The government shocked everyone yesterday as Minister of Housing Megan Woods and Minister for the Environment David Parker held a joint press conference in the beehive theatrette with Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins and Opposition Housing Spokesperson Nicola Willis.

The only thing more surprising was what they were actually announcing: New Zealand is abolishing single family zoning.

This is unequivocally fantastic. The government’s housing program, while good in many respects, has been plagued with a big hole which this reform will go a long way to fill.

Building on top of the NPS-UD, the government will be forcing councils to allow people to build as-of-right up to three homes of up to three storeys on most sites in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, and Christchurch. This is similar to the rules we have in Auckland currently in the Mixed Housing Urban Zone (MHU) – our second densest residential zone, which makes up about a fifth of our residential land area.

Cohaus. a co-housing development in Grey Lynn

In fact, the government’s proposed rules (called the Medium Density Residential Standards, or MDRS) take things a step further with curtailed recession planes. The current rules under MHU mean that you cannot build up to the 3 story height limit in the parts of site within 8 metres of the boundary, while the updated rules mean that restriction only applies within about 2.8 meters.

As I’ve written about previously, these differences can be more dramatic than you think: for a typical suburban Auckland site, this would be a 50% increase in dwellings, and may be the difference between a project being viable or not. Having fewer per-lot restrictions also means more developments can proceed without amalgamation (combining adjacent lots into a single, larger lot), which is incredibly important for producing a fine-grained urbanism that makes a neighbourhood feel more human.

The real kicker is that this means all but Auckland’s THAB zoned areas will be up-zoned. This represents a staggering 92% of Auckland’s residential area. PWC estimates this may mean up to 50,000 extra homes in Auckland over the next 5 years.

Comparison of medium density rulesets in New Zealand

Upzoning everywhere is important as it not only increases capacity, but choice. It means an older couple trying to downsize aren’t forced out of their neighborhood. It means students & families aren’t bidding against each other for housing which doesn’t actually suit either of their needs.

Having a minimum density everywhere is also important for supporting investment in things like transport, shops, schools, parks. This ensures that people’s basic needs are met within their neighborhood while being able to access things like a big job market that a big city provides.

This updated NPS-UD package also brings forward the timeline, and takes a stab at solving the issue that has plagued the NPS since its inception: councils who are disinterested in the entire project. At every, single, turn, Auckland Council has taken the literal interpretation of the document to undermine or dodge its plain intentions. Consequently, government have produced a new Intensification Streamlined Planning Process (ISPP). Auckland Council will notify their intensification plan in August 2022, before it goes to an independent panel who will make recommendations. Council are allowed to disagree with those recommendations, but if they do, its taken out of their hands and the Minister for the Environment makes the final call in August 2023.

The council’s response

Medium density everywhere is an opportunity to massively improve the design of our buildings, our quality of life, and how our buildings contribute to the vitality of the city. The MRDSs propose a set of minima that the Unitary Plan must at least implement, but that doesn’t mean that council should simply stop there. The recent infill and townhome boom has meant homes have been more abundant and affordable than they otherwise would have been, but it has also brought (fixable) issues.

Accessibility

A modern take on Montréal’s characteristic three storey walk-ups

While Wellington City Council took an aggressive approach to allow vastly more six story development around their city centre, it also voted to endorse the application of universal design principles for new housing stock. A similar approach here would be more than welcome, as many 3 storey walk-up apartments don’t even provide ramps on the ground floor, let alone elevators to access the above ones. Housing choice cannot simply be housing choice for some, especially as medium density typologies are most often useful for elderly folk who don’t need much floorspace, and often can no longer legally drive, so must live closer to public transport and shops.

Beauty and Design

Brooksfields’ townhomes in Christchurch

Beauty matters, but beauty is a luxury good. In a buyer’s market, it’s prioritised as people want to live in beautiful places. In a seller’s market it’s ignored as developers can mass produce ugly for a quick buck. The issue is that for us to get from where we are today (a seller’s market) to where we want and need to be (a buyer’s market), we need to mass produce housing.

People can often agree on aesthetics, but beauty does not conform to a set of well-defined rules. We could theoretically rely on panels of architects and urban designers to make aesthetic judgements on a case-by-case basis, but they would quickly drown under the volume required to dig us out of the housing shortage, while adding a lot of uncertainty that would disincentivise development right as we need it.

Therefore, we need to take an approach of harm-reduction while buyers are able to wrestle back control of the housing market. The simplest way to accomplish this? Street trees.

Brutal streetscape brought alive with the barest touch of flora

Infrastructure

Council needs to make sure that as we see our population growth, that our infrastructure keeps up. There’s no reason that 100% of the growth in trips from additional population doesn’t come from public and active modes, and in fact we should expect it to be greater than 100% as the widespread population density makes running faster and more frequent public transport services more viable.

Road reallocation can offer this in a way which does not significantly burden ratepayers, but requires the political confidence to deliver programs like connected communities. AT should be bold, looking to use the NPS as a mandate to get these necessary changes over the line.

Given that we may expect a lot of neighbourhoods adjacent to public transport to be redeveloped, we should also be actively looking for opportunities to rebuild with public pedestrian connections to bus stops, especially where streets are not laid out in a traditional grid pattern.

Distances to the nearest bus stop from a cul de sac in Royal Oak

How will these changes affect your community, and what could council do to make those changes the best they could be?

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149 comments

  1. A question if I may! How does this interact with the unitary plan in Auckland? Does that mean that is out the window?

    1. Probably not. These diktats usually require Councils to change their District Plan. Often that means a hell of a lot more work than the policy twits in Wellington ever understood would be needed. The only times they set aside local planning documents entirely is when the Government wants to shove projects through like Muldoon did with the National Development Act.

      1. Should be easy in Auckland don’t you think. The current 3 zones just need rule changes. In fact its hard to see the point in the 3 zones now, they may as well all be one.
        I don’t think it will make as much difference as stated. There seem to be a lot of houses being bowled in our area (Mixed Suburban) and replaced with 5+ houses. Will they now stick to 3 houses and not bother with resource consent? Or will they go for resource consent which the council seem to be granting despite it being significantly more than the 2 house limit in the plan?

        1. yeah I don’t think it will make a huge difference as stated, however it could make a big difference if councils do what I am suggesting they might do in my comment below…
          As I say, it doesn’t make sense to me in the MHS zone to keep building height overall in the zone to 2 storeys with this change. It will be incoherent.
          So you merge MHS with MHU, 3 storeys height, and you also change the restrictive outlook space standard of 6m to the 3m in this change, for ALL development. Plus the new height in relation to boundary for ALL development.
          Otherwise you get a ‘hodge podge’ of mini-developments (3 dwellings) at 3 storeys, and bigger developments at mainly 2 storeys…
          If these changes are made then it could make a real difference… Widespread 3 storey potential, and big changes to the two rules that are most restrictive on development yield – outlook space, and height in relation to boundary.
          Suddenly you enable 7 three storey terrace homes on standard 16m wide by 35-40m deep suburban sections. Rather than say 4 two storey townhouses.

        2. But there are always knock-on issues. they are talking about 50% coverage. Will that mean changes to the stormwater management rules so you can actually achieve 50% coverage or will the Council be able to use their stormwater management overlays to circumvent the intent? ie will you need to put in plastic tanks the size of a house?

          Allowing three houses per site raises issues. Will the Council increase net site areas where there isn’t infrastructure? They could increase them be three times if they wanted. Then there is all the financial contributions stuff. Do they keep heritage rules that have no further meaning? If you think it is a minor change then you haven’t met council planners.

        3. @miffy, there is only work if the council planners choose to make work. Sadly, I agree that they probably will.

  2. My main reservation is that we’ve made it far easier to build across the region instead of concentrating our construction capacity on key routes identified in the 2020 changes as already having the infrastructure to support them now.

    Assuming a huge increase in density across big chunks of the city, that begs the question of whether central government is going to get its shit together in terms of actually building rapid transit in Auckland?

    Hopefully we are not shooting ourselves in the foot here.

    1. Its hard to know isn’t it. Its also possible this results in less density than the original NPS; lots of 3 story spread around the city with nothing any higher.
      But its good that the government has finally stepped in; the useless council would continue patting themselves on the back about the unitary plan forever and change nothing. And good to see both parties supporting it so it won’t be a football at the next election.

      1. ‘would continue patting themselves on the back about the unitary plan forever’
        Ha ha, yeah. And it’s not ‘their’ plan. And the big changes that WERE made weren’t the product of their endeavours, it mainly came from government submissions.
        So their protective, self congratulatory attitude on the AUP is quite strange.

    2. One of the criticisms of the current planning rules was that relatively little new housing was being built in the inner city villa suburbs. Many of these suburbs are walkable distances from the central city, and they were frequently on tram routes in the past. Intensifying these suburbs, rather than more distant suburbs, will result in more people walking and using public transport.

      1. Will that actually happen though? Land costs are at a premium in these suburbs. You’d have to be intensively developing them to make it worth the hassle vs. something in the outer reaches of the city.

        1. The land commanding the highest premiums was that zoned for more density. It’ll be really interesting to see what happens to the property market now that just about all residential land is upzoned.

        2. Yes about the land price market.
          Apparently the business case thinks up short term, but then long term extremely stable. With so many more opportunities developers wont need to compete with each other so much, just go door knock someone else.

        3. It’s worth reading the PWC report. They can only model the effects, of course, but at least this time around they have been able to improve their model on the basis of data from the effect of the AUP.

          “Zoning changes strongly predicted the amount of floor area increase for properties that added at least one dwelling. The more permissive the new zone, the more floor area a property added… However, the AUP released constraints by much more on the outskirts of the city than in the high-demand areas… the AUP effectively dispersed development to the city fringes… When we adjust the model to neutralise the AUP bias toward urban fringe development, allowing demand and opportunity cost characteristics… to drive the response to up-zoning instead, we find the most intensive development moving much closer to the city centre.”

          This is significant, as it will inform our (still archaic predict-and-provide) traffic modelling – so we shouldn’t be getting any more sprawl roads to “accommodate new trips” from far out of the city.

          https://imgur.com/EAPNrme

        4. Isn’t the 50% max site coverage still the key though? That’s only a 5% raise from Auckland’s existing 45% max coverage – and Wellington is already at 50% coverage, so no change there. Suburbs in Auckland like Kohimaramara may be rich, but they have already, by and large, sold off their spare land – ie back yard – many years ago.

        1. Heritage will still exist, so things that are important will still be protected.

          The extensive character overlays, however, which are a pure NIMBY invention… I’m 90% sure they’re going. Which really makes me laugh, as one of the things the Council said they were doing in response to the NPS-UD was sending their planners out to walk the streets and capture the character into the plans better.

          There was PLENTY they should have been doing with our rates instead of doing that.

    3. Bit of an unknown.
      My basesless speculation is that why would people build elsewhere, when they could build closer to PT or the city now? A large part of what is have been up zoned is the villa belt, and areas of the ismuth. One tree hill (the neighbourhood) has got it too.

      The only reason people were building in far flung 1hr+ commute locations was thats where the cheaper land / housing was. There are far more opportunities to build housing now in more convenient locations.

      1. Of course, there’s a huge demand to build closer to the city. The only reason it hasn’t been happening is council interference blocking the market completely. Well hopefully, that logjam has just been busted although I wonder if “heritage” will be twisted to delay and obfuscate by council planners.

        1. I’m pretty confident that the heritage stuff wont be a blocker.
          The government has already shown they’re willing to amend the rules. If the council planning department goes around for the next 2 years furiously listing every building they lay eyes on, to the extent to provide the a proxy to the current heritage protection, then I’m pretty sure they’ll stop that.

          Apparently there are more rules coming too.

          Perhaps I am naïve.

        2. “furiously listing every building they lay eyes on”

          AFAIK they couldn’t really do that unless private owners agree?

      2. Not quite right.
        There’s not one land market.
        The land values in central locations mean housing that is built there will always be at sky high prices.
        There’s finite demand for that price point.
        There’s a LOT of demand at ‘lower’ price points, which means we’ll still see a lot of development in cheaper, further flung locations.

        1. These areas have been locked up for, at least thirty years, ever since the 90s when the boomers started pulling up the housing ladder behind them. The sky high prices are a product of supply restrictions as much as location.

        2. There are a lot of intermediate locations that will be cheaper than central locations. And development in central locations will prevent the rapid rise in places like Onehunga.

          To play along, there are plenty of land markets, but they all influence each other. If I’m the child of some wealthy parents in Ponsonby, I would like to buy into the same neighborhood as my parents, but instead I’m forced out, into a townhouse in some other less expensive neighborhood. That can only drive prices up there. That is much less likely to happen, if I can buy a cheaper than neighborhood average home in Ponsonby.

          There are a lot of places near to RT stations etc that are being up zoned more than this 3 story, as a part of the rest of the NPS-UD. And more rapid transit is being / will be built.

  3. This is indeed fantastic news. It’s also heartening to see that it should be politically durable, which gives people certainty.

    MDRS is a minimum density standard so councils could be even more liberal if they wanted. I acknowledge this is unlikely in most places. But what I found interesting was how close MDRS is to a standard that would enable perimeter block development. Just need to remove setback requirements if the whole building footprint falls within 10m of a boundary adjoining the road corridor, or similar.

    1. Close, but not. To me, it feels the opportunity to enable suburbs that haven’t had infill to jump over the infill stage and straight to a quality perimeter block development form was missed.

      Anyone know if there’s any chance at all to fix up that one big flaw? I’d increase the rear boundary set back, remove the side ones, and probably reduce the front.

      Alongside that change, I’d like to see a tightening up of how Council is allowed to interpret “impervious” and “pervious” definitions. If 1m side paths cannot be counted as pervious, and areas that people will clearly end up paving or parking on cannot be counted as pervious, developers will be forced to properly amalgamate the green areas so they work for stormwater.

      1. Heidi yes this is genius; allow the set-backs to be accumulated in one direction, ie the backyard, across co-joined site, so much more useful. 1m strips are useless. Councils could easily add this as an option, could lead to much better housing and neighbour hoods. Proper perimeter blocks. Well designed terrace housing with good outdoor space amenity.

        1. Who said anything about being useful? The most important thing is to keep up appearances.

          “Yes I know it has just a 1m strip on 3 sides, and front yards are useless. but it is a S T A N D A L O N E H O U S E.“

        2. I was doing some early work on this and my initial thinking was to allow people to go to town on the front 50% of the site and leave the back 50% open.

          The MDR rules, as currently drafted, are more akin to Royal Oak on steroids.

          One interesting point however is how close the building coverage/ imprevious surface %’s are. Unless you do basement parking you cant take advantage of the 50% building coverage unless you basically have a car-free development. surface parking and tracking curves quickly eat up a lot of site area.

        3. “1m strips are useless.”

          They DO help with ease of construction, maintenance and reduce cross-site legal wrangles. But yeah, they have few other benefits for neighbourhood amenity of landscaping.

        4. And a covered walkway at one side of the property is possibly something developers will provide as a good solution for access. No side setbacks allows this, while also allowing storeys above to go to the side boundary.

      2. Exact Hedi, this is a really lazy and sad way to up zone, it provides density, but with no direction or vision of how to density well. They could have had both

        1. Yes! Can we lobby Auckland Council to (at least) designate areas for this type of zoning? Backyards could then also be shared areas (like hinterhofs in Germany), great for beautification, community and consistency…

  4. I am all on board with the up-zoning but I am rather despondent at the removal of resource consents. Density requires a more considered architecture and urban design; taking away a key planning check may result in some awful developments that negatively effect the public realm. The building code is not good enough in this country to be relied on. The building code doesn’t cover CPTED, universal design, vehicle maneuvering, street interaction, minimum unit size.

      1. Also, not needing RC doesn’t mean you don’t still have to comply with the UP rules for, say, vehicle manoeuvring?

  5. I am really upset that there is no financial package alongside this package. Where is the value uplift capture, vacancy tax, unimproved ratable value (a bit of a ‘stick’ to realize the density), requirements for affordable (imagine if 1 of the 3 units had to be Kiwibuild!).
    To only go after planning regulations and not any of the financial settings is to grossly misunderstand the crux of the housing crisis. This is a financial crisis with the commodification of houses best demonstrated by the last census showing more empty homes than homeless and the housing wait list.

    1. I partly disagree. Financial assist should be given – to Councils to create the infrastructure needed (even a densified, closer-in development in brownfields needs a lot of improved infra, such as better sewerage and power – a lot of that is at capacity, and just because it takes LESS money to serve new dwellings in brownfields than greenfields doesn’t mean that many Councils aren’t struggling to find the money to invest into their infra (and the added rates take will only come later).

  6. While supportive of this direction, the sudden opening up of everywhere is going to create large problems with power, water supply, waste water and stormwater. There are many parts of Auckland where at least one of these are at capacity (e.g. the Unitec area), and they will takes decades to upgrade. Uncontrolled increases in demand will lead to overloading.
    I don’t like the proposed recession plane of 1m setback, 6m height and 60°. This will dramatically shade any neighboring outdoor living space, devaluing. On the other hand it does not go far enough, as to create continuous 3 story terrace housing, people need to be able to build full height on the boundary. This should be permitted, with some sort of fixed compensation, as long as that neighboring property is not intensified.
    I hope this change results in the councils increasing density further in the existing higher density areas. e.g. high rise adjacent to railway stations

    1. Watercare has already been making big investments in its infrastructure (Central Interceptor, Hunua 4 pipeline etc.) to enable development across the city. The site impervious coverage maximum doesn’t change for Auckland so I don’t see it having much of an impact on stormwater infrastructure. Electricity supply and telecommunications are easily upgraded by comparison with the 3 waters.

      1. Putting in new cell towers and fibre are subject to the RMA and then the NIMBYs get involved.

        New electricity feeds are the same

        1. Incorrect. Under the Electricity Act electricity network owners can put in new electricity lines as needed. The local authority can impose ‘reasonable’ conditions but if they want to improve amenity they have to pay for the additional costs themselves.

        2. I have never had an ability to submit on an electricity line or cell tower or wastewater line, even before the “presumption of notification” was removed from the RMA.

    2. That’s often a red herring argument, as a big part of our infrastructure upgrades required are our streets – and they need improving EVERYWHERE. As Logarithmic Bear says, the three waters are being improved everywhere. In fact, upzoning everywhere should hugely assist the process of upgrades, because Council and Government can stop spending multiple billions of dollars on infrastructure for sprawl – which becomes yet more we have to maintain – and spend those billions on existing areas instead. It’s far more cost effective.

      1. For sure it is more cost effective to upgrade for a smaller area and I support intensification on a much higher scale than is being contemplated but services are currently not being improved everywhere, only in places where intensification has already been flagged in the unitary plan or where there is an existing problem. We are relying on whatever spare capacity there might be in essentially what was installed to service 1/4 acre sections. Yes the central interceptor will provide additional capacity in the central west area, but only in that area, and it is still going to be years before it is online. Aside from a bit of work around Rosedale there are no other major sewer expansion projects in the existing built city. The change may triple the density in the Mt Eden / Epsom / Remuera area for example, but the services are not there to support it and there is nothing planned. Additional/replacement cables and pipes would be required everywhere. NZ is very limited in its capacity to construct new infrastructure quickly, and there needs to be a planned approach focusing on a few suburbs or parts of suburbs at a time.

        1. The services aren’t anywhere, we don’t have piles of excess infrastructure capacity lying around, we need to develop it for growth.

          However the alternative of ten thousand more home in Mt eden and Remuera is ten thousand more homes on paddocks in waimauku and mercer.

          They both need wastewater treatment plant capacity, they both need trunk sewer mains, they both need local reticulation.

          The difference is that doing it in waimauku means the trunk sewer is 40 km long and the entirely of the reticulation is brand new and spread out.

          Same with fresh water, power, fibre, and of course streets, roads, public transport.

    3. The costs associated with this new infill are much lower than the costs the council and watercare face for greenfield developments. This change should actually free up money for these upgrades.

  7. A popular criticism of this new policy seem to be, as Andrew demonstrates above, that this policy isn’t a silver bullet that solves all our problems so we shouldn’t do it. This is a misunderstanding: There is no silver bullet. There are only a series of incremental steps along the path to solving our housing crisis. This is one of those steps. Other steps yet to be taken include improving the capacity of the construction industry, improving the building code, changing the way we finance infrastructure etc.

    1. Great news for Auckland! I do share some concerns around design perhaps a form based code system would be suitable in this situation. This would allow a developer 10 or so designs ideally with region specific designs to keep a uniform nature and maintain a minimum living standard and urban predictability in the design of areas. There’s a good video on form based codes here https://youtu.be/644gz7maHdM

  8. We were already seeing plenty of intensification in areas like Kingsland, Grafton, Birkenhead etc and around transport hubs.

    The graphs Matt publishes on building consents shows this.

    I don’t see much changing in the ‘leafy burbs’ Onewa Road is zoned for greater intensification than this already yet all we have seen is a couple of 2 story townhouse developments. Its a maximum of three stories not a minimum as well.

    My other concern is the quality – don’t want this to simply encourage the development of three story slums

    1. Instead of the current one storey slums priced at $1 million+? Just stop with that tedious boomer nimby trope about “slums” when anything other than a standalone house is allowed.

      1. Now they will be able to build 3 x 3 story 1m dollar properties on the sale site where they could previously build one. Great for developers, not for first home owners. This won’t provide the cheaper housing people here think it will.

        1. “Great for developers, not for first home owners. This won’t provide the cheaper housing people here think it will.”

          Sigh. So three couples that *can* afford a 1 million house now buy at the new location.

          This is two couples that AREN’T pushing up the price at the auction one suburb further out where people with a maximum limit of 850k are bidding. Which in turn means two less couples bidding for the 700k property one more suburb out.

          YES. This will DEFINITELY help affordability.

    2. Potential poor quality isn’t the sole domain of terraces/apartments as there are lots of shitty stand-alone homes being built.

  9. It’s an interesting one. Surely it forces councils’ hands on all zoning for ALL development?
    ie. It wouldn’t really make sense to have these rules only apply in the MHS zone in Auckland for 3 dwellings, allowing 3 storeys etc etc, and then revert to 2 storeys for 4 or more dwellings?
    Surely it will force Council’s hand to simply convert all of MHS to MHU, and introduce the 6M + 60 degree recession planes across the board?
    Is that others’ thoughts?

  10. This reads like a PR campaign for our lost government.

    A, I didn’t know our government has a housing programme to deal to the severe crisis they and we know we have. Not one that differs from the failed status quo of the past decade or so.

    B, As a developer I will want to maximise my return and bowling single dwelling lots in Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, Mt Eden, etc will do just that. Not in low socio economic areas like West and it South Auckland. That’s okay for middle NZ, bad for those beneath.

    And there was no shock. It was more tinkering. Its routine actually.

    24000 on waiting lists just to get a roof over their heads, 2000 additional state homes per year. Do the math, it’s bad.

    Because material and skills shortages abound and NO plan to do something about it, how can I be shocked?

    And yet again councils are left out of the conversation yet ratepayers bear the cost of infrastructure and compliance risk that surely will accompany this.

    Megan Woods simply proved, yet again, she has no idea! And this crisis will worsen

    1. The logic of this argument is that intensification should be happening as a priority in West and South Auckland. Which would create exactly the kind of “ghettos” (US projects, UK estates, French cités) that those opposed to intensification claim to be afraid of.

      Ponsonby was a working-class suburb 50 years ago. What changed? And what could change bacK?

      1. What I am saying is the elephant in the room is not being addressed by this. Affordable housing now, either to rent or buy.

        The crisis Labour inherited has magnified hugely on their watch from their unwillingness to address the problem. They’ve stuck to dipping a toe in the water and then running and hiding to see what happens, type of tinkering.

        Only the government can address mass building that is required of affordable housing. Until then pretending the market will sort the mess out like this policy will not change anything. Hasn’t to date!

        I am in despair at how useless this government have been with housing.

        1. I understand housing policy is effectively a subset of monetary policy, because of how much savings are denominated in real estate. Tough luck if you need that real estate for something else than banking.

        2. So you’re in despair with the the Reserve Bank responding to the pandemic with record low interest rates/cheap money. Because that is the number one cause of the outrageous surge in house prices over the last 18 months. However it looks like the party may be over, with inflation forcing interest rates back up to more reasonable levels.

        3. Exactly!
          This policy will do little, if anything, about the affordability of housing. At best, it might moderate how much worse things can get.
          It’s fitting that Labour announce this alongside National, as their neo-liberal philosophies on housing are almost exactly the same!
          It makes it look like they are doing something, which they are, but it’s playing around the edges.
          Meanwhile, they are overseeing a Reserve Bank which through its actions has pumped up house prices to obscene levels.

    2. I have a lot of sympathy for what you are saying.
      While I actually think this is quite a good initiative, it’s still in my opinion not addressing one of the core issues, which is the government is simply not building enough housing.
      This policy will make little difference to affordability. The townhouses that are built under it will still typically be beyond the reach of most middle income households.
      For the government, they can point to doing something – but they aren’t doing what they really need to be doing – committing to a massive social and affordable house building program, as per Ireland’s recent announcement.

        1. Kaianga Ora demolish and or sell off properties to create these builds. They are not allowed to take on debt to meet demand. And although looking impressive, the additional housing created is simply too few too late.

          It’s exactly what National were doing to meet demand, kind of but not really, absolute stock standard policy from a decade ago. And we wonder why we have problems!

        2. ‘Massive’? Not.
          They have scaled up a bit, but they need to be building more than 7,000 homes a year in Auckland, not a couple of thousand.
          By the way, I don’t appreciate the ‘Grey Lynn’ slur. I actually live in South Auckland, where there’s lots of social housing.
          I suggest you might be the ‘chardonnay socialist’ that your slur implies if you think this level of social house construction is anywhere enough.

    3. As a developer I will want to maximise my return and bowling single dwelling lots in Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, Mt Eden, etc will do just that. Not in low socio economic areas like West and it South Auckland. That’s okay for middle NZ, bad for those beneath.

      First I hear long winded arguments on why developers building density in low socio economic areas is bad, just gentrification, and no poor people are living in these new developments, and are shifted out of their old house and have nowhere to go. Scum of the earth policy, yada yada.

      Now I hear, what will these low socio economic areas do without the rapid house building in their area.

      And yet again councils are left out of the conversation….
      Including them would have:
      a) been extremely likely to have leaked the plan trying to torpedo it politically.
      b) been like asking children how many brussel sprouts they should have to have for dinner.

      1. I have a great recipe for brussel sprouts. Just did a small hole in the garden and drop them in. Top it off with any coriander you have and fill the hole in. Enjoy!

      2. Ratepayers are a major component, to state the bleeding obvious! But like always when governments get a rush of blood to head, like this, to look like they’re doing something, like the deregulation of the building industry in the 90’s, councils aka ratepayers weren’t consulted either. And look at the mess and severe financial problems that caused!

        That’s why you have them on board, because when all care no responsibility policy like this is thrown out there, its always ratepayers heads in a noose for it!

        1. Panetta is part right, partly wrong.
          It’s very unlikely to make grossly unaffordable housing remotely affordable, but it is quite likely to help reduce exacerbation of the problem.

    4. We left Manurewa last week for Waharoa and one reason was the infill housing, apart from the crime and the noise.

      This plan may partially solve the housing problem but it will do nothing to solve antisocial behaviour created by living cheek to jowl. Witness the tenements of East London for instance

      1. solve antisocial behaviour created by living cheek to jowl

        This was briefly discussed in my recent geography class. There is absolutely no link between housing density and an increase in ‘antisocial behaviour’

        Sure if you cram every poor person into an area, then of course the crime stats for that area are bad. But thats not because of housing density. It has no upward force on ‘antisocial behavior’, its a mere tangential fact that those dwellings tend to be cheaper and the only place that poor people can afford to live.

        In fact policing efficiency goes up with more people living in a smaller square km, and there being more eyes on the street means there is less street crime per person.

      2. We left the city because of issues with neighbours in suburbia. So the issue you describe is real – and occasionally, yes, can be made worse in *individual* cases by new dense development.

        But social issues are largely a factor of social (and economic) causes. The best recipe for social “peace” is in my view a large and largely contented middle class. People who have steady jobs, people whose kids aren’t shuffled around schools several times a year because of rental uncertainty, people who OWN their homes and have an interest and stake in local stability and pleasant surroundings, rather than people who don’t give a F*** because life has kicked them around enough already, and will do so again.

        So housing affordability – and more (good) social housing – is absolutely crucial to social peace, and having good neighbours, whatever the density. The only other option is walled compounds with rent a cops at the gate (like far too much of the planet already has).

        This may not fix things now, but it will be crucial to improve things in 5 or 10 or 15 years. So I applaud Labour and National for doing it.

        And yeah, involving Councils? We’d be here in 2025 on the third consultation draft.

  11. Access to storm water and sewage is another issue. Flood plain is also other.

    There should be flexibility such as allow to build on flood plain as soon as the building foundations has a few meters extra height.

    People should be able to access neigbor’s private stormwater and sewage by right without asking their permission – as soon as the developers pay for digging/upgrades and fill it back nicely.

    Also 2.8m recession plain should be exempted retrospective as soon as both neighbours agree.

  12. Overall very supportive, but it will be interesting to see if this results in sites that are zoned for even more intense development being underdeveloped into townhouses since that will be a much less risky development (permitted) rather than going taller.

    It could result in perverse outcomes like the notorious Paddington development on Taranaki St in Wellington and those sites becoming unlikely to be redeveloped in the future. Could potentially erode the ability to have quality TODs around rail stations across our Tier 1 cities.

    1. I thought the Paddington development was due to Wellington’s decrepit and long neglected waste water network not being able to cope with extra high rise apartments in that area.

      1. Hmm I’m not sure about that. My understanding was that it was the developers wanted a quicker, less risky development that turned a profit, even if it didn’t squeeze maximum value out of the site. WCC processing officers were pretty powerless to prevent it which has lead to a rule change to apply minimum development levels in the city centre.

        The CBD is definitely targetted for increased development in the future, so I would be surprised if WW capacity was the concern there (even if the pipes are decrepid). Dev. contributions will be an important part of renewing those pipes in the future!

      2. Paddington is actually the generator for all this. Definitely nothing to do with the wastewater network (its all decrepit and it all needs upgrading, not just Taranaki St), the canny developer put forward housing 2 storeys high in the middle of the city and the council had nothing in their rule book that would let them do anything about it.

        As a result, both WCC and Central Govt have decided to clamp down on anti-urban behaviour such as this, introducing minimum height limits. My guess is that the low-level fee-simple townhouses have been popular as there will not be the onerous requirements for Body Corporate and the insurance – that is the real issue that is killing desire for Apartments.

        1. Yes but minimum height rules are not going to work. People will simply not develop a site if a rule forces them to do something that doesn’t work for them.
          The issue in Wellington is the Kaikoura quake made a lot of people realise that living in a tall building in a seismic zone isn’t smart. Their apartments shook like crazy and they all got out of bed and stood in the street hoping nothing would fall on them. Then the risk of tsunami meant they had to go back into their apartments even thought they didn’t know if they were safe to re-enter.

          If you live in Wellington then live in a wooden house somewhere away from retaining walls, tsunami zones and cliffs.

  13. The changes proposed enable intensification much more broadly over an entire urban area. Unfortunately they way things are drafted means that Council’s now have much more scope to limit intensification beyond the 3-houses/3-storey limits across most of the Auckland Isthmus in particular. Outside of the defined walking catchment of the city centre, metro zones and rapid transit stations the changes to Policy 3d mean Council’s dont really need to enable anything over and above the new MDR provisions.

    1. The article said that it would INCREASE Auckland density provisions across more than 90% of the city compared to current. Sounds like your concern isn’t really a worry.

      1. I.e. for example this doesn’t *down-zone* THAB, and unlike what you say, those aren’t just city centre, metro zones and rapid transit stations.

        Also, I’d be interested – presumably Councils still have to ALSO implement the up-zoning around the transport hubs / routes from the original NPS a year ot so ago?

  14. Neither the Co-Haus, or the Montreal walk ups pictured are enabled by right by this change. They are either more than 3 homes per lot, or if multiple lots don’t have the side Boundary setbacks.
    Would love to see the rule enable more homes per lot by right. And be extended to our increasingly unaffordable provincial cities

    1. “And be extended to our increasingly unaffordable provincial cities”

      Interesting question would be to what degree unaffordability in provincial cities is also worsened right now by “overspill” from people in AKL and Wellington etc who can’t afford it there anymore. Probably only a small – but likely still significant part.

    2. The CoHaus would be permitted by right, but you would have to jump through a few hoops. You would buy your site. Subdivide down to the minimum section size. Propose 3 dwellings per site, then use the ‘willing neighbour’ exemption to waive the side boundary rules (you are the neighbour).

      Plus the fact that you can do that, makes it way easier to get resource consent if you choose to go that way.

  15. I think the most likely thing to be built in existing suburbs are granny flats/ADUS.
    Also interested in what this does to minimum lot size in Greenfield. You can now build 3 homes on say a 350sqm lot (I think this is Wellington’s outer residential minimum). Will minimum lot size decrease? Or are we happier having 3 homes on 1 350sqm lot rather than 3 freehold titles on 120sqm lots?

  16. Does this mean I could theoretically by an empty suburban section with 2 other friends and put 3 tiny houses on it without consent?

    1. yeah, although at least in Auckland you could probably do that already?
      Maybe not some other parts of NZ.
      Other things might be more constraining, such as bank willingness to lend on tiny houses.

      1. This is a really common myth but it is untrue. Lots of councils have specific rules preventing temporary accommodation.

        1. The case you linked related to whether a tiny home is subject to the building act. I am discussing the controls applied to tiny houes under the Resource Management Act.

          Hamilton City Council have deliberately defined a building to include a tiny home or caravan. Then the building must be either an accessory building (in which case it can’t have a kitchen) or an ancilliary dwelling, in which case, you can only have one and must have a 600m2 site. The building is then also subject to setback and height in relation to boundary rules.

          https://www.hamilton.govt.nz/our-council/council-publications/districtplans/ODP/appendix1/Pages/1.1-Definitions-and-Terms.aspx#ancillaryresidentialunit

        2. I wondered if you meant something like that. As well as the example permitted activities you mention, presumably it could also be the main dwelling on an empty lot, or consent could be sought for the activity?

          Possibly the Auckland Unitary Plan does something similar by defining a building as “any permanent or temporary structure” and “for the purposes of district plan provisions” defines a bunch of relevant structures including structures “used as a dwelling, place of work, place of assembly or storage, or structures that are in a reserve or camping ground [that are] over 1.5m in height and [I]n use for more than 32 days in any calendar year”.

          But is a vehicle a structure (given the other legislative definitions)?

          Anyway, I agree it pays to check the district plans too.

  17. Intensification must be good.
    Auckland has a low productivity problem. The cost of congestion is $1billion to $2billion per year. NZ is spending too much on low return infrastructure. NZ needs to spend $180 billion on water infrastructure over the next decades. Why do many people drink bottled water and don’t trust Aucklands tap water?100s of diggers are busy on good farmland cutting down trees and destroying the environment and our precious wildlife. Huge areas are covered in concrete.
    People demand public transport to go to every new suburb to pick up a couple of passengers. When the train stops at Parnell and Remuera to pick up 2 or 3 passengers then planners should be wondering why.
    We have a small army of high emission ride on mowers every week cutting grass in parks and beside roads covering 100s hactares from Albany to Drury. Many council staff spraying hundreds of thousands of liters of glyphosate around 1million trees, alongside riparian areas, 5000 km of roadsides, 5000km of paths, and curbs.
    Why do we accept that families should spend too much of their budget and hours a day commuting?
    Infation is up and the cost of living is always a big issue.
    Why has it taken many years for smart people and business people to not know the costs of sprawl. Why don’t they know the costs and benefits for a family and the economy for people to live in an apartment compared to living in suburbia?
    There are still calls from some to build more roads and add even more sprawl. But the returns from intensification will be high

      1. Its pretty much a straight copy from Georgian England – if you go over there, you’ll see miles and miles of this. Worth noting that Georgian architecture is hugely popular in the UK and very liveable. Also worth noting the amount of wall to window ratio. No fully glazed facades: this is about comfortable Living in the city, vs putting yourself on show.

    1. “Why don’t they know the costs and benefits for a family and the economy for people to live in an apartment compared to living in suburbia?”

      Probably because we haven’t supplied affordable medium density housing into the market and people have no frame of reference for it?

  18. As someone who has worked on leaking buildings over the past 7 years, I am sceptical about government deregulation will provide the assumed results. I believe this will led to poor housing stock. Sadly the logic of neoliberalism is so embedded into our political/economic class that any alternatives are unthinkable. Similarly, criticisms of heritage or character protection as nimbyism, is in reality is both victim-blaming and a form of left-libertarianism. The key beneficiaries of the deregulation will be developers. Alternatively in Auckland there is 70,000 hectares in light industrial land in Penrose & Onehunga, the government/industry could develop that? It would be more affordable and forms an excellent transportation nexus for the region. Remember most Aucklanders don’t work in the CBD. Furthermore, the current housing crisis is a distortion of the market by the lack of investment in the lower and middle of house stock by government/council since 1984.

    1. Exactly, well put.
      Unfortunately many of the so-called lefties who comment on this website can’t see through this. They are effectively neo-liberals dressed in left wing drag.
      You are quite right that by far the biggest beneficiaries of this will be developers, and the small scale cheap and nasty ones at that. ‘Mums and Dads’ already on the property ladder might do well out of it too, whack in cramped little house on the back of the property, subdivide and sell!
      This is completely spoiling the generally good stuff achieved through the NPS-UD.

    2. You make a lot of claims.
      I am sceptical about government deregulation will provide the assumed results
      These kinds of baseless ideological arguments are silly and pointless, I’ll ignore the rest.
      I believe this will led to poor housing stock
      Why? Everything to do with building science, health, etc is in the building code. Nothing to do with zoning regs. The new terraced homes are almost always, objectively far better for human health than what they replaced.

      criticisms of heritage or character protection as nimbyism, is in reality is both victim-blaming…
      w h a t?
      Those doing all the defending are usually by definition nimbys. They can usually be quoted saying, not in my backyard. And somehow they’re the victims of…. denying other people housing? I guess I’d feel pretty bad if I did something like that.
      But seriously I cannot fathom how someone could go through enough mental gymnastics to think criticizing transparent wealth protections as victim blaming.

      Alternatively in Auckland there is 70,000 hectares in light industrial land in Penrose & Onehunga, the government/industry could develop that?
      1) light industrial land is needed in the city
      2) so you’re fine with development so long they do it somewhere else? gee where have I heard this before.

      Remember most Aucklanders don’t work in the CBD
      people wheel this quote out all the time. So what, who cares if most people don’t work in the CBD, that’s an irrelevant fact. Its by far the largest job center in the country, its the largest education center in the country, its where housing is most in demand. Its where transport is most in demand. Its to serve these shortages that changes are most needed.

      1. Hi Jack, yes I am ideologically opposed to neoliberalism. I’m not writing a paper so please appreciate that this lacks in-line references. Why do I believe deregulated markets lead to failure, is namely down who bares the risk. With leaky housing the true cost were born by the Contractors/Consultants/Council and owners. You clearly have never been to a building site if you believe that building/planning regs are religiously followed. Town houses are great but you don’t have destroy heritage to achieve density it’s not a zero sum game. Regarding NIMBYs my analogy would be like Recycling, it puts the onus of blame on the end user not the government or the manufacturer. Of course we need light industrial land, but why Onehunga cf. response to buttman. Im strongly for protecting heritage and quality intensity, the Nat/Lab plan just deals with quantity and doesn’t put any skin in the game. Onehunga/Penrose is central with excellent transport links, it will develop under this policy but what will built be developer lead. I would rather see something like the old Ministry of Works lead development to quality housing.

        1. “Town houses are great but you don’t have destroy heritage to achieve density it’s not a zero sum game.”

          Quite right, town houses only destroy heritage if you demolish heritage buildings to re-intesify the site. If you build higher desnity around heritage, heritage is enhanced.

        2. @ sailor boy
          If you build higher desnity around heritage, heritage is enhanced.
          Which we currently cannot do due to sweeping blanket protections over large areas, instead of pockets, or buildings with heritage value.

        3. the reply function is confusing (I get it wrong all the time), and the comment editor is really basic, makes complex comments more work than they ideally would be.

          you in turn can believe it’s a panacea
          I never claimed that.

          I think that the housing market is extremely constrained, one of the most poorly regulated markets in the country. If we want more homes, the natural first step should be to make it legal to build more. The current half in half out is the worst of both worlds. The govt gets to say ‘its the markets fault’, and simultaneously take little action on fixing it and prevent anyone else being able to build more housing.

          I have no opinion on whether KO or a different agency should get way more involved building. Seems like they could have a lot of advantages.

          I am strongly against protecting ‘heritage’ in the way that is has been blanket applied to areas. Individual buildings can have heritage value, blanketing swathes of most useful land in the the city and treating it like a theme park, open air museum is extremely selfish hording of land that would otherwise be used to make peoples lives better. As it stands its just little groups using government tools to make everyone that lives in the city lives worse, lengthening travel distances, decreasing housing availability.

          You might be able to make a justification for a portion of a street, 50 – 100m or something to have blanket protection, that’s heritage. An example of how people used to live, learn about them and the building science or something. Not keeping a large tracts of the city the same for eternity, for literally no gain, only massive continual societal losses.

          The heritage value of the 1 example heritage structure, when one exists is very high. The heritage value of the 100,001th heritage structure then 100k others like it exist is extremely low. And when a new structure could be built economically that would serve every other purpose better than the existing structure then it clearly should be done.

          Regarding NIMBYs my analogy would be like Recycling, it puts the onus of blame on the end user not the government or the manufacturer.
          This all depends on how far up the blame tree you go, in a democracy, you could always circle back to the people, or the government.
          At the end of the day they’re the ones that set up the pressure groups, they’re the ones that managed to get the government to capitulate and provide such sweeping protections. And continue to be a loud minority harming society. They have played the most active role here. At the very least they should no longer be enabled through planning rules. And hey look the government has done so.

        4. At the very least they should no longer be enabled through planning rules
          That was not supposed to be a threat for something more, should read.
          They should no longer be enabled through planning rules.

        5. A discussion like this needs a plug to this blog post:

          “The Scar of Modern Architecture”
          https://www.andrewalexanderprice.com/blog20200330.php

          People’s intuition is basically that we have to keep our current set of buildings that are not ugly eyesores, because we are no longer able to produce new ones. Maybe that intuition is wrong, but it is hard to convince people. (see also: the Brusselisation of Auckland.) In other news, 3-storey houses look different from 12-storey apartment blocks. That sounds flippant but how often have you seen a picture of a high-rise over an article about upzoning to a 3-storey limit?

          It is one of those cases where the council just has to put its foot down and tell people there is no heritage zone anymore.

    3. “Alternatively in Auckland there is 70,000 hectares in light industrial land in Penrose & Onehunga, the government/industry could develop that?”

      I’m pretty sure we’re using that light industrial land for light industry.

        1. I’ve gone past that area several times on the train and thought it could be good for medium/high density development.

      1. Hi Buttwizard, yes but Onehunga is no longer the edge of town. Land prices have risen, and manufacturers such as Fletchers are actively looking for new production sites in Tuaranga. Light industrial land is being developed out it Wiri & out west. My point is that rather than “leaving it to the market“ government could actively redevelop this land. The Nat/Labour proposal leaves it to small time developers who don’t have scale to develop new construction technologies for efficiencies. What will happen is the low tender wins, leading to poor construction.

        1. But Mark, light industrial land being developed in Wiri and out west should NOT be being developed. That development is ruining biodiversity, waterway health, and impoverishing the city through the building of excessive km of roads and infrastructure that we can’t afford to maintain. It’s increasing VKT which is affecting safety and travel choice, and generally going against the quality compact city concept that is best international practice for how to develop a city.

          Why on earth are you justifying it? We need desperately to create a more liveable, human-scaled city, in which people can work-shop-contribute-play within a short walk, bike, scoot or bus trip of home, in the 15-minute or 20-minute city philosophy?

          Onehunga’s industrial area can be redeveloped in a more people-friendly way, yes, and may be able to include mixed use.

          Ditto, the inner suburbs. They’ve been protected by NIMBY regulations for decades when we could have had a gentle, organic, beautiful densification – and entirely to keep the suburbs stuck in a timewarp for the benefit of the rich who can afford to live there.

        2. Heidi what makes you think that ‘beautiful intensification’ would have been for anyone other than high income earners (whether renters or owner occupiers).

        3. Zen Man, because the suburbs that have had restrictions preventing a good level of steady intensification cover a lot of ground and could’ve accommodated a lot of extra homes. Imagine if our city hadn’t grown its footprint from 1960 onwards but had allowed perimeter block housing to 6 storeys.

          I would never rely on the market to provide what humanity needs, but I do see “supply and demand” as one factor in setting prices.

        4. Hi Heidi, to my mind with Auckland being a highly decentralised city, the question of the 15-minute city is for whom? Workers in Mangere? Or for middle-class professionals who can’t afford a house in Ponsonby? Onehunga/Penrose would offer more land to develop communities & amenities, rather than an ad-hoc market based approach based on in-fill apartments. With Auckland being the size of greater London, I believe heritage protection can coexist with housing density, it’s just we need expand our thinking of urban-spaces past the villa-belt. I mean would anyone mind if someone clear felled Sunnynook? Apologies in advance to Sunnynook-ians…

  19. ‘I am sceptical about government deregulation will provide the assumed results
    These kinds of baseless ideological arguments are silly and pointless, I’ll ignore the rest.’

    Much of the neo-liberal policy that has dominated policy making over the last 40 years has often promised much and under-delivered, across many areas – health, education, housing.

    It is not a ‘baseless, ideological argument’. There’s a huge amount of academic research out there that supports this argument.

    There is also a growing body of research on ‘supply skepticism’ – ie. skepticism on the ability of de-regulation to enable supply to address housing affordability.

    This is all a massive, convenient distraction from what a government – and at least an ostensibly ‘centre-left’ government should do – reforming monetary policy, and building lots of social and affordable housing.

    1. Ok semantics, its baseless because in this specific context mark didn’t provide any reasons why this policy wouldn’t have its (real) stated results.
      You cant just paint every single ‘neo-liberal’ policy with a brush, and say, ‘uh its going to overpromise and underdeliver cos is neo-liberal’
      You could probably paint ‘most’ neo-lib policies with that brush (lets be real, almost every stripe of govt will overpromise and underdeliver). But in the context of a new policy, you to provide reasons, rather than it looks like it fits some ideological framework, so it’ll fail.

      I think we have different takes on what ‘assumed results’ are.
      Noone of any notability has claimed this will make housing affordable.

      1. So if it doesn’t really help affordability, what is the point?

        We already have a unitary plan that enables a lot of housing, although unaffordable housing.

        We have a NPS-UD that enables a lot of housing, although unaffordable housing.

        What does essentially ‘more of the same’ really do?

        I would argue – ‘Nothing, really’.

        And an unintended consequence is it drags away focus on comprehensive, well designed high density development in the ‘right’ locations – near centres, train stations etc – as per the NPS-UD.

        Although this bill won’t enable affordable housing, the housing it enables is likely to be ‘more affordable’ than housing promoted by the NPS-UD – hence we are likely to see lots of poor quality, ad hoc 3 dwelling development all over the place, rather than more good quality apartment development in focused locations. Because it will be more affordable, there will naturally be more demand for it…

        1. Making houses (significantly) more affordable than they otherwise would be over the long term is the goal of this policy. Not making houses ‘affordable’.

          The unitary plan didn’t go nearly far enough and maintained blanket no build zones on the swaths of the city, including areas with the best transport. The NPS-UD was going to help regardless, but this makes it way better in lots of areas.

          What does essentially ‘more of the same’ really do?

          I would argue – ‘Nothing, really’.

          are you aware that if you make more of some good, that each one becomes less valuable. Open up more opportunities to build housing? make each opportunity less needed and less valuable.

          This doesn’t preclude good quality apartments being built at transit stations, and doesn’t excuse that the government probably should be ramping up KO and kiwibuild more than they have partially to do that development.

          Really it sounds like you’re complaining that this will help housing, but not with the correct political ideology that you desire, so you don’t like it?

          If this enables ‘poor quality’ housing in ‘bad’ areas, your solution was to not allow this, force more expensive development in ‘good’ areas, and that was supposed to help poor people how…..? May as well lump them with the mandatory 1/4 acre dream while your at it. Im going to assume you want to have the government build near these transit stations, this change doesn’t preclude that at all, and has no real impact on whether the government will do that.
          In which case your argument shouldn’t be that this is a bad change, it should be, “meh, moving on, the government needs to build”.

          And an unintended consequence is it drags away focus on comprehensive, well designed high density development in the ‘right’ locations – near centres, train stations etc – as per the NPS-UD.
          Focus from who? Changes little for KO. Sure the private market might want to develop some less accessible sites, but that’s fine by me, if people don’t think they will get enough ‘value’ from buying nearer a RT station, then who am I to say no not there.
          And the overall point is that everywhere will become more and more the ‘right’ location, with the infra changes and investment that this densification will enable.

        2. Some arguments there Jack, which, while theoretically attractive (as neo-liberal theory often is), just don’t get borne out in reality.

          You totally under-sell the sea change that was the AUP. Arguably no statutory plan in the western world has shifted regulation of density as profoundly. Of course it wasn’t perfect, and could have gone further. But no plan is ever perfect, as a democratic process (fast changing to a non-democratic one), planning has always been imperfect and involved trade offs. Despite that, the AUP still opened up major uplifts in density and housing supply opportunity.

          So, the AUP is a pretty good measuring stick for the notion that enabling massive supply will make a meaningful difference to housing supply and affordability.

          And the results are in! Yes it’s made a very meaningful difference to housing supply, but probably / arguably little difference to affordability (although we don’t know the counter factual). In some respects it’s been counter productive to affordability, as land values have soared off the back of big uplift in development rights.

          Why do you think enabling a bit more supply is suddenly going to change these trends?

          BTW, even the cheapest new townhouse housing being built now is way above affordable price points. Typically 750-800K for 2 beddies in lower value locations. This escalation has occurred due to two main factors – increases in construction costs, and increases in land values. If the AUP experience is anything to go by, these changes in the bill could well increase land values further.

          It’s interesting that you think medium density everywhere is a good thing. I don’t know if transport planners, and education planners, would agree with you. Makes it pretty hard to plan for social infrastructure when micro medium density can, and will, happen in an ad hoc manner across huge land areas.

        3. “And the results are in! Yes it’s made a very meaningful difference to housing supply, but probably / arguably little difference to affordability (although we don’t know the counter factual).”

          We kind of do know the counter factual though. Other cities in New Zealand have seen far, far higher house price growth than Auckland. Also, let’s be realistic. Enabling the construction of warm dry homes at “Typically 750-800K” is nothing to sneer at when that is 25% below the median house price. Providing those cheaper houses at volume opens up home ownership to a massive segment of society for whom home ownership would otherwise be impossible.

          If enabling 100,000 smaller homes with a wee bit of red tape means building homes that sell 25% under median value, what does enabling 500,000 with practically no red tape mean?

          Three homes on a single site is also getting to the scale where a homeowner can finance the development through a mortgage. A big, long term problem in ew Zealand has been that we disproportionately invest in owning homes instead of literally anything else. If we start investing more capital in building homes instead, then that is a huge win. Using capitalism against itself.

        4. Really? You think homes at 800K (2 bedroom ones) opens up housing to a huge segment of society? Especially with increasing interest rates?
          You are in lala land buddy!!!!

        5. Yes like you point out, the counter is not obvious, and never will be. I can only imagine how bad things would be without the AUP. Speculation speculation. From hazy memory the models were bad, although I’m too lazy to go search and find anything about it.

          The other point is that is a national crisis, despite Aucklands size, it cannot soak up every other city’s shortfalls in the country. Wellington in particular has done nothing to help.

          Now AUP, running on it was huge, then the new change is actually not all that much.
          It adds a floor and some other advantages to mixed housing suburban zone. ->
          Which is ubiquitous across the worst transport areas in the city. The most significant area that has a lower zone than that, is the most optimal transport areas, central suburbs, isthmus, Birkenhead. In that case by far the most impact on zoning will be on the wealthy areas of the city. Something that surely a non chardonnay socialist would like?

          Also the council claim that Our modelling shows that, controlling for other characteristics that make a property valuable, land prices in urban areas have fallen 5.8 to 6.6 percent since the AUP became operative
          https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/about-auckland-council/business-in-auckland/docsoccasionalpapers/what-unitary-plan-land-price-changes-teach-about-flooding-market-may-2019.pdf
          This is in 2019, so inflation, low interest rates, and govt borrowing have clearly impacted since then.
          Seems contradictory to claim AUP caused land prices to soar, while the council is saying it didn’t.
          So yeah, more of the same probably will help. Especially when its in areas that are where people with money actually really want to develop. and help lower pressure on the gentrifying neighborhoods.

          As for the infra etc, the council will have years, half a decade, probably more of signaling before big numbers start moving into an area. People still have to get consent. The rules will not come into force until 2023. It will take a while for people to build a home, get all the ducks in a row. Others to follow suit a few years after they visit a few of the built homes. Its not some massive overnight change. The overlaying infra like CI seems to be able to cover big swaths of the city despite only being one pipe. Evenly dispersed intensification over the whole city can still benefit from a few large efficient projects.

    2. Hi Zenman, thank you for your response, I am strongly opposed to neoliberalism, you in turn can believe it’s a panacea. I have first hand experience with neoliberal construction contracts I would hazard a guess most commentators here are either well meaning interested parties, transportation engineers/planners, and policy makers, and never have to engage on the coalface and have little skin in the game. Conversely there Nobel economic prize winners who question your logic and ideological belief. We aren’t going to agree, on politics or economics but you entitled your beliefs. I am a traditional socialist and don’t believe in the magic pixie dust of the market. Government and councils haven’t been for 40 years building affective communities. We at least agree to that.

        1. That’s OK Mark! Like you I am also a traditional socialist, not a ‘chardonnay’ one, and deeply skeptical of many of the neo-liberal notions paraded on this website by writers and commenters of de-regulation after de-regulation (A race to the bottom!!!) achieving the goals they say they will achieve.
          They just don’t stack up to scrutiny, as you say plenty of Nobel Prize winners and hugely credible academics who have demonstrated the huge flaws in these neo-liberal policy approaches.
          Despite that, neo-liberalism is still, quite clearly, the philosophy of the day, and embraced by the Labour Party as much as the National Party. So not surprising that they were both there announcing it in a bi-partisan way.
          The only people that will really benefit from this are developers and the landed gentry!!!
          But people are welcome to fantasise about it helping to realise well designed and more affordable housing!!
          As you and I know, the only way that will happen is by the government building a lot more housing, as it has in the past. Ireland is a really good example of a country embarking on this kind of approach. They realise that while ‘the market’ is important, it can’t do most of the heavy lifting – which is the present assumption in NZ.

        2. Zen Man, one can praise deregulation that enables affordable housing, even though they don’t believe the market will deliver enough of it. For one, enabling this sort of development everywhere removes a grounds for criticising the government for building them.

          It is possible to praise people for doing necessary things, even if they have not yet done sufficient things.

        3. Sailor Boy – the market won’t deliver any of it! (affordable housing that is, or even ‘mid priced’ housing)
          That’s why this is a fool’s paradise.

  20. Whilst I am supportive of the intensification, this is purely neoliberal, as per usual.
    Removing resource consents and regulations will not have the desired effect. Simple.

    Developers and homeowners will benefit from this. Housing will still be unaffordable – the crisis is not a purely planning and supply issue. Wouldn’t it be best if central government would stop sticking its nose into local governments planning and deal with viable financial ways to help the issue of affordability? What about value capture or a capital gains tax?
    Deregulation is not the way to go. Enabling does not guarantee outcomes, especially when left to the market.

    Increasing supply, of course will contribute on our path towards housing affordability, but I wonder about the quality and long-term lifespan of these developments and the implications towards the urban fabric without proper resource consent processes.

    1. Good comment.
      And I would add it’s just politics. It’s another way for this useless government to say ‘look we’ve done something’.

      When the only really meaningful thing they should be doing is building a lot (2 or 3x minimum) more housing.

      Why do people think just doing more of the same that has been done in the last 7 years is going to suddenly miraculously work?

      Oh well at least with the coming development bust (brought on by development cost inflation and rising interest rates) Kainga Ora might be able to redeploy some of those private sector resources that will be out of work…

      1. More of the last seven years would be ideal. In the last seven years Auckland has grown from building 8,000 homes a year to 19,000 a year. So that’s is 2.5x more housing being delivered.

        https://i1.wp.com/www.greaterauckland.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Auckland-Home-Consents-2021-06.jpg?w=951&ssl=1
        https://i0.wp.com/www.greaterauckland.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Building-Consents-by-Region-2021-06.jpg?w=889&ssl=1

        If we kept that up in the next seven years we’d climb to building 30,000 homes a year. We should be so lucky to keep doing what the last seven years have achieved.

        1. Well that’s simply not going to happen.
          Every development boom is followed by a bust or at least a ig slowdown, a bust will come probably in the next year as demand evaporates as prices rise AND interest rates climb.
          Watch demand for 2 bedroom townhouses at 800 / 850K evaporate once mortgage rates are higher than 4% (probably 4-5 months away – already here if you want to buy with a lower deposit)

        2. Zen

          Hey at least in your scenario house build opportunity prices will drop.
          No demand for it, huge new supply made available.

          Your large scale government build program might even get a good deal on it!

        3. If housing demand ‘evaporates’ then job done, it means we’ve got enough housing and house prices will drop.

  21. Anyone has done the math for 1st tier suburbs? Any 650m2 lot in Mt Eden will cost the developer anywhere around 3.2-3.5m. Add another 2.5m-3m development costs for 3 townhouses and factor in 20% profit that gets you that each townhouse will be marketed at 2.5M. Who will pay that kind of money for a 3 story townhouse that gets you a tiny garden?

    1. A few questions:

      Building costs have inflated but is it so bad now that building a townhouse costs that much?

      Does it make sense for a new build to be no more valuable than the land it sits on? My guess is the land price is so high that nothing can be developed. Not sure what the norm here is, one data point is Strong Towns arguing that new builds should be 9 times as valuable as the underlying land. What would a 30 million dollar building look like?

    2. What’s the option? A 650 m2 lot for $3.2 – $3.5m, along with higher maintenance costs and rates each year? Or living further out?

      It’s just shameful that it’s been allowed to get to this state. I’m in Pt Chev and while the new apartment prices are high, the prices for houses is significantly higher.

      1. I’m unsure about this line:
        “We model the demand for new dwellings in Tier 1 cities from other locations in New Zealand as a shift from a brownfield-greenfield mix (50-50) to all brownfield locations. For some properties this means substituting greenfield network connection charges for brownfield connections charges.”

        Does that mean their model projects that greenfields development will totally dry up? or that this is some assumption that they do for the analysis?

        page 102

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