This is a guest post from reader Brendon Harré. It was originally posted on his Medium blog.

Auckland in 2016 agreed on a new zoning plan for the city called the Unitary Plan. It was a hard fought battle of competing interests. In particular, leafy suburb types argued for nothing to change while representatives of a younger cohort wanted rules around building new housing in existing suburbs to be eased.

The painfulness in negotiating this urban plan is perhaps best captured by the following satirical comedy podcast based on an actual Auckland Council Unitary Plan meeting.

Given the difficulty in negotiating the Unitary Plan it is unfortunate that the plan has already lost 25% of its total zoned capacity and 50% of its up-zoned capacity. This was modelled for the National Policy Statement -Urban Development Capacity requirement, which uses a commercially feasibility snapshot or point in time modelling technique -the same technique which estimated the feasible dwelling supply from the Unitary Plan in 2016.

In just one year, from 2016 to 2017 the estimated new dwelling supply fell from 422,000 down to 336,000. Even worse, this fall was concentrated on intensification developmental supply, which fell from 270,000 down to 140,000.

Demand for housing over the next thirty years in Auckland is estimated to be between 350,000 and 410,000 additional households. So the downsizing of the Unitary Plan means estimated supply is not enough to satisfy estimated demand.

These figures are from a new report discussed by Auckland Council’s planning committee.

Executive summary

2. The National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity (NPS-UDC) became operative in 2016. The policy requires the council to undertake a housing and business development capacity assessment (the assessment) by 31 December 2017.

3. The assessment is a key part of council’s evidence base. It informs the future development strategy and the feasibility targets which are to be included in the Unitary Plan. These requirements need to be completed by 31 December 2018.

4. Overall housing demand is assessed to be between 350,000 (Statistics NZ medium population forecast) and 410,000 (Statistics NZ high population forecast) households from 2016 to 2046:

· Plan-enabled capacity in residential zones in the urban area ranges between 120,000 (infill) and 1.07 million (redevelopment).

· Feasible development capacity in the urban areas is 140,000 residential dwellings

· Feasible development capacity in the future urban areas is 146,000 residential dwellings

· When including rural capacity of around 20,000 (not modelled) and redevelopment of Housing New Zealand land of around 30,000 (still being confirmed), total assumed feasible development capacity is around 336,000 throughout the region

5. The enabled feasible capacity for dwelling supply, as modelled for the 2016 draft Unitary Plan recommended by the Independent Hearings Panel, was for approximately 422,000 — being 270,000 (modelled) in brownfield existing urban areas and 130,000 (assumed feasible) in future urban areas, with the remainder being potential Housing NZ developments and future dwelling growth in rural-zoned areas. The new modelling shows, principally due to rising construction costs and flat to declining sales prices, that the brownfield enabled feasible capacity of 270,000 has since reduced to 140,000; and that the future urban feasible enabled capacity has changed slightly as it is now modelled, from 130,000 to 146,000 dwellings.

Bearing in mind the housing promises that both the Auckland Council and the New Zealand government have made, the reduction in the Unitary Plan capacity estimates below demand estimates cannot be ignored.

When demand for an asset is high and the quantity that can be supplied is inelastic, the result is price is used as an allocation mechanism. This can clearly be seen in Auckland with a growing homelessness problem and many employers –such as schools -not being able to attract staff due to the high cost of housing. These sort of issues made housing in both local Auckland council and national elections a key issue of public concern.

Taking into account that the Unitary Plan has not delivered affordable housing and now is officially confirmed as not expected to deliver, further reforms to housing supply and urban planning for Auckland will be necessary.

Yet many journalists treat the Unitary Plan’s 422,000 housing supply figure as a permanent given -they do not understand it was a provisional estimation, based on particular conditions, at a particular point in time.

For example, a recent newspaper article on the pressure urban sprawl is placing on Auckland’s southern elite soils, quotes the 422,000 figure. The journalist didn’t realise that this figure is already out of date, meaning if nothing is done to make intensification easier, there will be even greater pressure on outward expansion into elite soil areas.

Another example was Rod Oram from Newsroom arguing the new Minister of Housing, Transport and Urban Development -Phil Twyford –housing reforms are an illusionary pot of gold. Because the Unitary plan has already created adequate urban expansion possibilities for Auckland -both up and out. Rod Oram stating:

The government has better things to do with its political capital than to force council and citizens to painfully compromise all over again for the sake of achieving greater density in random places.

It was difficult negotiating the Unitary Plan and it will be difficult re-negotiating it. Not only that, the plan itself was flawed -it didn’t go far enough in addressing issues like infrastructure funding. It will be a big job fixing Auckland’s and New Zealand’s planning, housing and transport woes.

The path of least resistance would be for Auckland Council and the newly elected government to come up with some excuse to kick the housing issue to touch -that is what previous governments have done. But morally that would be wrong. Decent housing is one of life’s necessities. In a prosperous country such as New Zealand, decent housing should be considered a human right.

I hope that New Zealand’s new government and Auckland Council have the political strength to take the hard road of continuing urban planning and housing reforms to get the housing we need.

What more can be done?

My personal opinion is that for housing affordability and environmental reasons New Zealand could learn a lot from Tokyo’s urban development model.

I believe that there needs to be a balanced approach between formal plans and structures and a freedom to develop informally in an organic manner. This Next City report captures the spirit of this balance in a discussion on how to improve a Buenos Aires slum without destroying its informal structures which already provides many benefits.

Specifically, I think that Auckland in response to the loss of intensification housing supply, the following should be allowed across the whole metropolitan area;

  • Reduced section sizes. Even sprawling, car centric cities like Houston have allowed this (and post Hurricane Harvey -some Houston urbanites advocate the city allow even more freedom to intensify), what is so special about Auckland’s leafy suburbs that even if owners want to develop their properties to provide more housing they are not allowed to?
  • Mandatory car parking minimums rules should be abolished. How much car parking a private landowner needs should be a decision based on personal preference, it shouldn’t be a government regulated activity. Why should land be expensive for housing but free for car parking?

Finally, I think we need to recognise that, even if it’s difficult, putting policies in place that encourage more housing to be built is the only way to achieve affordable, attractive housing in the long term. For a nice overview of the reasons why, see this excellent academic review by a trio of US academics, Vicki Been, Ingrid Gould, Ellen Katherine O’Regan.

Share this

71 comments

  1. Can anyone explain why the dwelling supply has dropped like that? What are the factors causing the economic feasibility to drop like that? Is it just inflation in building costs vs static prices? It would be good to understand how those figures are reached.

    1. Because it the net profit is negative after demolish existing building, pay the council fees, subdivisions, construction, legal, sale, interest cost, etc.

      In a declining market with increasing construction cost, it will be too high risk to develop. Not to say increasing interest rate.

  2. Can someone please explain the reason for this drop? Its not like they changed the unitary plan. In my Auckland should be divided into numerous different zones, perhaps corresponding to local boards, and each zone given house price targets for each year. If house prices in a zone exceed the house price target (say the house price target for area x is average house price in 2032 is $1.2m and house prices in that zone hit $1.3m) the unitary plan for that area is revised to help reduce house prices/allow more intensification.

  3. The 422,000 dwellings has not dropped at all. It is still there unless someone did some mass rezoning to industry or the Future Urban Zone was pulled back.

    What has dropped is the feasibility for the market to deliver that 422,000 on its own. This is where the State kicks over.

    The Auckland Plan states 400,000 homes need to be built to accommodate that growth, this has not changed in the draft Refresh. The Unitary Plan (it is subservient to the Auckland Plan) is the mechanism to enable that 400,000 (and in the end the Independent Hearings Panel gave us 422,000).

    If for some reason total yield was to drop below 400,000 then the State as mentioned above kicks in. Enter the Housing Commission and Kiwi Build to get the numbers back to 422,000.

    One things I do agree Brendon is get rid of the Minimum Parking Rules right across the zones – ALL ZONES. That alone will get things going for both Kiwi Build and the Private Sector as the most costly regulation is removed from the mix.

    Twyford should pass an NPS and NES to rid the Parking Minimums.

  4. The problem is we want a big(ish) city for all it’s Sybaritic pleasures but we also want to keep the Waitakeres, have untouched pristine beaches, protect the potato fields of Pukekohe and the fertile lands of the Waikato, and stop sprawl to Clevedon and Warkworth.

    IMHO, missing from the debate as to WHY we should go up and not out is this environmental aspect. The deal is lots of three or four level, nine to fifteen apartment developments in Milford and Pt. Chev or a city of large bungalows on postage stamp sections that stretches from Huntley to Wellsford.

  5. Brendon, as ever an interesting article and the four conclusions are good (although I have a minor quibble with one of them). You write: “”In particular, leafy suburb types argued for nothing to change while representatives of a younger cohort wanted rules around building new housing in existing suburbs to be eased.”” This is excessively critical.

    As a home owner lucky enough to be living in the convenient leafy suburb of Birkdale I object to be categorised as a ‘nothing to change’ conservative. I may not be part of your young cohort but have many adult children who I would like to see in their own houses, not mine. Old enough to have lived in many countries and many cities and then chose deliberately to live in Auckland with its low rise houses that huddle under the tree line and have the benefits of both big city and an almost village life.

    Change was inevitable because the precursors of the consolidated Auckland had different standards and everyone agreed we need one set of standards. Change meaning townhouses and apartments at the transport hubs makes sense (for example mine would be Birkenhead, Glenfield, Northcote).

    Meanwhile I’m not too worried about what my neighbours may inflict on me but I do worry about the Council building on North Shore’s many reserves and playing fields. I’ve seen Britain’s school sports fields sold off for one-off financial benefit and fear the worst in Auckland. London and New York have housing problems but they are not building apartments on Hyde Park or Central Park. Auckland almost certainly has more communal public land than either London or New York but it is mainly in small chunks often the size of a single section but providing space for kids to play and elderly to sit and enjoy fresh air. These public areas will become more valuable as more households live garden-free.

    1. “This is excessively critical.” I dunno Bob. The scale of this problem is so huge, and involves widespread personal misery, so in the context, Brendon’s language is very restrained. Back in the 80’s I remember my grandmother was appalled at her own generation insisting on superannuation not being means-tested. She said it was the old stealing from the young. But she didn’t take umbrage if people trying to establish a healthy conversation on the topic tended to a generalisation about the generations. She just joined in the conversation.

      1. OK – that wasn’t well put. What I was trying to say is we have to keep a conversation going and just rejecting one side as “do nothing” is no way of converting.
        Of course at one level I agree with you – while there are children growing up housing conditions in Auckland that are giving them illnesses normally found only in the 3rd world then almost everything should be considered. To take the extreme if the only way of giving every Auckland child a dry uncrowded home was to cut down every tree and bull-doze every house like mine then so be it. However that is not the case – simply adjusting (easing) some rules, installing some public infrastructure and political will can solve the problem while retaining the things about Auckland we all love.
        Brendon clearly wants a healthy conversation but sometimes in his enthusiasm he may be losing potential supporters.

        1. Bob, methinks that quibbling about the words “leafy suburb types” is being excessively critical 🙂 Brendon’s doing a great job to further this conversation, so let’s discuss the concepts instead of finding fault in mild words. (Did you watch the Spinoff video?)

  6. The comments about reduced section sizes and subdividing properties into any combination – this generally is already provided for. The majority of subdivision applications these days are for the creation of lots below the minimum size by demonstrating that a dwelling can be provided on that lot (“subdivision in accordance with an approved land use consent”). The Mixed Housing and THAB zones allow for theoretically unlimited dwellings on a site so lot sizes can be as small as they’d like (as long as they contain a dwelling). You even don’t need to build the dwelling first – you can create a vacant ‘undersized’ site on the basis that someone else will build the consented dwelling after purchase. So the AUP is already flexible enough to provide for these outcomes. Sure, you still need resource consent, but if you stick to the built form rules of height and yard etc consent will almost always be issued. Also, even if subdivision of buildings was permitted, you’d still need to apply for a certificate of compliance in order to implement the subdivision, so subdivision “as of right” isn’t exactly possible under the RMA as you still need a resource consent for a permitted activity.

    1. “so subdivision “as of right” isn’t exactly possible under the RMA as you still need a resource consent for a permitted activity.”

      Subdivision as a right is possible. Set up the rules so that subdivision complies with every rule and it is then ‘as of right’. The Unitary Plan contains a line similar to ‘separation of a dwelling built before 2013 into two dwellings is a permitted activity’. We could amend that into ‘separation of any previously consented dwelling into any number of dwelling that meet the minimum size rule is a permitted activity’.

  7. These numbers are easily misunderstood. A few points:

    1) The “raw capacity” of the Unitary Plan has not changed since the plan went live in 2016 (subject to appeals). I forget the exact numbers but raw capacity is something like 1 million more homes in residential zones and even more in business zones. (By the way, raw capacity means the absolute maximum extra dwellings that could be accommodated if every single site was redeveloped to its potential).

    2) The housing market has changed since the first feasible capacity numbers were calculated. Land prices have kept going up, construction costs are more expensive and so forth. Essentially higher costs means it’s a bit more difficult to make a profit on a particular development, so therefore the proportion of raw capacity that’s feasible goes down.

    3) Market conditions will keep changing over time, as we go through housing construction booms and busts we can expect feasible capacity to bounce around a lot. Fairly small changes in assumptions can result in pretty large changes to feasible capacity. So might a developer that has different financial settings to the average private developer (e.g. KiwiBuild).

    4) What all this means is that we shouldn’t panic over short-term fluctuations in feasible capacity. Ultimately we need to build around 10,000-15,000 homes a year and there’s feasible capacity for 140,000 feasible extra units in existing areas and an unclear amount of greenfield capacity (the whole amount won’t be feasible yet as most of the future urban zone lacks infrastructure).

    Thanks,

    Joshua Arbury
    Auckland Council

    1. Thanks Josh. Can you suggest a mechanism that will prevent the MacMansioning of modest houses on the isthmus? It is still obviously more economically profitable to turn a 120m2 house into a 300m2 house, removing permeable land and adding no more dwellings. Apart from big players like HNZ and the occasional large private development, the “man or woman on the street” seems to have no incentive to think about 3 or 4 storey apartments to replace the single dwelling. That’s a lost opportunity. Any solutions?

      1. I think that the Unitary Plan makes it more likely that we will see more, smaller dwellings on a site, when compared to previous plans.

        To illustrate this, let’s look at a theoretical 600 m2 site with zoning that would allow two levels and around a third of the site to be covered in a dwelling. These are reasonably typical residential zone controls. This would allow up to 400 m2 of floorspace

        1) Under the previous planning rules, generally there was a density control of one dwelling per 350-400 m2, so therefore only one dwelling of up to 400 m2 in floorspace would be possible. Essentially the planning rules were forcing McMansions as the only economically viable option.

        2) Under the Unitary Plan many of the height and site coverage rules are similar, so you’re still paying with 400 m2 of floorspace. But now there are no density controls you can do two 200 m2 homes, or four 100 m2 terraced houses. A lot more choice.

        While it’s probably going to be “easier” to develop a single, giant home and try to sell it for $2 million, the size of the market at that price is probably pretty small. So maybe you do four 100 m2 terraced houses and sell each one for $700k? They sell quickly and actually you get more money overall.

        1. I look forward to seeing a change, then. The plan operative in part has been in place now for over 14 months, and in my area, has not yet influenced the plans of single-home owners intending to develop. They still apply to add extra vehicle crossings and parking while paying for House and Garden type designs.

          Does Council have any programmes for encouraging conversations in the community about the options for development and the benefits of intensification?

          1. Hi Heidi. 14 months is a very short time in the development cycle for anything other than House & Garden designs. It’s not uncommon for more intensive development to result from strategic land purchases in the previous cycle, which makes land cost a lower proportion of the cost model.

            If you were to look at the story of many of the apartment schemes on the market you are likely to find this play at work in many of them. In an inflationary housing market just sitting on assets is an effective strategy for a developer – (ideally) some income in the short term, then a much bigger cost advantage when the development is kicked off. It also means a developer can beat others to securing contractors by being ready at the beginning of the cycle, and thereby avoid build cost blowouts.

            Time can be a big factor in development profit. I’m not sure government and council have figured out how to work with this yet.

          2. To go back to your initial comment on Mcmansioning – I think it’s got a lot to do with the Lemming-like behaviour of Real Estate influences. Agents will tend to back what they know and I’ve seen them directly influence upsizing of relatively compact housing schemes. They will encourage developers to rush into the known space with the strong incentive of sales promises, even if this patently leads to a risk of oversupply in that space.

            A close parallel is at work in London, there being focussed on apartments for premium offshore buyers. This story shows that even dense solutions can create big problems in terms of product mis-match; their problem is spec and controlled exclusivity, with top-end supply failing to produce trickle-down benefits. The dwellings exist, but are likely to remain empty to a large extent. There’s also some useful comment here on the degree of flexibility available to developers when committing to different housing typologies.

            https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/26/ghost-towers-half-of-new-build-luxury-london-flats-fail-to-sell?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

          3. My area has seen gradual subdivision and rebuilding over many years, there are houses and flats from every decade since 1883. The new zoning allows for 3 story buildings and across the road a 100 year old bungalow is being readied for removal.
            I’d support a denser plan, particularly around transport nodes. I’d allow higher buildings and projects combining railway platforms into and under those buildings.
            I’m not sure if we have rules reducing allowable footprint at various heights but I’d still want controls over setback, light to roads and neighbouring sites, and overall bulk of buildings. Plenty of overseas cities to copy rules from, eg Singapore.

          1. Tony,

            From memory a consent is required for building more than two units on a site, so yes I guess it would be. Otherwise most of the planning rules relate to height and form so consenting requirements would be the same for one large house versus more smaller units.

        2. Hi Josh, in practise it is not always feasible to divide that 400m2 floor space into smaller units.

          – If I want to build four standalone building of 100m2, the setback between buildings, access to sun, and outlook space would cost too much land that makes them land inefficient.

          – If I want to build attached terrance housing. The profit would suffers, as it cost more to build terrance house due to firewall and consenting complexity, yet the unit sells less than detached houses.

          – House that are too small tend to attract less affluent residence and degrade the area, so in long term the capital growth is less. That expectation of capital growth would affect how easy to sell the property and the price premium. Therefore it is favourable for developer to build luxury McMansions.

          1. Of course there are tradeoffs in any development. But I would guess the market for dwellings that you can sell for $750k and still make a decent profit is much larger than the market for $2m dwellings.

        3. Josh: “”four 100 m2 terraced houses and sell each one for $700k””. My four adult children (plus 2 grandchildren) despite a couple of degrees among them have little chance of ever buying at $700k (unless they obtain wealthy partners). If my slightly better than average children (aged 20 to 32) cannot afford housing what hope those who are average Aucklanders? A reasonable price for an Auckland house is about $300k (even that is a greater multiple than I paid for my first house in London). Meanwhile my son in Lille paid about $300k for a new apartment a year ago.
          Brendon’s concern about total zoned capacity is less important than current prices. Brownfield development is expensive (or maybe that is never cheap); can the council get greenfield development moving – some large scale factory assembled state houses please?

          1. Bob, take a read of the Future Urban Land Supply Strategy, which outlines how a very very large amount of greenfield development will be sequenced and provided with infrastructure over the next 30 years.

            http://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2017/07/refreshed-strategy-for-future-urban-areas/

            In terms of mass producing housing to bring down construction costs, my understanding is that this is a critical part of KiwiBuild.

            In terms of $700k vs $300k, I hear you. I’m mid-30s with a family and am probably stuck renting for as far as I can see into the future. My sense is that it will take time to truly improve affordability. As you son’s situation in Lille highlights, it’s not impossible to build cheap new apartments.

          2. Greenfield developments aren’t cheap either… to me it seems the typical house in a greenfield is a 250m² mansion costing well over a million. Definitely way more than $300k.

          3. Josh, thanks for your reply. Clearly judging by your comments you are a bright graduate and in my day by mid-thirties you would be in your own house with your family. It was only the single guys who didn’t want the responsibility and the reduced freedom to move who rented. I really don’t want to be the voice of elderly conservatism on this site but some things really were better in the past.

            I remain very skeptical of 30 year plans – maybe the population will decline! But a thirty year plan that has action for the next say 3 years does get me excited. I can see the brownfield sites in action (Highbury and Northcote are local) but for large greenfield Kiwibuild sites Auckland needs to see serious action now (better still yesterday) on PT, road building, schools and sewers. I’m worried that planners think Hobsonville is a success – OK it is not bad for the wealthy but too expensive, too small and way to slow to be developed.

        4. Josh,

          How about the jump to the next level?

          Going above 2/3 stories from house (single or terraced) to apartments is a big jump in costs:

          https://www.reddit.com/r/newzealand/comments/7sgvs5/auckland_councils_economists_argue_that_evidence/dt55ydi/

          Adding 100k per apartment unit vs a similar floor sqm terraced house will push construction towards the later.

          Additional with the current settings too unlock a third floor in a house the first floor needs to contain a garage. This implicitly enforces parking minimums.

          1. Nicholas, I’m not an expert in construction cost issues but you are right that once you go past three levels the costs go up quite a lot. This is because things like lift shafts and underground parking generally become necessary.

            My understanding is that 4-6 levels is a bit of a “financial black hole” when it comes to getting a good return. Which is why I think it’s most likely we will see growth in the form of 2-3 level terraced housing and then 7+ level apartment buildings in and around our centres.

            On parking , I’ve spent much of the past 5 years writing evidence and presenting to the IHP and Environment Court as part of developing the Unitary Plan. The final plan substantially reduces parking minimums compared to what existed in the old plans. In the zones we would expect to see the most intensification there are no longer parking minimums for residential activities. In all other zones there’s never a requirement for more than 1 per unit. One of the reasons for this change is to help keep costs down and improve affordability.

          2. Sounds to me that something other than the UP is required, then, as 4-storeys is ideal for Auckland. Higher than this creates too many social problems (see Vancouver’s issues with loneliness or the Pattern Language’s analysis of why higher is bad psychologically.)

          3. Yes, build 5 two floored townhouses at ground level and 5 on level three, stair access only to the top 5. Sadly, the HIRB are probably going to work against you, which is why they should be removed in THAB zones.

          4. 1. Why parking?
            2. Fire means two escape paths, unless sprinklers. Three story with garage essentially only has one.
            3. Ceiling height – THAB has a min height.
            4. Balconies

          5. @Josh What about implied parking requirements. Where you need a garage in order unlock the third story.

            So in THAB zone with 50% site coverage you lose potentially 500 sqm of housing per 1000 sqm if you build without a garage.

            Sure there is a benefit in converting a 120 sqm single house on a 500 sqm site to four two-story terraced 100 sqm houses = 400 sqm of housing.

            Then there is the AUP housing projections.

            Are these done on the basis of this being a maximum of 6 stories for the whole THABZ? ie. 1200 sqm of housing per 500sqm site?

          6. Build a 4 storey townhouse. Done. If desired, the ground floor can be used for parking, or for a small business (assuming mixed use is legal).

    2. Joshua can you explain why intensification feasible housing supply took such a hit, losing 50% of its capacity, while feasible housing supply from greenfield areas actually increased by a modest percentage? Further what can be done to improve feasible housing supply from intensification versus greenfield areas?

      1. Brendon, I think that the feasible capacity modelling only actually applies to existing live-zoning, which is mostly current urban areas (as well as some live-zoned but not yet developed greenfield areas). Therefore changes to feasibility obviously mostly impacted that.

        For greenfield areas, as the exact zoning of these areas (and therefore their capacity) is not yet set the numbers are created in a different way – more as a rough estimate of units per hectare based on likely yields from assumed future different types of developments (e.g. higher intensities around centres etc. etc.) Changes to the housing market wouldn’t have affected these estimates – although technically they’re not really “feasible capacity” as they couldn’t be developed tomorrow as most future urban zoned areas don’t have infrastructure.

        1. It certainly was a model that was very sensitive to the market, which I suppose simply reflects the reliance on the private sector. I wonder why anyone was using the model’s feasible numbers at all. Is there an acknowledgment within Council,Josh, that a real plan to provide houses can’t be so reliant on the market?

          1. Heidi, the most up to date Council strategy on housing is in the Auckland Plan that will go out for consultation in March.

            http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Open/2017/11/PLA_20171128_AGN_6728_AT.PDF

            I think there’s strong recognition in this strategy of the need for large-scale public sector housing construction if we are to truly address our housing crisis. This is why Panuku/Housing NZ/KiwiBuild etc. are so critical to unlocking the capacity in the Unitary Plan.

          2. Thanks for that link, Josh. On the subject of parks (that Bob brought up before) I find the plan a bit disappointing: “As Auckland grows and intensifies, space will be at an even higher premium. Acquiring new public space is expensive. Auckland must therefore complement any new public places by getting more out of what we already have.”

            It makes me wonder why a city that is growing is so cash-strapped. We’ve been both unable to house our residents and too cash-strapped to increase the public space that is so critical to more dense living. I guess I’ll be putting in another submission. 🙂

  8. Minimum parking requirements should be outlawed nationwide, the consequence for keeping them should be the cessation of any central govt funding immediately to the council in question. It’s just an elitist projection that everyone by law should provide space for some douchebag’s metal box, costing lives, land, and affordable housing. MPRs makes as little sense as minimum bbq space provision or boatshed provision or some other abitrary item that some old crusty thinks we all need to worship.

    1. Yes the government could write a RMA -NPS that car parking minimums are not something that requires government regulation, that they are a market distortion to private land supply and that for public streets, car parking charges are a more effective means to allocate use of public spaces.

    2. Yes exactly Fred. While they are at it they should get rid of the need to provide parks as well. Why should people have to pay for other people’s recreation. If people want parks they can buy a house with their own yard or subscribe to one like a gym membership. As for clean water, what the hell is that all about? If people want to swim they should provide their own pool of clean water. Why should the Government mandate clean public waterways? It is like bbq space provision. And don’t get me started on day light controls.

      1. Miffy it is not the same. Car parking minimums is not the provision of a public amenity from public land. It is government regulations dictating to private land owners how their land will be utilised.

        1. Only if it is actually required Brendon. That is the key difference between NZ and all the nonsensical stuff people get off the internet about the USA. You can apply to provide no parking here and it gets approved if there is a reason. If you can provide it and you actually need it then you get to provide it.

          1. Really? Is that new? I’ve heard multiple stories over the years from gardeners who didn’t want a parking area or driveway but were required to have one to be able to build the house.

          2. Miffy if landowners who do not want car parking only need to make an application with a reason and AC automatically gives permission to not apply car parking minimum rules, then why are car parking rules needed?

            Why not save everyone’s time/money and acknowledge that car parks on private property is a decision (based on private reasons) for property owners to make. Why does the government need to get involved?

          3. Till all those people who have bought a house start yelling ‘where am I going to park my car’ and park them all over the place, then when the parks run out and they can’t park within 30 second walk of their front door they start yelling ‘you have to do something’ at the council.
            Which would be fine if the council ignored them cause I agree there shouldn’t be rules like this on private development. But yeah…

          4. Tony that may happen which is why a consistent across NZ message needs to be sent that for privately owned land it is the property owners concerned decision on how much parking to provide and that for publicly owned land the best mechanism to allocate in demand car parking spaces is car parking charges. Further that in the future instead of local government wasting bureaucratic time with issuing/not issuing car parking consents, local government should enforce penalties on those that break the law by littering public spaces with illegally parked cars.

            What this will do is create market signals for car parking, which is not present now because land for car parking is free while land for housing/commercial uses etc is expensive. For my proposed car parking rule if demand increases then car parking prices increase. In response some private land owners might decide to rent out more car parking space. But equally potential users for car parking spaces might choose alternative transport options which do not require expensive car parking.

            Surely that is better than some arbitrary rationing process?

          5. Brendon given that 82% of people who travel to work either drive to work or are a passenger in a private vehicle then the chances of parking issues being dealt with as you suggest are next to nil. (Remember shopping trips are likely to be even higher.) If land use activities generate trips then why shouldn’t it be the land owners responsibility to deal with the effects? That you don’t like parking doesn’t make it any less necessary for others. (Source 2013 Journey to work sum of drive private vehicle, drive company vehicle and passenger, divided by sum of those who travelled gives 82.7% for Auckland and 81.7% for NZ.)

          6. “If land use activities generate trips then why shouldn’t it be the land owners responsibility to deal with the effects? ”

            Because we can accurately reflect the cost of these adverse effects. We don’t require all houses to have a compost bin, we charge for waste disposal. Parking is a service; make people pay for it.

          7. I hadn’t realised they had change Part II of the RMA to require you to avoid. remedy or mitigate adverse effects unless sailorboy thinks you can ‘reflect’ costs.

          8. “I hadn’t realised they had change Part II of the RMA to require you to avoid. remedy or mitigate adverse effects unless sailorboy thinks you can ‘reflect’ costs.”

            What are the adverse effects? That free parking becomes over subscribed?

            That isn’t an adverse effect. It’s a positive effect. If I develop apartments the local supermarket also becomes oversubscribed. Do I need to pay them to expand? No, they expand and charge the residents of my building the price required to cover that cost.

            That is a positive effect on the supplier. Council are the supplier of on-street parking, council are positively effected by this change. Who is increased demand for their product adversely effecting?

            TLDR: increased on street parking demand is not an adverse effect.

          9. The increased density of places for living/working/playing is a positive effect on an area. The way the trips to these places is managed is important. Increased car traffic to the area is an adverse effect both in the area and on the road network. Increased road-side parking or on-site parking requiring the crossing of footpaths by cars are both adverse effects, the former because it makes it more dangerous for children to cross the street, and more dangerous for cyclists, the latter because it makes it more dangerous for footpath users.

            Provision of new destinations isn’t the creator of adverse effects. The adverse effects are from failing to provide the necessary active and PT mode infrastructure and failing to limit the creation of more car traffic to the new destination. All that is within our control.

      2. “Why should the Government mandate clean public waterways?”

        Because society deems that there is value in clean waterways in a way that there isn’t in using half a site for car parking.

  9. Great article Brendon.

    NZ has completely failed to implement the RMA as it was intended by Geoffrey Palmer. If proper weight and consideration had been given to Part 2 then we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in.

    “5 Purpose
    (1)
    The purpose of this Act is to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.
    (2)
    In this Act, sustainable management means managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural well-being and for their health and safety while—
    (a)
    sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and
    (b)
    safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems; and
    (c)
    avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment.”

  10. Its still unclear to me why we need dozens of overly prescriptive zones across Auckland – so much time wasted in the AUP with people arguing about what zones they were in, what rules/ assessment criteria that triggered etc. I think we would be better to wipe the slate clean and allow mixed-use development to occur anywhere as of right with some very flexible density requirements which would allow for the type of development Brendon proposes. The density limits could be greatly relaxed for areas within say 1km of a rail or busway station or major centre (e.g. Takapuna). The only specific zoning we should have should be related to heavy industrial land.

        1. Exactly – many would argue the existing zoning regime with dozens of prescriptive rules doesn’t seem to be helping or preventing some adverse outcomes for the built environment. We now have a couple generations of planners engrained with nitpicking every detail of a development – they honestly believe that infringing arbitrary lines on a plan creates an adverse effect that must be avoided, remedied, mitigated etc. The classic which is often pointed out is the HIRB rules. The current zoning regime is overly process driven and largely about ticking boxes – why don’t we give some freedom to architects, urban designers and planners to actually design things.

          1. As I see it, developers are forging ahead with inappropriate design with Council consent. Council could use the UP zones objectives as a way to flag inappropriate design: If it doesn’t meet the objective, why? Is it the zone objectives that don’t match the rules, or the design that doesn’t match the rules?

            Instead, well, we end up with single storey standalone houses and 90% site coverage in a THAB zone where 4-6 storey apartments and much lower coverage should be possible.

      1. Since land in Auckland is not dirt cheap, why would anyone build single storey houses? Is building more than one storey that much more expensive than overseas?

        1. Now THAT is the question to ask, because they are still building single storey standalones in THAB areas. Unless Tim is right and it’s just a matter of time. My problem with “time” being the answer, is that the rules need to be enforced during the interim for the mindsets to be able to change with time.

          I’d say the throne of the real estate agents possibly needs slipping out from under them, too.

        2. Because it’s cheaper and less risky to build.

          Because the council allows it.

          I have a specific example in my street. THAB zone corner site on the road with SH zone on the other side. The former is 50% building coverage + max 70% impervious and the later is 35% building coverage + 60% max impervious.

          660 sqm site with 389 sqm building coverage or 59% building coverage. Impervious was RC at 61.36% via “footpath in landscape” loopholes. Plus changes to the built design after consent – block wall with strip footing via timber retaining with the new footing at ground level. Basically 90%+ site coverage. Green space is the verge and the neighbour’s garden. No water retention.

          The planner reason for allowing single story built form in THAB zone was that it is transition site. So we then get single story form but with the coverage of a THAB, without the restrictions you’d get with a THAB design.

          ie. 130 sqm house on 220 site = 60% coverage vs 35% for SHZ.

          I’ve got a thread of emails with council and the plans, but no time at the moment to write it up as something for this site.

          I’m not sure what the right answer is, but this is not the right solution.

          PS: Developer as listed these for 1.175 million.

          1. The footpath in landscape loophole is a rort. Particularly as it could be applied sensibly – where the footpath can actually drain into a permeable landscape – but is applied where there is nowhere permeable for that water to go. Unfortunately when Council has incorrectly granted consent to a site where permeability rules are not followed, instead of owning up to their own mistake and requiring a new design, Council pull it out as a loophole for the developer. IMO, UP has lost its strength because of loopholes like this and the way Council apply them.

            As I said above, Council should instead be seeing if the incoming design meets the zone objectives. If it doesn’t, the permeability calculations need to be checked, because designers are making favourable-to-the-developer mistakes in them.

Leave a Reply