So today’s the big day that the independent hearings panel’s recommendations on the Unitary Plan get unveiled. It’s not exaggerating to say that this is a hugely important document as the rules and controls included in the plan determine what is allowed to be built and where.

The Unitary Plan is a monumentally huge plan, running over 9000 pages apparently and with very complicated overlapping controls relating to zones, overlays, precincts, development controls, urban boundaries and so on. However, 95% of the plan is probably of little interest to most people and won’t be what the big debates over the next few weeks will centre on. So let’s run through what I think are the big issues and what you should look out for when the plan is released at 1:30 this afternoon. In a rough order of importance:

  • Zoning in the central isthmus and around major public transport corridors
  • The location and nature of the Rural Urban Boundary (RUB)
  • Height limits in centres
  • Parking rules
  • Residential development controls

Let’s go through each in turn.

Zoning in the central isthmus

The biggest disappointment with the Proposed Unitary Plan was how little upzoning occurred in the parts of Auckland that have the best transport options and are market attractive to higher density development – namely the central isthmus. This was a direct contradiction from the Auckland Plan’s development strategy, which highlighted the isthmus as a key location for growth:

ap-paup

Since the Unitary Plan was notified in 2013 the importance of upzoning this area has increased further, with Auckland Transport announcing plans to build light-rail along some of the key arterial roads to ease bus congestion in the city. Ensuring the planning rules in this part of Auckland enable a lot of redevelopment into terraced houses, townhouses and apartments is crucial to the question of whether light-rail should go ahead or not.

The ATAP interim report highlighted a shortfall of 50,000 dwellings on the isthmus in the Unitary Plan compared to the Auckland Plan so we’re not talking about a little tinkering here and there with the upzoning. We’re talking significant change from what was in the proposed plan.

My best guess is that the IHP will recommend more upzoning in the isthmus, but probably not enough to close the 50,000 dwelling shortfall. It will then be really interesting to see how the politicians respond and whether the councillors representing this part of Auckland actually want to do something bold to improve housing affordability or not.

The Rural Urban Boundary

A lot of discussion about how the Unitary Plan can help bring down houses prices has focused on the Rural Urban Boundary (RUB) and the supply of greenfield land. As I explained back in May, much of this talk misunderstands what the RUB is – which is a long-term line that separates land likely to be urbanised at some point over the next 30 years compared to land intended to stay rural in the long-term. Changing the location of the RUB isn’t the main way to make more greenfield development happen: there’s already an area of about two Hamilton’s of greenfield land inside the RUB and the key is being able to service it with (expensive) infrastructure. But the chatter continues and it will be interesting to see both where the IHP recommends the RUB goes, as well as whether it’s a “hard RUB” (only able to be changed by the Council, giving greater certainty to infrastructure providers about where development might happen and allowing them to invest with confidence) or a “soft RUB” (able to be changed by anyone through a private plan change, removing certainty for infrastructure providers and making their investments much more risky).

I’m not very optimistic about this one, as it seems likely the IHP will recommend a soft RUB, which could actually delay greenfield development by making infrastructure investment far more difficult to plan and a much riskier proposition.

Height Limits in Centres

The Unitary Plan has a pretty sophisticated hierarchy of centres, from the City Centre right down to the tiniest little neighbourhood centre. Generally these areas are the focus for a lot of future growth and a real mix of uses: allowing retail, offices and apartments to be built. The real test will be in relation to the height limits of these centres and whether they allow enough redevelopment potential for it to be viable and for a good chunk of Auckland’s future growth to be located in areas where people can do many of their daily tasks without having to travel far at all.

I think there might be some improvements in the IHP’s recommendations but this will be strongly linked to where the panel land on the volcanic viewshafts as it is these view protection restrictions that limit heights in many of the most important centres for redevelopment (Newton, Newmarket, Mt Eden etc.)

Parking Rules

We’ve been going on about the evils of minimum parking requirements for years and the Unitary Plan takes some good steps towards eliminating or lowering these stupid rules. The council’s closing statement to the hearing on parking suggested the main area of contention was whether minimums should apply in major centres, with some major retailers arguing for them for anti-competitive reasons because they were worried that people visiting the area would park in their carparks. Importantly, the council’s position on residential parking minimums shifted from the proposed plan so that nowhere will more than a single space be required per dwelling (and in a lot of zones, no parking at all will be required).

I’m pretty confident of a good outcome here and a major step forward in reducing the evils of parking minimums. There’s always a chance the IHP might have read Donald Shoup and get rid of parking controls altogether.

Residential Development Controls

Before the Unitary Plan was notified in 2013 this is where most of the controversy was focused: on the detailed rules and regulations that governed height limits, density controls, setback requirements and many other restrictions in the residential zones. However, in the hearings this became less of an issue as most of the major submitters came to an agreement with the council to relax density controls and instead focus on controls that affect the building envelope (height, site coverage etc.) In general this is a step in the right direction, as it is density controls (how many square metres of land per unit) which really undermine the provision of affordable housing as they force larger house sizes to maximise profitability.

Without reading through the screeds of detail it looks like a reasonably good outcome is likely here. However, this section really just lays out the rules relating to each zone: how the zones are distributed is a whole different question and will inevitably be the focus of so much discussion going forward.

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108 comments

  1. I hope they do remove the density controls that were in the draft. I fully understand the functional rules like height to boundary, building coverage ratio, even the minimum room sizes. But the density restriction is arbitrary and punitive: it prevents you designing to the site, andyou get situations where it is ok to build one huge house for six people, but not two houses half the size for three people each.

    For all the talk of centers and apartments, I think the biggest changes will come on single sites. Single house turned into two or three townhouses or terraces. Keep the density controls and you won’t get that happening, and you won’t get many more homes.

  2. So that last link implies no density controls? Jeepers that would be fantastic for Auckland, common sense and the status liberal values generally.

    Can’t say I agree with you on the RUB. The idea that we can’t build infra (or leave it to developers) just seems bizarre. Auckland managed to expand greatly in the 60s to 00s when we were much poorer than we are now. How did we manage it? Any old city engineers alive so we can ask them?

    1. Septic tanks, metalled roads, party lines and water tanks, if I remember correctly. And long walks to schools made up of prefabs.

      1. Indeed. Yet we seem to now need to ban people from developing because its “too expensive”. I note that when they drew the MUL line north of Albany (which will now be the RUB line) they didn’t have expense in mind. The current proposal has development banned for all time just over the hill from a Metro centre.

      2. Yep where I grew up is now a flash North Shore suburb, but when I was a teenager we had a gravel road with open ditches for drainage, no footpaths, no bus stops (just a sign on the post where there were buses), wooden power poles and I’m pretty sure the sewers just drained down to the beach, the stormwater certainly did.

      3. And don’t forget there was mostly 1 car per household, more people worked locally (e.g. at the local garage or dairy), significantly less people were on the road.
        Stormwater went out to sea.
        Our 1950’s house in Mt Roskill had a septic tank when built!

    2. The big difference is that we decided to integrate transport and land use planning. Which in reality means the exact opposite of its name. So developers try to build suburbs on the edge while AT stops them by refusing to carry any share of transport. Meanwhile AT promises to build light rail at no cost to land owners, but it will only serve areas where communities will not allow development.

      1. Yes, this is so true.

        The integrated land and transport use policy of Auckland Transport seems to prefer remote land developments with separated transport options.

        You are forbidden from developing the horse paddocks 50 m from Swanson Station, but if you want to build an exurb miles away from the city in Warkworth or Kumeu the response from AT is “yes please”.

        1. The response from AT is more “you can do that but you are paying for everything”. Meanwhile they are planning transport for areas where the planning documents don’t allow much growth. I think it should be called dis-integrated planning.
          The outcome is residents march on the Town Hall to make the Council limit development in the inner areas so nothing gets built there. The developers figure there is no point them paying to do AT’s job in the outer areas and they can make more from land banking so nothing gets built there.

        2. If you’re referring to the horse paddocks west of Christian Rd, then the land is within the Ranges Heritage Protection Area (iirc), and presumably none of the land owners or potential landowners (or yourself) made any submissions on the subject, so they panel didn’t have any reason to consider it.

          Personally, I also think it would be a good area for some housing, in a similar vein to the Penihana block.

    3. Earthworks, Earthworks, Earthworks…….
      It is completely astonishing the amount of earthworks that occurs these days for any new subdivision!
      Check out Millwater for example. They literally dug up the entire area 3,000,000 sqm to I don’t know what depth but that is probably at least 10,000,000 cubic metres of dirt that was shifted…for what… to have some flatter sections (the whole thing is still not flat). Don’t know how much that costs but they have basically been digging non-stop for 3 years now with dozens upon dozens of earthworks equipment. Back in the day they would run a quick smoothing out over the top and on certain steep slopes would perhaps do a bit more… Other than that they left it as is and owners would perhaps do a small amount of earthworks themselves for the footprint of their house.
      This would add many many thousands to the cost of developments.

      1. What has happened to the good old kiwi ‘pile-house’, where houses can be built on largely existing contours by dint of sitting on piles?

        Or the even more iconic “pole-house”, where homes can be perched on stilts on the most improbable slopes ?

        Why the current trend towards flattening out whole subdivisions in order to build ?

        1. Excessive regulations and engineering requirements.
          Even though simple pile houses survived the Christchurch earthquake much better than concrete slabs, to build one now would require an engineer to design and oversee development, a geotech to test the soil, and the piles will be much deeper than those used in the past.

          1. Which of course is quite disappointing considering that Auckland is considered to be relatively safe from large earthquakes (not expected to have anything bigger than a magnitude 6, and that most of our soil isn’t built on riverbed/sand like Christchurch so is unlikely to have much liquefaction so it is over-engineering for little purpose.
            Concrete base of course adds to the costs to build.

          2. Drainage is probably one of the very important modern factors. As noted above, ditches, septic tanks and stormwater running out to sea was the norm. In some places those houses remain blighted by that lack of higher level consideration – every time it rains, all winter, all the time once mould gets in. Permanently soggy lawns/verges/paths. Blockages, back-ups, flooding. If you’re going to do drainage properly, it makes other earthworks more viable. Leveling raises the sellability and design opportunities. Avoiding future warranty/liability risks has to be a major consideration these days. Modern construction techniques like polystyrene cored concrete slabs are much easier/cheaper/faster than a hand-built wooden structure, too. Tilt-slab houses are already a thing.

        2. Bulk earthworks are quite cheap – its just diesel and wages after all. Low interest rates have lowered the lease costs on the big machines. The houses are so expensive the cost to create a flat site is only a tiny percentage of the sale price. Internal access garages and indoor-outdoor living are the probably the main reasons for concrete slabs. Just buyer preference stuff.

          1. Graeme, its not just the bulk excavation cost, its the holding cost on the land too while the bulk excavation is done. With land going up, its ok, by the time the sections hit the market the increase in value probably covers the holding costs, but if they stagnate it’ll make bulk excavation less attractive.

      2. I totally agree with what you are saying Bruce and I’ve said the same thing in the past about Millwater. Many years ago BRANZ did a study and concrete slabs were only cheaper if the site was under a 6 degree slope. After that pile foundations were cheaper and they don’t need engineering. In many cases on the shore they are actually cheaper due to having to pile thru the expansive clay for slabs. That’s probably why they relay the ground and bury the expansive clay that’s normally on top.
        I actually thing this has more to do with resource consents previously being required for minor excavation, thus bulk excavation under one consent is cheaper than 3000 resource consents to clear a site. Thankfully the Unitary plan looks to have stopped that requirement with 500m2 or 250m3 now the threshold. Great news.
        Also I think its that spec homes builders love flat site and in the case of millwater find me a site not owned or controlled by a spec builder!. They get in first and the developers develop the sections to suit there requirements.
        As for the indoor/outdoor flow, decks work fine and splits in houses lead to some great spaces. Just check out some of the stuff built in Wellington on hills. Nothing wrong with it.

        1. Aren’t all dwellings built by spec builders these days?

          And there are a few rules which don’t make sense to me, unless they want to prevent anyone else from building his own house:
          – Maximum density in Mixed Housing Suburban is 1 dwelling per 400m² net site area, but for large enough lots with multiple houses it is 1 dwelling per 200m².
          – Sites in the THAB zone must be at least 25m wide. Nobody builds terraced houses that wide. Even for walk-up apartments that’s quite wide.

          1. “Sites”

            As in you can build 4 6.25m wide terraces, but the site you are building them on must be 25m wide to do it without RC.

          2. Yes that was my point — you may build multiple houses on a big site, but why is it not allowed to build a single house on a site 6 metres wide?

          3. HIRB and setbacks would prevent that anyway, I guess the rule is pretty dumb now that I think about it….

          4. Well, I think the term “terraced housing” means very different things in Auckland, compared to Europe.

            This is an arbitrary Google 3D view of “terraced housing” in Brussels:
            https://www.google.com/maps/@50.8499332,4.3864345,219a,20y,146.72h,55.32t/data=!3m1!1e3

            And what I can tell you about this:
            • I’m pretty sure every house sits on its one section. I have never even heard of a terraced house with a body corporate in Belgium.
            • I’m also pretty sure these houses were built individually, and not at once by some big developer. In fact it’s reasonably common to see gaps in these terraces, where a house was demolished and a new one is about to be built.
            • Some of those “houses” are actually walk-up apartments, but there’s no obvious way to tell them apart. Even on street level.
            • The population density of that area is probably over 10,000 people per km². You can increase density a lot without building high-rises.

            Now somebody can count the ways in which building houses like this is illegal in Auckland.

  3. Just as a real thought. At what point of intensification do you think we will have enough homes? When is enough enough? Do we go up and out perpetually?

    1. Tokyo has 20 times Auckland’s population.

      More seriously, pretty sure most estimates show human population peaking towards the end of this century. I think Auckland may get to 3 or 4 million but doubt it would become a 10 million + mega city.

    2. I reckon Auckland could have two or three times as many people in the same footprint and adding more density would still be a net benefit. We are a long long way off the levels where extra density would be negative.

      1. So you’re envisioning absolutely nothing like the development mode of Tokyo or NY, which are each the central part of a massive megalopolis. To have a city increase in density 2 – 3x without going outwards is very uncommon.

        1. Who said not going outwards?

          The proposal is greater intensification but there is still planned expansion out. Those with an almost religious-like animosity to the former tend to ignore the latter.

          1. The PAUP aims to restrict outward expansion of Auckland City. But the PAUP has a planned 40% overall sprawl rate, making the PAUP lower intensification than anytime in the previous 30 years. To achieve this low intensity development the PAUP restricts outward growth from Auckland and makes land an extreme cost factor against urban intensification.

            People who say they want intensification to happen need to stop subsidising sprawl and make land available to Auckland City in larger quantities than the PAUP to keep costs of urban development lower.

            To embrace the PAUP is to embrace sprawl.

          2. Cool, so anyway it now looks like by the end of the year I should have planning approval to turn my house into four terraces. High land prices has made quadrupling the density on my site an economic proposition. If land was cheap around here I wouldn’t be able to turn a profit on the rebuild, people wouldn’t pay enough for a terrace on 200m2 if land were much cheaper.

    3. I’m not sure there is a right or wrong size for Auckland. It is a city, and like all cities it will evolve and likely get bigger. One thing for certain it will be very different to today, just as Auckland today is very different to what it was in the 1980s. There are those that will enjoy the change and prefer Auckland in 2050 to what it is now and there are others that won’t and will likely exercise their right to move somewhere else smaller with more space.

  4. Good quality design? How will the plan encourage that.

    It is, I suggest, good design that will win hearts and minds in support of the plan, at least in the medium to long term when how the policies and rules actually work can be seen.

    1. The UP might be mute on good design, but lets hope it doesn’t encourage bad design. Heavy restrictions like density requirements and compulsory 8m2 balconies only serve to force the wrong shit onto the wrong site. If they have got rid of them at least people will have the freedom to design properly to the conditions (not necessarily that they’ll have to, but I’ll settle for being able to!).

  5. The outlook space rules, whilst well intentioned, are very problematic as ‘development killers’. I’m hoping to see abolition of those, or at least a decent pull back.

    1. I think in the latest draft they had been pared back to something pretty minimal, like 3m outlook from one main living area (could be lounge, kitchen or dining) and one main bedroom, 1m outlook from secondary bedrooms.

          1. Well that is arguably the key problem, beyond managing external effects the UP also aims to force “good design”. Unfortunately a lot of those are loaded with value judgements about how “real kiwis” should live, the business with minimum balcony sizes, ceiling heights, outlook space and minimum bedroom dimensions.

          2. It will be interesting to see what the IHP makes of that – is there any legislation that actually enables that type of planning? I wouldnt have thought it was covered by the RMA. I had thought (clearly mistakenly) that when they were talking about good design they were referring to making sure it was nice look at from the outside. (Which is still loaded with value judgements but at least is limited to (arguably) external effects.)

          3. Oh dear, this a shocker. Just looking at it now, they’ve recommended to keep the 6m outlook space rule!!!!! regardless of other rules, that will be a killer for many developments

  6. Changing the location of the RUB isn’t the main way to make more greenfield development happen: there’s already an area of about two Hamilton’s of greenfield land inside the RUB and the key is being able to service it with (expensive) infrastructure.

    The PAUP directs most of this expensive infrastructure spending to extending exurbia, vast areas of sprawl in the middle of nowhere. Whilst short supplying Auckland, thus elevating the cost of land and deferring urban growth. The council plan is distort the market whilst subsidising sprawl at the expense of urban growth.

    I totally agree that changing the RUB location will not make more greenfield development happen. Eliminating the council plans will make less greenfield development happen.

  7. I’m not very optimistic about this one, as it seems likely the IHP will recommend a soft RUB, which could actually delay greenfield development by making infrastructure investment far more difficult to plan and a much riskier proposition.

    You mean the purveyors of sprawl have to risk money and that people might get the choice to build in Auckland. Great news.

    The demise of exurban sprawl-villes in the middle of nowhere and the risk this creates for sprawl developers is not a downside. I cannot understand why anyone would find this to be disappointing, the only people who stand to lose are the purveyors of sprawl.

    Len Brown’s preferred RUB meant Warkworth tripling in size in the next 25 years, paving over the countryside and thousands commuting miles to Auckland by car.

  8. I’m looking for a complete abolition of height limits and heritage protection for Parnell, Grafton and Newmarket.

    My chances are about nil

  9. “how little upzoning occurred in the parts of Auckland that have the best transport options”

    That sound a lot like a euphemism for “How much downzoning occurred…”

  10. Thanks for this post. I’m not an expert on these matters, but interested in the RUB. I know that theres meant to be enough land for two Hamiltons of greenfield land inside the RUB at present. How come with house prices going through the roof we aren’t seeing much more development of greenfield land to cool the housing market at the moment?

    I have thought it would be good to have the unitary plan linked to certain triggers in house prices and population growth. So each suburb gets house price targets and if house prices exceed those targets are missed (i.e. house prices go up to exceed them) the unitary plan is automatically adjusted to allow more intensification in that area. Also the RUB is moved outwards if Auckland population growth ends up higher than expected (and also a review of intensification).

    1. Matt L’s point about the RUB being less important is right. Now you can be inside the RUB but the Council stops you developing with a Future Urban Zone (FUZ). It is actually worse to have that than the old rural zone as you have less options. So the Council chants the MUL is dead, long live the FUZ.

        1. No because the zoning is not the binding constraint – infrastructure is. The future urban zone is intended as a placeholder until infrastructure is provided. Infrastructure provision is slow because council is largely responsible for providing it and it has limited funds. If you want to get rid of the Future Urban zone you need to radically change the way infrastructure is provided and funded. Most people don’t grasp this point and think the problem can be solved by removing a line on a map.

    2. The demand is in Auckland and a lot of the new RUB land isn’t in Auckland. We are seeing a lot of development, in some very unexpected places.

      The PAUP has changed greenfield development allocation. Auckland City has taken a 50% downward cut in allocation. Meanwhile several exurbs – notably Kumeu, Silverdale, Warkworth, Clarks Beach, Pukekohe – have been allocated very large increases over their growth prior to the PAUP.

        1. What Angus is saying is that the FUZ is not in the main contiguous with the urban area and therefore not where it would be market attractive to expand.

        2. With choice between subsidised sprawl in far off exurbs and over priced land in the city, the market is going to decide on sprawl.

          How slow will the development rate of apartments get, as land costs soar upward? How fast will the sprawl expand, as rate payers fund ever more areas? 60:40? 50:50?

          Let us all bow down before the Auckland City Council and sprawl.

          1. The IHP has recommended against a hard RUB, which means that it will be easier for private plan changes to proceed to rezone locations outside the RUB for urban development. They’ve also expanded the area of Future Urban Zoned land, and recommended rezoning some parts of the FUZ for urban use *immediately*.

            It is hard to understand why you’re still complaining. This is what it looks like to enable more development in greenfield areas, which is what you think should happen. This is the policy approach you’re espousing.

            Furthermore, the IHP has recommended a set of zoning provisions within the city that will enable around 2/3 of development over the next 30 years to occur within the existing urban boundary.

            Reasonable people could disagree about whether this goes too far, or not far enough, but the analysis they’ve presented shows that the IHP’s recommendations do far more to enable intensification than the notified version of the plan. Again, why are you complaining?

          2. The PAUP was to have a large amount of greenfield allocated to exurban towns around Auckland and a small amount of greenfield allocated to Auckland City. Then this IHP decision comes in, to expand the funding for greenfield. I am complaining because very little of this additional land supply is allocated to Auckland (a little bit has and that Alfriston extension is great), most of the additions are to Silverdale, Warkworth and Pukekohe where they are just sprawl.

            I am complaining, because I don’t want sprawl. Who wants to sit in a commute for an additional 3 – 5 hours a week from an exurb? Most people would prefer a shorter commute and are willing to pay a lot more for that, but we aren’t going to let them build on the edge of Auckland. This is a short supply of land to Auckland City that is causing land prices to rise very quickly – which is the big problem.

            The big problem is land costs in Auckland City are rising faster than apartment values – production costs go up in relation to saleable value. In other places, values of apartments rise faster than land costs – production costs decrease. I want more apartments and less sprawl, I want the equation to work in our favour.

          3. “Again, why are you complaining?”

            Have fringe urban land prices dropped back to fringe rural land prices yet?

          4. The IHP has recommended against a hard RUB, which means that it will be easier for private plan changes to proceed to rezone locations outside the RUB for urban development.

            Great news, except there is big funding problem. Auckland under the PAUP was going to spend an absolutely staggering amount on wasteful exurban sprawl. And now Auckland is going to spend 30% more on the same uselessness. Rate rises as far as the eye can see, from Auckland to Warkworth.

            To stop short supplying land to Auckland, that would require an addition of about 30% more. That now has zero political chance of going through.

            The only way forward is to scrap the RUB.

          5. Angus: I don’t think you understand this issue. Let’s take it point by point:

            “Then this IHP decision comes in, to expand the funding for greenfield.”

            The Unitary Plan governs zoning – i.e. where development is allowed – not infrastructure funding. Infrastructure funding will have to follow zoning, to an extent, but the fact that you see it this way betrays an essential misunderstanding of the process.

            “I am complaining because very little of this additional land supply is allocated to Auckland”

            The FUZ is generally located adjacent to existing urban areas and transport corridors. Flat Bush, Takanini, the Drury-Pukekohe rail corridor, Silverdale next to the motorway and busway extension, etc.

            Furthermore, the move away from a hard RUB means that people will be able to apply to rezone land near Auckland where it is most commercially viable to develop.

            “This is a short supply of land to Auckland City that is causing land prices to rise very quickly – which is the big problem.”

            Yes, the city sits on a narrow isthmus. I don’t see how a hearings panel can fix a problem caused by geology.

            “The big problem is land costs in Auckland City are rising faster than apartment values – production costs go up in relation to saleable value”

            I don’t agree, because zoning within the city that has historically discouraged apartment development seems like a much more proximate problem. But if we take your view for granted, the IHP’s decision to zone more land for urban development will help address it, by reducing the scarcity of fringe land.

            “Auckland under the PAUP was going to spend an absolutely staggering amount on wasteful exurban sprawl. And now Auckland is going to spend 30% more on the same uselessness.”

            No citations for these figures – you’ve been warned about this in the past. In any case, it’s difficult / impossible to see how Auckland can supply land to reduce land price inflation *without* incurring the costs to service that land. If you’re arguing for the former, you have no right to complain about the latter.

          6. Peter,

            Private plan changes for greenfields development? Yes it means it is possible, but that is a fairly high barrier to development. They could have made the metro area all Single House and allowed for private plan changes as well but I think you would agree that would represent a barrier to intensification!

          7. Matthew – unless you’re going to immediately zone a large area at the fringe of the city for urban uses, or do away with zoning entirely and allow everything to be built everywhere, plan change processes will be required to zone new urban land.

            The requirement for a plan change does impose costs. However, allowing private plan changes (rather than public plan changes initiated by council) will tend to reduce those costs, as landowners can kick off the process rather than trying to cajole council into doing it.

            Lastly, a key difference between requiring private plan changes in greenfield areas vs in existing developed areas is that greenfield areas tend to have fewer landowners. Private plan changes in urban areas have greater potential for holdouts (i.e. people who refuse to sign up to the plan change application) or free riders (i.e. people who don’t contribute to paying for the plan change but nonetheless benefit from rezoning). In other words, the barriers to plan changes are very different in different locations!

          8. The soft RUB is a major win for common sense. It means if the long awaited intensification doesn’t occur then the market can respond with a substitute. Even if it does occur then if there is demand in the outer bits the market can provide for it. The old pig-headness of the Regional Council can be consigned to history.

          9. Yes, the city sits on a narrow isthmus. I don’t see how a hearings panel can fix a problem caused by geology.

            When I take a bike ride out to the big FUZs – Silverdale, Kumeu, Pukekohe or a car (too far to bike) to Warkworth – there is this green stuff all over the place. I’ve done some research and I believe it is called land. I think there are miles of it, it certainly feels that way when pedalling.

            By creating FUZs of such extravagant size around the exurbs we’re allocating future agglomeration value to the exurbs. And by imposing those miles of undeveloped land around Auckland we are elevating costs in Auckland. The agglomeration value provided to the exurbs will not provide much intensification, because the exurbs are small. The cost elevation placed on Auckland will restrict intensification within Auckland.

            If we build suburbs immediately proximate to Auckland City (like we do at Takanini) there is no agglomeration destroying gap around Auckland and we lower land costs. Higher agglomeration value and lower costs = more apartments.

          10. “Matthew – unless you’re going to immediately zone a large area at the fringe of the city for urban uses, or do away with zoning entirely and allow everything to be built everywhere…”

            Those sound preferable to the status quo, yes. Although your second option is a bit of a strawman, zoning isnt the exclusive means by which building controls can be implemented.

          11. No citations for these figures – you’ve been warned about this in the past.

            To be honest my source for the extravagance of the spend is a little dodgy, but the technical term is apparently “fuckload of costly bulk insfrastructure”. And the IHP has just recommended “moving a line on a map” outwards.

            “Peter Nunns: March 30, 2016 at 6:05 pm – Keep in mind that “derestricting supply” doesn’t mean moving a line on a map. It means building a fuckload of costly bulk infrastructure to greenfield areas so that they can develop at some future date. Late last year Auckland Council published a Future Urban Land Supply Strategy that identified costs of around $17 billion (in undiscounted terms) to enable up to 110,000 houses to be built in greenfield areas. (That’s not accounting for costs of local roads, pipes, etc – those would be covered by the developer.)

          12. “However, allowing private plan changes (rather than public plan changes initiated by council) will tend to reduce those costs, as landowners can kick off the process rather than trying to cajole council into doing it.”

            Private plan changes are not “allowed”. Private plan change applications are allowed. Its not just cost its uncertainty. Uncertainty can drive market expectations. (And certainly there is no evidence of the housing market pricing in an expectation that greenfields expansion will be allowed unfettered.

          13. Yes, Angus. That’s called a “citation”. Something which you didn’t provide, apparently preferring to make up figures.

            The rest of your points are largely irrelevant. The IHP’s recommendations recommended zoning more FUZ land contiguous to the built-up area. They obviously haven’t done that in every single location, as other local factors (e.g. the cost to built the Karaka-Weymouth Bridge, or the need to protect habitats) also play a role in zoning decisions. And they have outlined a process for further expansions as needed. I think you’re just complaining for the sake of complaining at this point.

          14. Matthew W – I agree.

            The Council goes out of its way to remove barriers around Warkworth, but creates a barrier around Swanson saying to any interested party – “jump over that”. (This is an improvement over the previous plan of saying “thou shalt not pass” and for that I am thankful.)

            They facilitate agglomeration value to Warkworth and restrain it from Auckland. Warkworth is a small town, it will take that agglomeration value and become a bigger town with more car centric dwellings. But Auckland is a big city, if it was given more agglomeration value it would explode upwards – like Melbourne or Brisbane.

            It is hard not to conclude the council favours car centric single dwelling development.

          15. Peter,

            Congratulations to transportblog and GA, you appear to have achieved almost all you set out to do. Hopefully*, we get a quadrupling of the rate of apartment construction. Anyway, well done.

            * I’ll have been wrong, but living in an urban city which will be great.

  11. I wonder if someone will come up with a design for three storeys in MHS and MHU keeping under the 8m height limit. I reckon it might be possible with steel, but would look fairly utilitarian.

        1. You’d have to have semi basement and attic I think. Minimum floor to floor is 2.7m and that is very tight indeed.

  12. Don’t know if I am missing something but I can’t see density rules???? are they done away with, or just located somewhere funky?

      1. That’s good. Other controls are de facto density limits anyway.
        But I’m still shaking my head at the outlook space….

        1. Matt P,

          Practically, do you think that it will have a major effect? E.g. building terraced houses or apartments on a typical section in NHS, you are going to be 4 or 5m from boundary for HtoB anyway. It means on one side you need to be an extra metre. It will be significant, but is it a massive killer? i.e. will it be the governing factor for the density of such developments?

      2. I think density limits still apply in the single house zone. The rules limit you to one house per site (the clue is in the name I guess) and the subdivision rules require 600sqm net site area per site. So it is 600sqm for front sites and 600sqm plus a driveway for rear sites.

          1. Yes we just saw that last night and got excited. NSCC had that then took it away from us and now its back. I can get four houses and four minors. That was worth 20 minutes to write a submission.

          2. @mfwic, can I ask roughly where on the Shore you are? Id be really keen on buying a terrace when I return and was wondering where you think they are market viable.

    1. Single house zone has completely disappeared from Mangere Bridge, which is good. Will be mixed suburban. There are a huge number of large properties in the area which could easily take an extra house or two. It’s no wonder houses sell for a million around there now. Demand exceeds supply.

      1. So buy up the 80 or so houses between Otahuhu and SH20 in Mangere for Otahuhu-Airport HR line then redevelop with medium density housing afterwards with ready access to the new RTN.

  13. Has anyone had any success with the property search function of the maps? Or does anyone know how to get it to display precinct layers etc?

    1. Had a look at my place… it is very slow… lots of data I guess looks like it is linked into GIS. Took about a minute to zoom into individual street level.

  14. They have come up with some very sensible decisions on the parking rules. Maximums in the CBD, no rules in the fringe, maximums for offices elsewhere, no maximums for other activities in the centres.

    1. It does make a lot more sense than having everywhere be a minimum or maximum as in the proposed version. I don’t really see the rationale for parking maximums outside of the city centre and fringe and maybe Newmarket. Pity the minimums are still so prevalent, though. There’s certainly no conceivable reason for residential parking minimums in any of the zones, and yet there they are.

  15. Best outcome for me! MHS, but close to some THAB and light purple (mixed use?)
    Hopefully someone builds a supermarket nearby soon!

  16. Saw the new plan, very disappointed.

    The new rules make it more restrictive for Mixed housing suburban to rebuild. Especially for narrow site.

    Some old rules in some area used to be more generous.

  17. I have read the 12/15 brief on the Mixed housing suburban zone.Tens of thousands of properties will be able to subdivide down to 200m2 sections. Existing dwellings can be divided into two dwellings. Sections over 1000m2 will have no minimum density rules.

    There will be plenty of small property developers who will be pleased with the new zones.

    1. Can you show me the link? It is very different to what I read.

      Mixed housing Suburan 400m2 per dwelling, or 300m2 for 7.5 frontage, site more than 1200m2 has up to 4 dwellings

  18. I have read the 12/15 brief on the Mixed housing suburban zone.Tens of thousands of properties will be able to subdivide down to 200m2 sections. Existing dwellings can be divided into two dwellings. Sections over 1000m2 will have no minimum density rules.
    There will be plenty of small property developers who will be pleased with the new zones.

  19. The IHP version is very similar to the Original Proposed unitary plan.
    Most of the changes in the Preliminary Position version are omitted.

    This plan will do very little. There is nothing to celebrate about.

    1. I am celebrating. I can subdivide my site into four. Mrs Mfwic keeps telling me to stop saying it as we are not there yet. But given the Panel agreed with my submission the worst I can do now is have appeal rights if the council overturns the Panel. If they accept the Panel decision then we are operative and no one else can appeal.

    2. I agree with your concerns Kelvin. Yes it has problems. The devil is in the detail. Outlook space is a big problem.
      The recommended plan
      is superficially pro-density but in terms of on the ground development reality much less so.
      I thought the panel would adopt the Property Council’s recommended outlook space rule of 4m.
      Quite disappointed, I have to say.

  20. That trashy tabloid in drag the nz herald is spouting plenty of garbage about the plan. Highly emotive and misleading. Shameful.

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