Yesterday Patrick hosted the media launch for the Coalition for More Homes. He was joined by a “diverse” group including Peter Jeffrey of CORT, classy economist Shamubeel Equab, Mark Todd of Ockham Residential, and Leroy Beckett and Sophie Hudson of Generation Zero.

Here is some of the coverage.

Radio New Zealand, Coalition Formed to Push Unitary Plan, Todd Niall.

Mark Todd, whose firm Ockham builds mostly three level higher-quality apartments, said the higher density rules were working, as they have already been applied to Special Housing Areas, under the government’s Housing Accord in Auckland.

“We’ve currently got two large scale projects consented as Special Housing Areas under the new rules and there’s 200 units with an average price of $630,000,” he said.

“At present the new homes being built in Auckland are raising the median house price, but under the new rules a lot can be delivered under the current median house price, lowering the median across the city,” said Mr Todd.

The Spinoff, Coalition building: a broad church gathers to back a huge boost in Auckland housing, Tim Murphy.

The Coalition for More Homes is, on the face of it, a collection of unlikely bedfellows: the Salvation Army and Monte Cecilia Housing Trust coupling up with multi-level apartment developer Ockham Residential; Jasmax Architects and the Property Council sharing with Habitat for Humanity and Generation Zero. Heaven knows when they’ll all be on the same side of an ideological divide again.

Their uniting aim? More houses. Now.

The campaign’s launch of a letter calling for the Auckland Council to pass the Unitary Plan with immediate effect came with a strong implication of it being Received Wisdom to back the recommendations of the Independent Hearings Panel.

Please take a minute to add your name to the Coalition. Currently there are 633 people signed up. We’re planning on having an open party for everyone interested in about a week.

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  1. It would be nice if atleast 1 Political Party gets involved in this. Greens would probably be a good start. National is also leaning towards the Proposed Plan.

    1. That would be good if National, Labour and the Greens were all behind the Coalition. But with only one party on board I think it would risk looking partisan and diluting the Coalition’s influence.

    2. What about local board members? Have any of them signed it? (sorry, not going to wade through 20+ pages of signers to check!)

      Any councillors? Darby, maybe?

  2. The direction is right.
    However some details need to be refined such as shading and outlook space. The intention is good but its one-size-fits all approach will restrict some smart developments.

    1. The Unitary Plan is NOT a one-size-fits-all plan. Pretty much 99% of the rules can be changed on application. There’s clear rules how to do so, if you want a different outcome. Basically, you have to provide that any negative impacts of that change can be managed – well-established RMA stuff.

      The thing is that the rules that you DONT need to argue with Council anymore – that you can simply take and run with – get improved and expanded a lot.

      You can still do smart stuff that doesn’t quite align with the plan. But a lot more of what used to be difficult and expensive will not be a lot more possible and less expensive.

    1. Housing doesn’t just magically become affordable, you need to either
      Increase the supply, preferably without spreading to far.
      Reduce demand, but there are lots of people that for one reason or another wants to live in Auckland.
      Increase wages, not going to happen any time soon and it would possibly just fuel the increases.

      1. “Increase the supply” Or increase the expectation of future supply on value retaining goods (grain, precious metals, oil, housing).
        “Reduce demand” By removing a lot of the speculation by the above effect.
        “Increase wages, not going to happen any time soon and it would possibly just fuel the increases” 100% agree on this one.

        1. Speculation doesn’t increase prices and as soon as prices stop raising at the current rate speculators will leave the Auckland market and go somewhere else.

          1. In what world? Any futures trader can tell you that it causes all manner of short term bubbles, especially in oil. Speculators leaving the market with expectation of increasing supply should help ease the market.

            P.S. I think we need other measures like a CGT as well.

          2. Sailor Boy speculators are only in the market because it is rising, they are not the actual cause of any rises.

          3. But them joining the market increases demand and amplifies the rising prices. Just as when prices start dropping they will exit the market and cause prices to drop faster and further, until they are all gone and prices bounce back to reflect the underlying demand from owner/occupiers and rental investors

          4. Dan I’m not sure you understand how demand effects the property market, it is not about who is buying the houses it is about who wants to live in them that sets the price. Speculators only speculate that there are more people wanting to live in a particular place than there is a supply of houses for, this gives price rices and a return on their money. The demand side of property has nothing to do with who is buying how many houses it is only about who wants to live in the limited amount of houses,

          5. Bigted – I think there are a variety of reasons for speculation, but it’s basically the anticipation that prices will rise, this could be as you say who wants to live in them, but also simply the belief that others will make irrational or panicked decisions in the future further driving up the prices, or simply a blind belief that prices will only ever go up, which I think there has been quite a bit of in the last few years.

          6. As an oil trader – certainly the only one in the room – speculation doesnt really effect oil price, supply and demand does. If there is more buyers than sellers, the price goes up. That is a market force.
            Speculation is when investors/traders bet on a market force, but that does not guarantee it will change the market and rarely does it and its not sustainable.
            Auckland housing is increasing in price because the supply does not meet demand. Investors see this trend and wisely speculate that the trend will continue for the foreseable future.
            Any other lessons I can help you with today or is a student town planer going to pretend to understand futures trading now?

          7. So the speculators start buying the supply? That sounds like demand to me. We frequently have bubbles in oil price even without physical shortage due to speculative demand. As a non-oil example the entire dotcom bubble was speculative demand.

            Also; not a town planner, not a student, but keep trying.

          8. I don’t believe for a second that speculators are all rationally anticipating something. Some countries did end up with a lot of empty houses because a lot of speculators made a wrong bet.

          9. When was the last oil bubble that was speculation driven? Don’t stress yourself, you would have to go back to the Iraq war. Oil price is always about supply and demand – please don’t pretend you know anything about it. Last time I had a discussion about oil with you guys – about 2 years ago, consensus of this blogs opinion was that the dip in price would be short lived and we would soon be over $100/bbl again – wops!
            Auckland house prices are a supply and demand issue. If there were more houses available, the prices would not rise at the same rate. It’s the same in London.

          10. Local resident – I know nothing about oil trading, and i agree that prices are ultimately supply and demand, however I think to tie house prices to the size of the population and the number of houses available is too simplistic as the majority of houses are not even in the market at any one time. As I said above demand can also be driven by sentiment, which I believe is somewhat driven by sentiment – it may well be that the oil market, with a small number of players is more rational, but it would be hard to argue all property purchases are rational at the moment. In 1987 the supply of shares didn’t suddenly increase in October, but the demand certainly rapidly decreased, purely because sentiment suddenly changed and people were seeing prices plummet.

          11. The oil market hardly has a small number if players. Anyone with a sharetrading account can purchase an oil ETF

          12. “When was the last oil bubble that was speculation driven? Don’t stress yourself, you would have to go back to the Iraq war.”

            I think that’s the first time you have ever admitted you were wrong, well done.

          13. @ Jezza – my comments were mostly aimed at ‘Sailorboy’ in response to his claims of most futures traders and oil market movements. I note your points but the reason most houses are not ‘in the market’ is price related. As the house prices increase in Auckland, more homes will come up for sale. You can see that already with the movement out of Auckland to places like Whangerei and Tauranga. In fact – if I wanted to add to my NZ property portfolio, I’d buy in the Waikato. Eventually people will start to commute from there to jobs in South Auckland.
            As for the share fall. Actually supply was added, in the GFC the market rushed to dump stocks – that wasnt speculative, it was panic driven 🙁 At the end of the day, every commodity – oil – money – shares – housing – even the opposite sex is always about supply and demand. If all of a sudden there were a lot less men in NZ, even Sailorboy could find a girlfriend…. thats not speculation, thats again – supply.
            Blips on the other hand are ussually about volatility – but that is another subject entirely.

          14. “even Sailorboy could find a girlfriend”

            I doubt my partner is charitable enough to offer me out to help out the single women of New Zealand, but we can live in hope/horror right?

  3. Densification is working because $630k homes are being delivered? That’s got to be a joke?

    Most towns and cities have house prices around $200k-$350k. Any plan that doesn’t deliver good sized family homes at those prices in Auckland, is a dismal failure. Heck, in some places you can buy homes for under $100k, and in a select few locations under $50k.

    If $630k is what the UP delivers, then clearly it fails to deliver what it promised. But then I’ve been writing here for years that densification doesn’t lower house prices. The market will charge what it can bear, and more homes simply mean more sales at the same prices.

    Auckland’s housing prices have been set at what housing investors and wealthy immigrants are prepared to pay. Until those factors are dealt to, Auckland’s housing market is screwed.

    1. “The market will charge what it can bear, and more homes simply mean more sales at the same prices.”

      So why are prices where they are now? What governs what the market can bear? If more homes mean the same price, presumably less homes mean the same price. Which is absurd. Demand curves are not horizontal.

      1. I dunno I am sort of with Geoff, this isn’t going to give us a radical step change in housing, just lock in what we have now at minimum price points.

        1. Yeah the recommendations are pretty much to meet future demand with an equal amount of supply. All else being equal this should keep house prices where there are now. We need and oversupply to bring prices down.

          But keeping prices where they are now is a damn sight better than prices continuing to advance at 20%pa as demand outstrips supply.

          1. Oh I agree that the unitary plan is not as good as it could be, in fact nowhere near so. But Geoff is trying to suggest that it doesnt matter how much or how little new supply there is which is clearly nonsense.

      2. “So why are prices where they are now? What governs what the market can bear?”

        The market is open to affluent investment buyers, including those overseas. Young kiwi couples are outbid at auctions by rich investors all the time, and it’s not uncommon for the highest bid to be received by phonecall from Singapore or Beijing.

        1. You have just described a normal demand curve: certain people have not bought at current prices but would buy at lower prices. Its sloping downward no? So moving the supply curve out will cause what?

    2. New homes are almost always more expensive than existing ones, unless corners are being cut. It’s no different than any other durable good. If I want a new cordless drill, I expect to pay 2-3 times more than I would pay for a used tool on Trademe. Homes are no different.

      The key questions that you should be asking about a new planning rulebook are:

      1. Will it allow more homes to be built overall? If so, then there will be less upward pressure on prices for old homes that are more affordable at the lower end of the market.

      2. Are the new homes that it permits cheaper than the new ones that would have been allowed under the previous plan? In other words, if the old plan only allowed multimillion standalone houses on expensive, and the new plan allows apartments that could be built for $500-700k, then that’s a step forward for affordability.

    3. The Unitary Plan could never do that and was not being touted as being something that can by anyone with a shred of sense. The Unitary Plan must be viewed as but one piece of the jigsaw in housing supply/ affordability issues. There are a raft of other tools and measures (discussed in detail elsewhere) which can be implemented alongside the relaxation of planning controls to help address the issues

  4. Re Mr Grey Lynn Residents association. I am kinda surprised there are no streets in Grey Lynn ponsonby that have special character slapped on them, given that half of Mt Eden and Balmoral does….

        1. Bigted. The 3% figure is entirely misleading. It doesn’t include people in NZ on student visas or other temporary visas and it doesn’t include purchases made through an intermediary (such as family/friends or property investment companies). The actual figure using these statistics could be as high as 48%. Also worth noting is the the level of interest from overseas is currently a whole lot less than it was last year before the additional requirements were brought in and before the Chinese government had a crackdown on money laundering/money being sent overseas.

          Even 3% though is 15,000 properties per year (which lines up nicely with the amount needed to be built ~13,000pa
          Of course those 15,000 tend to be held tightly and not being used to move from one house to another as locals tend to do, or go through the investment property cycle. So over 10 years that is 150,000 properties (using just the laughably inaccurate 3% figure).

          1. Yes, the 3 % figure is largely irrelevant as it is just a snapshot of purchases over a short time period. It could be that 6 % of homes that were previously owned by foreigners were sold back to New Zealanders during this period (although I doubt it). A more relevant figure would be what proportion of residential land in NZ is owned by foreigners and whether that figure is rising or falling.

        1. @Local Resident. You mean like how China allows Kiwis to buy property there? Oh wait that’s right they don’t! (Not that Kiwis would want to now that the Chinese have polluted the place and destroyed the environment there…something we will be looking forward to if we keep letting in so many of them).

          1. So we should just lay out the welcome mat and let China walk all over us then Local Resident?
            That’s BS and you know it.

    1. Geoff, you realise foreign buyers cant have their apartment shipped up to Singapore right? If an investor lives off shore supply is still increased in the rental market.

    2. Yes Geoff, you can invest in a Ramada hotel room too if you like, they are being marketed here also. Just note that they are hotel rooms and owner occupation is not allowed under the commercial lease.

  5. Geoff Blackmore wrote: “Any plan that doesn’t deliver good sized family homes…” Excuse me Geoff but are you honestly telling me you haven’t noticed that in Auckland these days there are a lot of singles, couples without kids or families with just one kids?

    Let me amend your sentence so that it’s correct. “Any plan that doesn’t deliver a truly diverse range of affordable housing options for all people, especially one and two bedroom housing which is sorely lacking in this city will be a failure”. This plan while not being perfect offers the possibility to do the above more than any plan we’ve had in recent Auckland history.

    1. You can extrapolate pricing for smaller or larger houses as you desire, the item reads $630k AVERAGE.

      Since most towns and cities around NZ generally have full sized houses going for around $200-$350k, the UP is failing to deliver typical kiwi house prices for Aucklanders. Densification doesn’t deliver lower prices.

      This is because it attempts to deal with a supply & demand problem by tackling the supply, when it should be tackling the demand. Central to that is business decentralisation. Get businesses back into the regions, where there is excess infrastructure capacity, low house prices and no congestion.

  6. Was at the launch yesterday and have added my signature and also donated to the Spinoff’s War for Auckland ( which is a great idea to even up the media debate on the UP since the Herald has and is being so shitty with the way it’s covered this issue.

    Thanks Patrick, Emma, Leroy, Sophie and the rest of the crew for doing a nice job. I was very happy that Patrick emphasised many times how broad this coalition is with partners from many different spectrums. I think this is just great and hopefully many Aucklanders will notice that this coalition includes all manner of people and organisations and gives visibility to the broadness of support for the UP. Auckland 2014 won’t be able to attack support for the UP as just one section or group of people.

    Lastly I’d recommend if possible getting the First Home Buyers club involved in the coalition as they of course are supportive of the passing of the UP too so would seem a natural partner. As someone who works for a major corporate I’d love to see some of NZ’s big corporates who have a large amount of employees working here in Auckland join up but I doubt we’ll see that.

    BTW can the video be put on youtube? Despite turning off my adblock for some tech reason I can never watch mediaworks videos.

    1. Thanks, one of the funny things is the guy who heads Auckland 2040 is apparently on holiday overseas which probably explains why they’ve been so quiet after being behind a megaphone for the last few years fighting the plan. If he chose to take a holiday now that would be very odd timing as he had to know this is when everything was happening.

  7. Until mass immigration is sorted out, Auckland will be the domain of wealthy foreigners and overseas buyers. Only NZ First has got that sorted. The mess will continue under Greens and National/Act all who have their head firmly stuck in the sand on these issues.. Labour is slowly waking up, after criticising NZ First over similar policies.

    Domino #1 – slow down immigration. Domino #2 – stop non residents or citizens from purchasing houses. At least these two points need to be managed until the housing crisis back in balance. Implement these to include all countries which do not allow Kiwi’s to do the same in their country (China, India, Switzerland to name a few).

  8. I added my name to the Coalition as I support the goals of more affordable housing. The IHP Unitary Plan is a big improvement on the previous plan proposed by Auckland Council. The Council should adopt the recommendations of the IHP.

    I would like to make the following comments. The Unitary Plan is just a District Plan for one city -although our biggest city -as good an improvement as the IHP recommendations are, they do not amount to a silver bullet to fix the nation’s problems with affordable housing. More needs to be done -so my hope is the Coalition remains a long term force supporting and promoting affordable housing reforms for the whole country -not just Auckland.

  9. If we assume increasing population then building more homes is the only solution.

    However, fifty years of the War on Drugs has shown that supply-side (hitting the dealers) interventions are largely ineffective. It’d be optimal to address demand by reducing population growth.

    1. NZ is facing an imbalanced population due to ageing. In this context, if we don’t allow the population to grow, then we’d have to reduce publicly funded goods and services. Is that what you’re proposing? If so then where would the government budget cuts come from?

      1. Last night I wasted my time on a supposed ‘debate’ on the UP, off air the St Heliers and Glendowie Residents Association Rep, a pleasant retiree originally from Canada, said that in order to prevent the disaster of allowing 2 storey dwellings in his ‘character area’ population growth must be stopped. Including preventing NZ passport holders from returning to the country!

        The anti growth lobby are just bonkers.

        1. I saw you last night Patrick on the DailyBlog video panel discussion and could see your frustration. Maybe the useful learning from the experience is how little the general public -including some in the media understand the processes which determine how our cities are shaped. Amazing in one sense -being most of us live in a city -so you would think we would all be motivated to learn what are the key influences on the immediate environment we live in -the urban city environment.

          1. The real learning is to never bother with Martyn Bradbury again. He was not interested in understanding the UP but making ridiculous ideological rants and Party Political broadcasts. He wilfully obfuscates, in as much as he understands the UP, cities, and change at all.

            Ironically (for him) as I sat there it occurred to me how similar he is to Hooton; both take any topical issue then run it through their very particular political filter to the point of absurdity.

            Was a waste of time. We didn’t discuss the plan at all. Like Hooton he imagines we live in a world where only politics exists and daily life is only a sort of projection from that. Both have it entirely backwards.

          2. I can see where you are coming from. I have seen better housing debates on his shows before though. I think we are in a bit of a strange place wrt housing debate. The people and arguments are in flux, there is weird alliances. This is a good thing in my opinion as it indicates change is happening. A lot of the debate is about pragmaticism, not ideology which confuses the likes of Martyn Bradbury. I think it will not settle until after the Council decides on the IHP and after local govt elections, then the public will have a clearer picture -especially going into next election.

        2. I don’t have a problem with 2 or 20 storey developments as long as loss of utility is compensated. I support the CRL, fewer motorways, and more buses.
          I also support zero population growth. It’s not an inconsistent position. NZ was a better place when it was smaller.

          1. Will I have to pay my neighbour who builds a mixed use mid rise building massively increasing my utility?

      2. Well, no.
        There’s the concept of per capita productivity. There’s no reason we couldn’t focus on productivity and afford an ageing population with a smaller overall population.
        Hell, we could allow NZ retirees to go overseas on a full pension. NZ super goes a long way in Thailand. Just don’t allow them to access NZ public services

        Mass means nothing. Large population love is some sort of leftover from the 19th century where more people = bigger battalions. yet history showed that small, elite armies (Finns vs Russians 1940, Israel vs Arabs multiple times) could easily smash big untrained ones. NZ’s optimal population is 3m. At 3m, we wouldn’t have to intensify, because a 750m2 section and big house would be $500k at most.

        1. At 100 million we wouldn’t need to intensify, still plenty of land to build on, but that kinda misses the point! It’s not a lack of space that drives density, its a desire for proximity.

          GODWIN ALERT. What about Germans vs. Russians in 1944? Turns out all you need to stop the elite mechanised nazi war machine was eight million conscripts lined up in rows.

      3. Then why are we letting in elderly Chinese citizens Stu? How does that help NZ? You see them everyday using taxpayer funded supergold cards to ride public transport for free despite not having ever paid income tax in NZ

  10. The main thing pushing up the house prices is the land price – caused by containment policies, Smart Growth, MUL’s etc. The Unitary Plan keeps this flawed concept so if the Coalition is for affordable housing then the first priority must be to pressure council to change these policies.

    1. Have you even read the plan…?! Do you understand why the Coalition supports it…?! Compared to preceding plans this is hardly a case of restricting supply of land for development. Go read the sections on how the RUB mechanisms work, and how much increased opportunity there is within the urban area, then come back and try saying with a straight face that this plan is all about artificial constraints and fixed boundaries.

      1. TimR – its a terrible plan – just a rehash of the disastrous wrong thinking nonsense that has caused the mad prices and congestion that defines Auckland. And having any sort of MUL/RUB is the main cause as it guarantees high land prices everywhere for all houses. Ironically it also restricts supply in the areas where the plan allows more intensive development – as the high land price puts houses beyond the price that most people can pay. So to get more inner area development you need to lower the land price and the only way to do that is to dump the crazy MUL’s.

        You can see the problem with the modelling of the house prices that will result from the plan – 2% under $600K and did I read one single house under $500K? That is totally scandalous. Perhaps you missed that?

          1. Patrick its the land price that’s the problem. Yet Auckland has huge amounts of land. The containment “Smart Growth” policies push up the land price everywhere. Hence the modelling showing the houses will still be far too expensive for most people to afford. Auckland could have the cheapest houses in the country as the large numbers should allow mass production. And it doesn’t have to be just endless single level suburban sprawl, The Coalition should check out some of Andres Duany’s great New Urbanist work at DPZ You will see they are predominantly greenfields developments.

            I think Auckland planners have made a critical error in trying to impose New Urbanism overlay on a suburban settlement pattern. This has been disastrous for affordability and mobility wherever it has been tried. The tragedy is not only for poorer families but the lost opportunity to create walkable/cycleable new towns with the sort of room and public spaces people like. Also there is the collateral damage of the environment in the existing suburbs and the residents of those – people like old villas and trees.

            This quote is from Duany – he is considered the father of New Urbanism (Seaside Florida etc)

            “The difference between the New Urbanism and Smart Growth is that while both desire the same outcome, the New Urbanism is conceived as private-sector and market-driven while Smart Growth is based on government policy and proscriptions. The one is about choice, profit and the pursuit of happiness as self-defined; while the other is ethical and anhedonic. The CNU attempts only to establish parity between conventional suburban development and diverse, walkable communities hereby allowing the market to decide on a level playing field”

            (CNU is the Council for New Urbanism)

            I think the Coalition focus would be most usefully on how to connect greenfields developments to each other and also to the existing urban area. This might involve all of the modes of transport you are interested in and be much more exciting than the “anhedonic” council policies you are mistakenly supporting.

            You can be assured it’s the only way Auckland will ever get affordable housing.

          2. Patrick

            On any planet where demand and prices are not static. Yes if you consider the economics 101 static supply and demand curves you would conclude that increasing the supply would reduce the price. But that is plainly not happening. Why? Because the situation is not static. There is an expectation that prices will continue to increase. If you owned some land newly designated for development, would you sell it? Not if you thought that if you held on to it, it would rapidly increase in value. You would be silly to sell it. The same happens if you change the zoning to allow densification. The land owner now has a much more valuable site – but it is going to be even more valuable next year, so what to do? Hold on to it of course.

          3. David; of course the demand side of the equation is equally important. But even with unconstrained demand, more supply will lead to less higher prices than would be the case with unconstrained demand and smaller supply.

            Additionally; holding an up zoned site in the hope that it will continue to accrue value is only a sure bet in a still supply constrained environment. The good thing about the latest version of the UP is that it enables so much more supply that there is likely to be sufficient competition in supply that your land-banker could well end up on the wrong side of his bet. Especially in the small time developer market; the four or so terrace or town house model often undertaken by individuals on sites currently with one structure… So the key question remains; does the plan enable enough supply to do this?

          4. Graeme. Er, no. Even a government builder, like the housing corp say, has to get resource and building consents, and conform with planning regs, so regardless of American claims on the ‘hedonistic’ value of private and public sector builders the planning and building regulatory regime is extremely important. Anyway currently almost all housing in AKL is now built by the private sector so i struggle to see the relevance of that peculiarly American argument.

            Also it seems you critically misunderstand our transport advocacy. Transport infrastructure is quite literally a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. Different movement systems lead to very different urban forms, which in turn lead to very different hedonic outcomes [to use Mr Duany’s rather grand phrasing].

            For example, I have no interest in promoting the creation some ghastly parodic village like Seaside on some currently productive or pristine countryside in order just to get a new train line [even if that were likely.

            Yes auto-dependent suburbia and long commutes makes people fat and angry, among other things, and we already have a great deal of it. The urbanism of happiness is indeed at the heart of the matter, as is the politics of choice. Which is to say people are welcome to live where and how they like but that is only a real possibility in a place if more than one way of life is actually actively enabled by our collective regulation…. again the relevance of planning and infra investment.

          5. I am glad that you accept that on this planet more supply (ie designating more land for development) has, up to now, not resulted in more development or lower prices – it has just made more land owners rich. It is possible that if the amount of land designated was made big enough, it might create a situation of competitive supply and prices would then start to fall. We are yet to see evidence of this. On the other hand removing the restrictions on development is almost certain to create competitive supply and put downward pressure on prices. If you really want affordable houses, the best way is to remove restrictions on the development of land.

          6. ” We are yet to see evidence of this”

            Scandalous that the UP hasn’t reduced land prices yet, it’s only 3 months away from being in effect.

          7. David, I don’t get why you seem to think anyone disagrees with the relationship between supply, demand, and price? That simple notion is entirely why we support the Recommended UP. If anything, in my view, there are still too many restrictions; it is, for example, still a plan for an unusually squat city, for its size and geographic constraint. I expect these restrictions to continue to be lessened in the years ahead, as reality continues to bite.

            There are still the old exclusionists out there, though largely now only in those amazingly unrepresentative and undemocratic bully pulpits of Residents’ Associations, old men at the Herald, and some local body politicians at all levels. But these are simply people who believe the sensitivities of the already well housed matter more than the plight of those without housing or in substandard dwellings.

            The great change that has recently occurred is the acceptance by more of ‘polite society’ that dwelling supply restriction in a growing geographically constrained city is not only horizontal but also vertical. Hence the RUP. A step towards balance, and an uncorking of both supply directions [somewhat]. It will be interesting to see what happens once the plan is passed [!], there is now considerable more chance of a market response, and the exercise of choice in dwelling location and type, and at more price points.

          8. Patrick what you are saying is that “people are welcome to live where and how they like” but only in the urban form you prefer. The restricted urban form you prefer requires MUL’s and therefore excessive land prices. They may get fat and angry with their commute but I am not convinced that $992,207 average house prices are making aspiring home owners terribly happy either.

          9. Graeme please show me where I have argued for either restrictive planning regulation or MULs?

            You are suffering under a delusion, I argue for less restriction not more. Let ’em build.

            Perhaps your confusion arises because you only seem able to look across and not up as well?

            Here’s some help, on zoning:


            On detached housing and land-use:


          10. “but only in the urban form you prefer. The restricted urban form you prefer requires MUL’s”

            You seem confused, Patrick prefers higher density. It is lower density housing that requires MUL’s.

  11. Hi again Patrick.

    I think I made two points – one was that greenfield’s development didn’t have to be all low rise sprawl and the second being the existence of a MUL to support the contained form the Unitary Plan requires, made the land price too high everywhere. I presumed that the Coalition supported this MUL but if you don’t then that’s good. But you should make it clear the MUL’s must be removed to get the “more homes” you are seeking.

    Thanks for the links – I am all about no zoning. But you seem to support the 7000 pages of rules in the U.P. so I not sure how you reconcile that? There are endless reports from sociologists and the like about the death of the single family house – but in Auckland 70% of people prefer that and I think you have to respect peoples preferences at some point.

    I see the average Vancouver single house is worth about $2M – it shows you how riduculous the prices can get with containment policies

    1. A bunch of weird assumptions. We support the Councl passing the RUP as opposed to trying to water it down, like they did back in Febuary. Would we prefer an even less restrictive version. Yes! but that is not on the table. So our support of the current UP is realpolitik.

      And you will note there is in effect is no MUL, but rather vast tracts of new FUZ, and a fair bit of gentle up-zoning in this version. In fact so much new FUZ that infrastructure to enable its use will be hard to deliver. And for ex-urban land infrastructure is the controlling issue rather than zoning. And infrastructure is delivered by socialised methods, it is not privately funded….

      Zoning is largely a counterproductive anachronism, why everywhere isn’t a default mixed use, and then externalities controlled for I can’t figure….?

      But it seems you missed the Vancouver article’s point: it’s not edge containment that cause the supply problem; but density restriction; mandated detached housing on 80% of the land! Also it is not accurate to point to any statistic on current use of something (housing, transport) and claim that that reveals preference. Neither housing nor transport in Auckland offers unrestricted choice. Options of both are extremely proscribed; we all can only choose to live and move in ways that are offered to us.

      And, as we can currently see in Auckland when good alternatives in both fields are offered (PT, Active transit, and apartment and other denser living types) the market (ie the people) respond enthusiastically to ‘reveal’ a new preference.

  12. Vancouver certainly has misguided containment policies – as well as the geographical ones. Looking at the prices its lack of stand alone houses that is the problem. There is a another complete cities worth of land in protected low yield farmland. It’s even worse than the Auckland situation. I am surprised you used it as an example.

    Its good to see you are against the MUL’s but it would be better if you made a stronger point of it. The lack of infrastructure in the rural areas need not be a reason have restriction zoning as well? If you need drains that is a separate issue. I don’t under that reasoning?

    The market for apartments in any city is surprisingly low – around 10%. It’s great for the people who want them (I lived in one next to a Metro station in Paris briefly) but I would be very dubious of limiting greenfields development in order to make PT viable to service them. It seems to be creating a problem to suit the solution you have developed.

    1. No. The case against edge containment is being made everywhere. This conversation alone shows that the more misunderstood restriction is density. You are still completely misreading that article as you say this: ‘Looking at the prices its lack of stand alone houses that is the problem’. Exactly the reverse of this is the point made by the professor: That 80% of the current urban area is mandated single house is the problem and more of the same won’t solve it, it will just add transport poverty to continued housing unaffordability. If just say 25% of that area was released for say 5 x dwelling density then that would double available dwelling supply in places already served by the 3 waters, power + telecoms, transport, and social infra, so able to be developed now. Still heaps of single houses left.

      We will have rocks in our heads if we don’t develop new greenfields with full transport infra options as we know what that leads to; what we have now, traffic congestion everywhere, and huge bills to retro-fit the missing modes to the drive-only ‘burbs. And this includes building in a more compact way around stations etc. Otherwise we just get the worst of both worlds: dense sprawl, like at Flat Bush now. Terrace houses but with no local walkable community nor Rapid Transit connections to employment and education centres- really daft. The density is fine but the urbanism is not; it’s half done.

      Otherwise it’s important to reserve green space as spread out too; and that is best achieved by building more compactly. But also the more compact model is needed in order to reduce both the land cost component and the building cost component. AKL is seriously hemmed in by harbours, ranges, and swamps…

      Even your low figure of 10% in apartments supplies a lot of dwellings on very little land; leaving more land for other uses, including big single homes. Interestingly the RUP zones only 12% of AKL for anything over 3 floors…. of course much of this is in Mixed Use and Commercial Centres so that figure will never be actually be built as entirely residential.

  13. Agree entirely about the style of new greenfields towns and villages – that what Andres Duany is on about. But at the mo the RUP says we will only have the development ‘here’ and ‘over here’ where we have chosen the spots. You can see on the planning maps the yellow FUZ is a tiny amount. Losing the MUL’s and zoning all rural land for housing means the best spots get selected by developers and the land price even in the urban areas drops. So there is less pressure on the built up areas as development has a choice. It also lowers the land price in those built up areas so affordable housing is possible there – which it isnt under the current misguided plan.

    There is no other way people working in the ‘honest’ jobs will be able to afford housing – at the mo only people like planning lawyers can…..

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