growth should be.

Within the Brownfield developments, these can be further classified into Strategic, Housing NZ led, and private or community led. Strategic areas were identified only in the 3rd tranche. These were wider scale areas that did not have any specific developer interest, however were identified by the council as being well suited for future development and having good existing infrastructure. A large amount of the SHA’s identified in the 2nd and 3rd tranches were led by Housing NZ, which were redevelopments of areas of state housing into higher intensity. However this only leave 3037 developments led by the private sector inside the existing urban area, which is only 9% of the total.

Housing NZ6,41848.4%

It is useful to look at the general geographic area of each of the SHA’s, so to do this I have looked at which former council area they would have fallen in.

Auckland City5,23515.6%
Franklin District1,8345.5%
Manukau City7,52322.5%
North Shore1,5354.6%

This shows up some interesting aspects about the locations of the SHA’s. Very few are in North Shore City, while over a quarter of them are in Waitakere. Also only 16% are in the former Auckland City area which seems to be have the highest housing demand. This area also has the best access to jobs and tertiary education so increasing housing here needs to be a high priority.

Within the Greenfield developments I have looked further into the locations, and classified into general geographic areas.

North-West (ie Kumeu, Westgate, Hobsonville)8,95044.3%
North (north of Albany)8764.3%
Southern Corridor (Takanini, Papakura, Pukekohe)4,83423.9%
South-East (Flat-Bush)5,04524.9%
South-West (Mangere)5202.6%

Once again the large number of developments in the North-West really stands out, while there is only a small number to the north of the city. While this does not cover all the development underway, is does give a good idea where major development will occur over the next 5 years and more.

Another tranche of SHA’s are currently under consideration by the Council’s Housing Project Office, with the timeline as follows.

SHA processWhile their is no opportunity for direct public input, both local board members and councillors have substantial say over which areas get approved. Local board members are able to scrutinize local projects, and all SHA’s have to pass votes in the Auckland Development Committee and the Governing Body.

Looking at the numbers above there seem to be enough sections approved outside the MUL for the time being, but not nearly enough in areas of high demand. Therefore it would be great to see the 4th tranche being focussed on existing urban areas, with nothing outside the MUL.

The locations of these developments should help shape where infrastructure and transport investment is focussed coming into the next Long Term Plan. Areas of little growth should see projects move down the priority list, and sometimes disappear from the 10 year plan altogether. The speed of development in land outside the MUL is likely to cause the council and other infrastructure providers some issues. The effects of these SHA’s will be the subject of my next post.

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  1. Good work Luke.

    Clearly then if the government we’re using joined up thinking about land use and transport planning they would be accelerating funding for the NW Busway and Electrification to Pukekohe rather than rewarding their North Shore supporters with more motorway lanes as there is clearly little growth coming there.

    1. But even though there isn’t much planned “growth” the Northcote SHA is probably the worst in terms of public transport connections. Again, same story – they’re not linking the land use with transport planning… Or are they?

  2. Wow, talk about the tail wagging the dog! Surely these housing areas are nowhere near large enough to guide strategic transport planning in Auckland when our system is so immature, or am I missing something here?

    Yes I agree that public transport needs to be planned for these new housing areas, or we will see more of what we can see in most of the North Shore which is sprawling suburbs and shopping areas that are totally car-dependent, but looking at the numbers above indicates that the SHA’s planned are in no way large enough to drive decisions such as whether to build more motorway lanes to the North.

    There’s plenty of population all over Auckland that needs cheaper, more frequent and more accessible public transport right now, and bringing in population growth and SHA’s as a justification for not providing better public transport Auckland-wide is highly spurious.

    Good to see this discussion though – for too long we have made the mistake of allowing road-centric planning and development to drive Auckland’s urban sprawl and have given too little priority to the public transport, educational and recreational amenities that people moving into these areas should expect.

    1. David this has all got to be seen in the context of the already funded and ongoing works within the existing city: The New Network and its associated rail upgrade. These are all coming and are the first real attempt to reach useful PT out into the suburbs since the trams were pulled up.

      This discussion is about the obvious need for land use and transport policies to be joined at the hip. Hardly a new or revolutionary idea, but seemingly totally foreign to the current government, especially in election year.

  3. They shouldn’t lead transport development, but add much needed ammunition to existing necessary projects.

  4. But they have to provide for a generous number outside the MUL as these are the ones that will actually get built.

      1. To clarify, I admit to testing the dictionary.

        It was a reply to mfwic
        “But they have to provide for a generous number outside the MUL as these are the ones that will actually get built.”

        We build outside the MUL because largely, no one of significance complains.
        We do so without connecting great PT, so people drive.

        1. Sorry yes I was also referring to mfwic’s comment which I don’t understand at all. To suggest that no one will want houses built in the exiting urban areas is ludicrous.

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