Two important events last week mean the council is going to need to drastically rework its Unitary Plan. I’ll cover both in separate posts starting with the National Policy Statement on Urban Development.

Council’s across the country have long talked about wanting to stop or slow our cities from sprawling over the countryside. They talk about wanting quality and compact cities but when they get to the fine print in their plans, they then put in place rules that make that intensification difficult and leaving sprawl as the fastest, easiest and cheapest option.

On Thursday the government released a new National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS), replacing one introduced in 2016, and which will make a significant change to this situation, mandating significant upzoning in our cities and the removal of some of the most harmful planning rules.

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) will direct councils – particularly in the five high growth centres of Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, and Christchurch – to free up their planning rules while focusing on well-functioning neighbourhoods and communities.

Phil Twyford said the new approach to planning through the NPS-UD will allow better connections to transport and other amenities so our cities can flourish and better support their residents. “We know New Zealand can create high and medium density communities with good urban design and open spaces.”

The NPS contains a number of policies but there are two that are the most significant. These are:


Councils covering the urban areas of Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch will need to enable significant upzoning.

So plans must allow a minimum of six-stories in city centres, metropolitan centres, within walking distance of city and metropolitan centres and within walking distance to existing and planned rapid transit stops. This is a massive change, especially as many of these areas, especially those on the isthmus where there is demand for more intensification, currently have zoning that enables 2-3 storeys as a maximum.

What is also interesting is that the NPS blasts away other density restricting techniques planners have used to hide behind. For example, heritage can still override this density requirement but “only in relation to the land that is subject to the designation or heritage order“. In other words council’s won’t be able to put blanket heritage protection on areas and as they need to provide site-specific analysis on every property they want heritage protection on. There is also no mention in the qualifying factors about viewshafts which have effectively prevented density in places like Panmure.

The viewshafts over Panmure

In saying this, council planners are nothing if not creative at finding ways to not do something. Perhaps one area they’ll focus on is the definitions of rapid transit and walkable. The NPS includes a definition for the former but not the latter.

rapid transit service means any existing or planned frequent, quick, reliable and high-capacity public transport service that operates on a permanent route (road or rail) that is largely separated from other traffic

I think it’s also a positive that planned rapid transit has to be included as that will allow development progress sooner, or even in advance of rapid transit being built – thereby potentially helping to bring it forward. This will presumably mean councils will have to put the planned rapid transit lines into district plans. Bringing our long term land use and transport plans together would be a positive move. I am also aware there are rapid transit plans under development for Hamilton, Tauranga and Christchurch.

As for walkable, traditionally about 800m is considered be a walkable distance however in other analysis the council have tended to use 1500m. This was based on research at a variety of train stations which found.

  • more than 50 per cent of respondents walked further than 800 metres to get to a train station;
  • more than 15 per cent of respondents walked further than 1500 metres to get to a train station; and
  • walking is the most significant mode of travel for trips less than 2000 metres.

The map below (from here) gives an idea of just how significant this is these changes are if we include the proposed RTN lines. In the map the city and metro centres are shown in green and 800m from these is shown in purple.

What this also really shows is the areas with rapid transit shadows. In particular the Western North Shore and in the east around Howick.

In the past we’ve seen vocal opposition to even minor change and councils have tended to focus on appeasing the often older, wealthier and noisier, opponents than to think about future generations. These changes will result in significant change to some areas and in Policy 6 the NPS states that decision-makers need to accept that these changes:

  • may detract from amenity values appreciated by some people but improve amenity values appreciated by other people, communities, and future generations, including by providing increased and varied housing densities and types; and
  • are not, of themselves, an adverse effect

Over time more people in an area will mean more local shops, cafes and restaurants, more frequent public transport, better equipped and maintained public spaces, and the list goes on.

Removal of Minimum Parking Requirements

The second major change is the requirement to remove minimum parking requirements (MPRs) from all urban areas of greater than 10,000 people.

Again this is a fantastic change and one that will have positive implications. Car parking can add tens of thousands to the cost of each dwelling and in the case of underground parking, that can easily be $70k or more. That all but rules out the ability to provide affordable housing.

In Auckland we’ve already seen them removed from some areas and as a result are starting to see some fantastic car-free / car-lite developments coming through but this will spread that further. It will also mean that big box retailers – the most active supporters of the regulations – won’t be able to use them as a way to prevent competition.

In response to the removal of MPRs, councils (and Auckland Transport) are going to need step up on how they properly manage on-street parking.

MPRs were starting to come under increasing scrutiny in a number of places (that had implemented them) but NZ is probably the first country to mandate their removal.

The rest

Some of the other changes introduced by the NPS focus on things such as

  • Ensuring there is enough development capacity in plans as well as only allowing that capacity to be counted if it is “infrastructure-ready” – so that counci’s can’t just zone land for development and claim they have enough capacity without putting in place the infrastructure (or plans to provide it) to enable that development
  • Requiring councils to state ‘housing bottom lines’ – the amount of development capacity needed to meet expected demand.
  • Requirements around the monitoring a range of metrics such as the demand and supply of dwellings, housing prices and rents etc.

Another key aspect is the changes outlined in the NPS are real. They’re not out for consultation that can be watered down. They’ve been signed off already and to change them would require the government issuing a replacement NPS. In terms of timing, this NPS comes into force on 20 August and the table below sets out how long councils have to comply with the various policies contained within it. The key here is councils have 18 months to remove MPRs and 2 years to enable the intensification.

It will be interesting to see how councils respond. With the government cutting through the rules and mandated changes it hopefully means the discussion with the public shifts from being “how much development do we allow” to “this is happening, how do we make sure it happens in a quality way“.

For his part, Auckland Council’s planning committee chair Chris Darby says they aim to respond in double quick time.

Oddly enough given their regular rhetoric around removing regulation, being business friendly and even wanting to scrap the RMA in full, the National Party’s new Urban Development spokeswoman Jacqui Dean, opposed the changes while their transport and infrastructure spokesman Chris Bishop supported it.

Dean later said her

I should have been clearer, while I broadly support most of the provisions in the NPS as it relates to car parking, I still have concerns around potential for congestion in the short term, but more importantly access to suitable parking for vulnerable communities.

Of course as the image earlier shows, accessible parking isn’t covered by these changes

Share this


  1. Seems like a win-win – focus the development on the areas with the services that can….service it? Rolling out huge increases in density in parts of Auckland that have little to no access to public transport was a crude approach – this is much smarter. No longer will suburbs be able to claim gold-plated levels of bus and train access while simultaneously railroading development, pushing it out to places with few alternatives to driving.

    Now the burden falls on Government to actually deliver extensions to the rapid transit network to unlock the development potential in areas. Also looking at that map, perhaps it’s time we talked about a rapid-transit cross-town service. I wonder how that map would look if you laid the old tram network over it…

    1. Yes. Indeed if you showed the development potential of rules like these on the old tram network, how small a city we could be! We would even be able to afford to maintain our infrastructure.

      I’m hoping this will not just slow sprawl but also slow low-rise infill.

      1. I guess the vulnerability here is a constraint of sort, if Government doesn’t really buck up it’s ideas about what constitutes rapid transit and acceptable roll-out time-frames. Kumeu is going to be waiting a long long time at the current rate of progress.

      2. The approach the Council has taken in Wellington – which is a very different city – is that they propose to remove character and heritage zoning from 7 times as much land as they need to meet projected growth, because they anticipate only a 14% uptake rate. This means for example that a large part of Newtown is zoned for 8 stories but the likely result will be random 8 storey buildings and infill townhouses rather than a cohesive pattern of medium and high density

        If this occurred in Auckland then you may get a rather patchy result with the odd six-seven storey building here, bit of infill there and a long wait for a consistent development pattern to emerge.

        I can’t help wondering if a more targeted and less hands-off approach might achieve the ends more effectively and set a better example. I think the New Zealand institute was correct when they said this was primarily a deregulatory initiative.

        Looking at the maps for Auckland, my thought it that a little spatial master planning within discrete sub-areas might lead to better outcomes.

        1. “If this occurred in Auckland then you may get a rather patchy result with the odd six-seven storey building here, bit of infill there and a long wait for a consistent development pattern to emerge.”

          Yes — so what? This is how every city centre in Europe was created over the course of many centuries.

          The thing that gets in the way is the obsession with having a homogeneous, orderly collection of very similar houses in one neighbourhood. In reality you usually have a mix of houses in good state, houses in derelict state, and the latter tend to get replaced. You’d never replace an entire neighbourhood all at once.

        2. Well – I suppose so what depends on whether you are the wealthy millionaire living atop the 6-8 storey building or the poor schmucks whose houses get little or no sun in winter as a result 🙂

          One might also observe that Europeans may have learned something from that experience as they have much less of a free for all now 😉

          I agree with diversity in of ages etc that we have now and that the type of conformity one sees in parts of Europe – where for example (this is Munich) you can be fined for having an untidy car on the streets is wrong. But equally wrong are the body corporate rules in New Zealand that say you can’t dry washing on the veranda….

          You can have character without conformity, and diversity without destruction. But that is what the Auckland plan provides for now.

        3. “or the poor schmucks […]” — where did that all of a sudden come from?

          We got a few streets in Auckland which are lined with mid-rise apartments, eg. Halsey St (, and I don’t think this is an area for ‘poor Schmucks’. And have you seen the size of the trees in those inner Auckland suburbs? How is that for sunlight? The sunlight argument makes no sense.

          They’re still building attached houses and apartments in Europe, at latitudes which get way less sunlight in winter than Auckland.

          Parking is an entirely separate discussion, and regarding parking Auckland is not an example to follow.

        4. This is the problem with arguing in generalities – even in Mission Bay there are poorer people and lower quality housing. When I am in Auckland I walk a lot and it is quite revealing 🙂

          If you build a six to eight storey apartment block with no regard for its effects on others (which is what the NPS permits) then its highly likely that it will shade a number of other buildings. To minimise litigation these are unlikely to belong to millionaires. These then become colder damper homes, and it will be a while before anyone builds apartments there because they will have no view

          Shading with a tree is different from shading with a building especially if the tree is deciduous 🙂 And there is a difference between the average amount of sunlight a latitude receives – its easy enough to design for that – and blocking the sun from existing houses with a much taller building.

          In general though, I have never seen any good outcomes from a model which says developers can do pretty much what they like with no regard for their surroundings 🙂

          Density done well is a great thing, but it requires leadership. The current NPS is like saying we’d have a great restaurant scene if only we got rid of food hygiene standards and employment laws.

        5. “Density done well is a great thing, but it requires leadership.”

          This is true. But also true is that the development we’ve had has had just as negative an effect on others as the 6-storey development you think we need to be really careful about. That’s my point – it is not worse than what’s happening now. So why the drama?

  2. A fantastic change, not only to give Auckland Council a prod to keep upzoning, but also for the other major city councils who were further behind. And kissing goodbye to MPRs is great too; they were last century’s planning tool and won’t be missed.

  3. Still not sure how much I like this. The theory is fine, but in practice? Could just result in lots of ad hoc and uncoordinated development.
    Much prefer the Kainga Ora legislation…

    1. Between the renovations, the MacMansioning and the infill, I’ve been concerned about the level of disruption that’s happening in some places on an almost continuous basis. If infill was the only way forward to a more compact city, I think we’d be kissing goodbye to safe streets for a few decades.

      I’d far rather see the bigger developments that achieve dozens of apartments at an economy of scale than the little infill ones where each truck delivery is so often only of a few items.

      I was hoping these changes would allow more coordinated developments. What’s your reasoning that it could be ad hoc and uncoordinated? I wouldn’t be surprised if something else is needed from government or council to make it work smoothly – but I’m interested to know what you think that might be.

      1. So many sites are small, so much fragmentation – these things will impede development, and mean development is patchy. We have seen lots of ‘underdevelopment’ in the THAB zone, and that could continue.
        I would have liked to have seen minimum densities specified in the NPS.
        AgIn, the theory and principles I like, just concerned about what will actually happen (or not happen)

        1. I like the KO legislation. That allows for large scale and coordinated redevelopment.

        2. I’m looking at the moment at how many developments of “entire blocks” – done in a quality perimeter housing form – would replace all the greenfields elements of the Supporting Future Growth programme. It’s not many on a yearly basis.

          If we were to halt the greenfields elements of the SFG programme – and save all those multiple billions of dollars going into sprawl infrastructure and roads, there’d be plenty of money in the pot for buying up these entire blocks. Since they would be then sold as apartments, it’s only the first couple of years of capital needed, too. And then we’d have far less infrastructure to maintain. Spread over the next decade, I think we’d be looking at a far lower cost to the public, and a far better outcome in terms of liveability, connectivity, climate, affordability and safety.

          I hope the government or council quickly use this opportunity to get a few pilot “whole block” projects underway to show the public the benefits. It’s the way we can get our emissions trajectory lined up with our goals.

  4. Accessible parking isn’t covered by these policies but given that it is provided at a rate of 1 accessible per 50 regular spaces then it is going as well.

    1. I haven’t had a good look at this yet, but as I understand it, the policy hasn’t directed councils to remove MPR’s for accessible parking, so Council will be able to include provision for accessible parking. I don’t imagine they will be limited in any way to rewriting the AUP using the current wording structure around parking requirements.

      As Anthony commented on the Friday post, Council will need to be careful how they word it, because if developers feel the market doesn’t support any carparking for a particular development, it would be silly to force them to have to provide vehicle crossings and vehicle entrances just for a few disabled carparks. This would in total detract from the walkability and safety of people (especially children, people on bikes, people with limited sight, hearing or mobility, people in wheelchairs) passing the building, for whom the fewest number of vehicle entrances and crossings, the better. It would also raise the costs of the development significantly and limit the design.

      If Council gets it right, the needs of all people will be provided for without ruining the opportunity for car-light development.

      Most apartment developments, I imagine, will still have a few carparks – some for car share, some bookable for visitors or so you can use a rental car occasionally, and some as disabled carparks.

      1. The idea of making every site have its own vehicle crossing and small number of carspaces has always been a second or third best option. The late Judge Treadwell noted that in a decision on Ponsonby at least 25 years ago. But we ended up there because very few were able to make carparking schemes work. For commercial areas a well designed safer area provided as a special rating area has always been a better idea. Private mall owners have been able to avoid the tragedy of the commons effect by simply owning all the shops and the parking. They will probably be happy with the changes as they can simply fence their parking and make it hard for others to use it.
        Removing the minimum rules cleans things up for those who don’t want any parking. My hope is those who do will find a way to provide it collectively without just demanding that ratepayers provide it for them as they did prior to the minimum rules.

      2. Apartment blocks need a certain amount of parking just so people can move furniture and appliances in and out. But that needn’t be a lot.

        1. And it needn’t be off street. The entire continent of Europe is proof that on-street parking works fine for this.

        2. ‘The entire continent of Europe is proof that on-street parking works fine for this.’

          Ha ha. Yeah.

      3. Councils will need to rewrite their plans to make sure that if there are any “objectives, policies, rules, or assessment criteria that have the effect of requiring a minimum number of car-parks to be provided for a particular development, land use, or activity” then the plan is rewritten to avoid that effect, other than in respect of accessible car parks. But this has to be done in a single change, without going through the normal submissions, hearing, and appeals process in the RMA. Councils won’t be able to introduce a new accessible parking requirement at the same time, or change their existing accessible parking requirement. If they want to do that, they’ll need to do a separate plan change, including the full submissions, hearing, and appeals process, and justifying why they’re introducing accessible parking minimums.

        I suspect most councils won’t bother, although they might introduce new accessible parking rules the next time they go through a review of their full plans or at least their transport chapters. It’s definitely a perverse outcome to end up requiring smaller and mid-sized developments to provide a vehicle crossing that could serve only a loading dock and one or two accessible parking spaces, when that could easily have been accommodated on-street instead.

        1. I agree. Removing minimums isn’t a schedule 1 process but adding minimums for accessible parking is a schedule 1 process. They probably just won’t bother.
          This is how you remove accessible parking while claiming you are not.

        2. Accessible parking requirements have always been based on a proportion of total parking spaces, though. If you do get resource consent for a shortfall under existing parking provisions, there’s no specific assessment of the impact on people who would use accessible parking (at least in every plan I’ve read).

          So while it’s removing a rule that has the direct effect (or side effect, depending on your plan) of imposing accessible parking requirements for an as-of-right development, the overall consenting system isn’t imposing an accessible parking requirement.

          In any case, having accessible parking on-street by the main (accessible) pedestrian entrance is realistically going to be a better design and better maintained than an accessible-only entrance from a tiny accessible-only parking lot.

    2. Councils will have to amend their calculation for accessible parking at the same time they remove the minimum parking requirements.

      1. Yes but that isn’t going to be easy. Nobody will build a basement and ramps for 3 spaces. More likely the Councils will just have to provide them on-street.

        1. How does is work in Auckland CBD then, no parking minimums there for over 30 years now, presumably mobility parking has still been a requirement?

        2. Nick R the CBD hasn’t had parking minimums for over 30 years but it has a huge number of spaces that were paid for by the ratepayers and the accessible spaces were provided as part of that provision. Check out any of the Council owned carparking buildings.
          When private buildings have been built without parking they haven’t provided any accessible spaces either. The recent problems have been caused by the introduction of minimum bike parking rules. Now if you change use in an old building that doesn’t have a basement the Council demands bike parking on the ground floor, which is the most valuable floor area. We have gone backwards in the CBD not forwards.

        3. You can always squeeze the parking in every remaining square metre of open space between the buildings. Or, indeed, use your ground floor for parking. Do a short walk on Hobson Street if you want to see that for yourself.

        4. Roland all the parking you see in Hobson Street wasn’t required by rules. It was permitted by maximum rules in an area where parking is gold. You are not going to see many or even any accessible spaces there as most of the buildings are residential and the requirement for accessible didn’t apply. So it probably isn’t a relevant comparison.

  5. viewshafts (at least some of them) would fall under Qualifying Matter 1A – s6 matters of national importance …

    6b. the protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development…

    6e. the relationship of Maori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, waahi tapu, and other taonga

    1. The Council argued section 6b was relevant at the Unitary plan hearings (Hassall/Dickey/Riley) but didn’t actually put up much to support the claim. I don’t think they even did a Section 32 analysis instead claiming that these were a roll over of earlier plan provisions. It will be interesting as there is no clear right or wrong here.

    2. The NPS specifically says viewshafts and heritage area status (as opposed to building by building approaches) cannot be used to create de facto height limits. I have been trying to work out how views and sunlight might fit into this approach. Certainly in Wellington there are some big risks of creating cold, damp areas in existing housing due to shading.

  6. What is the likelihood Auckland Council would go further and create parking maximums? E.g. parking at Westfield Newmarket should never have been allowed at such a volume.

  7. With MPRs gone and denser development zoned for, the viewshafts will become the single biggest barrier to quality development in Auckland. How difficult would it be to get rid of them?

      1. it will be interesting to see – the level of analysis in keeping them in the plan has been a lot lower than is now otherwise required by the NPS. Council will need to do a lot of work just to keep them all in. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them identifying the few really important ones (if they exist) and put their energy into those and just surrender the rest.

        1. Yes, the NPS lifts the evidence base requirements a lot.
          I would be surprised if they surrender any, but some may not survive the process.
          This is going to be Unitary Plan Part 2!

    1. The single biggest barrier to quality development in Auckland is existing low-quality development, of which there is much. Single houses can be removed simply and property boundaries merged, but with things like unit-titled developments it is much much harder. A developer has to buy out every single unit in order to extinguish the rights and demolish/rebuild. Effectively, once a MUD is in place, that is it for eternity – no further development is likely (not impossible, but realistically, never gonna happen). So if units like those at the top of Kyber Pass / Upper Symonds St are built, they’re not going away. Which is a pity….

      1. You have a good point but I think there are reasons to be more hopeful.

        – A lot of unit title owners are property investors. These are, by definition, in it for the money.
        – There are ways of solving hold-out problems like multi-party sale contracts where a purchase only goes through if every owner agrees to sell. Obviously this gets harder the more people are involved.
        – The worst multi-unit developments have physical problems like being leaky buildings, which gives their owners big incentives to get out. There are still lots of these around Auckland.

        1. There is suggestion of a rule allowing a compulsory sale at a market price if a supermajority (but not every last owner) of a body corporate votes in favour. It’s one way to approach the potential issue of one or two hold outs on a large site. Not without its issues of course.

      1. Paris? For housing affordability? You’re dreaming. Did you even check or did you just write? Paris is notorious for its draconian planning rules affect on central house prices.

      2. do any of their viewshafts go as low as 3.5/4m over a developable site in close proximity to their city centre/ major PT routes?

  8. Great initiative and long overdue. Quite apart from anything else, the map clearly demonstrates the value if the RTN. I’m waiting now for AT to confirm that the proposed New Lynn-Onehunga-Airport route scheduled for 2021 will be limited stop with 24/7 bus lanes and be considered part of the RTN. Over to you, AT?

    Of course the downside is that some pro-car NIMBYs will probably oppose extensions to the RTN because the consequence will be that their own neighbourhood gets built up. Let’s be on our guard for that.

    1. I thought it would be a problem too, but the definition of Rapid Transit in the NPS is broader than that assumed in drawing up the map shown above, I think. This is actually something that could apply over a lot more of the city.

      1. Yes – I can say with some certainty that is the intention. In the NPS context basically any high-frequency bus route is part of the RTN. The tricky issue for me is that the RTN will evolve much faster than planning documents and development proposals so eg if a bus route shifts from Mt Eden Rd to Dominion Rd for example, its difficult to know how this will work in terms of resource consents.

  9. I refute the suggestion that Council planners are “hiding behind” heritage rules, view shafts, etc. It is not necessary or appropriate to completely give away protection of our heritage (natural and built) in order to facilitate increased density and height. The new rules are intended to cover only a fraction of the city (perhaps 20-25% of the built-up area which is close to urban nodes such as town centres and well-served by public transport) so it will not be too much of a stretch to work around heritage protection rules as well. Although I broadly support the new NPS it is ridiculous to talk about these changes coming into effect immediately or even quickly as the draft of new rules will take months to draw up and run past the Planning Committee for approval in principle followed by public consultation and submissions/hearings so we will be well into next year before any of the new rules will become operative.

    1. It’s probably worth noting that that environment court must consider the NPS immediately. This is a massive change as part of it says:

      “that the planned urban built form in those RMA planning documents may involve significant changes to an area, and those changes […] are not, of themselves, an adverse effect”

      The NPS is an RMA document. This will mean that developments can no longer be rejected because they are different to what currently exists.

      1. Yes – this is very true. Although whether an NPS can simple define an adverse effect out of existence, when the matter to which it refers (amenity) is an integral part of Part II, is an interesting issue that will likely get tested in the Courts.

  10. A quick look a the unitary plan map shows about 500 houses south of Jervois Road to Trinity Street, between Kelmarna Ave and Clarence Street. This is ‘central’ Ponsonby/inner suburbs and with a character overlay in the plan as it’s part of the one of the southern hemispheres largest areas of relatively intact Victorian housing. Lots of it renovated to a high healthy standard of living.
    With that fragmented land ownership the density increase of this aprox 25ha 30 years after a theoretical plan upzone to Mixed Urban or THAB would not be very big, if that much at all, and a lot of this heritage would be lost to replacement modern single houses on the same lots.
    These areas acheive this density currently by not over providing for the storage of cars. Replicate that with the urban design of our new greenfields (and our infill brownfield) sites and we’d acheive much more density across the city whilst retaining the best of our shared built heritage, and provide for housing choice, with other typologies provided in new development areas.
    These character areas are small, afford then the modest protection the unitary plan currently provides, whilst supporting the removal of minimum parking standards everywhere so the density of areas like Ponsonby can be replaced across Auckland.

    1. If streets lined with houses that are all from one particular era are worth protecting then it should be limited to one (1) street only. This is because once you’ve experienced one of those streets you’ve experienced them all.

      At a 30min walk or 10min bike into town, Ponsonby is simply too close to the central city to be left as swathes of single standalone houses. The opportunity cost to society is too high.

      1. Completely agree, my street in Grey Lynn is under Special character and half the houses are trash, quarter are nice Villas and the other quarter have been bowled for modern single storey new builds..the only thing being protected are people’s perceived property value

      2. But if the heritage value of these houses is so significant how come they’ve been allowed to deface that very heritage character with massive garages etc?

        Can’t have it both ways, either you’re free to do what you want with the building, or it’s of such high cultural value that it must be preserved virgo intacta, which is it?

    2. most of that area has a historic heritage overlay so its actually one of the few areas around the central city that will likely remain untouched. Freemans Bay would be one to watch more closely.

        1. Houses like those should really be condemned. For one; it looks like much of their cladding is fibrolite, which contains asbestos fibres.

    3. I completely agree with you Rob. No one really values heritage until it goes. There are still people gutted about losing His Majesty’s Theatre decades ago. Look at a picture of the central city 80 years ago and it looks so much more beautiful than it does now. The heritage makes a huge difference to people’s sense of place. Parnell is the oldest suburb in Auckland and one of the oldest in the country. It is really beautiful. I enjoy it without owning a house there. I love walking through Ponsonby and enjoying the history. Ponsonby is a lot denser than most of Auckland. I love Grey Lynn which is a mix with developments on the ridge. I am an antiquarian, others are modernists. We will have to beg to differ perhaps. What this diversity of housing also means thouh is that there is lots of family housing – and there is very little quality family housing that comes in apartment form in Auckland at the moment. It would be fantastic if the council in incorporating the new rules works out how to get other benefits too – say that what is now a single house zone becomes an age-friendly development with safe access to green space on site for young and old.

      1. ‘Begging to differ’ = please accept monster commutes and higher house prices because we are special and want to have everything our own way.


      2. There’d be more support for Ponsonby and Herne Bay retaining heritage status if there was also understanding of the responsibilities that come with the privilege of low rise so close to the city centre. I’ve not seen that kind of maturity.

        Example 1: the high proportion of trees that have been cut down in these areas without being involved in any development is too high – the ecological loss cannot be excused when no housing has been added in the process. People don’t actually like being in low, old houses under high trees even though they like the leafiness of the area.

        Example 2: geometrically, any area on the fringes of the city centre should be a pathway through for people using active modes. Yet the residents in these areas have complained about any parking enforcement stopping them from parking all over the footpaths, they’ve pressured for the utterly inequitable residential parking zones which prevent the space being used for cycle lanes, they’ve fought to prevent cycle lanes. This excludes people from using the area as an active mode pathway.

        Example 3: People who would treat the area with respect, as the walkable, cycleable connected places they should be, can’t afford to move there. And many residents in these areas typically treat the area as they would an outer car dependent suburb, driving everywhere, shunning local shops for places ‘because they can get a park there’ whereas people who respect the area’s location would walk to the local version instead.

        I started off caring about heritage too. Now I see how the heritage rules have simply protected the wealthy property owners and prevented a better urban form, and in the process, forced development onto farmland, creating sprawl.

        Together, this is a major contributor to our increased emissions, and my and your kids are paying for it. If heritage was important, its supporters have had ample time to listen, and to find a way for it to be protected alongside good planning. They didn’t. If they’ve lost their opportunity, they only have themselves to blame.

        And worrying about whether our kids will regret the loss of heritage, given what they do have coming in this era of climate change, is irrelevant.

        1. Well put.
          Note, however, that large swathes of character areas will not be touched by the NPS-UD directives.
          So in zoning terms, a better balance will be struck, my previously expressed reservations about the NPS-UD notwithstanding.

        2. 1. Not all trees are equal. Many cut down are not suitable for denser urban environments and many are more akin to weeds/ pest species and should never have been planted in the first place.
          2. *Some* residents. Also worth acknowledging that AT are also actively preventing those outcomes in the area as well.
          3. vehicular mode share (for journey to work at least) in these areas is typically below 50% which is extraordinary in an Auckland/NZ context – it seems plenty are treating them as walkable and connected.

      3. If you want to live (or just visit) somewhere beautiful, with antique urban forms, where nothing much ever changes, New Zealand has many wonderful small towns that will suit you very well.

        We can’t afford to preserve valuable land close to Auckland’s city centre as some kind of urban museum.

      4. I agree Alex – I find it interesting how quickly comments like this get met with abuse and dismissal. But the cities we often discuss in glowing terms in Europe – Amsterdam, Cophenhagen, Paris, and that paragon of sustainable transport, Freiburg, all have extensive public housing and extremely strict controls on the demolition of what we call heritage and character. The debate about cities needs to be about more than the politics of revenge. In my view the New Urbanist Charter still sums up what a genuine urbanist philosophy might entail:

        1. Roland, the debate about cities has been stuck for a long time, to the detriment of our people and our future. Climate change, and what car dependence is doing to our population’s wellbeing, mean the debate must shift to pulling people out of housing, transport and health poverty now. We can’t keep debating the same things. A more targeted and less hands-off approach certainly was needed in the last few decades but because we were denied it for so many reasons, we’re going to have to make sacrifices now.

          Attending to equity isn’t revenge.

          The resistance to intensification involves arguments about heritage, trees, parking rights, driving rights, biodiversity, farmland, sunshine, rates, change aversion. Everyone who wishes to take part in public discussion has an obligation to educate themselves and to consider the needs of those who are the least well off.

          Resisting intensification when we have a housing crisis – even if for heritage reasons – is an argument that supports housing being put into sprawl, unless very conscious campaigning for other types of intensification are undertaken. And sprawl has multiple negative impacts, as we know.

          Those for whom heritage was truly important, and not just an excuse to resist intensification, would have done well to campaign for Council to convert all its carparks into high density housing with green parks. They would have done well to campaign against the huge level of parking being provided in most developments – whether central city (eg Wynyard Quarter and the convention centre) or suburban.

          And if they had done this sort of campaigning, they would have realised they were up against the whole political economy of car dependence and its planning support.

          So they would’ve had to accept that their efforts to resist intensification on heritage grounds were indeed going to assist the sprawlers to some degree despite their best efforts.

          Hence, they would’ve done well to campaign for cyclelanes and parking reductions through the central (hence geometrically important) heritage areas they were trying to protect, in order to mitigate the increase in transport poverty that the sprawl they’re assisting would create.

          They would have done well to campaign for safer speeds and an increase in the safety and walking and cycling budgets to mitigate the danger that the traffic induced by the sprawl would cause. And for low traffic neighbourhoods to stop the ratrunning that people stuck in sprawl-induced car dependence do.

          They would have done well to campaign for higher rates so that the extra cost imposed by sprawl would be met by current property owners and not by future generations with untenable maintenance burdens.

          I didn’t see that happening, Roland. In fact, the most vocal heritage supporters have also often been anti-cycling, anti-safer speeds, low rates, anti-local government and arguing for more, not less, parking.

          If you have a politically and socially savvy well-thought-through communications and planning concept for how to bring change at the now radical speed required, even in a city where we lack leadership, and still retain heritage, please give it.

        2. Heidi

          There’s so much to unpack there that I am not sure where to start, but I can say that the approach I would recommend if we were really concerned about housing is as follows:

          1 Target vacant properties

          Getting those on the rental marked would have a huge impact over 3-6 months

          2 Target Conversion of vacant commercial high-rise space to accommodation

          There is significant unrealised potential for this over the next 12-18 months

          3 Target vacant land, and land-used for car-parking

          There ought to be no carparking-only land near central and suburban centres. Replacing this with mixed use (eg ground floor business and two or three stories of residential) would have a major effect on housing supply over 18-48 months

          4 Target low grade one and two-storey commercial developments

          These sites exist throughout both Auckland and Wellington, and are idea for replacement with high quality medium density mixed use development at 3-4 storeys

          Doing these four things would also create the opportunity to build low car dependence neighbourhoods (cf new developments in the Netherlands for example) as urban villages along transport links. This would deliver huge benefits and be likely to reinforce community and lived experience as well as address housing availability and affordability. The above will ensure a supply of high quality housing, which improves rather than damages character, for the next 10-15 years.

          This allows ample time for an inclusive and participatory process looking at change in the character areas. What if we asked people where some intensification might be possible and desirable? What if we said how do we add to your community rather than create opportunities for developers on random sites?

          To me the current approach reminds me of the advent of neoliberalism where deregulation (which is what the NPS is, rather than a plan for housing) was sold on equity grounds. It sounds ridiculous now, but the arguments made about middle class capture now are just the same as were made in the 80s and 90s.

          More fundamentally to this point. this is a NATIONAL policy statement not an Auckland one. In Wellington, the proposals will devastate the medium density character areas that exist. These are not the wealthiest areas of the city.

          Newtown, which is planned to become a little Hong Kong with no provision for greenspace amongst the 8 storey buildings, is a low income area with a diverse population. The primary school is Decile 4.

          Aro Valley where I live has been at the forefront of campaigns to reduce car dependence, speed etc for years. This is not a wildly wealthy area – my neighbours on one side are former bus drivers (Pakeha) and on the other a retired Fletchers construction foreman (Samoan).

          The narrative that this is all about wealth and privilege is a cliche that does not stand up to evidence across the country.

          Even in Auckland, I suspect that a much more targeted approach would help support resilience and address climate change. Allowing developers to do what they like where they like is unlikely to be an approach that delivers either increased equity.

          Fundamentally, I believe in participatory democracy ahead of technocratic imposition. To me the urban planners who support the NPS sound a lot like the traffic engineers who used to argue for big roads. We know what’s best, sit back and take your medicine.

          I despair that no-one is interested in finding win-win solutions, or recognising that character and heritage are part of what builds our common identity and sense of place. Urbanism used to be about learning about what made our pre-car dependent communities strong and building on those learnings. With the multiple social and ecological crises we face, in my view we need to build good relationships and strong communities, and focus on participatory soiutions.

        3. Thanks Roland. All fair points and I’ll mull on them.

          I think one of the biggest changes we need to see is Councils – Wellington and Auckland definitely – showing less bias in their understanding of risk. Progress is prevented because legal risk is prioritised over other risks and even the legal risk considered is the that from NIMBY’s not legal risk for failing to plan for future generations or climate.

          But there’s one thing I don’t understand in your answer. “This will allow ample time…” Ample time for what? Our city is being ruined as we speak. They’ve turned the sod on Matakana Link Rd, they’re persevering with Drury and Mill Rd and Penlink, they’re widening and extending the motorways and planning more. This is all destructive – of urban form, of soil, water, biodiversity and natural environment, of liveability, of climate resilient and low carbon system opportunities, of safety in transport and of healthy social networks.

          Resistance to intensification has done its damage already. We’ve run out of time. The sprawl must stop now. There is no “ample” time.

      5. “Look at a picture of the central city 80 years ago and it looks so much more beautiful than it does now.”

        That is a different problem — modern architecture sucks. (a particularly bad offender in the Auckland CBD is SkyCity)

        A few things about European city centres:

        – they are what they are mainly because until a few decades ago, development happened in a messy ad-hoc way. Prague is, to modern Anglophone standards, an unsightly hodgepodge of buildings with different style, different materials, etcetera. You end up with such a mix because they didn’t try to retain all their ‘heritage buildings’ back then.

        – Some, like Bruges, are still mainly very old buildings because they used to be very rich cities but went into steep decline a few centuries ago. That is one way to ensure heritage stays intact.

        – The protected part only takes up a small part of the entire city, not kilometres and kilometres as is the case in Auckland.

        1. Ummm – that is not my understanding of the situation in Paris nor Amsterdam, nor Copenhagen, nor Freiburg.

          If we look at an equivalent scale of protection “kilometres and kilometres” is a misstatement of the situation in Auckland. People can and do build new multi-storey developments in Auckland – something not allowed in the protected area of these cities. However in Auckland at present you have to consider sunlight, views, character etc – this is very similar to my understanding of the general planning framework for Copenhagen for example.

          In the protected areas of these cities, you basically need to work with the existing buildings. In our system that would be making demolition a prohibited activity. No where in any NZ city has that level of protection.

          Some of these cities, to be fair, also decided to protect what remained as a result of the devastation of WWII. But in general New Zealand’s planning is incredibly light-handed compared with northern Europe at least.

          The new NPS basically says do what you like up to six storeys and never mind aesthetics, views, shading, heritage, impact on character or anything else, just build baby build 🙂 As far as I know there is no equivalent in Western Europe anywhere of that…

  11. This change looks pretty easy. So why did National not do something similar in their 9 years? Why did they always want to rewrite the RMA instead?

    1. ‘Why did they always want to rewrite the RMA instead?’

      So they can build Greenfield development all the way to Hamilton.

  12. If the government can move really fast on this one, then let them also reimpose restrictions on tree cutting on private property, which sees important trees being destroyed every day. Do it before the election, please!

  13. I live in Pakuranga Heights, just out of reach of the 2016 rules but it looks like I might be impacted by this…. maybe. It’s hard to see on the map. Right now before they rezoned around the plaza parking was a problem, now there is I would say 5 or so low rises going up and multiple subdivisions. Parking was bad before, it’s going to be even worse now and will be even worse under the new rules. I’m all for intensification… to a point. Let’s just hope the AT include a lot of secure e-mobility parking at stations and shopping centres take e-mobility seriously too.

    1. Parking is made worse by not letting these developments go in, because then they go into sprawl instead, where everyone has no choice but to be reliant on their cars, and need parking wherever they go.

      By putting in urban developments along transit routes, people are able to have car-lite lifestyles. Not just the residents. Their friends don’t have to travel so far either, and can adopt car-lite lifestyles. And people nearby get the benefit of more amenities locally and can adopt a more local lifestyle, with less need for a car.

    2. “Parking was bad before, it’s going to be even worse now and will be even worse under the new rules.”

      Why? They are only removing MPRs. They are not banning new carparks.

      1. The market is only efficient when the people who make the decisions are also the ones who experience the benefits and costs. High density developments are usually put up by short term developers who are seeking to minimise costs.

        1. Building housing instead of maintaining car-parking amenity for the locals to keep on driving.

          Yeah. terrible outcome.

        2. The point is the supply of parking is divorced from the demand for parking. Owners and tenants might want parking but that doesn’t mean developments will have any parking. So Stephen D is right, if parking was bad before it will be worse now.

        3. Parking will only be “worse” (worse in what way?) if Councils do not implement parking management measures.

          If they implement reasonable parking management measures, like prices, then we could well end up with no MPRS and better parking outcomes, such as higher turnover etc.

        4. How can you get better parking outcomes if the opportunity to build parking is missed but people who live there long term actually want it? All AT can do with parking is increase the price to park in the restricted supply they own. That is hardly efficient if the owners or tenants were willing to pay for off-street parking.
          The claim that the market will provide the correct level of parking is as weak as claiming people wanted leaky buildings. After revealed preference and all that.

        5. Miffy,
          Not sure what you mean by the “correct” level of parking but the idea that MPRs have any relationship to the “correct” level of parking is bullshit. They are bullshit figures based on bullshit theory and bullshit evidence.
          The main beneficiaries of MPRs are:
          – consultant transport planners who are paid by their developer clients to try to get a reduction in the Minimum amount of parking they are required to provide
          – Big Box retailers who use it as a way of stopping smaller players competing with an alternative business model that doesn’t rely on heaps of parking

        6. miffy – I think you’ve jumped the shark a bit comparing leaky buildings with parking.

          Leaky buildings were out of sight out of mind, even the original owners were unaware the buildings were leaky. The first owner is well aware of how much parking they have, if they don’t want parking it’s up to them to determine whether that will impact the resale value in the future.

        7. The first owner is well aware of how much parking they have → the problem is that many are also counting on on-street parking.

          The revealed preference is that people don’t want to pay for parking. Let the council provide it free of charge, because why not. No surprise there.

          The council could of course start managing parking, but it will cause some headache for people counting on the current arrangement.

          I’m not sure about what will happen in a market like Auckland if developers build apartments without parking and people really want cars. It is not like buyers have a lot of bargaining power these days.

          and miffy, about those short term developers, isn’t that true for all developments?

      2. I recall walking through europe with cars parked all over the streets and footpaths because no buildings had parking spaces. It just got worse the further east I went.

        Even if it is done legally, the most likely outcome is that developers will come in and build a bunch of crap apartments with no parking. They don’t care. They won’t live there and they just want to make a profit. Because Auckland is still very car-dependent all the new tenants will still very likely need a car park so eventually, after lots of complaining, we get public streets becoming privatised via resident parking schemes.

        It’s almost like people forgot what happened in the past that brought minimum parking requirements in the first place…

        1. “cars parked all over the streets and footpaths because…”

          Not: no buildings had parking spaces
          But: we own too many cars

          Ari, you’re choosing to ignore the wide body of research into car dependence. Providing car parking pushes amenities apart so driving becomes easier. Walking and cycling become harder due to the distances and because of the traffic induced.

          Providing parking is the biggest creator of new parking demand. It doesn’t satisfy parking need at all.

          Strong enforcement is required whether you have lots of parking supply or not, unless there are a whole lot of other policies brought in that minimise car ownership.

          “It’s almost like people forgot what happened in the past that brought…”

          Not: minimum parking requirements in the first place.
          But: a whole raft of regulation changes that gave priority to motor cars and stripped other street users of their rights so that walking and cycling became less convenient and more dangerous. Including minimum parking requirements, which ruined urban form.

  14. If the council doesn’t want to implement, they can get away with reasons:
    – View shafts
    – Infrastructure capacity (water, power, sewage, storm water)
    – Access to sun light
    – Pollution, Noise, air quality
    – Additional congestion

    Local government usually priories local nimby lobbying rather than long term public affairs.

  15. As fantastic as this change is the NPS doesn’t seem to do anything about setbacks and HIRB. At the very least I would have liked the NPS to say that: for the ciy centres and rapid transit walk up, the maximum setback the council can require on any boundary is 3 m and that no HIRB rule may be applied on a boundary with a reserve, park, road reserve, or separation strip.

    I think the HIRB is going to effectively make these changes useless.

    1. Yeah. On most typical residential sites you will be lucky to be able to get 4 storeys, let alone 6, and comply with HIRB (or AHIRB).
      Still, that’s significantly more development potential compared to sites currently zoned SH or MHS.
      The reality of that, together with things like viewshafts, mean that most of the sites upzoned will be effectively zoned for 3-4 storey development, rather than 6.
      Which is not necessarily a bad thing – that’s a nice scale.

    2. But can you undermine an NPS through other policies? I am not sure you can. If it is a requirement of an NPS that you allow six levels then I am not sure you can use other policies and objectives that are not required by regulation or statue to limit that outcome. If that is allowed then as you say the changes will be useless. Given that all objectives and policies need to satisfy Part II of the Act then I think there will need to be consequential changes to yards and daylight controls.

      1. Good point. I hadn’t quite thought through that the NPS states that councils must *enable* that development. Presumably this will also mean that things like minimum section sizes will also have to be changed? This is going to be really interseting outside of Auckland. In Hamilton the District Plan doesn’t have any zoning except the City Centre zone that allows actual apartments. What are called apartments are actually terraced houses.

        1. It will be interesting because an NPS sets out matters of national significance in achieving the purpose of the Act in 5(1). An RPS must be in accordance (61(1da)) and that flows to District Plans so I would have thought there is a strong case that you start with the height and other obs and pols have to allow for that goal. But I guess we will find out. the other interesting part will be the section 6 issues of landscapes (6b) and heritage (6f). The section 6 words are ” shall recognise and provide” which is very strong language.

    3. You cant have rules which actively fetter the intensification as per the NPS directive – the policies talk about both building height and form. In those areas where 6 storeys become mandatory, HIRB will have to either be heavily modified or removed entirely, same will apply with other controls like GFA.

      The thing to look out for will likely be a large reduction in the extent of the City Centre/ Metropolitan zones in the first instance.

      1. Good point. The people who think policy is the solution to every problem never seem to ask “what will happen next?” If particular zones must have at least 6 storeys then those zones will become toxic to some people. Instead of fighting height they will fight the zoning. When you think about it that is actually a good thing as it is better to get locally agreed or locally determined solutions rather that ideas imposed centrally. Google Elinor Ostrom if you want economic backing.

  16. 6000 people are moving into the Commercial Bay building.
    There are many of our best NZ businesses with head offices in the CBD.
    Most of the people working there will want to be living close to work and will walk or take a short bus trip and not commute for hours to a distant suburb

    1. I assume most of those 6000 are just moving from other buildings in the CBD, so will unlikely be moving just because they have a new view at work.

    1. jokes aside, I worry about that terminology, too: From a legal perspective, I would have thought you could drive a bus through some of those terms.

      1. I don’t think it makes a difference whether you use precise, crunchy terms or arguable ones. The meaning of the NPS will be hashed out in the Environment Court appeals on every council’s plan change.

        Because it’s a merit appeal, not just points of law, the Court is going to take a broad view based on the intent of the NPS and the wording of the RMA, not a narrow legalistic reading of the meaning of “reliable”.

  17. I’d be interested to know how many of the commenters here or GA contributers live or plan to live in appartments in the short term vs living in single dwellings.
    All very well building up but are there the buyers? Maybe some in Auckland to reduce commutes etc but Hamilton?

    1. Hamilton doesn’t have much of a CBD. I think Gisborne’s CBD is about the same size as Hamilton’s.

    2. In terms of apartments, there’s market failure. They either tend to be crappy little boxes, or at the more expensive end of the market.
      Most of the apartments recently developed and in the so-called ‘middle price range’ are actually quite expensive on a ‘per square metre basis’. You know, one bedroom , 50 sq m apartments selling for 550K.
      The only solution in terms of the huge ‘middle market’ is for the government to start building more apartments, and selling them at cost to FHBs. Then we will see those one beddies at 400-450K, and 2 beddies at 450-550K.

      1. Yes get Phil Twyford onto it…. Surely the govt building houses is never the answer unless for state housing.
        We all know the govt (any colour) can’t do anything without adding cost, not reducing it.

    3. You should go to Hamilton. Thousands of apartments already exist. There are hundreds more currently under construction.

  18. Can anyone provide some evidence of homes in Auckland that are affordable, say $200k or less, that are priced as such because they don’t have parking? And how big are these homes?

    My 3bdm home has space for several cars, 1000sqm of land and has a valuation under $100k because it’s located in the absence of any effort to intensify.

    Intensification of development = intensification of prices. You can build as high and as small as you like in Auckland, prices will never come down to anything most people would consider affordable.

    1. Your house is all but worthless cos it’s in Taumarunui, where there is very little work, and where almost no one wants to live, this relationship is not hard to understand.

    2. Yes it’s a very valid point. Upzoning almost always leads to significant increases in land value, which is a little self-defeating. And of course going mid rise means going to much higher build costs.
      Unless the government builds the apartments, almost all apartments will be for upper-middle income earners or higher.
      The whole ‘Zone if and they will come (or at least build)’ mantra is a bit simplistic… at least in terms of low to mid / upper mid price points.

      1. important to note that upzoning can simultaneously lead to:
        — higher land *prices per sqm* AND
        — lower land *costs per dwelling*.

        Think of it this way: 500sqm @ $400 per sqm = $200k

        Now upzone and we have 500 sqm @ $600 per sqm = $300k, although this cost is split over three townhouses –> $100k per dwelling.

        So it’s not accurate to suggest that the increases in land values that follow from upzoning necessarily undermine housing affordability. It’s possible for increased land values and improved housing affordability to co-exist.

        1. I think the Minneapolis results I blogged about in Building Up or Out do confirm that upzoning and removing carparking can lead to better affordability, though.

          The questions really are:
          – historically what would have been better than letting things get to such a level of unaffordability and what does that teach us about moving forward?
          – what options do we have now other than rezoning? There certainly are a few, like council or government actively seeking out carparks and industrial and commercial properties that are underutilised, purchasing them and developing them directly. And meanwhile buying up even residential properties as they come available that adjoin other public property in order to amalgamate enough land to develop well.

      2. I suspect our house prices would be much lower today if the only land developed on the outskirts of the city over the last few decades had been purchased by the government before rezoning. The government could have then rezoned it and sold it to developers to actually develop. As it is, rezoning has been a way to make money, ultimately paid for by people excluded from and by new entrants to the housing market.

        Rules allowing 4-storey development everywhere through the existing urban area, with no parking requirements and with strict rules around
        – public buildings having their main entrances at the street
        – providing through-ways for people on foot and bicycle
        – retaining mid-sized and large trees and
        – retaining ratios of permeable land to total land area

        Since this wasn’t done, government will need to do some large apartment-building projects themselves.

        1. Yes, exactly. The market can’t and won’t provide affordable housing despite what some ideologues think.

        2. Agreed ZenMan. I have never heard a coherent argument more than 5secs as to why the free market would provide new affordable housing.

          Its a contradictory statement.

        3. Heidi re: your 9.02am comment.
          I am convinced that if the AUP came out in say 2005, that our house prices wouldn’t have gone nearly as high as they have. Some of us were advocating for much more density in the early 2000s, to deaf ears.
          Now it’s just mitigating or limitting the extent of future price rises.
          It won’t fundamentally address the situation.

          The only solution now is government intervention in mass house / apartment building. They need to scale up massively for it.

          Any one who thinks different zoning, alone, will fundamentally alter our housing trajectory is wrong. Unfortunately the damage has been done.

          Of the political parties, only the Greens really get this.

        4. The market, by definition, will not supply ‘below market rate’ priced dwellings. But a less fettered market will increase supply which will (law of supply and demand), ceteris paribus, lower where that rate sits.

          Reduction in regulations that limit supply and add cost to urban sites is key to this. This matches dwellings to employment and education.

          Combine that with a strong increase in state supply of affordable rental dwellings, state lending instruments etc, and we can improve the housing crisis meaningfully.

    3. Geoff, you keep trying to apply this logic but I don’t really get what your point is? Can you just make it other than ‘I live in the middle of nowhere’.

    4. I think you’ve missed the point a bit here. It’s about removing a rule that adds a cost to a dwelling even if people don’t want it.

      You’re right, prices will always be lower in places where few people live for exactly that reason. If even a fraction of Auckland’s population decided to up sticks and move to Taumarunui prices would go up dramatically.

      1. Jezza – as long as we don’t end up in a situation where the actual burden is just offloaded to the public spaces. What actual incentives are there for developers to drop their prices instead of just pocketing the difference?

        I agree with the outcome they’re after but concerned that we may end up with one that we don’t want as a by-product.

        1. For the developers to pocket the difference it suggests people aren’t willing to pay anymore for a carpark. Even in a sellers market there is still a premium for selling a customer something they want.

          Houses in general might be expensive in Auckland but you still pay a lot more for a nice house than a dump.

  19. This is a great opportunity to stop the sprawl, but the vision needs more flesh to ensure we don’t end up with ghettoes/faceless tower blocks and all the social ills which have resulted from poorly planned intensive development in the past. Can anyone suggest examples internationally of attractive/intensive inner city developments & the principles which were applied in achieving them?? I agree with a previous commenter – aesthetics are an important part of inner city living as much as anywhere else. I wonder whether developers given carte blanche will “do the right thing”…..

    1. Actually the Wynyard Quarter is shaping up quite well design wise.
      We just need to get the costs down, and it is not the land cost that is the most significant item.
      Our intensively concentrated buildings supplies industry needs to be fixed.
      Fletchers has worked there was a shit load more money, and a lot less risk by cornering the supplies to this industry then actually building anything.

      1. Wynyard quarter looks pretty but it’s just a playground for the rich. Very monocultural. Progressive urban planning and regeneration would have seen some social / affordable housing built.

        1. It is a difficult one that.
          Affordable, in highly desirable locations, is highly undesirable from an equitable point of view if it has to be rationed. How do you equitably ration it? Should a portion of absolute waterfront locations be set aside for “affordable” housing? Ballot for them?

  20. I don’t know too much about Hobsonville and it’s not inner city, but is it a step in the right direction in terms of planning & aesthetics?

    1. If you want to create inclusive sustainable communities for everyone then Hobsonville not an example you would want to replicate. Enclosed link to a piece of research undertaken by Tricia Austin Architecture & Planning University of Auckland on Hobsonville’s failures with respect to inclusive housing for: 1 in 4 people living with disabilities, our rapidly ageing population and Maori & Pacific people who have higher than average levels of disability.

  21. I’m a bit worried about the removal of heritage protections. For Auckland, i think the status quo provided a pretty good balance.

  22. “This is all destructive – of urban form, of soil, water, biodiversity and natural environment, of liveability, of climate resilient and low carbon system opportunities, of safety in transport and of healthy social networks.

    Resistance to intensification has done its damage already. We’ve run out of time. The sprawl must stop now. There is no “ample” time.”

    I completely agree with what you say above about urgency. I have been arguing the case for densification done well for 25 years, and working on climate issues and fighting big roads for about the same length of time. Where I probably differ is that I think its the roads lobby leading and property developers following We have a vertically integrated road construction industry and free movement of people between consultancies, large firms and councils. New Zealand does not have a big military but it does have billions going to a few firms through the land transport fund. This is – to quote Will Smith in “Enemy of the State” = wrath of god scales of money. Its our version of the military-industrial complex.

    So from this perspective, actually getting light rail in place and keeping the Unitary Plan as it is would in my view probably do more to drive high quality intensification quickly than the NPS.

    if anything I think the current NPS is likely to lead to developers cherry-picking high end high value intensification options, and carrying on with sprawl and rubbish town house developments also. There is already a vast amount of planned / consented peripheral subdivision in Auckland – notably down South, which is just a disaster on climate and community and all the other things you mention. The other big driver of a lack of intensification in Auckland strikes me as the Super-City -prior to amalgamation – Waitakere and Manukau at least had big plans to intensify around public transport.

    I need to keep qualifying myself by saying I am not an Auckland resident, just someone who walks and uses pt a lot when I am there, but nothing seems to have happenned in either of those locations in the last decade. Instead there has been a lot of argument about intensification on the isthmus.

    What I would do now, is demonstrate some good quality intensification with public money in places like the isthmus but also in Manukau and Henderson. Relying on property developers to save the world does not feel like a good strategy to me 🙂 🙂

    Look, email is terrible for nuance and communication. I’d love to sit down some time and compare notes. I agree absolutely with your analysis around urgency, but I am not so sure about what is the catalyst for change. I also think we risk focussing on density alone because its measurable, and losing sight of the more intangible qualities captured in the New Urbanist Charter, which are central to doing density well.

  23. Hi all,

    Just came across this article on recently released NPS-UD 2020. We as a company and a group of professionals totally share your views regarding the Council’s processes:

    “Council’s across the country have long talked about wanting to stop or slow our cities from sprawling over the countryside. They talk about wanting quality and compact cities but when they get to the fine print in their plans, they then put in place rules that make that intensification difficult and leaving sprawl as the fastest, easiest and cheapest option.

    Despite the NPS-UD being in place now, despite the MFE stating that councils MUST consider ALL policies of NPS-UD if the developer seeks greater heights and intensities than currently enabled by the plans, Auckland Council still makes it a very difficult and costly process to get a very good LUC through ( In fact, Auckland Council stated that the proposal meets provisions of NPS-UD, but Auckland Council does not consider NPS-UD having a significant weight yet.

    We are happy to supply the evidence

    We have been trying to make this information being available to public – sending the correspondence and evidence to the main media and ministers, but we have heard nothing from anyone yet.

      1. Thanks Brendon. We have a piles of evidence and records of how Auckland Council bureaucracy led to unnecessary increased costs and delays of the project that fully meets all the provisions of NPS-UD and does meet the relevant objectives of the AUP including heritage overlay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *