So they did it, the council actually passed a reasonably good Unitary Plan, a feat that just six months ago seemed so unlikely. This represents a fairly historic moment for Auckland as for the first time, the region will have a single set of planning rules that enable the city to grow and are also aligned with the policies and goals of the region.

Plan Passed

The Unitary Plan would easily be the largest planning exercise in New Zealand’s history, representing around four years of work for the council, the public and the Independent Hearings Panel (IHP). While planning matters can often seem fairly dull, documents like the Unitary Plan have such far reaching implications that getting a decent plan as a base to build off was important and it appears that the council has largely done that. It also means any future work can focus on smoothing out some of the remaining rough edges rather than having to make wholesale fixes.

One quite notable feature at this end of debate on the Unitary Plan has been the lack of opposition to it from groups like Auckland 2040 who have fought the plan all the way along. It now appears that their opposition to the plan peaked in February. Perhaps it was the optics of fighting against enabling housing in the middle of a housing crisis, perhaps it was because their leader – Richard Burton – was overseas or perhaps it was just they realised was pretty good.

Councillors started debating the recommendations from the IHP and the council officer’s responses to those recommendations on Wednesday and positively they seemed to do it in decent humour, something that can’t be said for all council debates. The meeting had budgeted to take till this coming Thursday but in a fairly surprising move the Councillors were able to move through the agenda relatively well and most of the thorny issues were wrapped up by Friday leaving the last few issues till today. 

Over the last four years, some Councillors have been fantastic and perhaps none deserves larger praise than Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse who has guided the process all the way along. A number of other Councillors have also been strong supporters all the way through.

Interestingly during this most recent debate another surprise hero emerged and it was none other than Dick Quax who had many wondering if they had woken up in an alternate universe. He argued and voted positively on many of the topics up for discussion and I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering why its taken so long to see this side of him. Conversely the single worst performer was Mike Lee who opposed almost all measures to provide more housing, voting against them time after time.

A week ago we highlighted some of the key issues the council officers did/didn’t agree with the IHP and recommended the council change or reject them. I had hoped to break down and analyse the various votes but unfortunately the minutes containing the voting records aren’t available yet (and I didn’t have the time to trawl through the hours upon hours of video from the meeting). At a high level they:

  • Deleted the Sites and Places of Value to the Mana Whenua overlay
  • Deleted the blanket pre-1944 heritage overlay, the special character and overlay still exists though.
  • Rejected the watering down of language around ensuring land-use transport integration.
  • Agreed to shift the Rural Urban Boundary to the District Plan, enabling it to be changed via private plan changes.
  • Agreed to remove the requirement for a minimum number of “affordable” dwellings in a development.
  • Lowered the number of dwellings that can be built on a site as of right, above which requires a resource consent, from four to two.
  • Feared the shoebox and voted to keep minimum dwelling sizes.
  • Doubled the height limit in Newmarket to 72.5m
  • Agreed with the recommended zoning, with a few exceptions, this includes at some last minute hot spots at Okura and Crater Hill
  • Didn’t agree with the IHP or the officers and removed the minimum parking requirements for retail from centres. This was a surprise and fantastic outcome

The final Unitary Plan will be formally notified on Friday and there will be a window of 20 working days for limited appeals. I suspect one of the most likely appeals will be from the large retailers to try and reinstate the IHPs position of keeping minimum parking requirements in centres for retail businesses – something the retailers argued for at the hearings panel but which is primarily about making it harder for small businesses to compete with them.

Thank you to everyone, who has helped advocate alongside us for a good Unitary Plan, especially our friends at Generation Zero who have put in a huge amount of hard work in support of a better city.

Thank you also to the all of the council staff who have worked so hard to make this plan a reality. They deserve a celebration for effort they’ve put in but of course if they do there’ll be the usual negative voices complaining about spending ratepayers money.

Lastly, well done and thank you to the Mayor and Councillors for finally passing the plan. With better rules in place it also means the focus for improving housing also now shifts back to the government.

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  1. And now the reality of the UP will slowly set in. I.e., the difference it makes will be so slow and gradual that nobody will really notice anything, and since immigration and the principle of “charge what the market will bear” will offset any housing market price reductions, people will be left questioning whether or not the UP made any difference at all. As one real estate analyst recently wrote “the UP will not deliver any houses under $800k”.

    If there’s a reduction in house prices, it’ll be from a market crash. Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.

    1. The unitary plan will deliver houses for less than 800k.

      10k per sqm x 40sqm = $400k.

      Given that most growth is for 1-2 people households, that means lots of people will get sub-800k dwellings.

      And that’s just an apartment. Id also expect lots of townhouses for say 600-750k.

      The one thing that would crash the market in a good way is more supply. And i think the UP will deliver that.

      Not enough of course, but more than we’ve had in recent times.

      1. (1) I’d be more optimistic about that if that two-storey height limit map was empty in the central areas. It’s not. →

        (2) How much is actually an improvement over the current plans, rather than just cancelling some downzoning? As far as I understand things, that entire swath of SU zoning in the central areas is actually downzoning, while the MHS zone is more or less status-quo. Or what changed there?

        1. on one level I agree.

          But on another provided that there is some allowance for increased density in accessible areas then we will see increased development in those areas. And the single house zone will be progressively rolled back via subsequent plan changes as and when required.

          While we would ideally develop a plan with enough capacity for 40 years’ worth of development, the prevailing political economy requires that we focus on the next 20 years.

        2. That makes sense. If it actually happens.

          During the 5 years I lived in Auckland so far I’ve been looking around for a place to stay a couple of times, and the overwhelming impression is that the idea of houses in accessible areas pretty much doesn’t exist over here. A lot of town centres don’t even have apartments above the shops, while usually the only thing nearby are houses. The only other thing I’ve found are the little sausage flats near for example Milford. So a change is well overdue.

          There’s also the developments in central areas, like that lighthouse Patrick pointed out, but these are for the upper end of the market, and well out of reach for most. (the $420k refers to a 30 m² studio). And further away, as pointed out here as well, the limit on dwellings per lot will favour even more huge houses.

          “prevailing political economy” → well that’s a nice euphemism.

    2. Even if your statement is fully true (and I don’t think it is) things would be much worse without the UP.

      Also, the housing crisis was a decade or two in the making. The fact that it may take at least another decade to fix it doesn’t mean the UP isn’t an absolutely crucial part of the fixing.

    3. No crash coming any time soon. Whilst we are the 4th most desirable place to live in the world and even with massive price increases Auckland property is still cheap by global (Asian) standards. Only 2 things could make a change, 1. Curb immigration, 2. Share IRD records with the Chinese government. Nothing else will make any difference. The expected massive increase in building, will start slowly, legislating something doesn’t make it happen overnight.

      1. Still with the “it’s the yellow foreigners” stuff? Contrary to your implied claim, most Auckland houses aren’t filled with recent immigrants, Chinese or otherwise. My typical Asian neighbour family in my area has more Kiwi history than I do, but because I look Paheka I never have to defend myself.

        [Not that I wouldn’t mind a bit more tax disclosure – but you’d find that would not interest just the Chinese govt. European tax dodgers in NZ trusts etc too.]

        1. China is the common denominator in most of the markets where house prices have gone out of control in the past decade – it is no coincidence. The Chinese are spending over US$200 BILLION EACH YEAR taking money out of China to buy property overseas (it was US$324B in 2014). Even if we get only 1% of that is still at least NZ$3B pa (or 3300 Auckland houses) which is of course on the low side (both in terms of percentage and only on the US$200B not the higher figures).

          But keep your head in the sand as much as you like.

        2. Bruce, so we agree: The problem is excessive investment in property, not ethnicity. Glad we got that sorted.

          Please refrain from comments on ethnicity or immigration; they’re not relevant to this post.

        3. @Stu. The issue is where is that money coming from? Mostly China and that is the issue. Take China out of the equation and the demand side evaporates meaning we can get on with affordable housing – the aim of the UP which is what this post is about.
          The UP by itself is not going to result in more affordable housing for the most part unless the demand side is restricted (one way or the other including China itself restricting it due to their bubble popping).

          I am glad that the UP got passed and surprisingly most good things got included.
          I think perhaps the 2 houses should have been 3 houses without resource consent on sites larger than 500sqm and 4 on sites larger than 650sqm or something along those lines.

      2. I wouldn’t necessarily want a large correction in house prices over night. What I want to see is sustained (real) depreciation in house prices of, say, 1-2% p.a over a 10-20 year period.

        1. Given that so much small business and investment lending is against private homes, a large correction would be catastrophic for our economy.

          I’d rather see house price growth under inflation.

        2. completely agree. Shocks to asset prices are generally bad. Like Damian said above, this housing crisis of ours was one to two decades in the making. It may take us that long to unwind it, but better to do it slowly and properly.

        3. Yes, hopefully we avoid a sudden crash as that would be somewhat depressing to the economy.

          However a medium term flattening off of house price growth (so in real terms it’s the same or less) would help in a couple of ways that I can think of:

          Investors would look for different asset classes to invest in since the actual operating income from housing is so poor. Hopefully smaller businesses would benefit from this.
          Banks would be less keen to fund investment in housing that seems to rely on capital gain for investment returns. If funding on actual returns the amount they would be prepared to lend to investors could well drop substantially. (that said, housing does represent a reasonably easy asset to dispose of if things don’t work out as long as there isn’t a crash between purchase and sale)

          In turn banks may start looking at investing more in small businesses directly without requiring guarantees and mortgages over non business assets.

        4. This is what has usually happened in the past in Auckland. A boom followed by a flatlining, allowing incomes to catch up with real estate values. Of course in the Long Depression of the 1890s and the Great Depression of the 1930s values did go down.

          The problem with a crash is that almost all construction would cease in those conditions too, except for publicly funded ones, usually.

        5. The argument for a fast collapse of house prices is given by Michael Reddell -former Reserve Bank economist. The comic strip is particularly apt.

          It seems economist Stu Donovan would prefer the slow scalpel with generous breaks for cups of tea versus the fast hacksaw.

          Neither option is appealing but doing nothing is probably the worst option. Given these choices I suppose it is no wonder why the public -including Transportblog thinks about a bit, feels a little sorry for the losers from today’s unreformed housing market, then inserts their in the sand.

        6. Brendon
          Reddell also makes a good case for reconsidering – potentially reducing – immigration.
          *Note: ‘reduce’, not ‘ban’. Very different thing. ( I favour the former, but definitely not the latter)
          And be a lot more targeted. Do we really need nearly as many immigration approvals for baristas as building labourers?

        7. Patrick if there were increased supply of more affordable housing -this means at least 18,000 houses a year in Auckland being built which according to the IHP is what is needed over the next 7 years to balance demand and supply. This being double what Auckland built last year.

          If this was affordable because rural prices were accessed on the periphery and hold-out/landbanking behaviour closer to the centre was eliminated too -perhaps by an activist govt using the power of compulsory purchase in combination with property owners being given greater rights to build then why does the construction sector crash?

          Sure some leveraged property investors expecting capital gains may go to the wall. Some individuals who overstretched themselves with debt combined with their life situation meaning they cannot remain in their house may also be in trouble.

          I think there is an awful lot of scaremongering going on -especially promoted by those who are currently ‘winning’ from the housing market. What it boils down to is selfishness -from people who do not care how the other half live.

        8. Mathew -Michael Reddell makes that argument in part because he sees the politics of fixing the housing market as too difficult. Having observed the collective backslapping from this moderately less restrictive District Plan that will make very little difference to the massive backlog of house construction and the absolutely ridiculousness of Auckland’s house prices, I can understand where he is coming from.

          In fact, I think if we cannot honestly face up to our collective problems then we are heading for some serious dysfunctional Trump like politics.

        9. Brendon – a few points:

          “at least 18,000 houses a year in Auckland being built which according to the IHP is what is needed over the next 7 years to balance demand and supply”

          We now have a zoning plan that will allow people to build more homes in Auckland. Quite a lot more than the operative plans, actually. The notified Unitary Plan increased the city’s development capacity by around 40-60% relative to the operative plans. The revised Unitary Plan doubled that again – so we’ve ended up with a plan that’s almost three times as enabling as what we had before. (Hmm, should write a post on this.)

          At this point, capacity in the construction industry is probably a more serious issue. We don’t have enough builders to catch up. That’s a fixable problem, but it takes a bit of time for training and overseas recruitment.

          “the collective backslapping from this moderately less restrictive District Plan”

          What would you have people do instead? Criticise Council for voting for a planning rulebook that will generally take the city in the right direction? They’ve basically done the right thing, probably in spite of some personal and political misgivings. I don’t see the value in kicking them for doing the right thing, although there is undoubtedly a case to monitor results and push for further changes if needed.

        10. Peter -I have been clear that the IHP version is an improvement but also that it doesn’t go far enough. For a number of reasons.

          Firstly the basic underlying approach is wrong -the aim should be competitive urban land prices. Instead the process is to incrementally release development potential -both up and out. Not that different from what the government has done with special housing areas. Like with the previous special housing these moderately sized incremental releases of land (or up-zoned developed potential) will be land banked.

          Secondly quantitative data from overseas indicates actual supply will be less than expected (planned for) supply.

          Thirdly -even the AC economic modeling indicates new house prices even if there is no further land banking will be excessive -mostly the new supply will be exceed $800,000, even apartment building in 2016 has switched to the top end of the market.
          Nb the modeling cannot explain previous price increase.

        11. “Firstly the basic underlying approach is wrong -the aim should be competitive urban land prices. Instead the process is to incrementally release development potential -both up and out.”

          The way you get more competitive prices is to zone for more development capacity. The Unitary Plan does that, ergo, it’s a move towards a more competitive market. That seems like a positive thing.

          Could it go further? Quite possibly. But there aren’t many blindingly obvious ways to do that. If the IHP had, for instance, zoned the entire isthmus for midrise apartment blocks, it would probably fix the competitive markets issue but would also almost certainly prompt the Council to reject the plan. (Hello regulatory uncertainty!) Likewise, if they had live-zoned all the non-conservation land within 20km of the edge of the city it would probably have a similar effect, but only if Council and government could build all the necessary infrastructure. (Hint: they can’t.)

          Basically, theory is nice but putting it into practice is hard.

        12. Peter using the ‘this is how the existing process works’ line -i.e. the Councillors wouldn’t have agreed to it, we don’t have infrastructure resources, this is how our plans work -we increase them incrementally…. is not a very effective argument -especially when the quantitative data and social outcomes are so bad.

          Processes can be changed, resources re-allocated, plans can be expanded from day one to allocate enough space -not increased incrementally, like a fat man releasing his belt.

          Interestingly, if you read my article you would have seen the Japanese example. They had to go through the mother of all property crashes in the 1980s before they learned the danger of restrictive urban development. When will we learn in NZ?

          The obvious next step is more central govt involvement. More explicit NPS -intensification?, UDA with the power of compulsory acquisition that sort of thing

        13. Brendon, if you’ve read what I’ve written, either in a private or professional capacity, you’ll know that I’ve generally been in favour of changing the current approach to urban development in NZ. But I’m also a bit sceptical that there is any one “silver bullet” that will fix all problems. What we need, instead, is a whole bunch of little fixes that move us towards better outcomes and build on each other.

          Unfortunately, putting those fixes in place isn’t necessarily a simple or quick process. Take rapid transit infrastructure. Most people agree that Auckland needs more of it, and AT has published maps showing broadly how the future network will look.

          I’ve worked on business cases for a few major transport projects, and I can tell you that infrastructure development isn’t a short process. Even once you’ve got an in-principle agreement to build something, there’s still a process of design, feasibility studies, cost control, and procurement to go through. This can easily take a year even if there is no bureaucratic and political opposition to the project, and then you’ve got to wait until funding is available to actually build it. Funding availability often adds years – for instance, the AMETI busway was originally agreed five years ago but construction won’t start until 2021.

          While these delays collectively seem irrational, they arise for basically sound reasons. We require business cases for major public works to avoid the unintended consequences of bad engineering and poor project selection. We require governments to spend within their budgets because we have seen the damage caused by reckless spending. (Hello Muldoon!) I have a few concrete ideas for how we could tinker at the margins, but they are, at best, incremental fixes that will enable us to shave six months off the design and consenting process or build another few kilometres of busway every year. No silver bullets…

        14. that’s unfortunately what we’re looking at yes.

          There is a hidden upside from increasing the supply of housing though: Rents will also fall. So anyone who doesn’t currently own a house should be able to save more.

        15. A 20% fall in house prices shouldn’t have too much of a negative impact on the economy as almost every home owner has at least 20% equity in it (some investors on the other hand… but that is the risk they take and often they own the types of houses that 1st home buyers are trying to buy anyway).
          30% fall would have a decent impact on the economy but not too damaging (a short recession – which we are probably due for if you look at history).
          40%+ would however cause an issue and cause a proper recession. I guess it all depends on how the banks etc act since unlike the US homeowners can’t just walk away etc. The banks might have to take a haircut.

          It does also depend on how long it takes. A 40% fall over 10 years is a lot different to over 2 years.

          One way to help the issue would of course be for inflation to come back. If house prices stay flat for a decade and inflation runs at 3% then that slowly eats away at both the relative price of housing (making it more affordable relative to incomes) and also eats away at the mortgage debt. This is part of the reason why so many countries have been money printing (Quantitative Easing) since the GFC to reduce their effective debts.

          In NZ this could be done in a very positive way with the government issuing bonds for some serious large scale infrastructure projects (CRL, AWHC, Airport Rail, North Shore Rail, Transmission Gully, NIMT electrification and to Tauranga, additional CHC spending) to be bought by the RBNZ using Quantitative Easing. These projects would soak up the say $4B pa for 3 years and deliver some long term productivity gains (for long term growth) along with short term economic growth for the actual construction and deliver some inflation (around an additional 2% pa – which would put us back in the target 2-3% range). It would also cause a slight devaluation in the NZ$ making our exports more competitive (again export lead growth).
          Longer term the inflation caused by this would actually ease back as the improved productivity eases inflation.

        16. Bruce, we have an economy at near capacity so stoking it like that would likely to lead to paying over the odds for those projects (some of which are marginal even at currently projected cost). The time to do this was at the beginning of the GFC, unfortunately the government we had at the time was the wrong one for such an approach. RBNZ still has 2% to play with and they really should be.

        17. Conan, I agree they should have done it earlier in the GFC. However with the Christchurch rebuild tracking downwards the only part of the economy going gangbusters is Auckland construction. In fact if you took out immigrations temporary boost to GDP numbers then our economy would barely be growing. The lead times on a lot of these projects would probably mean their peak construction period wouldn’t be for 5 years anyway (North Shore Rail even further) however things like NIMT electrification could be done within 2 years and CRL is going to be built anyway (could be sped up by around 6 months if the funding was all in place and there was the will to do so). The thing is the RBNZ keeps lowering the OCR and it just isn’t having the impact they want (particularly lowering the NZ$).

        18. Instead of writing off the aspirational homeowners for the next decade or so, why don’t we put the costs back on those who caused the problem? If people paid over the odds for the home and it drops in value why should they be treated any more beneficially than those who lose money on the stock market?

        19. 1-2% would result in an immediate crash.

          While the roots of the problem is under-supply, speculation has driven property prices even higher.

          1-2% depreciation sustained, or even stable/slow increase, would result in speculators pulling out and the prices plummeting. We can probably estimate what the “true” price should be by looking at rents, and the rent:houseprice in other parts of the country (as rents shouldn’t be effected by speculation). Of course that’s before you add more housing, which would bring down rent as well.

        20. Yup, a huge part of the market is betting on neither supply, nor demand ever being met. As soon as the perception is that they will be met the market will crash. The government has taken too long to react and, as such, a crash is now inevitable.

      3. > Share IRD records with the Chinese government.
        That’s coming. China is a signatory to AEIO and CRS a global agreement for countries to share tax information. By 31/3/2019 all NZ financial institutions will need to supply the IRD with the name, date and place of birth, residential address and tax number in their home country for all non resident accounts plus income paid and assets held. This should (but doesn’t) include Land Information NZ.

    4. A quick google and here are apartments proposed for K Rd from $420k, you can get one now for just a 10% deposit, Geoff, you’d love it! Rich in kiwi lifestyle, stunning view of the Waitakares and the Hauraki Gulf… vibrant street culture, excellent bars and cafes, catering for all tastes. Right over the PinkPath, and both a Train and a Light Rail station coming to the neighbourhood; tiny carbon foot print, you can even give your car away living so centrally, and we know how important the environment is for you…

      No? Not for you? Well it is affordable though isn’t it, and it is a result of intensification isn’t it? And it does mean 34 apartments of people not living at the edge of the city somewhere in the country, and driving for two hours everyday. And while I’m sure you wouldn’t like it but there are plenty of others who will love it there [and no one is forcing you to live there]. This is exactly what the UP allows more of, not enough in my view, but it’s a very good start, and is now real.

      And no, on its own the UP is won’t ‘solve’ dwelling unaffordability, it is only a plan, a set of rules, but its is a vital part of the answers to the problem: While it is not sufficient it is necessary.

      1. And others being able to living there means there’s more 450sqm McMansions for Geoff to choose from, and they wont be quite as far out of the city as they would otherwise.

        1. Dan, FYI Geoff and Ricardo seem to believe that the housing supply curve is *constant* while the housing demand curve is flexible. Moreover, the housing demand curve is seemingly only shifted by the actions of one ethnic group. Bonus points if you guess which one!

          Their conclusion? Get rid of that ethnic group, and the demand curve shifts down, which means that prices fall.

      2. but absolutely useless for anyone that has two cars and needs to travel around Auckland away from PT for their job.

        1. not necessarily. Nothing stopping that person from buying/leasing car-parks separately from their apartment.

        2. Or, turning it round, “A job and lifestyle that required you to have two cars and travel around far from PT would be absolutely useless for someone living in a apartment and not owning a car”

        3. I doubt that’s the developers target market. Just out of interest what do you think is ideal for someone with two cars and jobs away from public transport and where would they want to be based?

      3. Looks nice Patrick. Building $420k 1BR apartments isn’t going to solve the housing crisis however (not saying it won’t help, but realistically 1BR apartments should be about $100k less than that unless they are in the city centre itself – in this case close enough to bump the price up. We need isthmus apartments within 10km of the CBD for around $320k – 1BR, $400k – 2BR, $450k 3-BR. The thing is that people in Auckland have gotten so used to crazy prices over the past decade that their idea of an affordable house is a lot more than it should be.

        1. I’m not and never said anything to that effect Patrick. Stop being factious.
          You mentioned this an example of “affordable” housing – my point that yes compared to Auckland prices in general it is perhaps good value but it is by no means a good example of affordable housing.

      4. And that’s wonderful. But those should cost $250k, because prices across Auckland overall should be lower.

        Getting less for the same $$ isn’t getting cheaper – it does mean people don’t have to pay for stuff they don’t need – but it’s not what Auckland really, really needs

        1. It is cheaper. Getting less for the same $$ is cheaper than getting nothing for double the $$.

          It may not meet peoples ideas of good value for money, but it is cheaper.

          An old volkswagen beetle is cheaper than a new lexus. It might not be better value for money, or what you would like for your money, but if you need a car you should think about being able to buy the old volksvagen at all before we talk about shaving ten grand off the sticker price of a lexus.

    5. Only 5 years ago Council were telling me they were going to make it fully notified, hard and expensive as they could to put a house on my big empty unused backyard 6kms from the CBD. Now I’ll be able to stick 2 there. They’ll each be much less than $800K.

    6. Geoff; I have been looking for years for plausible explanations why crashes timing are so disconnected from fundamentals. I have come to accept the “property cycle length” theories common among Georgists like Fred Foldvary and Phillip J. Anderson.

      Ireland’s 2007 crash came when the highest median multiple was 6.5, in Dublin. Most of its cities were below 5. Had we had a proper crash at that time too, we might have been luckier in the long run. Because cycle lengths are so obstinate, the crash seems to only come when everyone has given up on it, even those who were hoping for it and those who had been predicting it for years like stopped clocks. External shocks can make them come “early”, but otherwise we can expect an absolute bloodbath sometime between 2022 and 2025. We will have used all our ammunition and dirty tricks (yes, the National Government used dirty tricks to turn the adjustment post-2007 around and start a new bubble) and absolutely nothing will stop it next time. I don’t even want to be in NZ when the time comes. Auckland’s median multiple might be over 13, and we may have even succeeded in boosting “supply” – still swamped with speculative frenzy in the land values – to ensure the downside will be the worse for it. Expect all sorts of lunatic invention schemes to get First Home Buyers mortgaged up to above the eyeballs for part ownership in a dog kennel, that sort of thing.

      I might be surprised by genuine breakthroughs in “competitive land supply” making a difference earlier, but I expect that the best possible under the AUP and the National Policy Statement will take years of legal wrangling.

      I do agree with commenters above who suggest a few years of higher inflation as real house prices can fall with less negative equity being created in nominal dollars. This is why no-one remembers the 1970’s house price crash.

  2. in general, this looks like great news. Well done to all involved. It’s good to finally provide developers and communities with some certainty over what can happen where.

  3. Auckland Council has done it’s bit, now the Government has no one else to blame.
    It will be interesting to see what the Government does now has house prices are still going to up, especially in the short term ……..

  4. Great news.

    The bit I am most disappointed about is the reduction from 4 to 2 for the number of dwellings you can build without resource consent. This is going to mean allot of sections are subdivided into two and a McMansion built on the back (and possibly the front if the existing dwelling is crap).

    With the 4 dwelling limit we would have seen more supply of 2 and 3 bedrooms dwellings as developers could fit 4 terraces on the same site, like they used to do in the 80s. But they wont bother now, bank holding costs will kill them waiting for the council design panel to access their consent. They need to turn the project around quickly to make a profit.

    That’s not to say we wont get some supply of this configuration, but it will be less than it would have been with the 4 dwelling limit.

    1. Agree. This has stymied my plans to build three by 2beds on each of my two AK inner west sections.
      Meeting with architect now and decided to put plans on hold for 12 months to see if this limit changes

    2. that not quite what it means, when one looks at the regional rules within the district plan pretty much everything will need some form of resource consent be it an earthworks permit or discharge permit. The “no resource consent” for 3 buildings thing only refers to the buildings themselves and not the physical development.

  5. Sadly the reinstatement of resource consents required from 4 to 2 was agreed with no debate. I was potentially able to do a subdivision of 1 site into 3 small houses (new houses selling for around 500k. Now with resource consents taking about 6 months to go through council (assuming no environment court appeal) it looks like we are back to one larger 750k house. And they never even considered the impact of the change!

    1. This is an interesting one… I was present at the hearing on this rule. The Panel asked a number of witnesses about the impact of requiring a resource consent for three+ dwellings, and were obviously a bit concerned about this idea. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of hard evidence (pro or con) on the impact of this requirement.

      Theory suggests that consent requirements do suppress development, especially when there is significant uncertainty about processing times or outcomes. However, the degree to which this happens depends in large part on developers *expectations* about the consent process, which are hard to measure.

      Given that 4 dwellings per site is a small apartment block while 2 dwellings per site is – as you say – more likely to be big houses, the impact on built form could be significant.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if this change was appealed to the Environment Court, so it might be a while before we get resolution on it. Regardless of the outcome of appeals, I think Council’s going to have to do some work to make consenting more efficient and transparent to applicants.

      1. Not really, four dwellings per side could very easily be four terraced houses, or four entirely separate townhouses. Given there are a lot of sites out there of 700-900m2, We’re talking about houses with 100m2 of footprint sitting on 200m2 of land.

        With this change, the obvious thing to do is not bother with something comprehensive and whack another single level GJ plan house on the back yard and flog it.

        1. The only saving grace is it permitted to subdivide down to 300m2 in the MHU, and a bit more in the MHS. So you can subdivide, then put two dwellings on each site to get the four. Just more process though.

      2. I suspect there wasn’t much debate on this because most developers who were involved in the PAUP do big stuff rather than 3-5 dwellings. So it doesn’t matter to them whether the threshold is 3 or 5 dwellings.
        I think it’s a pity and as others have alluded to will be a put off for many. 3-4 units sounds trivial but when multiplied by 200-300 per annum it isn’t

  6. Thank you Transport Blog, all of you, for your work to get to here. Your constant series of well researched and balanced articles have had a tremendous impact on informing not just Aucklanders, but also helped amplify the right voices and educate people inside AC, AT, NZTA and the council table. Magic.

    1. What happened to my reply to Lance Wiggs a minute ago? Far out, the moderators are quick off the mark here with excluding anything “off topic” i.e. something they don’t understand, regardless of how important.

      Ed: Comments violating user guideline 4 (“General moaning about the blog and its editorial direction is extremely boring.”) have been deleted. A lot of your other comments also run afoul of 8i as they seem more like an ongoing monologue than a contribution to a discussion.

      1. Yeah, like Galileo talked “ongoing monologues” – that the theocracy found distasteful. No reflection on the actual substance or importance of his contribution.

      1. It even looks like me! I am disappointed the system gives those twits the power to veto the independent panel. Kind of like giving Ronald McDonald the chance to alter Supreme Court rulings. But Mrs Mfwic has told me to focus on our own win on zoning. It will be a bottle of Bollinger when they announce the plan.

      1. Really interesting – shows the councillors really get the issues and dont always have to rely on officer advice. Good stuff.

      2. I haven’t read the resolution but I think the maximums are back. They didn’t even discuss them! They discussed mobility parking and got that wrong, didn’t mention maximums and focussed on the impact on Avondale, you could have any rule you want and people are not going to invest in retail there! Proves Bismark was right about laws and sausages.

        1. Maximums are definitely back, the resolution is at 10min 30sec on this video.
          They rejected the IHP recommendations on both maximums and minimums. You have to wonder. Not at the how daft politicians can be- we all know that, but at the stupidity of central government. Every town, city and district has a political process to write a plan followed by an independent Court process where needed to correct the inept mistakes. But In Auckland the Government flipped it around to have the independent rational part first followed by the political stupidity after. What did we ever do to deserve this? No vote on amalgamation and then planning veto for the elected. Even with bad water Havelock North is looking good.

        2. 🙂 They did Patrick. Parking maximums stopped office development in the CBD so well that owners had to do apartment developments instead.

        3. A hell of a lot less than there might have been. Why do you think all the office parks around Auckland happened? The owners of CBD properties then turned to the next best use – apartments (and parking if they wanted it at 1 per unit.) Within the old inner parking district hardly anything has happened since the Vero building. The plan seems to be to reduce the opportunites in the centres as well so the owners there will turn to apartments as well. As for retail, the big money will now probably focus on out of centre developments where they can get parking where they can own the whole thing. For every policy action there is an opposite and unexpected reaction.

        4. That isn’t clearly to do with parking; you don’t think land cost matters? Nor is it even clear that this is a bad thing; in fact it is almost certain to be good. A mixed use city centre of commercial and residential, is better than a office one only, and employment distributed to other centres is also good for the city. Those firms who value, and are willing to pay for, being in the centre can still do so, and do. More price sensitive lower value ones will locate further out. Especially this is the case in Auckland’s extremely land constrained City Centre.

        5. Yes, looking for silver lining is definitely wat to approach this methinks. No-one i know is completely happy; but nor is anyone empty handed by changes made during process.

  7. About time. Seems the council did a good job, all we wanted the IHP to do is change where zoning applied, which they did. The “One Plan” finally done, which was the reason for the super city not cost savings recommended circa 10 years ago.

  8. The government appointed IHP Unitary Plan version which is what was largely been agreed to, except for the make work for planners exception of reducing the resource consent requirement down to 3+ homes for intensification, is definitely an improvement on Auckland Council’s previous plan.

    But all this adds up to one moderately less restrictive District Plan. Nothing fundamental has changed to the status quo, so to expect massive changes to the built environment, building rate numbers or the trajectory of house prices in my opinion is wrong.

    The rationale for this argument is here.

    1. So nobody has a comment about a plan to give more intensification at more affordable prices. Why is that? Do you like the status quo consensus of Penny Hulse and Nick Smith? Is it because planners are heros and economists are not? Is it too complicated? What is the problem?

      1. I (u-c) commented on, where you are allowed longer responses.

        It is a good idea and would be a vast improvement over the UP.

  9. Bah humbug. The Unitary Plan retains the high level of land restriction around urban Auckland, whilst eliminating RUB abound coastal towns and rural centres. By doing so it maintains higher costs for urban development, whilst facilitating enhanced growth in low intensity exurbs. Sprawl is king, long live the (exurban) sprawl.

    I reckon these changes to the Unitary Plan will merely result in an 60 – 100% increase in the rate of construction of apartments, a still very slow rate. If we eliminate the RUB we will easily be able to gain a 150 – 300% increase.

    1. Angus you say this over and over and over, but it still makes no sense; freeing more land out in the countryside for sprawl will not make apartments in the centre more likely to happen. By what mechanism could that be so?

      1. By eliminating the expectation of constantly increasing land prices the land banking capital gains investment model no longer holds water. Then supply including apartment development opportunities is released into the market quicker.

        1. The real lid on more intensive development is not any restriction on sprawl land out in the distant countryside, but actual restrictions on building intensively. All those myriad of rules and regs that make it illegal or expensive to do so, directly. Including but not limited to zoning rules and volcanic viewshaft and other overlays.

        2. It is both restrictive regulations and the way that these restrictive give localised monopoly pricing power. Which property owners with development potential use to decrease supply and increase price. It is so common that people even advertise this land banking potential. Why is it that this factor is widely known by market participant’s but ignored by planners etc.

        3. The only lid on intensive development is unprofitability, the only driver for intensive development is profitability. All costs are observable and our land cost is astronomical, whilst our regulatory environment hasn’t been particularly abnormal.

          We have land prices similar to Sydney and apartment prices similar to Brisbane. High costs and low prices aren’t conducive to quick building of apartments. I want apartments built quickly, which means reducing the regulatory costs (well done UP) and reducing land costs (bah humbug UP).

          This council plan (which transportblog endorses) is creating a veritable landslide of sprawl in the distant exurban countryside, it loves sprawl.

        1. Right, so lowering the price of sprawl increase supply of sprawl. But remind me again how lowering the price of sprawl increases the supply of not-sprawl?

        2. Lowering the cost of sprawl in such locations that the land is discontinuous and remote from the urban centre is merely going to create much more sprawl. Epic levels of sprawl will follow, eclipsing all previous records as a city chokes itself on its own exhaust fumes. A city would have to be mad to undertake such a scheme and there is only Auckland city attempting such lunacy. This is the approach endorsed by transportblog and as you can tell I can’t quite see any logic to it.

          What we need to do is open up land at the boundary of the urban/suburban centre, add sufficient land to this and the cost of land in the urban/suburban centre is not prohibitive of development.

        3. If anyone can answer your question, they will go a long way to explaining how the UP is supposedly going to help.

          How does tripling the size of Kumeu, Warkworth and Clarks Beach help Auckland?

        4. Angus: Why don’t you draw your fantasy zoning map, compare it to what’s already in place through the Unitary Plan, and then try to figure out whether your approach would actually be feasible from an infrastructure and environmental impact perspective.

          You seem to assume that there are *amazingly* obvious solutions that could be done tomorrow if only everyone else saw things as clearly as you do. That seems a bit arrogant to me, but if it’s really that easy you should be able to produce a map.

    2. As usual, you’re just making up numbers devoid of any contact with the facts.

      First point. The IHP’s decision was based (in part) on modelling of the commercial feasibility of new developments under alternative zoning scenarios. This was based on current prices for land and construction, and current sale prices for various types of dwellings in different locations. The modelling *did* show that easing zoning restrictions in the city would allow more dwellings to be constructed, including apartments. Moreover, it also found that a whole bunch of these would be commercially feasible to develop.

      Now, there are legitimate questions that could be asked of this model, but any discussion of what may or may not happen as a result of the Unitary Plan should really begin with engagement with those figures.

      Second point. You keep talking about “abolishing the RUB” but you’ve never stated what that would actually look like in practice. So let’s consider what will actually happen as a result of the decision on the Unitary Plan. There are three key changes:
      1. Some additional land, mainly contiguous to existing urban areas, will be “live-zoned” – i.e. available for development immediately.
      2. The size of the “Future Urban Zone”, which will be live-zoned as infrastructure becomes available, has increased.
      3. The RUB has been demoted to being a district plan rule, which means that private developers are now allowed to submit private plan changes to extend it.

      In effect, we have something called a RUB, but it’s nowhere near as binding as it was before. So what more is there to do? What, concretely, would you do instead?

      1. The RUB around Auckland is too restrictive, where a city of our size needs a 70:30 expansion it allows an 80:20 (under the PAUP it was a 85:15). Whilst this degree of constriction of a normal city growth pattern continues it will force increased land costs, invalidating fixed price models. This is what has happened over the past 5 years as land supply restrictions have forced prices upwards, think it is going to continue.

        I wouldn’t do much, not a lot needs changing:
        1, Extend the RUB eastward from Takanini to Mullins Rd/Alfriston-Ardmore Rd; south Ohiwa Rd and extend it northward to Redoubt Rd or maybe all the way to Flatbush; put in a double tracked branch line to future proof a port move to Orere Pt. It is easy creation of low cost housing next to a busy airport and a nice hill or two for the rest.
        2, Extend the RUB outwards from Swanson station so all the “farmland” within 400 m can be houses; the current development proves medium density construction is profitable for the area.
        3, Kill the “large lot” designation.

        1. “I wouldn’t do much, not a lot needs changing…”

          Great. Then stop accusing us of bad faith for being positive about a plan that you mostly agree with.

        2. They missed it by that much.

          I’m looking at the plan, performing a cost analysis comparing Auckland to contemporary cities. Think this plan is going to further increase the land costs against urban development and create large sprawl areas. Impose large costs and stunt overall growth

          The plan has moved from being a truly awful PAUP to being a bad UP. It is like having your death sentence commuted and being given 25 years hard labour instead. It is better, but Auckland was innocent. Surely our choice can’t merely be between awful planning and bad planning? Can we please have slightly below average planning? Is it too much to dream of a day when Auckland planning might reach the dizzying heights of mediocrity?

        1. Angus: I think Alan W. Evans has it right when he says that a growth boundary sufficiently relaxed to eliminate the exploitation of position of power by land owners (and hence tenfold, twentyfold and more price gouging) would have to result in development patterns little different to those that would occur with no boundary at all. The ability to splatter, leapfrog, develop out of sequence, whatever you want to call it, is vital.

          You are quite right that the Plan actually enables splatter anyway, only it puts quotas on the land where it allows it. Ensuring the worst of all worlds – development at absurdly inefficient locations, still at obscene prices, when natural development patterns would have had the splatter at far more efficient locations and at prices representing minimal uplift over true rural land values. I can cite plenty of literature that points out that natural splatter and later infill is the most efficient; in fact it is a significant enabler of clustering economies. A planned incremental carpet sprawl in strict sequence following incremental infrastructure extension, leaves no spare space and certainly no affordable space for most potential new cluster participants. The best one-liner on this comes from Evans: “Silicon Valley could not happen under UK cities planning systems”.

        2. I agree, but that ideal is probably way beyond the capabilities of Auckland planners. I am hoping that with a modicum of persuasion we might raise the game of Auckland planning up to the level of slightly less than competent, maybe someday to even levels of mediocrity.

          You make a comparison to London, have a look at Houston. Houston secures federal subsidy for a freeway network to open up vast areas to sprawl, creating fantastic rates of sprawl growth, but it allows infilling suburban growth and this has created inward agglomeration value to Houston. Auckland secures government assistance to build roads to the exurbs – but wait there is more – rate payers pay for the urban services for the exurbs and we restrict the suburban growth of Auckland (the infill) to minimise the agglomeration value that might flow from the exurbs towards Auckland. The unitary plan is Houston sprawl on ratepayer funded steroids, without the benefits.

  10. Quick question. How easy can the unitary plan be changed by the next council (or a future council) to allow for more or less intensification? And also move the rural/urban boundary to allow more development if nessescary?

      1. A proper re-evaluation of the Volcanic viewshafts would be my pick. They could be much better both for the aesthetic experience of the Maunga and the urban form of the entire city. Including, of course, delivering more dwelling supply.

        1. Thanks. The question was how easy/difficult would it be to change the unitary plan, not what changes do you want to see

        2. The Unitary Plan will be amended pretty well constantly from now on. Council has to review every particular part of the plan at least every 10 years, and both council and private applicants (to a degree) can initiate plan changes before then as well.

          Most changes won’t be changes to rules though – they will just be rezoning of particular locations or designations for infrastructure projects.

          For an idea of scale, the district plan for the Auckland isthmus was notified in 1999. In the 17 years since it has had over 300 plan changes, mostly fairly small changes that apply to a specific project, development, or site.

        3. Do 2 out of these 300 changes happen to be the changes which allowed those two lonely apartment towers in Ponsonby to be built? I always found it odd to see these over there, while most other housing in that area are large single houses.

        4. No, those were both built well before 1999. From my vague and unreliable memory I think they were both built in the late 1970s?

          If you’re curious all the modifications that have taken effect are here and those that are underway are here.

        5. Westwater and Shangri La were built in the mid 80s by the looks. Unfortunately all the newspapers of the day are only available to be read by heading to your local library to read them on microfilm so no links available but if I recall correctly the outrage over these towers did result in some changes to the planning rules in the area, but I have no evidence of that.

          The Herald loves to use images of them to illustrate the type of housing we can expect under the UP but of course you can’t build anything like that in Herne Bay presently or under the UP. And it hasn’t exactly lead to the surrounding suburb to be reduced to slums.

          As Matt pointed out in this article they are hardly high density, just tall:

        6. I love those towers in Herne Bay, Remuera etc. They break up the bland low rise suburbia.
          Personally I’d like to see a lot more in those locations.

    1. I think there is a stand down period of a few years before they can change it, but after that it is up for review.

      The easier thing would be to do the local equivalent of a special housing area, where the council sets special policies on how they treat restricted discretionary applications.

      1. Do you know any more about that? There’s a restriction on making variations to the plan during the IHP process. But I understood once the decisions are formally notified on Friday, the council is free to make as many and as sweeping plan changes as it likes under the normal RMA process.

      2. Schedule 1, S25 provides for a very small list of reasons that a Council may refuse to consider an application for a private plan change, one of them being the matter has been subject to a plan change/review in the last 2 years.

        There is nothing stopping the council proposing changes (or variations) to any part of the plan at any time on any matter, provided it is not contrary to an NES or NPS.

    2. I don’t think it will be easy to scale backthe UP in the future. Especially if the NPS on Urban Development Capacity goes through, there will be a legislative requirement for Auckland and other cities to do what they have done in the UP, in terms of providing capacity. So that is great.
      I guess what could potentially be considered is a greater focus away from intensification to more greenfield.
      But my reading is that with the NPS it’s going to be very hard for future Auckland Councils to ‘downzone’.
      There’s no turning back!!!

      1. My reading of the IHP Unitary Plan (conceived by govt appointees) and the governments NPS -UDC (National Policy Statement -Urban Development Capacity) is they are designed to buttress each other. That when inadequate construction rates, excessive house prices or rising political pressure or some other un-defined event occurs the government will direct Auckland to loosen its belt -the RUB will expand and more greenfield land will be opened up for development. Not that different to Special Housing Areas.

        Like Special Housing areas -there is no plan for integrated infrastructure -certainly not public transport. This is a return to the 1950s automobile dependent development model which the National Party are the most comfortable with. Big houses on small sections in a few areas on the outskirts will be the monotype. Their will continue to be a locational and bedroom size mismatch between supply and demand. Also like the Special Housing areas there is no policy consideration to prevent land banking. To me it seems far too timid and just doesn’t address the problems we are currently experiencing in our urban areas.

        Obviously it has been a fight to get this far and people want a pat on their backs for the gains achieved in the Unitary Plan. Ok at some level that is understandable. But really the fight for affordable shelter -a basic need has only just began in NZ.

  11. There must have been some leaning on certain counsellors by the government. They mostly voted for it with barely a murmer. Maybe an independent commission wouldn’t have been a good look for the government? All fall into line.
    Anyway, it’s passed.

    1. Now the government is off the hook. They can’t be blamed for the eventual failure of the reforms to reverse the Akl housing bubble, when scapegoats are being looked for after the inevitable crash when the cycle end comes around again in a few years. National’s mates in big property and big finance will be chuffed with the short-term political expediency that has triumphed continuously in spite of all the promising noises in 2007/2008 about reform of “the Clark government’s mistakes” on urban development policy and the “serious housing affordability problem” to that date…. Makes ya sick.

  12. I have few qualms with the final plan in terms of urban areas. I think some rules are too restrictive but overall I’d give it a B for the urban areas.
    But as someone who subscribes to ‘up and out’ I would like to have seen an approach where beyond the Future Urban zones there is a discretionary regime where new eco-settlements ( at all scales) can be considered throughout the region, subject to on site infrastructure provisions and certain baseline design and landscape requirements being met. I think there is a big latent demand for this, and blanket sprawl could be easily avoided with a strong policy approach

    1. Excellent suggestion. The land-economics equities of discontinuous development can still be captured without allowing for the features that give it a bad name. It is a disgrace that dozens of “sustainable” options that involve going off-grid or utilising “space” are foregone in favour of a one-size-fits-all straightjacket of “space sacrifice” forced by inflated costs of space; not even by sensible fiscal incentives (like land taxes) but by a wealth-transfer gouge upwards in society. Guess why it is this policy approach that is the only one that ever ends up on the table being tinkered around the edges with?

      1. Unless an activity is specifically listed as “prohibited” there is nothing actually stopping it occurring. The suggestion above can actually occur in a discretionary system throughout the Countryside living zone which appears to cover an area at least equivalent in size to the entire North Shore and is spread out around the Waitakeres, Dairy Flat, Hunua and Drury. The only areas where this is prevented are rural conservation/ coastal areas and productive farming/ horticultural land which does not seem unreasonable.

        1. The belief of those I am in touch with on this point, is that it will still take years of legal wrangling to get to exercise this potential option. It might result in a legal precedent that opens the floodgates, but I have become very skeptical about the legal profession’s dedication to securing a legal-precedent demise to the legal-fee gravy train they are on. One remembers the reason that “legal aid” exists for criminals – because “legal rights” are not much use if you can’t get representation. Property developers seem to sometimes be in the position of an innocent “accused” who can’t get a lawyer.

          EDIT: and are there lot-size mandates that remove the practicality of this option as actual “housing supply” for practical property market purposes?

        2. SDW – really? I thought subdivision in the rural areas in the plan is non-complying? And in the countryside living zone below 1 or 2 hectares is non-complying? As a planner I know non-complying is not prohibited but depending on the obs and pols framework it makes it really tricky just as a dense non complying proposal in suburban areas would have been really risky, if not impossible, under the old legacy plans.
          I have only had a quick look a few days ago but it seemed to me that what I am talking about would be incredibly risky under the plan and therefore not realistically a goer
          Please correct me if I am wrong – I don’t think I am.

        3. The Plan is so dam lengthy that it seems no-one really knows for sure yet about everything that is in it…. even the Councillors who voted on it.

        4. Apologies Matt, I still had the PAUP tab open rather than the RUP. Yes you are correct with non-complying, it appears that the IHP has made the above harder. In saying that, as a non-complying I would say that the objectives and policies within the countryside living zone (as recommended) are still pretty enabling in terms of that type of ‘eco-settlement’ development. Agree about the risk element, but I have always found the effects assessment more important in terms of the s104D gateway tests than the objectives/ policies assessment due to the direct link back to Part 2.

    2. Of course ultra-low density housing for the rich is allowed anywhere in the countryside. The rich can buy 4 hectare blocks ‘farms’ and build their favoured variety of landed gentry manson. There is 100,000 plus of them in NZ, consuming vast areas of farmland and nobody complains. But if ordinary people want to build a hamlet, a village, an eco-town or even a TOD development like Houten in the countryside, paying rural prices that is crazy stuff…. the ideological straightjacket for urban development in NZ is as tight as ever….. as I keep saying ‘the agreed to Unitary Plan is just a moderately less restrictive District Plan’ -nothing has changed…. Wrt housing and property in NZ the rich are well catered for, the poor are not.

      1. Excuse me – but when did it become a right of birth to own a home??? Iv’e never seen a bunch of people more self entitled as millennials 🙁

        1. No one other than you is talking about rights, let alone a right to “own a home”.

          Everyone else is talking about is the cost of housing in Auckland, and whether it is reasonable. Most people here don’t think it is.

          You might also be interested to know the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which I believe New Zealand is a signatory, had this to say about housing (source, article 25, page 7):

          “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security
          in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age orother lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

          Your comment about millenials is bizarre and unrelated to the topic at hand, Please stay on topic or subsequent comments will be deleted.

        2. and yet the attack on the ‘rich’ is on subject? There is no housing crisis in Auckland. There are loads of cheap homes to buy all over the country. The delta between house prices in the biggest city and smaller towns is not unique to NZ. Sydney is more expensive than Tweed Heads, London is more expensive than Swansea, New York is more expensive than San Antonio.
          Somehow people need to understand that housing has never been cheap. I had to save for my house, my parents saved for theirs and my grandparents could only afford to rent. The way some Kiwis go on about this shows a very shallow and micro view of the world they live in. Try visiting Brazil and seeing a Favala or India and understanding that children spend 12 hours a day searching rubbish heaps to make enough to eat.
          Kiwis somehow have lost the plot – it makes me wonder if the rest of the world doesnt look at us as total tossers 🙁

        3. @Local Resident – “housing has never been cheap”

          It’s never been cheap. But it’s also never been this expensive before in New Zealand no matter how you define it.
          – Absolute cost.
          – Inflation adjusted cost compared to earlier decades.
          – Cost relative to incomes.

          There is no way you can truthfully say that it has ever been this hard to buy a home.

        4. So the status quo of Victorian times, and developing countries today, is fine by you? 50% of the population permanently condemned to illegal slum dwelling or tenements or overcrowding?

          The decades of democratisation of home ownership, and the improvement in housing conditions for all – that the boomer generation were the greatest beneficiaries of – was all just a mistake? The proles should have been kept in their place?

        5. From an economic point of view, there is a strong case against home ownership for anyone but the very wealthy. It is after all a long term savings plan that has no guarantee of generating income growth.
          If you look at countries like Switzerland – where most people are pretty well off by any standards – the norm is to rent. Because of this, there is actually less housing inflation.
          I certainly can not see how anyone could complain at renting. My tenants are living in a 2M home and it only costs them $900 a week. I can think of many better ways to make more than a 2% return. Before you make the argument that I am also enjoying the market contango, this is not real money until I sell my home and there is absolutely no guarantee that the housing market will not drop below my purchase price, some time in the future.
          Meanwhile I am paying all the tax at the property and all the maintenance. Renters have never had it so good!

    3. Some of the commentary on the plan suggests that this option is easier than what the Council wanted – the RUB around Rural and Coastal towns has been ‘deleted’ (or not created) allowing for their organic expansion and policies and objectives for the establishment of new settlements have been inserted. Certainly not easy, but easier than not being provided for at all (Objectives and Policies provide an assessment framework for rather than require ‘avoidance of’).

      1. Yes, true. It’s just not easy, or cheap, as you say, and as we all know investors and developers are usually, rightly, risk averse.
        I’d rather see a policy platform that allows for my idea, in a planned (but not overly planned) way

        1. That’s exactly what the plan allows for. A policy framework for assessment of new towns and existing towns (and RUB) expansion rather than a policy setting of ‘no not ever’

        2. Yeah, in a traditional planning sense of contiguous, trunk infrastructure-reliant expansion. But not in a non-traditional sense of site by site hamlet / cluster developments, off grid, eco, within broad areas through out the region, within the sphere of influence of rural towns and high amenity coastal locations.
          Of course, a plan change could enable the latter. Very few are thinking in that space, though, so a case needs to be built for it.
          Planning, the world over, is dominated by a black and white world view – urban vs rural. And ignorant of the fertile ground (no pun intended) that can exist between the two in city-regions.

  13. The Special Housing Areas released development potential for 60,000 homes which was obviously better than not having that development potential. But it made no discernable difference to the trajectory of Auckland house prices. Expected supply and actual supply were a lot different. Only a few thousand house were built.
    There were no policy mechanism to stop land banking and inadequate provision for affordable housing.

    What is different about the new Unitary Plan and the government’s NPS-USD?

    1. Yes additional taxes are good at making necessities cheaper – just like fruit and vegies get cheaper each time GST goes up. If they increase GST enough food will become free as will houses if the taxes are high enough.

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