In mid-2009, in the wake of the global financial crisis, the number of new building consents issued over a 12-month period plunged to the lowest point since the regional level data began in 1990 (prior to that it is only at a national level). At that time, just over 3,100 consents were issued. Now a decade later and nearly three years after the Unitary Plan was adopted, the opposite is true with May setting a new record of just under 13,900 consents.
Mayor Phil Goff says another record month for dwellings consented in Auckland is more evidence that real progress is being made for housing in the region.
“A total of 1657 new dwellings were consented in May,” says Mayor Goff.
“That’s not only an all-time record for the month of May, it’s also the most dwellings consented in Auckland in any month in 16 years, and the second-highest number of dwellings consented in Auckland in any month ever.
“It takes annual dwellings consented to a new annual record of 13,881.
It’s worth noting from the comment above about May being the second highest is that the highest month ever was October 2002 where 1,945 consents were issued. However, that month is also an anomaly compared to the years before and after it and was created by a few really large apartment buildings, totalling 1,206 apartments, being consented.
What’s also notable is that much of the increase has come about since the Unitary Plan was passed in August 2016 and that more than half of all new consents are for denser housing typologies such as townhouses and apartments. The townhouse category is seeing perhaps the most significant difference compared to what we’ve seen before with nearly 3,600 consents issued over the 12-months period which is more than 50% higher than any time prior to the Unitary Plan being adopted.
The Stats NZ data also includes another interesting bit of information, dwelling sizes. It shows that not only are we seeing more smaller dwelling typologies but also that single house sizes are coming down too. For example, in mid-2014, the average standalone house being built was 238m² however as of this latest data, that has fallen to 211m². That’s about an 11% decrease and the last time it was this low was almost exactly 15 years ago. The increased mix of denser typologies has seen the overall average dwelling size drop to about 161m² from almost 221m². This is shown below although I’ve removed retirement villages as I’m sceptical about it and some of the apartment data.
In addition to the numbers above from Stats NZ, the council’s Research and Evaluation Unit (RIMU) are now breaking down the numbers to an even more detailed level and they show how much change is occurring. Some of the more interesting insights from this include.
Over the past year, 3,700, or 27% of those consents are within a 1,500m walk of a train or busway station. This figure only includes existing stations along with the Aotea and Karangahape Rd CRL stations. This means it doesn’t include any future stations added as part of the Eastern Busway, light rail, Airport to Botany or even Rosedale and any new stations between Papakura and Pukekohe. This is a good indication of the value developers are putting on having good public transport. I wonder the rest of the rapid transit lines that were agreed in ATAP were included how much higher that number would go.
Asked as to why 1,500m was chosen as the measure, they say
RIMU has done some research on PT preference and one of the findings suggests that people are willing to walk as far as 2000m to catch rapid transport. Here’s the link to the technical report. http://www.knowledgeauckland.org.nz/publication/?mid=1672&DocumentType=1&
The preferable walking distance is 1200m, but anecdotally the catchment distance has evolved to 1500m.
You can see the geographical area this covers on the map below however the consents shown are only for the month of April.
The other thing you can see on the map above are the boundaries for the old Metropolitan Urban Limit (MUL) and the more flexible Rural Urban Boundary (RUB) that was introduced as part of the Unitary Plan. This is important as the original Auckland Plan called for up to 70% of new homes to be within the existing urban area but allowed for up to 40% to be outside of that. Some of you may recall that at the time there were a number of public commentators suggesting that anywhere near even 60% of housing growth being within the existing urban area was considered unrealistic, despite it being the norm for a long time, and that as such we should allow a lot more sprawl to occur so that everyone could live in big houses on the urban fringes.
As part of their analysis, RIMU also break down the numbers by these boundaries. They find that over the last 12-months, 81% of all consents were within the old MUL while another 13% are within the RUB with the last 6% outside of it.
These graphs do show some good trends but we’ll need to maintain them for some time to make a real dent in our housing crisis.