Transportblog became Greater Auckland to reflect our wider focus on urban issues – transport and housing being the biggies. But we’ve written less on housing this year, and I wanted to ask you our readers: what are we missing? I mainly write about housing, but I’m not writing as often as I used to, and I’m just one person with one viewpoint. We’d love to get a wider spread of views.

As a start on that, I’ve enjoyed reading three perspectives on housing recently – one from a social housing provider, one from a developer/ builder, and one from a group of builders. I’ve linked to each of them below, with a summary of each one. They’re worth reading in full if you’re interested in housing issues.

Bernie Smith is the CEO of Monte Cecilia Housing Trust, and The Spinoff published an abridged version of a speech he gave recently:

We need a 25-30 year strategy that every political party agrees to and that every voter holds every political party accountable to achieve. A strategy that’s not created by politicians or bureaucrats, but by the homeless, renters, community housing providers, people who are living the experience, by Māori, Pasifika and other ethnic groups; a strategy that is not Canadian or Australian, but a New Zealand strategy that recognises housing design suitable for Māori, for Pasifika and other ethnic groups, intergenerational living, affordable rentals, affordable home ownership and does not forget a strategy that includes building strong, healthy and safe communities with clear milestone targets.

We have I believe a housing volume focus at the moment, instead of a community value focus. A community-value focus is where people – no matter if they’re in state housing, a private renter or an owner occupier – are seen as an equal. Communities where people feel they belong can put roots down, get their medical, educational, social and religious needs met, a community where every man, women and child can stand tall in their culture, their faith, their gender and feel valued.

KiwiBuild is great for middle class New Zealanders with higher household incomes. We are missing the middle part of the housing continuum – affordable rentals and affordable home shared-equity ownership packages.

The increase in emergency, transitional supply is great and the extra funding into Housing First is awesome. They are all necessary parts of reducing homelessness, but the present struggle is affordable housing supply so people can be housed in warm, secure and sustainable housing long term, not KiwiBuild properties that are out of reach.

We need good quality homes with mixed tenure, homes that are affordable enough to be in reach of teachers, police, nurses and every person who keeps this city running, whose total household income is only about $100,000.

And then let’s not forget affordable rentals for our working poor who are equally important in keeping our city running but with a household income of only $40,000 – $80,000, where every dollar earned is spent just on living and saving for a home deposit is near to impossible.

Most of the pain of Auckland’s housing shortage has been felt by the people who can afford it the least. People who are living in damp, crowded homes with insecure tenure, because they can’t afford something better or are afraid to ask the landlord to fix up the place. The Government is making some encouraging moves on rental reform and on “community value” too, but there are aspects that are being missed. Kiwibuild is not the whole answer. Mixed tenure, and affordable rentals, are a part of the housing continuum that hasn’t really been present in NZ so far.

30 apartments for emergency housing, to be completed in 2019. Source: Monte Cecilia Housing Trust

Peter Cooney heads Classic Group, one of NZ’s largest builders and developers. In a recent commentary paper (hat tip Bob Dey), he talks about whether the Government can achieve its goal of 100,000 Kiwibuild homes in the next decade, and raises a number of issues, including the below:

Financing is not the problem… the root of the problem with speed [in getting homes] to market is the ever-increasing mountains and mountains of red tape and slow council decision-making or non decision-making.

To be successful the Minister [Phil Twyford] must understand that leading this initiative he needs experienced people who have developed land and built houses, not policymakers, bureaucrats and endless academic opinion.

Paradoxically we have got to the point where burgeoning regulation designed to reduce risk is instead creating risk. We still have the problem where officials don’t want to take the risk of deciding, so they will simply ask for more information and more reports and ask for more modification of our plan. That all must stop if 100,000 houses are to be built.

A new ministry is being formed right now specifically focused on housing. It can be a blank canvas. Populate it with people with commercial development and housing experience… shape it from the beginning and laser focus it on the 100,000-house goal.

Our experience of large scale redevelopment projects illustrates the need for [Housing] Czars… In one large Government housing project, to participate developers were required to go down a commercially non-viable pathway. Those in the government department leading this process felt they were able to do that because they perceived they had the power over developers who wanted to win the work. The commercial operators in the room could see immediately the densities being required could not work commercially. Financially it was not going to work, and
practically it was not going to work, so one week before the tender closed we pulled out – after spending $1.8 million on the tender process we pulled out… We explained the problems to the key government people, but they just continued down the path they were on. The result was both major consortiums pulled out after collectively spending something like $4 million on the tender process prior to that decision to walk away. Neither we nor other tenderers got the desired outcome which was to be building those houses. The Government didn’t get its houses built, and New Zealanders have made no progress toward solving the housing shortage.

In effect councils abrogate their role of shaping urban areas and rely on developers and builders to take the time to push through changes. What is required is a new attitude that has government looking ahead and driving innovation. Councils should be becoming future focused and creating the opportunities for developers and builders to bring forward innovations that can quickly be acted upon.

“Red tape” is a common bugbear for developers, but what it comes down to is that NZ’s system is set up to encourage risk-averse behaviour in councils. Councils carry the can for when things go wrong (leaky homes, NIMBY backlash etc) but don’t really benefit from growth.

Government tender processes that fizzle out are another thing that I’ve heard a few people mention.

Lastly, Phil Eaton of Greenstone Group summarises the Great Construction Debate, an event put on by the Property Council and featuring some of NZ’s largest commercial builders:

There were many issues discussed. A select few are:

  • The fragmentation in the industry which creates inefficiencies, blocks collaboration and reduces transparency in the supply pipeline and as a result of all that does not encourage innovation, training and development.
  • The poor set up of projects at the outset due to inexperienced teams or undercapitalised projects results in a lot of inefficiencies and false starts.
  • Stability in the industry has been a key inhibitor of creating controlled growth, collaboration and training. The boom bust nature of the industry is a massive roadblock to creating a better industry.
  • Skill shortages right across the full spectrum of roles [labour through to senior management]
  • Trust in the construction sector is a big issue. Everyone has had their fingers burnt and are a bit more than weary. However, we must continue to create partnerships and move forward.

The main issue for all parties is that the market is at its absolute peak capacity yet more work needs to be done. Resources are stretched which means they are busy trying to deliver what is currently being developed and built and not change the market or even further develop their businesses.

A main issue for the builders is the ability to predict their forward workload. So, more transparency in the construction pipeline is required. However, this is difficult to achieve due to the market forces and cycles.

[Compared with Australia] the market is very fragmented with many small business and sub-contractors. With a fragmented market it is very difficult to create transparency and through that strong partnerships. In turn that prevents the industry developing and reinvest in their businesses. They tend to be in a more protective mode. Training and innovation are less likely to be carried out as the small businesses cannot afford it or do not have the confidence in forward work to do so.

Builders often talk about the boom-bust nature of their industry, making it hard to plan and invest. They argue that the Government to smooth out the peaks and troughs, by commissioning more buildings during the downturns. The previous Government was against this approach, but the current one is all for it. The Kiwibuild programme expects to build fewer homes when the industry is flat out (as it is currently), and more when the industry is quieter.

Skills training comes through here as well, and looking at the supply chain – including what products are allowed to be used in construction.

Although these three people are coming from three different perspectives, and looking at different issues, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they agree with much of what the others are saying.

And when I look at my own perspective, which is pretty economics-y (how many homes are being consented, or built, and how many are needed?), the thing that I’m missing is the qualitative side: the social housing end of the housing continuum, or the stories of people who are struggling to find a decent home, or to hang on to it, or to find a home at all.

What do you think? What can GA do to give better coverage on housing in 2019? Can anyone offer a fresh perspective, or are you keen to write guest posts, or can you suggest anyone else to shoulder-tap for guest posts or more regular writing?

And while we’re at it, besides transport and housing, what other topics would you like to see covered on GA, that will help with our goal of creating a better city?

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96 comments

  1. John – its good to see GA looking at more than just Transport. I know that in the past, TransportBlog got more than a few grumpy replies from transport aficionados who were irritated by the inclusion of a “non core topic” like housing – but I think that you should utilise the vast readership (and the propensity to comment – which others dream of!) to discuss other topics. Go for it.

  2. Great questions, John. I’d love to hear more from each of these three people, and others equally experienced.

    I’m particularly keen to hear from people who are experienced in the world of housing or building, have an empathetic understanding of the social issues, AND can see the urban form considerations.

    The urgency of the housing crisis needs immediate action, but any response other than a traditional one is generally treated as radical fringe stuff. If the traditional response (large amounts of greenfields housing) wasn’t so destructive, that would be ok. But it is destructive, and I fear that ignoring the other solutions is mainly because market players “are busy trying to deliver what is currently being developed and built and not change the market or even further develop their businesses.”

    It may be that to find “a New Zealand strategy that recognises housing design suitable for Māori, for Pasifika and other ethnic groups, intergenerational living, affordable rentals, affordable home ownership” and to shake Council out of the risk-averse mindset they are in, it will require the voices of some deep-thinking economics-y people, and some academic radicals, too. I’m comfortable with that – the experienced people in the field who do see the bigger picture seem to be able to engage with academics and analysts.

  3. Good piece john and good to see housing coming back to the forefront on this wonderful website. Personally, some interesting areas to cover would be housing of the future. We have built these single or two storey homes, usually with a sloped roof for centuries and centuries. Will housing change in the future, will technology make the need for big homes less?

    The other area that really interests me is gentrification (or reverse). how we can start to see neighbors change in Auckland for the better or worse. Maps etc with renders om (even a 3D generated view). Compare say Onehunga with all the new developements vs somewhere like Pokeno to demo intensification vs sprawl. Demonstrate how new housing in neighbours can increase satisfaction of living e.g with the new apartments blocks we now have a new park and a few new awesome cafes we take the kids too blah blah blah.

    From a homeless social housing aspect, how can we integrate these people into Neighborhoods? Could they fulfil any roles in the construction to help them get on their feet. More mental health clinics built into these new developments etc.

    Lots to focus on away from the numbers side I guess, just throwing thoughts around 🙂

    1. Yes. It will be an interesting topic to write about some gentrification and ghettoization for various Auckland suburbs.

      I believe if the local politican is Labour, they will want to ghettoize their demographics so that they always get elected. Examples like putting high concentration of state house on their electoral.

      The opposite is if the local politician is National, they will want to gentrification the local demographics. They will put ‘character’ overlay, anti development controls, sell of state houses, privileged school zone, to keep the supply low and increase the home value.

      1. Kelvin – that’s absolute rubbish. You seriously think that Labour politicians WANT people to be ghettoized just to get elected? Or are you just trolling?

          1. Either put up your “evidence” or stop this bullshit.

            Your spouting rubbish is a Trumpian tactic. Just making something up doesn’t make it true.

          2. Was the Unitary Plan not created by a Council not a Government..and wasn’t said Council led by x2 ‘Labour’ Mayors in Brown and Goff…I think there is too much common sense around here to buy into your conspiracy theories!

  4. Hello John, I used to be a porse carer and am now studying urban ecology at auckland uni with a particular focus on kids. I was at the child in the city conference last month and am talking at auckland build next week and would love to write a post. Cheers, Alex

    1. I was a CBD dad too for a while but I have now fled to the suburbs. For us adults living in an apartment has many advantages, but I think staying there with kids would be very unfair to these kids.

      (plug to my own blog → https://wrongsideofmycar.blogspot.com/2018/09/learning-how-to-ride-bicycle-in.html)

      Another, simpler, litmus test is: your kid wants to go outside. Is that possible? We can criticize screen time, but then what do you want kids to do?

      There’s many possible answers. If the street is safe then yes. If the courtyard is not just a parking lot then yes. If we would live in a culture where it is OK for kids to roam around by themselves they could go to a park, then yes. In our CBD: depends. In Victoria Quarter the answer is no.

      I really hope that with developments like Unitec and Takapuna some thought is given to how people will go about in their daily life, rather than just stacking the desired number of apartments in some arbitrary pattern.

      1. We have ~5 or 6 years I guess before we’d have to take flight. Hopefully we can make enough of a difference in the interim to not have to.

        1. That’s still some time. Things are getting at least a bit more interesting — imagine the reaction if that Cook Street cycleway proposal would have come 5 years ago…

      2. I enjoyed reading your linked post roeland, and agree the suitability of the CBD for kids varies a lot depending on where exactly you are… Victoria St/ Hobson/ Nelson probably not so good! Hopefully those areas get a real makeover in the next few years to make them more people-friendly!

      3. So great to see kid-friendly cities back in the discussion! We have a Playcentre organiser on our team so have a bunch of cool kid-related stuff (cos what’s good for kids is good for pretty much everyone): https://talkwellington.org.nz/2018/playing-with-the-possibilities/ , https://talkwellington.org.nz/2018/when-a-third-place-actually-means-were-winning/ and of course there’s the fantastic Popsicle Test https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/aug/21/city-good-children-popsicle-test-crime-property-play

  5. I’m also keen to see the economic interplay between housing and transport discussed more.

    The big road projects to enable greenfields housing are taking so much of our money. I’d like to see more analysis of how that money could be better spent: brownfields infrastructure upgrades, government and Council medium density brownfields housing, etc.

  6. We just need a ferking labour party that does what it’s supposed to do: build houses not roads. What we have now is National with a pretty face. Everything else is tinkering with the neoliberist edges.

  7. I agree with Peter Cooney that the main issue is with the council.
    Unfortunately they take a lot of the risk, but they are not really allowed to price for the risk. So the only real position they have is to try and remove their risk through red tape and box ticking – making sure that someone else will be responsible not them. Having recently extended our house I know that the council were not really that worried about the quality of our build, just worried about making sure they couldn’t be blamed if something did go wrong. There was a ton of very expensive paperwork, none of which really ensured that our build was done to a great standard.
    I would like to see the building act scrapped completely and replaced with a private insurance scheme (not sure if it should be voluntary or compulsory). The private insurer would be 100% responsible for any build or safety issues for a period of time. They would need to make decisions about risk and price the insurance accordingly. Some examples: Dave the builder has a good history of quality builds, we will give him cheap insurance. This build uses standard materials that have a long history of performance so we will give cheap insurance. This build is complex so we will have multiple inspections and price accordingly.
    I think this system would work better for everyone – the home owner, the (decent) builders, the (decent) building suppliers, the council, etc.
    Also in terms of planning, I agree that the council’s default position is ‘no’. In my opinion they should not be allowed to turn a development down unless there is a very good reason – not just ‘I think it looks ugly’ or ‘My rule book says you need parking and a 20m2 yard directly off the main living room’. How about letting the property owner / developer decide what they actually want (radical I know!)

      1. Or what about the requirement for “living rooms above ground level”? Is that just an obtuse way of making balconies mandatory?

        Then we have the Terraced Housing & Apartment Buildings zone. That zone still requires a 1m side yard, which by definition rules out terraced houses.

        1. It rules out building a terrace if you only own one site. The recent changes to the RMA effectively stopped councils from considering setbacks and HIRB between consenting neighbours. If you own both, you’re a consenting neighbor.

      2. That is mixed housing suburban:

        H4.6.11. Outlook space
        Purpose:
        • to ensure a reasonable standard of visual privacy between habitable rooms of
        different buildings, on the same or adjacent sites; and
        • in combination with the daylight standard, manage visual dominance effects
        within a site by ensuring that habitable rooms have an outlook and sense of
        space.
        (1) An outlook space must be provided from the face of a building containing
        windows to a habitable room. Where the room has two or more external faces
        with windows the outlook space must be provided from the face with the
        largest area of glazing.
        (2) The minimum dimensions for a required outlook space are as follows:
        (a) a principal living room of a dwelling or main living and dining area within a
        boarding house or supported residential care must have a outlook space
        with a minimum dimension of 6m in depth and 4m in width;
        (b) a principal bedroom of a dwelling or a bedroom within a boarding house or
        supported residential care unit must have an outlook space with a
        minimum dimension of 3m in depth and 3m in width; and
        (c) all other habitable rooms must have an outlook space with a minimum
        dimension of 1m in depth and 1m in width.

        H4.6.13. Outdoor living space
        Purpose: to provide dwellings, supported residential care and boarding houses with
        outdoor living space that is of a functional size and dimension, has access to
        sunlight, and is directly accessible from the principal living room, dining room or
        kitchen and is separated from vehicle access and manoeuvring areas.
        (1) A dwelling, supported residential care or boarding house at ground floor level,
        must have an outdoor living space that is at least 20m² that comprises ground
        floor and/or balcony/roof terrace space that…

    1. Totally agreed.

      The compulsory insurance scheme will be much more efficient than council doing red tapes.

      It is efficient because there will be multiple insurance companies competing for business, so they will make the process easy and have competitive premiums.

      Since the insurance company takes the risk, they will favor qualified builders with dependable materials.

      Council will also win as they don’t need to care about that risk and deal with the issues.

      Buyer will get the best quality home with the lowest price and pays the least amount of bureaucratic fees and also get a fully paid warranty.

      At the end of the day it is win win win win

    2. I’m equally frustrated, Jimbo. But I think in this situation private insurance isn’t the answer. It’ll just make the whole thing more opaque to residents.

      Council were burnt by the media in the leaky building saga as a form of revenge for trying to enforce billboard advertising rules. I have a lot of sympathy for Council actually. However, the resultant risk-averse Council needs to be shaken up now, not just for the housing situation, but to solve a whole lot of other problems.

      I think our efforts would be better spent trying to get Council to remove the red tape and the stupid regulations that work against their stated goals, while improving real control of building quality.

      1. But how?
        Telling the staff to not take risk but punish them for failure isn’t going to make the staff take less risk.

        To fix it there must be a real incentive.

      2. Heidi, from a free market perspective, the private insurance scheme makes lots of sense.

        Council will never change. Council has ZERO financial incentive to build more houses and ZERO incentive to make things easier for builders. Council will always be risk averse because they will always be the one that has to foot the bill from failed developments. And for good reason too. Builders will do their best to get away with anything they can, lie to council, build and sell and then they can just declare bankruptcy and move on. The good players are the ones hardest hit by all the red tape. Move the risk to builders with a real financial cost of premiums, then you end up with a scheme that rewards the good players in the market and punishes the bad ones. Zero financial incentive, means zero change. It is why government departments move at such glacial pace.

        With private insurance, the council no longer gives a damn about possible failed development and poor quality housing because there is zero financial penalty to council for those failures. Because of fees to stamp application forms, there is an incentive to council to make things easy for builders and approve as many applications as possible.

        Obviously there are problems with this idea, but seems really worthwhile to be investigated.

  8. There is a massive opportunity to turn old autocentric Auckland suburbia into new ‘liveable’ neighbourhoods with higher density housing and with more transport options (MaaS etc).

    The difficulty is the cadastral form i.e. the layout of plot size and shapes within the geography of city blocks makes it hard to transition.

    If the land is in single ownership -like Housing NZ state housing land -then it is possible to use a powerful Urban Development Authority to do this work -they can co-ordinated all the various factors -infrastructure, public transport, consenting, social housing, market rate housing…. which should lead to good outcomes. Auckland is beginning this process in Unitec, Mangere etc

    The problem is this sort of opportunity is quite rare in NZ cities. Over 90% of Auckland’s available land supply (i.e. not parks or streets) is in private ownership -there is over 500,000 private property titles in Auckland.

    This shouldn’t be a problem. Urban equilibrium theory indicates private owners will respond to increased demand by building more intensely. Somehow though this supply is not resulting, or at least not affordably.

    Maybe the problem is planning restrictions? Perhaps if all the unreasonable planning restrictions were removed -car parking minimums, unnecessarily low height restrictions, poor value viewshafts etc.

    But there are some genuine planning restrictions that do cause ‘nuisances’ that there is no public appetite for removing. Certainly the Unitary Plan did not alter some types of planning restrictions. For instance suburban households do not expect that multistory buildings will be constructed right up to their boundary causing a loss of sunlight and privacy. So boundary related planning restrictions -recession planes, setbacks etc were largely unchanged.

    The difficulty is these genuine planning restrictions limit the density potential and limit the ability for neighbourhoods to transition from autocentric forms.

    I think the solution is to allow agreeable groups of neighbours the power to control aspects of land-use at a more local level than local government. Especially these boundary issues where the ‘nuisance’ doesn’t spill over to the wider community.

    This way neighbourhoods have an option for balancing externality (nuisance) loss versus developmental gain. This should result in an increase in ‘missing middle’ housing supply.

    You can read more here.
    https://medium.com/land-buildings-identity-and-values/hyperlocalism-how-can-it-help-new-zealand-e2134a43a7c3

    1. Many landowners don’t want to, or cannot afford to, develop. That’s always the case. There’s nothing in the existing system stopping neighbours developing their sites collectively as one entity.

      1. The opportunity is how to allow them to decide on a form, collectively, but to develop individually, so they’re not taking on the risk of some kind of partnership nor required to time their lives to suit someone else.

  9. I appreciate GA widening the scope from just transport issues to Auckland housing and other interests. However, if you look through the various posts its always those transport related ones that generate the greater interest evident by the comments often numbering over a hundred.
    I think that transport is more interesting because its an activity that just about everbody is participating in every weekday or more. OTOH housing issues are not in everyones face every day, certainly of interest to city planners and those looking to move home or purchase a home but for the vast majority already in satisfactory (or at least acceptable) housing then not so interesting. This is also reflected in the mediocre number of comments.
    Personally I would like to see more posts concerning Auckland service infrastructure and its availability or planned increased coverage. Such as electricity supply, the grid capability, its resilience to parts damaged (remember the debacle when all Akl CBD was disconnected for wekks), the costs and profits, why we have many retailers of grid power.
    Is this the best electric supply model?
    Is the national grid capable of powering electric transport Vehicles if this largely replaces fossil fuelled vehicles.
    Then the whole renewable energy area especially the increasing popularity (apparently) of home installed PVs to reduce grid take, how such grid tie systems work and the payback of grid feeding and is this likely to have a future. Off grid homes, batteries?
    Also posts on communications from voice to data, suppliers, coverage, best technology and why is NZ paying some of highest prices (also why are we ripped off with vehicle prices).
    So much more, education, healthcare, hotels, eateries and why was my street inundated with literally hoards of kids and parents all in halloween garb obviously bussed in from some other suburbs.

    1. Polling indicates housing is the issue that concern most New Zealanders.

      “New Zealanders have nominated housing (50%) as the most important issue facing the nation in the latest Ipsos New Zealand Issues Monitor, released today. Poverty (32%), healthcare (31%), cost of living (26%) and crime (24%) rounded out the other top concerns.”

      “While the top three issues in July 2018 are the same as those seen in February 2018, results have increased for all three, indicating increasing levels of concern. These were: housing (50%, up from 41%), poverty (32%, up from 29%) and healthcare (31%, up from 27%).”
      https://www.ipsos.com/en-nz/new-zealand-issues-monitor-concerns-about-housing-grow

      Personally I would more housing coverage. I think for instance there is a lot of interest in the CoHaus building progress. What about the progress on Panuku’s proposed Dominion Road build? Was the infight with the planning department resolved? What about Judith Collin’s accusations that KiwiBuild is a subsidy for rich kids…. versus Phil Twyford saying KiwiBuild is not subsidised -the choice is to build in the modest lower quartile that the market has ignored and that KiwiBuild buyers represent a slice of middle New Zealand.

      1. What about Geoff Cooper (former AC chief economist) warning that despite Auckland being perched between two harbours with expansive, glistening sea views, plentiful jobs and higher pay, that 75,000 Aucklanders since 2013 have left the city. The number of people leaving Auckland for other parts of New Zealand is now so large, it offsets all natural growth from Aucklanders having children. Auckland’s population growth now rests on the volatile net movement of New Zealanders migrating overseas (primarily to Australia) and foreigners arriving.

        Geoff believes cities need an unwavering focus on competitiveness that prioritises housing choices in the places where people want to live. That improving transport infrastructure and continued optimisation of land use regulations are two powerful levers to strengthen the urban proposition.
        https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12148026

        1. The reason we left last year is that the increasing population in Auckland is destroying the things that made it a great place to live. We didn’t want to share it with 400000 more people over the next 30 years. We now have glistening sea views, about the same pay and jobs much easier to find because the labour market is much less competitive.

          1. For me, it’s not the increasing population that’s the problem. It’s the increasing traffic, which could be heading in the opposite direction. And the ugly development built around the car.

            We ran an event in a local park recently and hadn’t noticed or planned for the fact that there is no drinking water available there. Apparently it has no drinking water provision because it isn’t a high enough use park. From my point of view, if it takes some intensification before we can “afford” to have drinking water provided, bring on the intensification!

            Sometimes I think of moving elsewhere, but I can’t think of anywhere in NZ where people aren’t just treating cars as if they’re normal choices, fuel as if it’s an income source, and roads as if they’re a right. So I stay, and try to improve things here.

      2. Although the Ipsos survey says housing is greatest concern when c600 people were asked about issues of concern ‘to the country’. I’m somewhat sceptical about such surveys and wonder how different it would be if people were asked about personal concerns and in those unnamed 20 issues were transport and commuting questions.

        Strange how the comments volume from GA posts anout housing issues does not reflect the Ipsos figures. GA appears to have an audience way more interested in and prepared to participate in transport issues.

        The occasional housing post, such as the cohaus one recently or thefailed development on Dominion Rd because of view blocking are of great interest. But, no offense intended, the rest are hohum
        I would read a post concerning that godawful monstrosity being built right on Glen Eden rail station. Glenlight apartment future slums.

        1. I’m very sceptical we can infer what is important to people based on the volume of GA comments; self-selection problems abound.

          It may be that housing is more important to people who don’t have time to comment on blogs, for example.

          It may also be that people who are interested in transport are slightly deranged and prone to spout out ad nauseam on pet topics, e.g. Puhinui heavy rail spur.

          So basicallly, no. You shouldn’t infer what is important based on popularity of blog posts.

          1. So those who comment on GA are not the target audience for housing related posts, GA is perhaps targetting the people who dont have time to comment on blogs but have time to read them? How can you know these busy people read this blog?
            And transport issues are popular maybe because the deranged participate and comment on them.
            Really?

          2. Housing isn’t all de rage for the deranged, but a sustained exchange might explain the pain. Maybe outrage, (somewhat restrained), could bring about change?

          3. You can’t measure the importance of a topic, or the effect of a blog post, by the number of comments. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

            I know GA has many times more readers than commenters. And it may be that many who read, but don’t comment, hold positions of influence over policy and/or investments.

            Convincing people, who are silent but influential, is as important as serving up click-bait to mode obsessives.

          4. ‘I know GA has many times more readers than commenters’
            How do you know that? Are the people hosting the GA web pages actually recording hits to pages and traceable data that can be used to identify who is accessing GA posts? Or at least their employers if using company networks?
            Is there any evidence that these influential people you think may be the silent readers are in fact reading GA posts?

          5. I know it because I used to Blog for GA and in doing so saw all the webpage statistics. The factor is large, even if you assume people use multiple devices to access with unique IP addresses you’re looking at 40 times the number of readers as commenters. It may have changed since I last blogged, but I suspect it’s a similar ratio.

            And yes there’s lots of evidence that influential people are reading the blog and not commenting. I see this personally from the number of people who contact me saying so. But you also only have to look at the influence of the Blog’s initiatives, which goes well beyond the 100 or so odd regular commenters.

            Again the concept is simple, sound, and intuitive: you can’t measure the importance of a blog post by the number of comments. Winning hearts and minds is often achieved in silence, with quiet reflection and rumination, rather than through boistrous comment threads in which certain people state their views repeatedly and aggressively.

          6. All my websites record page views, and unique page views based on the IP address. So it gives you a pretty accurate idea of the number of individuals viewing each day. That tracking summary stuff is standard for hosting services.

        2. Takapuna car park had 100’s of comments, Stadium had 100’s of comments..so hohum to you doesn’t mean to all.

          Glen Eden apartments as future slums? Are you Hosking in disguise! Change the record.

          1. I’ve just sifted through the categories within Greater Auckland, Development and Housing generally has the same if not more comments for each topic as Transport related topics..hohum

            Everything is intertwined, even the stadium talk is around housing development replacing Eden Park, its all intertwined…otherwise it would just be a train geek forum! 🙂

          2. How hard is it to not bother reading a blog post that doesn’t interest you?

            It’s a lot easier than complaining that it exists.

            And why would a blog site want to only and specifically serve one person’s, or even a group of people’s, specific interest only, as opposed to overlapping groups of people?

            Anyway we know that land-use and transport are mutually influencing areas and will never stop discussing them together.

    2. The Halloween kids weren’t bussed in. They were driven in in cars. I’ve never had to wait so long to turn into Pt Chev Rd on my bike. But anyway…

      “for the vast majority already in satisfactory (or at least acceptable) housing then not so interesting”…. “The Housing Crisis for those it affects”

      So let’s make it more interesting, by bringing the effects to the already-housed. Freedom camping in parks? Nah, tiny house communities. Traffic calming? Nah, tiny houses used as road blocks to stop the rat running.

      That’ll get them commenting.

  10. Have you considered a piece related to a summary of the pros and cons of a more encompassing approach to kiwibuild where other aspects training of the applicant is considered, or non financial aspects.
    I.e.
    – Nurses, teachers, and police having priority
    – Multigenerational families applying to be there together

  11. A huge factor in the current housing shortage is purely down to the last government doing SFA to help the building industry during the GFC. As a result we had close to a lost decade of construction in Auckland (likely around 30,000 homes), we lost many workers in the industry to Australia, we also didn’t do training for the next generation. This leaves us with a shortage of houses coupled with a shortage of workers.

    Red tape is a nightmare. It is one thing to have the red tape, it’s another thing when it actively halts construction (means less productivity, less profit, more cost) especially when it causes a domino effect (the concrete truck that has just been cancelled because of red tape holdup). Even worse is that there are and have been for some time plenty of houses built by dodgy builders and contractors that don’t comply with regulations etc but have found sneaky ways around them. They are foreign owned (I won’t name the country but you may have noticed some court cases recently). Unreinforced concrete, weather tightness, firewall safety disregarded, dodgy plumbing, poor quality/illegal electrical wiring, non compliance with insulation, the list goes on.

    1. I remember Michael Cullen’s response when asked about New Zealanders who moved to Australia. It was something along the lines of “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out”. The currently housing shortage has its roots in the 1990s and 2000s; trying to pin it all on National is Grade A revisionism.

      1. and who was in power through the 90’s since you mention that decade? Yes both sides didn’t help things much but most certainly the majority of the fault lies with National especially for the 2008-17 period. Graphs have been posted several times on here about how much construction dropped during this time. Equates to tens of thousands of missing homes in Auckland alone. They also encouraged the highest level of mass immigration that NZ has seen which was the highest rate in the developed world. Small Supply and Increased Demand – what did they think would happen?!

  12. I would like more post about Transit Oriented Development.

    At the moment Auckland is lacking this kind of thinking.

    We could study Japan for how competing train operators competing for customers, building and running master planned developments near train stations.

    In Auckland context, if public transport operator are allowed own and develop land around transit and use the rent to subsidies the operation, we would have a much better public transport and land use around transit.

    1. I reckon you’re the man with the passion for the subject, Kelvin, and I want to read what you’d write. If you’d like any help putting it together, you’re welcome to contact me through GA.

    2. Great idea and if you want some japanese research on tbat riela drianda and morio uzuki of waseda university studied denentoshi line and milennial families

  13. “home shared-equity ownership packages”

    We need more shared-equality kiwibuild and HNZ tenures. The beauty of shared equality is there is a sense of ownership. The ‘owner’ with even 1% share will look after the property. This removes the incentive for tenants to damage and abuse the property. Therefore it also lowers the HNZ maintenance and compliance cost, also increasing the quality of the neighborhood.

    “Affordable tenture”
    This has to be very careful. They need to group the beneficiary and only provide state house to the people who genuinely deserves it. Otherwise we will encourage people to abuse it and become “lifestyle beneficiary”. It will also distort rental market and create unfairness.

    For example
    – Genuine disabled or mental disorder – Special care facility?
    – Single moms – ex Husband should contribute money? Educate people to be responsible about having too many kids? Fund contraception to high risk young moms?
    – Working poor – living wage and minimum income?
    – life style unemployed – Decentivize them by compulsory community work like lawning grass and picking rubbish in council assets?

  14. “The commercial operators in the room could see immediately the densities being required could not work commercially. Financially it was not going to work, and
    practically it was not going to work, so one week before the tender closed we pulled out ”

    Classic builders is traditional builder that use conventional building techniques. Perhaps Fletcher with their massive prefab factory may be able to do it is cheaper.

    “The fragmentation in the industry which creates inefficiencies, blocks collaboration and reduces transparency in the supply pipeline and as a result of all that does not encourage innovation, training and development.”

    I think if Fletcher can win the tender, they may have the resource to scale up and increase efficiency.

    1. Fletchers are/ have been the biggest builder in NZ, but that’s because they’re such a major commercial builder. They’re not the largest home builder – I think that’s Mike Greer from memory, unless you add up all the franchises operated by brands like GJ Gardner etc. Classic Group do build more homes than Fletchers, although Fletchers are scaling up.

      1. They have invested into panelized prefeb factory. I think the business is eager to win the kiwibuild contract to give shareholder some confidence.

        Mikegreer homes build a lot of three stories Terrance house. They maybe able to build low cost land efficient homes than classic builders.

        GJ, stone wood and signature homes probably not keen as they are more of McMansion builders.

        Another alternative is to get chinese to manufacture prefab in Chinese factories and ship it here using containers ships, and assembled locally.

        1. Exporting our logs to China to mill them, assemble them into frames, and ship them back is insane. These are highly mechanized and automated tasks, there is no benefit to cheap labour.

  15. 1) The immigration rate is still too high.

    2) We don’t have the resources for 1) to build the houses

    2) Interest rates are the lowest since the 1980’s increasing asset prices

    3) Building supplies duopoly

    4) Land prices are too high due to 1) & 5)

    5) RMA – its theoretically great legislation but the implementation is a dogs breakfast.

    The RMA is meant to be effects based, not zoning based. Urban planners get to write pages and pages of rules at no cost to themselves and huge cost to the elasticity & thus price of the land market (& also transport costs & the ability to implement affordable housing etc).

    The government should legislate to require:

    – Every single rule in district & regional plans to be sunsetted, say over 10 years

    – All new rules replacing them have to be a nationwide application (effectively national rule statements)

    – Each new rule is required to have a regulatory impact statement showing that the rule is beneficial before it can be implemented (the meer fact of having to prove net benefits will reduce the number of rules to a handful)

    6) Remove the requirement for rateypayers to fund the transport system and up the fuel excise tax (we need to go carbon neutral anyway)

    7) Remove the developer contributions (front loads capital cost of housing) & fund it through general/targeted rates (its the user that demands the services not the developer)

    8) Force, via legislation, the requirement for local government to spend on essential infrastructure first and then only on vanity projects that are backed by business cases.

    9) Amalgamate the local government areas which are economically too small to fund the infrastructure needs.

    1. kiwi_overseas – I agree with most of your comments except the comment – ‘ Remove the developer contributions (front loads capital cost of housing) & fund it through general/targeted rates (its the user that demands the services not the developer)”. Since most councils are deep in debt and rate payers don’t want excessive rate increases, who is going to pay for essential infrastructure costs in housing development, if the developer doesn’t have to contribute towards these costs?

      Currently, the government is providing loans to council’s to help them to build new housing development infrastructure but its not going to cover the 80,000 odds new housing to get rid off the current shortage.

      The other factor is, councils especially Auckland Council are now facing expensive upgrade costs of current sewerage ad water infrastructure and where is the money going to come from for this, as most councils are heavy indebted. Remember over the years, council’s have been stripped of most of their auxiliary income, which would have covered upgrading and future infrastructure costs and development.

      1. Yes, and we also have to challenge the no/low rates increase. There’s no way developers in existing areas should have to pay to upgrade the existing infrastructure that’s been left in dire condition – polluting our waterways and harbour – simply because people are too resistant to rates increases.

        Again, massive public education required.

  16. One thing I would *love* for you to discuss is the lack of direct, shortcut pathways in our city. Places where bikes and those walking can get to places in a straight line. I’m just dumbfounded that their isn’t more of them, because they are relatively cheap. When I go down to the new development area close to my house, it just looks like a maze, and I have this natural urge to just ride over the grass.

    Our streets are pretty labyrinth-like already, so some paths between houses would do nicely at getting people to chose a bike over a car, but we can also go further with something like this: https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/making-a-1960s-street-grid-fit-for-the-21st-century/

    I want you guys to also discuss residential bollards, filtered permeability, rat-running prevention like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Okb63flApDY

    It would be nice if you talked about the stuff in those links in an Auckland context, that’s what I’m *very* interested in.

    Also, talk about the amount of roads we actually need to all of our houses. Do houses actually need two-lane, two-side parking roads to every single one of them just to give direct access via car? Also, do we actually need to pay for garages if we can park cars off by the main roads? Why can’t we have wide paths (where cars are guests and can only drop people off) next to our houses instead, so we can bike down to the car when we need to use it. What about this being an opportunity to have a network of safe infra for biking down to the shops?

    How much would the stuff in the above paragraph save us? Someone has to pay for that land and asphalt of the two-lane, two-side parking roads. Someone has to pay for the garages. And the driveways.

    Would we save money by having a neighborhood garage carpark beside main roads, that stores our cars, and/or has shared cars for those who don’t need to own a car? And, instead of a car garage, a giant cupboard at the front door to store our bikes and general stuff? The latter being like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yDFp0msbMw

    Would love for people to discuss all of this in an Auckland context.

    1. Agree. We could achieve so much with those concepts, for so little cost. And with level crossings being re-designed, those underpasses need to be discussed.

      I wonder if anyone has time to do a Te Atatu South Safety Improvements re-think post, along these lines?

      1. “I wonder if anyone has time to do a Te Atatu South Safety Improvements re-think post, along these lines?”

        Are they going to read every single comment hear? This sounds like an awesome idea.

        1. I can’t guarantee that every single comment on GA gets read by one of our small editorial team, but certainly most comments do! And I read all the ones on my posts, so thanks for your comments here!

        2. On reflection, I think we’ll be more effective if we pre-empt the safety projects. How great it would be if communities could say what they want before AT comes up with a design. Trying to get them to change designs is harder, and of course, wastes ratepayer money.

          So is there an area where you live where you could apply some of those cool concepts from your links, appbeza? Maybe a post here could get some useful feedback from the GA community, which would then enable you to refine the ideas and put it out to the community where you live? I’d be happy to knock some ideas about with you if that helps.

          1. Very cool. And a great area to work on. Can you make it into a post? It would be great, with all those links you’ve already got and some photos of the area highlighting problems and opportunities.

    2. Wait scrape a lot of this:

      “Also, talk about the amount of roads we actually need to all of our houses. Do houses actually need two-lane, two-side parking roads to every single one of them just to give direct access via car? Also, do we actually need to pay for garages if we can park cars off by the main roads? Why can’t we have wide paths (where cars are guests and can only drop people off) next to our houses instead, so we can bike down to the car when we need to use it. What about this being an opportunity to have a network of safe infra for biking down to the shops?

      How much would the stuff in the above paragraph save us? Someone has to pay for that land and asphalt of the two-lane, two-side parking roads. Someone has to pay for the garages. And the driveways.

      Would we save money by having a neighborhood garage carpark beside main roads, that stores our cars, and/or has shared cars for those who don’t need to own a car? And, instead of a car garage, a giant cupboard at the front door to store our bikes and general stuff? The latter being like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yDFp0msbMw

      We can just make the streets one way (no parking on-street, and alternating for dead-end streets), keep the idea that cars are guests so cycling is still attractive, and just have one parking bay next to each house directly next to the street. Keep the idea of getting rid of the driveways. Get rid of the garages, and keep the bike closets. Maybe still have a neighborhood shared car system for people without cars, and have a few car parks in the neighborhood for guests coming far, but only a few to get other guests who are close to cycle.

      Or maybe I had a point the first time? I’m conflicted.

      1. The important point is that we currently have no choice. Either of your scenarios would be better than what we currently have. We have no ability to show developers and Councillors by voting with our feet.

        I was volunteering out in Henderson today. I quite like Henderson. And the bus trip there and back is very nice. But the view of car dependency-ruined suburbia made me very sad.

        1. When I now look at the two above, even though they are practically the same physically, except the land is just shifted from the main road to the house, the first one really does put walking and biking in the front of our minds. I was thinking too much how the cost of that land for the car didn’t change much between the two, when I should have thought about the effects on resident behavior too. The former really does encourage a more affordable lifestyle. And besides, the second, bay idea isn’t as versatile for those who really don’t need a car. As in, the developers in the second scenario will just think ‘we don’t really know how many people will really need to drive in the far future, let’s just put a bay at every house!’

          I think I’m no longer conflicted.

          But I think an even better scenario is when you limit residents carparks at main-road thing, comparable to the amount of shared-cars, so that they *really* reconsider their transport options. That reconsideration should make the amount of personal cars adequate for the amount of carparks 🙂 And lots more people will be cycling and taking PT (which needs the infra, shared cars, and public services to be bloody good for all of my situations to work, of course) which is great for small shops (if law allows them to not need minimum parking, of course).

        2. Or maybe just limit on-side parking to one side of the street? Use like a lot of that side for shared cars, and the rest for personal cars? Doesn’t really have the same ‘walking far to a mainroad carpark, other modes in front of mind’ thing to encourage other modes, but it does limit the amount of personal car spaces for those who really need it, making people reconsider. And it does cover for one con I missed in the first idea: disabled persons. Yes they can use hand-cycles, but it would be quite sadistic to get them to put the hand-cycle on, and cycle all the way down to the carpark, take it off, etc etc. You’ve already limited a lot of excessive and expensive car-centric stuff, so maybe one-side street parking will be all good?

          1. Sad, I was. Bored children in the backs of cars. Hassled mums sitting in stationary traffic. Cars being driven aggressively fast when they finally get to turn at the intersection after waiting so long. Cars parked illegally further reducing the pedestrian amenity. Houses turning their backs on the roads because it was all so fumey and noisy and anti-social. Most of all, I think, and this was misplaced, feeling like there was an acceptance of it as normal, and inevitable that it would simply get worse.

            I had been mad at the start of the day when a driver coming out of a side (residential) street onto an arterial tooted at the intermediate kids who were crossing the side street in a group instead of pausing and splitting the group when they saw the car coming.

    3. Re: the short cuts. Highland Park in east Auckland, built mainly late 80’s to mid 90’s has alleyways between many of the culdesacs often leading to paths along waterways and parks. You can use these to get from Highland Park to Botany or Pakuranga plaza without going near a main road. These types of land parcels are being targeted for sale by Auckland Council in some suburbs.

      In some of the new sub divisions such as Danemorra and Mission Heights the roads are so narrow that it was not possible to provide public transport. Some two way streets that have huge houses with triple garages have front yards full of cars with more parked on the narrow two way streets. There are often hundreds of metres of parked cars reducing narrow two way streets to a single lane. There is concern about access by emergency services. The latter is in an area well served by public transport. Amusingly these sardine packed sub divisions are being transplanted to towns throughout New Zealand where land prices are low.

      1. “These types of land parcels are being targeted for sale by Auckland Council in some suburbs.” I didn’t realise that. Here I am, trying to get them to buy land for such purposes. Wasting my effing time, aren’t I? Can you give me details of where, Alan?

    4. Agreed we need articles around pedestrian permeability.

      New subdivisions should have be required to have shortcuts at destinated locations as part of the planning process.

      We also need to encourage private developments to create public arcade and alleys though planning incentives.

    5. My understanding is that council planners do not require any carparks at all to be included in applications for consent of residential apartments. If this is so I think it is a step in the right direction. But my concern would be for apartments built in those areas which are not well-served with public transport.
      Someone else mentioned that other infrastructure such as drainage and footpaths is not keeping up with developments and that is a big problem looming.
      Might we be better of with the local councils having greater involvement in managing these issues of intensification? As time goes on I notice that Auckland Council seems to be making a mess of what we once all loved about Auckland.

  17. Huzzah for more posts on places to live! And props John for getting three perspectives including a developer’s. We tend to demonise them a bit, we “consumers of housing”, and it’s so important to be listening better to each other (even if we then disagree on some substance!) Bravo x100 🙂

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