Industrial is important
In more than two years of Development Update posts, I’ve hardly ever mentioned industrial development. It’s hard to show in a map like the RCG Development Tracker, so I don’t cover it there.
But even in a modern economy like Auckland, with a strong services base, industrial properties are important. Warehouses, factories and other industrial buildings are where a big slice of the economy happens, and where 100,000+ Aucklanders work.
Looking at aerial photos of Auckland, the industrial areas are pretty easy to spot. They’ve got a characteristic grey colour. The big ones are:
- Onehunga/ Penrose/ Mt Wellington
- Airport Oaks, on the way to the airport
- Wiri/ Manukau
- East Tamaki
These four major industrial areas form a square (roughly, at least). There are some mid-sized industrial clusters around the city, and plenty of smaller pockets scattered even more widely. But the areas above are the big ones, and if anywhere is in line for those mystical things called agglomeration benefits, chances are it’s there.
Most of the major industrial areas have had expensive road upgrades, or are in line for them. But the “third main”, a third railway line running to the port and potentially connecting many of the areas above, has had to wait. In a small sign of progress, the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) at least lists the third main as a project which could be completed in the next decade.
The current scene
But I digress. This post is about development, so where is new industrial happening?
Not only are the ‘big four’ above the largest industrial areas today, they’re also getting the lion’s share of industrial growth (based on recent building consents).
Highbrook, in East Tamaki, is a whopper. It’s probably the largest and most valuable business park in New Zealand, worth more than $1 billion and with more than 380,000 square metres (sqm) of floor space. Eventually, that will reach 530,000 sqm. Highbrook’s not a typical industrial setting – it has a mix of industry, offices and even retail and accommodation. Some of those uses are shown in the Development Tracker.
The airport is another big growth zone. Most of the new buildings you’ll see going up on the way to the airport are on land owned by Auckland Airport itself. It owns huge areas of land north of the passenger airport, but it’s only in the last few years that it’s stepped up development there.
New buildings are also going up around Wiri/ Manukau, one of the recent examples being Z Energy’s biodiesel plant. This opened last year, converting waste tallow into low-emissions fuel.
Onehunga/ Penrose/ Mt Wellington is pretty much all developed, but there’s still growth happening as existing buildings expand or get replaced with newer ones.
Oh, and one more thing: industrial buildings are currently in short supply in Auckland, just like most other kinds of buildings really. Colliers, one of the big real estate companies, reckons that just 2.1% of industrial floor space in Auckland is vacant, “the lowest on record since our survey began over 20 years ago”. Eep.
The Unitary Plan makes a lot more industrial land available – e.g. in Drury South, undeveloped land east of the airport, Silverdale and Westgate – but it’ll be years before these areas become major employers. Growth tends to want to go more centrally, and industrial has long timeframes anyway. Highbrook was zoned in 2001, and it might be fully developed around 2021.
And some non-industrial stuff
Other kinds of buildings keep getting built around Auckland and New Zealand, and you’ll find many of them in the Development Tracker. More proposals for buildings keep popping up, too. The Pacifica is one of the exciting ones – on a city centre site which has just been used for surface parking for many years.