The three-year Housing Accord between the government and Auckland Council finishes this September. A key part of that agreement is the creation of Special Housing Areas – places where developers can use the rules from the Proposed Unitary Plan rather than the existing set of rules, and where resource consents can (supposedly) be fast tracked.

However, Special Housing Areas will lose their legal status on 16th September, and go back to being normal pieces of land. Developers need to apply for resource consents or plan variations by then if they want to use the SHA rules.

Since it takes time to put those applications together, the Special Housing Areas announced yesterday will be the final ones. We can now look back at the programme, although it will take some years before we can really see its long-term effects, whether it has been a ‘success’ or not, etc.

In all, there’s been 164 SHAs created, in almost every corner of Auckland (east Auckland being the notable exception). The map below shows all these SHA locations:

April 16 SHAs

The council has information on each SHA, and I’ve listed some interesting ones from the final batch below:

Beach Road, Browns Bay

Browns Bay

This is the Brownzy Tavern site, now planned for 66 homes (I’d guess these would be mainly apartments, with perhaps a few terraces). Browns Bay already has quite a few apartments – in fact, the Bay Palms Apartments are right next door to the Brownzy, with 65 units. On a personal note, my band played at the Brownzy back in 2005 or so, and noise control got called on the band playing after us. Old-school taverns are much more awkward neighbours for apartments than other apartments, so hopefully the residents next door are all in favour of new development in the area!

There’s also one more Browns Bay SHA announced in this batch, at 17 and 17A Bute Rd. This could provide another 36 apartments, next to the 44-unit Norfolk Apartments which were built in 2014.

Housing New Zealand

Housing New Zealand have been instrumental in a large number of SHAs across Auckland, and have plenty this time around – in Birkdale, Henderson, Onehunga, Massey, and several other areas (and extensions to existing ones in Avondale and Manurewa).

One which I particularly like is the Lynton Road SHA – currently 4 state houses, with potential for 60 apartments. It’s right next to the northern (Pak ‘N Save) end of Sylvia Park, so is close to shops, a train station and major employment areas. Great location for intensification.

Generally, the Housing New Zealand SHAs are all about removing old houses which don’t make efficient use of the land, and replacing them with new terraces and apartments. The new homes might be all state/ social housing, or they might include private homes as well.


Most of the SHAs confirmed in this batch are “infill/ intensification”, rather than sprawl. That’s good, and will go a long way to providing housing in places close to transport hubs, amenities, jobs, shops and schools. There are still a couple of far-flung SHAs, at Drury and Clarks Beach, and given that they’re long-term subdivisions which might take 5-10 years to build, they dominate the numbers (with 1,000 and 700 homes possible).

But there are plenty of better located ones – apartments in Browns Bay, Onehunga, Newton, Grey Lynn and more. Less intense housing (terraces, perhaps?) in Glen Eden and various Housing New Zealand properties. And there are plenty of ‘infill’ homes being built around Auckland, which haven’t been listed as SHAs because they work just fine with the existing rules.

To tie in with its SHA announcement, the government also released its long-overdue Monitoring Report on the Housing Accord – more on that another time. Auckland is certainly still a long way off building enough homes.

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      1. New pubs open all the time. Britomart and Wynyard are full of new pubs for example, many of which have live music regularly. Hardly an endangered species!

    1. The Kings Arms is not just a pub, it is and has been for ages, the true home of rock in Auckland. There’s plenty of other good venues around central Ak for live music (Wine Cellar, Whammy etc) but there’s only one great venue – and that’s the Kings Arms. I am preparing my liver for the final night send off.

  1. The area I find the most interesting is the te Atatu south one. 3 homes to 101 homes. 44 one bedroom units set away from a job area, a town centre or a transport hub. I know it’s about providing options but will be interesting if there’s demand for 1 bedroom units in suburbia? I guess if the complex is designed and finished exceptionally well there will be demand.

    1. Its right on a planned frequent bus route, a few minutes from Henderson or the planned Te Atatu bus station.

      Given that over half of all households in Auckland have only one or two people in them, I would imagine there is strong demand for one bedroom properties pretty much everywhere. Just because you are a couple on a tight budget doesn’t necessarily mean you want to live in a high rise downtown.

      1. The childless couples may help relieve the burden in the local schools as there’s another 100 homes (mostly 4 bedrooms) being built about 100 metres from this site. There doesn’t appear to be any plans to expand the local primary school thats already heaving.

      2. “”Planned” does not necessarly mean that project it is financed. Busway is “planned”for the Nor Western Motorway. Harbour Bridge was “planned” 60 years before it was built

        1. Yes true. Buses will just get caught in the normal traffic on that road anyway with no buslanes.

        2. What is the alternative then? We don’t build any new homes except family homes right out at the fringe in suburban sprawl? Pretty sure there aren’t any job areas or transport hubs in Millwater or Pokeno. Got motorway ramps tho.

        3. Ok, so new bus station at Te Atatu, ugrade to Te Atatu Rd, and frequent all day every day bus between station and Henderson town centre/train station doesn’t count?

          Have to be realistic. There is huge pressure to develop housing, and while something like Te Atatu might not be perfect, its a hell of a lot better than the alternatives of sprawl on the far fringes.

        4. “Ok, so new bus station at Te Atatu, ugrade to Te Atatu Rd, and frequent all day every day bus between station and Henderson town centre/train station doesn’t count?

          Have to be realistic. There is huge pressure to develop housing, and while something like Te Atatu might not be perfect, its a hell of a lot better than the alternatives of sprawl on the far fringes”

          I am not against this development but do get frustrated with what we in the West get- the upgrade to Te Atatu Rd features about 50m of bus lane right at the motorway and so all buses will have to struggle through the extra induced traffic.
          Regarding the new bus timetable and routes I asked how much longer the new route from Te Atatu to Henderson would take at a consultation meeting ‘ No idea but we hope not too much longer, no we haven’t looked into this actually”

    2. Will there be demand for one bedroom units 12 km from the CBD of a city with a severe housing shortage where childless singles and couples make up the largest household type?

      I would say yes.

  2. Sad the pubs are being turned into apartment, like the Masonic in Devonport, so bands have nowhere to play, but the Brownzy site is perfect for apartments.

    1. I played at all three venues, and am quite sad about the Kings Arms. That might well be worth a post in itself. But it’s a great site for apartments, and in all the dozens of gigs I’ve been to over the years – many of them sold out – I’ve never once seen the carpark full. It’s a pretty low intensity land use, just like the Brownzy, and it was only a matter of time before someone made the owners an offer too good to refuse.
      I’m sure there will always be venues for bands to play at. it’s all part of the urban cycle. The buildings that are looking a little shabby today will be dive bars in 20 years. Then they’ll get redeveloped, and other buildings will start becoming shabbier, and eventually redeveloped, and on it goes.

      1. I quite like this quote from the manager of the Mighty Mighty in Wellington when that was closing:
        On Saturday 24th May, 2014, the Mighty Mighty will close for good. But I spoke to the Mighty Mighty’s bar manager of seven and a half years, Sally Thompson, she told me she was tired of interviews in the press where she was expected to be negative. “Change isn’t bad, and we don’t want it to be sad, we want to be going out on a crazy rocket ride of awesomeness”.
        Live music venues tend not to last forever, so enjoy them while they’re there…

  3. Browns Bay is really starting to show what a cool place a town centre can be with medium density. Would be even better if they were allowed to be up to 5 levels (at least away from the beach).

    1. I spent a lot of my teenage years in that area (worked at Foodtown!) and it has a lot of potential with one glaring issue: access. It’s hard to drive to, let alone getting to by transit, cycle or walking. If development keeps going on (and it should) then some serious thought needs to go into getting to/from it. New Network designs may get you to constellation a bit more easily, but it’s not exactly close.

      1. The bus services to and from Browns Bay are good – I’ve never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a bus from Browns Bay to the City, or from the City to Browns Bay – that’s very good compared to much of the rest of Auckland (unless I’m just lucky).

      2. Yeah road access for cars can be a bit tricky there especially during peak times. Would be good to see them finally build the wharf there for a ferry service to the city.

  4. There was never much need for the SHAs to provide far flung sections, because the Auckland Council has that more than covered. The Auckland Plan excels at it is providing lots of greenfield far faraway from “transport hubs, amenities, jobs, shops and schools” with ample supplies of greenfield land for Warkworth, Silverdale, Kumeu and Pukekohe.

    It would be nice to have a bit more greenfield around the city.

    1. Page 4 of the attached Monitoring Report – 1,500 building consents for homes in SHAs, including approximately 700 homes which have been completed.

    2. That was my earlier point. Page 29 of the Monitoring Report linked above gives the answer….700.

      “From the start of the Accord on 1 October 2013, to the end of the first quarter of Accord Year 3, 1,523 dwellings had been granted
      building consent in SHAs. The majority of SHAs are still in the planning process or having civil engineering works and other site
      preparations undertaken.
      Dwelling construction is underway in 24 of 106 SHAs and approximately 700 dwellings are estimated to have been completed in 19 SHAs.”

      I may be wrong, but I don’t believe the Accord requires any of the fast tracked consents to mean completion within any particular timeframe, which means SHAs make no real contribution to Auckland’s immediate shortage of housing.

      1. You could take that even further if you wanted to, as many of the 700 will have been in areas that were already beginning development – probably including Addison, Flat Bush and Hobsonville, among others. I’ll aim to do another post evaluting the SHA programme in a little more detail. I don’t think it’s been a waste of time by any means, but it certainly hasn’t magically solved Auckland’s housing issues either.

        Also note that SHA status is only helpful in the early stages of a development – when it’s getting planning permission. After that, there’s no difference between SHAs and anywhere else. It’s helpful for two things: 1) the Unitary Plan might have an easier zoning to work with than the current rules, i.e. you get better rules to work with, and 2) the process to get resource consent is supposedly streamlined.

        Even once that’s done, there’s quite a lot of time required to get building consents, do any prepatory works and infrastructure (especially for subdivisions), and then build homes. A typical apartment block might take 18 months to build, and probably 2 years from the time resource consent is achieved, so it will only be in the third year of the Housing Accord (or after the Accord finishes) that we start to see apartment SHAs being completed.

        1. The real advantage is the people who process the applications. They actually consider the conflicting advice they get from the various bits of Council and say no to some of them. That was what Council planners did for a job in the old days. Most now just compile all the reports and don’t even try to reconcile them with each other. The Special housing people even say no to Auckland Transport. Bless their Awesomeness!

  5. Telling that the map above shows the mway network and not the RTN. Shows just how little of an attempt there has been in the SHA process to prioritise Transit Oriented Developments.

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