The Government are announcing their budget today and one of the surprises in it slipped out yesterday. The government plan to open up to 430 hectares of of publicly owned land in Auckland to be developed.
3 News can reveal a major part of tomorrow’s Budget will be a plan to develop housing on parcels of Crown land in Auckland.
A work tender mistakenly placed on a government website today details how the programme aims to deliver housing developments “at pace”.
Finance Minister Bill English and Prime Minister John Key are keeping quiet on tomorrow’s Budget.
The problem is one of the big secrets is out, bizarrely, with a tender advertised on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website for development of housing on Crown land, including residential land parcels and government land parcels.
It’s looking to: “Identify suitably qualified parties or consortia with the capability and capacity to deliver housing developments at pace in Auckland.”
After 3 News saw the advertisement, the Government gave over a document (see below) admitting more details. The Government will open up 430 hectares of public land in Auckland for affordable housing – that’s more than 50 rugby fields of land.
Housing Minister Nick Smith said he expected “thousands” of houses would be built on the land by private companies.
Dr Smith said money from the Budget would be provided for the Government to buy some of the land off universities.
Dr Smith said the private companies that built houses would not have to pay for the houses upfront, instead paying the Government once the houses were sold.
That is likely to be controversial, as it will be seen as the Government giving a leg up to private companies.
So the Government wants to start building houses and put them on public land, like that owned by the University of Auckland on its Tamaki campus.
“I’m having a pretty close and hard look at where there are land holdings that will help deal with the challenges over housing that we have in Auckland,” says Dr Smith.
Dr Smith is talking about land owned by universities, schools, tertiary institutions, health boards, defence, Housing New Zealand, the New Zealand Transport Agency and Department of Conservation reserves.
“You’d be quite astounded by some areas of reserves, and when you say the word reserve you assume that’s a park or land that is effectively vacant or being under-utilised,” says Dr Smith.
Making better use of the land we already have within the urban area is of course a far better strategy than carte blanche opening up of land of land on the edge of town. We’ve even talked before of places where we could do that, such as the Grafton Gully Multiway Boulevard idea which would improve transport and open up development opportunities on a decent chunk of government owned land.
We don’t have full details yet however overall I think the idea from the government is the right one – although I’m not sure about the part where developers only have to pay once a house is built and sold.
To give an idea of just how much land the government are talking about, 430 hectares is about the same size as the land within Auckland’s Motorway collar.
Of course that area will be spread throughout the city across many different sites. That leaves the question of just where the government has land. The answer is in a surprisingly large number of places. The map below is a couple of years old but shows all land owned by Housing NZ or listed as owned directly by the Crown. That still excludes a lot of land such as that owned by the NZTA but it does give a sense of of just how much there is out there.
As you can see there’s a lot of government land around, especially Housing NZ land in clusters around Tamaki, Otara, Mangere and Mt Roskill. There are also some large individual chunks although they are unlikely to be involved as some include the likes of Paremoremo and Wiri Prisons, scenic reserves and schools. What all this means is the 430 Hectares are likely to come from freeing lots and lots of smaller sections for higher density developments. That’s not a bad thing at all although the reaction from locals to changes in Tamaki shows it might not be a straightforward change. Below is a closer look at the Tamaki area showing just how much government land there is there.