I wrote in December that “2016 has been a big year for development” – now that we’re a little bit past the end of the year, it’s actually possible to see how big it was. Still, as the cheese ads say, good things take time. It will take many more years to fix Auckland’s housing challenges.

Auckland Housing

I keep a close eye on the number of new homes given ‘building consent’ each year. It’s a good sign of what’s coming up ahead. The figures have been rising, but certainly not as quickly as they were a couple of years back. In total, Auckland consented 9,930 new homes in 2016, up from 9,251 in 2015 and 7,632 in 2014.

Consents are fine, but it’s a lot harder to get information on how many homes are completed. There isn’t an ‘official’ measure. Auckland Council is now collecting this info, based on homes which have received a final building inspection or obtained a Code Compliance Certificate, and they say 7,920 homes were completed in the 12 months to September 2016.

Auckland grew by 40,000-45,000 people in 2016, according to Stats NZ, so that’s 13,000-15,000 homes we need each year just to keep pace with the growth. To say nothing of the undersupply that’s built up since 2008…

The RCG Development Tracker has had a tidy-up this month – I’ve removed a lot of ‘inactive’ special housing areas, ones where nothing much was happening and no homes were being built. The SHA programme is now almost over, and isn’t really needed with the Unitary Plan now in effect. The Unitary Plan allows a lot more homes to be built right across Auckland, so there will be a lot more yellow dots to come.

It’s not just tidy-ups, of course – more projects get added every month. This month, for example, we’ve had the airport confirm plans for a new Pullman hotel, and there’s also the ‘Newmarket Apartments’ which are just starting to be marketed.

Based on the Tracker, there were 1,982 terraces and apartments completed in 2016. That’s a decent chunk of the total 5,129 completed since 2012. These new homes are all over the city, in developments large and small. Here are some of the big ones:

Unilodge on Whitaker300
Queens Residences273
Urba Residences144
Silvermoon Park115
Thompson Park107
Carlaw Park Student Village (stage 2)82
Hobson Fiore II74
Ormiston Town Centre (stage 1 terraces)63
Pinnacle Apartments (Auckland)63
Berechiah Gardens (stage 1)53
The Pines (Browns Bay)52

Out of those, Unilodge on Whitaker and Carlaw Park are both student complexes. Carlaw Park has sizeable apartments, designed for 2-4 students. Unilodge is your classic ‘hall of residence’ – each of those 300 units is a small studio, designed for a single occupant. The other nine developments (and most of the others finished in 2016) are complete homes, and arguably do more to make a dent in the housing undersupply.

On the whole, the construction sector is still going flat tack – especially in Auckland. As per the Construction Crunch post, which I’ll update soon, the sector is still growing, and at record levels – but it’s going to get harder (and more expensive) to keep growing it.

Canterbury Housing

Things in Canterbury are starting to wind down. The earthquake rebuild is still going, and will continue for years to come, but the rate of construction is tapering off. A lot of the major projects in the CBD are either complete, or almost complete – so 2017 could be a really good time to visit the city.

As for housing consents in Greater Christchurch, they’ve definitely been falling – although they’re still above pre-quake levels. Some of these builders are likely to make the move north to Auckland, and they’ll be very welcome, as long as they don’t go on and on about the rugby.

Over in Australia, it looks like the housing boom there could be unwinding. Bob Dey writes that “The Housing Industry Association of Australia is forecasting a slump in housebuilding over the next 3 years”. We could really use some of those Aussie builders over here, and they’ll be very welcome, as long as they don’t go on and on about the cricket.

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  1. Great to see that things are happening, thank you. Aussie builders are totally welcome to talk about the Cricket as much as they like. Is there any concern about the reported use of highly flammable cladding in aussie?


    If this report is correct 50% were using flammable cladding?

    Supposedly other serious issues as well.

  2. A little curious why nothing shows for Swanson. Do the two large Neils/Fletchers subdivisions not show because they’re already resource consented, even though earthworks are ongoing, and houses are being constructed (individually consented, perhaps)?

    1. I do track subdivisions as well, but don’t show them in the Development Tracker online map! I prefer to keep the online map with an ‘intensification’ focus, which fits what we’re more interested in at TransportBlog. I do show greenfields nodes like Hobsonville Point though, master planned ones with a strong apartment/r terrace component.

    1. Same reason the map shows the City Rail Link 🙂 it’s not there yet, but it is coming. And if you click on those sections of future rapid transit, you can see a bit about the project, e.g. estimated timeframe. Admittedly the Eastern Busway isn’t under construction yet, unlike the CRL, but much of the planning has been done, the route approved etc. Harriet wrote about the second stage of it the other day: http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2017/03/03/atap-asaps-eastern-busway/.

      I haven’t shown a Northwestern Busway since that’s likely to be many more years away, unfortunately…

  3. How does our failing infrastructure cope with all this building? The infantile image of leafy Parisian streets of happy apartment dwellers living in intensification nirvana misses one critical sanitary point. Our sewerage system is not coping as it is and decisions to both build a massive upgrade to it and actually fund it has been repeatedly deferred. The revolting problem of raw sewerage freely flowing into our waterways and harbour is taking place today, right now with this rain. Think Coxs Creek as just one example, or Milford or the Tamaki estuary or….

    We can be like naive children and think experts are taking care of this but they’re not. Poll driven economic planning is failing all of us. Our harbour and many of its tributaries are a health hazard, we need to wake up and realise what we are smelling is not roses! This is not Greenie hand wringing, it’s a basic fundamental in a supposed first world country.

    Auckland Councils Mike Lee had this to say:


    1. I would have thought an increase in people paying rates would help with this situation. One thing we don know is the current number of ratepayers doesn’t appear to be enough to pay for a situation.

      1. You are probably quite right. And unrestrained population growth without having the infrastructure to even cope with what we had a few years back is untenable.

        I certainly know Cox’s Creek down near Westmere is horrendous.

        1. The way I read that article is that the existing housing stock in these areas and the existing water infrastructure are the real problem. Mike has, and I suspect quite deliberately, tried to suggest there will be much greater problems from intensification without actually saying it. I suspect he is aware that modern developments are much better at holding wastewater on site thus minimising storm flows, and the real problem is from the existing older houses.

          However, while I have a four month old baby, I am not an expert on poo at the larger urban treatment scale, so someone may have better information than me!

        2. The problem is not wastewater as such, but that the area has no storm water system. With no rain the system works as it should, but a little rain overwhelms the capacity. It is no use holding wastewater, as the problem of storm water remains. Metrowater spend $millions separating water and storm water systems but barely improved the problem. The expense per property is huge because wastewater pipes do not follow the street berm but follow the land contours, passing under houses, driveways and gardens. To make things worse the maps are hopelessly inaccurate. This is not a reason to do nothing, but it could add 10-20% to all Auckland Wastewater charges to solve, and we live in a time with few spare technical resources to throw at the problem.

    2. The real point of that story is that the Central Interceptor is needed now, and really should have been built years ago. Instead, it just kept getting deferred. These days, developers pay a larger share of new infrastructure as development contributions and Infrastructure Growth Charges have risen – a change which I think is entirely appropriate, and could probably go further, and also should have been made years ago. So it’s a bit easier to fund those sorts of things these days.

      Unfortunately, water infrastructure has been lacking (and lagging). It’s underground and people don’t see the issues on a daily basis, in contrast to transport. You only notice it when something goes wrong. I’m hopeful that we now have a council which is making more sensible long-term decisions about actually funding infrastructure, rather than just kicking the can down the road. I’m hopeful, but not sure on that.

      The three waters are obviously a big issue for Auckland, and I’d like to write some posts on it this year, but I’ve also got 20-odd unfinished posts which I should try and tackle first…

      1. Yes seems we are doing catch up on everything & so funding is a real problem. I guess all comes down to too much spent on roads over the decades & not collecting enough $ to match its true cost (both Auckland councils and NZ as a whole)? [plus the “development contributions and Infrastructure Growth Charges” you mention].

      2. The problem was that for 20+ years the water rates were used as a source of revenue to cover bloated Council overheads. Metrowater had to pay Auckland City a dividend each year, Manukau Water and Waitakere were charged for overheads they didn’t use. Council officers bitterly fought efforts by Watercare to improve their plants. But it is just council staff, look at Watercare’s efforts to build a new water treatment plant to serve growth out west. A very bitter NIMBY fight over a plant which once built will employ about a dozen staff.

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