One of the often criticised goals from the original Auckland Plan, and subsequently the Unitary Plan was the council’s desire for a 70:40 split in housing development. Translated, they essentially wanted 60-70% of all growth in housing to occur within the existing urban area. The intensification that was to occur was also to be focused around our emergent Rapid Transit Network, currently composed of the rail network and the Northern Busway.
The critics of those goals often argued that they were unrealistic, that people didn’t want to live in apartments or terraced houses but wanted stand-alone houses on large sections. The result being that they believed we should open up more greenfield land for development. This view was often part of a circular argument as they opposed changing or removing highly restrictive rules, such as height limits, view shafts, minimum parking requirements and setbacks that prevented more intensive developments and then would use the fact not many were being built as proof they weren’t wanted.
Thankfully the commissioners hearing the Unitary Plan didn’t agree and near the end of 2016, the plan was adopted and allowed for much more housing development. A report to the Council’s Planning Committee next week shows that the Unitary Plan is doing exactly what it was intended to do.
It shows that building consents had slowed in the six-months prior to the adoption and it took until about August 2017 to really see any impact, but since then, things have been increasing significantly.
But it’s also where those consents are that are important and they say.
- 90% of the growth in consents is in Brownfields areas, accounting for 69% of consents, up from 62% for the same timeframe a year earlier.
- 54% of consents are terraced houses and apartments, up from 37% in the same timeframe before the Unitary Plan was passed.
- That number rises even higher when looking just inside the urban area where this number is 66%. They point out that this is “precisely what the Plan aimed to deliver“.
But the results go further, looking at the impacts around the Rapid Transit Network
Further, a disproportionately large number of dwellings are being consented in rapid transit network catchment areas– defined as living within 1500 metres of a train station or northern busway bus stop. This highlights that people value rapid transit access, and that development enabled by the Plan is responding:
- The share of multi-unit dwellings consented in rapid transit network areas is 16 times higher than the catchment’s share of Auckland’s land area. The rapid transit network catchment covers only 2.6 per cent of Auckland’s land area, but accounts for 42 per cent of all multi-unit dwellings consented in the last 10 months (see Figure 3 and Figure 4)
- 11 per cent of stand-alone homes were consented in rapid transit network catchments. This is 4.3 times more than the catchment’s share of land area.
- 81 per cent of all dwellings consented in rapid transit network catchments in the last year were multi-unit, helping to deliver the intensification that characterises transit-oriented development.
- Overall, 40 per cent of all dwellings consented in the urban area were in the rapid transit network catchments, even though the catchments account for only a quarter of Auckland’s urban area.
This map is a bit blurry but from what I can make out, the red dots are consents for intensified typologies and the blue ones stand-alone houses. The size of the dot denotes the number of consents at that location.
Another way of looking at it is by local board area. A few easy trends you can see include:
- There’s lots of everything happening in Upper Harbour, which incorporates the Hobsonville Point developments.
- Unsurprisingly. most apartments are in the Waitemata Local board area or the local board areas surrounding it (including over the shore in Devonport/Takapuna).
- The biggest stand-alone house areas are on the fringes
Overall there appear to be some really positive trends emerging with consents and Auckland is transforming before our eyes.