Yesterday Parliament passed the bi-partisan bill to allow more housing to be built in our biggest cities with only the ACT party opposing it.

Legislation to cut red tape for more new housing has passed in Parliament with cross-party support that provides an enduring solution to fixing New Zealand’s housing crisis.

The changes to the Resource Management Act enable much-needed homes to be built faster in our biggest cities, Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods and Environment Minister David Parker said.

People can build up to three homes of up to three storeys on most sites without the need for a resource consent, from August next year.

“Passing this legislation with support from the National Party, the Green Party and the Maori Party delivers stable, enduring policy on urban density. This gives New Zealand homeowners, councils, developers and investors greater certainty,” Megan Woods said.

“These changes address the overly restrictive planning rules that limit the types of homes people can build and where they can build them. These changes to the Resource Management Act will allow more affordable homes to be built more easily in areas with good access to jobs, transport, and community facilities like schools and hospitals.

This is a great outcome and combined with other recent changes, such as removing parking minimums and allowing up to six-storeys near key metropolitan centres and public transport stations puts New Zealand in an enviable position compared to many of the other countries and cities we like to compare ourselves to.

We can have confidence the changes will have an impact by looking at the outcome of the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP). It is now just over five years old, becoming operative on 29 November 2016. The most recent housing consent data is for October meaning we’ve just under 5 years worth.

When the AUP became operative, the Council was issuing around 10,000 consents a year, still short of the 2004 peak of nearly 13,000 and coming after a nadir of just over 3,100 in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis. Since then record after record has been set and consents have doubled to around 20,000. Since the AUP came into force a total of around 73,000 consents have been issued.

The other notable aspect in the numbers is the rise of townhouses and which now make up nearly half of all consents issued.

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That change in building typology has also resulted in the average floor area of new builds reducing from around 185m² to 145m².

The focus and pressure will now go on councils who have to update their existing planning rules and they have to publicly notify those changes by 20 August 2022.

It will be interesting to see Auckland Council responds to it and in particular, how much effort they put into trying to find loopholes to avoid changes to the suburbs closest to the city centre. One of the things that has been frustrating to me and many others has been the suggestion, particularly from the council, that the Unitary Plan is fine and delivering enough houses where were need them and that Auckland has a quality compact city approach to managing growth. This was reinforced in their response to the bill.

In a submission on the Bill, the council has reiterated its strong support for enabling more higher-density housing close to the city centre and larger urban centres, jobs and public transport, consistent with its quality compact city approach for managing growth.

In 2020 the council welcomed the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS UD), and its focus on further intensification in these areas.

However, the council is seeking changes to this latest government proposal which would see widespread intensification dispersed across the city in places not served by essential public transport, water, and community infrastructure and in areas located far away from employment centres. This includes smaller coastal and rural towns on the outskirts of the city.


“Under Auckland’s Unitary Plan, zoning changes enable more than 900,000 additional dwellings. We are already consenting up to 20,000 homes a year, four times what we were a decade ago, and around two-thirds of new consents are for intensive housing.

“The constraint on housing in Auckland is not zoning changes but the cost of the infrastructure needed to support new developments, as well as skills and building materials shortages.


“We’re equally concerned that by allowing for intensification away from needed infrastructure such as public transport, existing problems of carbon emissions, congestion, and meeting infrastructure costs will worsen.

We’ve also seen comments, including here, suggesting that we don’t need to make changes to our inner suburbs as there’s already a lot of housing being built in those areas.

I wanted to explore that argument a bit more and see how well we’re doing towards creating a “compact city“? Are we actually seeing lots of homes being built in the areas closest to the jobs and amenities that the city centre provides?

We’ve published some numbers before by local board but to answer it more accurately I wanted to go deeper than that. Stats NZ also provide the consent data by Statistical Area 2 (SA2). Using that as an indicator, I’ve calculated the distance from the centre of each SA2 in Auckland to the middle of the city centre. This is a direct ‘as the crow flies’ distance rather than the distance by the road network or some other measure as that’s a bit outside my capability. I’ve also only included SA2s within the existing urban area or in the process of being urbanised. The SA2s included are shown below and the consents in them represent about 95% of all consents issued.

The results of by analysis are below. What stands out to me in this that immediately outside of the city centre, there’s a real gap in consents being issued. That gap of course lines up perfectly with the lack of development allowed in city fringe areas. I’ve also done this breakdown by the type of dwelling.

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As some will be keen to point out,

  1. A decent chunk of the city fringe land is water
  2. There’s a lot more area within an 11km radius than there is a 2km one.

While both of those are true, they’re also not as significant of a factor as people think due to the shape of Auckland’s coastline and that much of the other land is rural. To highlight this, I’ve also looked at the consents by land area for each SA2.

For the city centre there are over 1200 dwellings per km2 however I’ve limited the axis to make the results at other distances more readable.

As you can see, we have the same issue with not all that many consents issued in the areas closest to the city centre but a lot more happening further out in locations with fewer viable alternatives meaning residents are much more likely to drive.

With the changes these new requirements will bring it will be interesting to see how the shape of these graphs change over the coming years and as developments closer to the city become possible, it will also likely reduce the demand for new housing on the outskirts as the long commutes and fewer amenities available will them less attractive.

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  1. Interesting. However I sort of get where Akl Council are coming from. Developers build what will give them the best return. I don’t see how the new legislation is going to change that from the current shitty strip townhouses where land is cheap.

    1. “where land is cheap” – Matt’s analysis above shows “where” was indeed influenced by regulations, ie was something Council was able to fix, yet didn’t. The PWC report informing the Amendment Bill is worth reading on the subject of what has influenced and will influence “where” the development happens.

      “Strip townhouses” (By shitty I assume you mean the ones that run perpendicular to the street, or the ones that lower safety for kids by inducing car ownership and traffic by having a garage each?) – Council could have regulated to fix all that before, yet didn’t. They can still regulate to fix it. This legislation doesn’t change that.

  2. “…and allowing up to six-storeys near key metropolitan centres and public transport stations…”
    I don’t understand this. I thought we would be requiring apartments greater than 6 stories high.
    But when we spend $5 billion on the CRL and $100s of millions on new rail and stations then it is good business to get people living close to them. That’s what many people want. Too many are saying that PT is too difficult but now we have a solution.

      1. They can but they don’t. Auckland Council has been turning down restricted discretionary activities that meet the height assessment criteria. They are treating the assessment trigger as a rule or limit on height rather than a means to make sure an assessment is carried out.

        1. I had a laugh at a Council planner who at length tired to argue a sentence in the AUP stating “heights will predominantley be 5, 6 or 7 stories” means that buildings can never ever be more than 7 stories high.

    1. The motorway interchanges replaced areas of predominantly low cost housing in central Auckland. It would be possible to put them underground or allocate less space to them. Having fewer interchanges would encourage people to take public transport into the central city.

    2. Auckland is smaller than you think. Spaghetti Junction is 2km from the Quay Street/Queen Street intersection (the most generous definition of city center I could think of), and the motorway noose gets as tight as 1.5km from there at points. The furthest point of the Domain is still less than 2.5km.

      3km puts you in the heart of Villa Country: passing right through Devonport, Newmarket, Eden Terrace (and the Mt Eden Train Station), Grey Lynn, Ponsonby and and Herne Bay:

  3. Amusing to watch ACT go against all of their free market principles to support the nimby rights of the Epsom types who vote for them.

    1. Yes. ACT’s thin veil of libertarianism has rarely survived any test. They are simply a “rich person’s party” and should stop pretending otherwise. We could do with a proper libertarian party, but ACT is not it.

    2. Brooke Van Velden bleating on Radio NZ just now that this is going to mean sewerage flowing in the streets. But then they’re also vehemently opposed to Three Waters ‍♂️

      1. From her profile, “She is also a committed social liberal, championing the right to autonomy over our own bodies.” Another rabbid anti-vaxxer?

  4. The passage of this bill is great for Wellington which has really struggled to get building going. I am expecting this to have a big impact in Wellington City over time. The council laughably has ben consulting on a district plan that made virtually all of Karori single house zone. That was outrageous and this will solve that problem. Now pair the planned roll out of cycle lanes with road pricing and we’ll really be making progress toward low carbon living.

    1. Hmmm, really? You think so SR? Karori, the suburb that famously has only a single one lane road both in and out, and which formerly was the biggest suburb in Wellington, and allowing it to triple its volume is going to help? Not if the buses continue having to share the only lane with all the cars it won’t.

      1. Intensifying in Karori, while perhaps not ideal, is still better than the current plan of intensifying in Otaki or Carterton because Wellington thinks Karori is remote, but thinks of Otaki and Carterton as not its problem.

      2. Higher density helps shift the transport system. The solution isn’t less development in Karori. The solution is getting people out of cars and into sustainable transport.

        Which is no longer a “but that’s hard” or “we can’t force that” kind of a situation. It’s now an existential one.

        There are proven solutions to this and NZ has to just stop ignoring them.

      3. There is lots of on-street parking on that road, and hence space to repurpose for buses and cycling in Karori. Karori was built when people took trams to work (it is a bit too far to walk easily to the central city) and still has a very good bus service. Indeed, buses run to several different central city destinations, as well as VUW and the hospital. It is not uncommon to walk past 10-12 buses slowly moving down Karori Road. Admittedly the residents association thinks mainly in terms of new tunnels large enough to take double decker buses and replacing parks with park and ride facilities and huge intersections. However, they do see a place for 2-storey housing.

      4. @nemo, you must have missed the part where I mentioned road pricing. That would take care of demand management at peak times which would help busses a lot. Making cycling safe is another way to get people out of their cars. For sure there is currently a problem with Karori Road at times, but this is mostly due to the “we haven’t tried anything and we’re all out of ideas” mindset.

    1. Unfortunately, only half-understanding the transport effects. At what point will commentators take on board the need to understand how transport decarbonisation works before commenting like this?

      1. I have to say, I am right now living in exactly those transport effects. It will be tricky to fit in those 1 to 2 cars per home. It is one of the main reasons more and more streets have walls of parked cars on them.

        1. Well, you will either have this, or you will see developments being limited further by how many car parks fit on the site. The situation with on-street parking is pretty stupid but it is not the root problem.

          Perhaps more than what setbacks they should or should not allow they’ll have to think about what the city looks like for people who get around without a car.

        1. Sure. There are lots of good points in the article, and the general thrust that you don’t want development on the outskirts, from a transport and climate point of view, is correct.

          But decarbonising transport is a bigger job than urbanists have been considering before. It changes everything. Instead of trying to achieve a 10 or 15% shift in modeshare, decarbonising transport means the idea of only intensifying centrally and on transport spines falls over.

          Essentially, our cities need to provide the following *everywhere*:
          – quality public transport networks
          – quality active transport networks
          – proximity to amenities (15-minute city lifestyles)

          Not just on “transport corridors”.

          It is through concentrating just on “transport corridors”, “town centres” and the “city centre” that our Councils have concluded that some proportion of development needs to happen in greenfields areas. In fact, none does. Sprawl must stop entirely, for a number of reasons, which I won’t go into here because you probably agree.

          But the critical thing is that where we have already sprawled, we need to repair. Existing residents need to be relieved of car dependence. How do we afford quality public transport in these areas given sprawl has been impoverishing the whole city over decades? It’ll be hard, but equity demands it, and the best way to do that in a growing city is to allow intensification and regeneration there to provide the ridership for the frequent buses needed.

          Not much development will happen in the existing outer areas yet, because it won’t be worth it yet for developers, as per the PWC report. But the MDRS will at least allow for any housing demand in the outer areas to happen in the existing outer suburbs (as opposed to only allowing it to happen in greenfields). But we need good regulations in place that actually allow any intensification to happen with PBH form – and this MDRS gets us far closer to that than the SHZ did.

          (Also the comments about PBH in the article are a bit misinformed. As we’ve blogged and commented many times, PBH can indeed grow site by site.)

  5. One thing I have noticed is if developers build on one old section then they build say four units with one common driveway and it’s really not that nice and inherently unsafe when cars are moving around. However if they can buy two adjacent sections then they not only get more units but also a better common space in the centre surrounded by the units. It’s much more appealing even if a lot of it concrete for driveways. So one driveway onto the street more units. If they go to three stories then they units can have a smaller footprint leaving more space around them again this is a better outcome and safer.

  6. They need to urgently start designating streets for cycle lanes now before there are many more cars on them. Its much harder to add them later when you have a lot more opposition.

    1. Yes. But designating them for cycle lanes is one thing. AT choose not to use the tools they have to implement cycle lanes on the streets where they are designated. Or even to enforce the parking rules there so illegal parking, at least, is prevented (which is one way to reduce parking and thus to reduce parking demand).

      They are also spending our money **on these designated routes** to install infrastructure that hinders cycling. For example, kerb buildouts to reduce crossing distances for pedestrians. As these don’t work for cycling, AT’s responsibility is to use a different solution that works for cycling as well as for pedestrians.

      Bring it to their attention, though, and AT give bollocks excuses rather than attend to the issue. The organisation is a training ground for spin.

  7. The act will allow a burst of random development scattered around the region. But Auckland Council and Auckland Transport are old hands at this stuff. They can undermine any central government initiative they put their minds to. Remember HAASHA and the housing accord? They won’t do it directly but they will discover infrastructure issues or cultural issues or anything at all that scuppers the provision of more houses.

  8. The house closest to city are generally expensive. A lot of them are owned by riches and powerful people who has the ability the lobby the local council to be NIMBY.

  9. It’s another unbalanced article.

    The NPS-UD was already going to mandate a lot more density in central areas. In the so called leafy inner suburbs.

    What this bill does is enable density pretty much anywhere in an indiscriminate manner. Undoing the good work of the NPS-UD and it’s *focussed* density near centers at PT nodes.

    It’s both totally unnecessary (given the NPS-UD) and could result in a range of unintended consequences.

    But I guess lay people here know more than the huge number of highly experienced and respected planners (including many ‘pro development’ planners), urban designers, developers and councils who submitted against the bill.

    1. Thanks for the only well considered response here. Spot on. I am neck deep in this stuff day in day out (architect specialising in medium-high density development) and I have yet to discuss this with a planner, UD or infrastructure engineer that doesn’t think this is awful and unnecessary policy. Recipe for suburban disaster.

    2. In theory the NPS-UD was a better way of enabling intensification than MDRS. But councils, especially Auckland Council, were undermining the intent of the NPS-UD repeatedly so govt was left with no choice than to apply a blunter approach.

      The legislation also speeds up implementation of NPS-UD so that’s also a win.

      1. Caitlin W – your comment intrigues me: “Density is the perfect remedy to unpleasant neighbourhood character.”

        Would you be able to provide instances of what is, to you, “unpleasant neighbourhood character” ? And if possible, would you be able to provide examples of “Density is the perfect remedy” to those?

        1. The suburbia typical to Auckland is simply a part of car dependence, a result of fossil fuel waste. In general it feels wrong, but small endeavours to improve areas can bring an atmosphere of benevolence and care.

          I would only call the character of suburbs “unpleasant” in some areas of Auckland: those suburbs where the residents have enough lucre to revamp the area, yet don’t. Where instead of creating architectural beauty with medium or high density housing for the purposes of sustainability, the residents instead use their standing to preserve its low density.

          To me, that is so misanthropic and unpleasant an act that it creates “unpleasant” character, and I prefer not to visit. Density in these areas, by definition, would improve the sustainability of the city and thus create an atmosphere of benignancy that would be attractive.

        2. What interests me is that you have so much faith in a deregulated system to improve this. “Density” of the sort we see in many places people who post here admire is the result of both thoughtful planning and active public participation. These are two things which this blog opposes with great vigour in favour of deregulation and trust in the benevolence and care of private developers!

        3. You go way too far, Roland. I’m in favour of regulation, planning and active public participation. My criticism is of particular regulations, particular planning foibles and particular misconceptions about democracy.

        4. Heidi – thanks for your message I was responding to Caitlin, but I’d be interested in what you do support?. I am very clear on what this blog opposes but I have yet to hear anything positive for example about planning for quality, neighbourhood level planning or block level masterplans, to name some of the tools often associated with density done well.

          The main IMMEDIATE effect of the MDRS will be that people can do alterations to properties with far less need to consider the effect on others. That has little to do with housing but a lot to do with fairness between neighbours. Does that concern you at all?

          I feel like nobody here understands that 99% of resource consents are granted and well over 99% are never notified. Their main function, and that of the planning system in general, is to enable conversation and fair resolution between parties. By emphasising as of right MDRS cuts right across this – does that concern you?

        5. Roland, I was responding – as an author of this blog – to your comment, “thoughtful planning and active public participation. These are two things which this blog opposes with great vigour”. I don’t believe that’s fair: the whole point of the blog is to encourage thoughtfulness and active public participation.

          I believe strongly in ecology-based, neighbourhood planning. I would prefer to be working in urban permaculture right now, and using it, as I’ve done in the past, for suburb-level planning. Unfortunately, there’s little point attempting this level of sustainable planning, as our systems are skewed towards retaining the status quo.

          Our multiple crises (safety, biodiversity, city finances, climate) all stem from our city’s major problem: sprawl, and the political economy of car dependence. It is impoverishing us in multiple ways.

          Auckland Council has major problems. It has failed to use the planning and political tools it could to help overcome the problem of sprawl and car dependence, and there are key concepts and issues that the top planners don’t understand or choose to apply.

          The reason I am in favour of this bill is that it requires a change in regulations that could *almost* be used to create a fine urban form, whereas the AUP could NOT achieve that.

          What I’m highly frustrated about is the focus on such a very narrow focus of “effects” from building within a particular envelope. The “effects” of the older regulations have been far greater and far, far worse. They’ve made building apartments harder, and this has meant we don’t have enough homes within the areas that people want to live, and that we have spent way too much money on infrastructure for sprawl. They’ve prevented the creation of human-scale mixed use neighbourhoods. They’ve created sprawl, unsafe street frontages, lack of access to amenities, car dependence, excessive traffic, and all the negative effects for our children that this entails.

          The new regulations are not perfect, but they will encourage density, and that is an enormous factor in overcoming car dependence.

        6. Heid – a minor point – Matt L is shown as the author, is that a typo?

          As you know, we agree completely around car dependence, sprawl and the role of density done well in addressing a whole range of social and environmental issues.

          What I fundamentally disagree with is the value of analysis of building consents based on a unipolar city using a model that assumes a homogenous landscape. A more granular approach looking at density gradients around public transport hubs across the city, for example, would be more informative.

          This type of analysis hit peak absurdity when an Auckland-based commentator said the other week that prices within 5km of Wgtn’s CBD had risen most rapdily. That encompasses almost all of Wellington City – although it ironically excludes two of the most expensive suburbs 🙂

          Last time (mid-year) I caught the bus down Mt Eden Rd and across to Dominion Rd (I forget the number) I counted 10 separate large multi-unit developments in progress. The idea that needing a resource consent stops things happenning simply isn’t true for 99.9% of developments.

          I’d even agree that the planning systems of the past have explicitly encouraged sprawl because that was the policy intent. That is, they were reflecting wider social values in planning rather than it being an issue with planning. The inner-city neighbourhoods were not rich or desirable at that time. In the 1990s Auckland had an explicitly multi-polar planning approach.

          The idea that planning has prevented mixed-use amenity and the creation of human scale mixed neighbourhoods I am less inclined to agree with. Planning CAN support or impede those things depending on the nature of the plan – that is a key lesson from overseas.

          Do you agree that the best new developments in New Zealand are planned developments? Kainga Ora is doing an awesome job by and large.

          The Bill is actually in notable contrast to the Government’s own Government Policy Statement on Housing and Urban Design, which states at page 14:

          “We will take a place-based approach. Every community has their own housing and urban development challenges and opportunities and a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work to address them. This is because every place is unique, with different characteristics – including challenges or problems – arising from local history, culture and heritage, geography, economy, and resources. ….”

          So I find it hard to understand why you might believe that – unlike anywhere else on planet Earth – developers in Auckland, left more to their own devices, will create the human scale mixed use neighbourhoods we need. More likely we will see even more of what we see now under the AUP – random developments which do nothing to tackle car-dependence.

          Rather I hear you saying lets wage war on those walkable human scale neighbourhoods that do exist, let’s build apartments at random without any thought to context, facilities or infrastructure. That’s what this Bill enables.

          When I look at Auckland, I see a city designed for car dependence. Sprawl has already happenned in Auckland – retrofitting suburbia seems to me a much higher priority for social equity (for all the reasons you say around car dependence) than bowling some random villas used as flats in the inner-city.

          The urbanism we both love started with saying lets learn from the human scale mixed use neighbourhoods with strong hearts that pre-date the car era. It’s a myth by the way that there was no planning when these were built, but that’s another conversation. The question was how do we replicate that, how do we retrofit suburbia and create a network of urban villages linked to each other and a strong heart by great public transport and cycling facilities.

          That is still where I exist, and where I advocate for the type of planning that will deliver that. Modern Copenhagen was not created by deregulation.

          On children that is a particular passion of mine, having raised a child who needed to cross a busy road to get to school on foot. Mayer Hillman’s One False Move remains a go to resource. But this new law says nothing about that – it says if you want two ground floor garages go for it, if you want to shade the children’s playground below your property, go for it.

          I know we share similar ideals, but I can’t get my head around how championing the deregulated capitalist system that created inequality and our current housing crisis serves those ideals. Why do you think that the same type of reforms which created today’s crisis will make the situation better?

        7. I’ll try to find time to respond to your points in a post some time, Roland. Briefly, though, if you look at successful dense cities you’ll find they don’t meet the boundary heights and recession plane regulations the MDRS has just overhauled.

          It’s a worthwhile exercise to think through. If our planning regulations were applied retrospectively to those successful cities, so much density would have to be removed that extensive sprawl would be required to house all the people currently housed. In turn the distances created would become unsupportable using the transport system they currently have, and car dependence would be created – in turn this would result in safety problems for children.

          On the question at the start, the confusion between us has arisen due to different interpretations of the words “blog” and “post”. I understand their meanings as:

          “blog” = “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group”

          “blog post” = “a piece of writing or other item of content published on a blog.”

          I see now that you were criticising Matt as the author of the “blog post”, but in using the term “blog” I thought you were referring to the group’s position, and I replied on that basis.

        8. To me, there seem to be a couple of logical fallacies at work here – notably the false dilemma and the fallacy of causation.

          You seem to be saying that some “successful cities” have taller buildings in places therefore the way to make Auckland successful is to remove any ability to consider design quality and effects on others?

          That feels a little heroic – most of those successful cities also have far more prescriptive planning systems than New Zealand, and plan down to the neighbourhood level. So if we are looking at process changes, wouldn’t process comparisons be most relevant? None of the cities I imagine you mean have blanket upzoning as proposed in MDRS and NPS-UD.

          You said in an earlier post that people were focussing too narrowly – could you be doing the same here?

        9. PS Noted re blog and blog post – to me blogs have owners and posts have authors but I appreciate that every site is different 🙂

    3. To use an analogy: if you go to a restaurant you don’t need to be a professional cook to figure out whether the food is good.

      If Auckland has highly experienced and respected planners, it has not much to show for it.

      1. Yes. Our urban form is deficient, dysfunctional and unhealthy. It’s coming now to a financial breakdown. Planners fulfilling their professional responsibilities would have fought sprawl and pushed for intensification every step of the way. Unfortunately, it seems enough of them can’t see the big picture nor that each profession has been pushed into doing something they are not the best profession for, as summarised here:

        1. So deregulating the development community will lead us to relative paradise – curious what your counterfactual is here?

  10. Passage of this legislation will largely enhance private profits, encourage selfishness and worsen inequality. It stands as a new low in how well-articulated fake news cults can take hold in New Zealand and influence public policy. The return of neoliberalism and the myth of middle class capture as a rationale for deregulation will lead to the same acceleration of inequality as we saw in the 80s and 90s.

    The centre piece of this legislation is nothing to do with housing, rather it is the ability to ignore the impact of your (construction) decisions on others. That is what “as of right” (ie no consent needed) means. Anyone who thinks championing selfishness will create affordable housing and or strengthen community is in for shock.

    The select committee process was one of the few occasions where this shadowy ideology was exposed to real scrutiny and it did not fare well, That at least stands as a record against which the effects of the law can be tested over the next few years.

    Auckland is a multi-polar city and analysis – such as the above building consent work – that fails to reflect that is, in my view, a form of deliberate disinformation on a par with anti-vax commentary. I continue to be stunned by the ongoing neglect of the extent of under-utilised land (and the associated willingness to champion landbanking profits) while villifying people who feel a sense of connection to place. To me this ranks as one of the more odious dualities of the world view articulated on this blog.

    People who champion this view generally shy away from every showing up in fora where sunlight can be shone on the heart of darkness. Over the next few years we will start to see stories about how the elderly poor, the renters and others are seeing their lives adversely affected by luxury developments built “as of right”. I invite the champions of deregulation to visit them and explain how its all for the good.

    1. They would probably prefer a visit to their ‘poorly’ built home from a deregulator than a visit to the the car or garage they were sleeping on from David Seymour.

      1. Interesting comparison. The idea that we could prioritise development on under-utilised land through development partnerships together with public investment and penalties for land-banking doesn’t really fit under either heading 🙂

        More seriously, as someone who grew up poor, the idea that “poor” people don’t deserve quality living environments and will just be grateful for whatever housing bone the market throws them seems a little patrician.

    2. Roland, do you not see the selfishness of heavy restrictions?

      Why is access to sunlight for existing well housed, even on the radar when it comes to talking about building more housing?
      Why is more people using the local public services (parking, etc) considered more important than building more homes?
      Why are complaints about an “ugly building” or “horrid boxes” on the plot next door even allowed to not be laughed out of the room?

      All of this just smacks of “I’ve got mine, don’t let you getting your basic needs tread on my toes, my right to access things that I have no right to have privileged access to and exclude others from”

      The greatest selfishness here is the well housed, fighting tooth and nail to exclude others from their community. They’ve had decades to right their wrongs, they haven’t, it’s time to take their misused tools away.

      I fully agree on the point about the (various expletives) land banking that our policies exacerbate. Is there any reason that council rates couldn’t expressly target rates to reflect more what the land should be used for, rather than what it is being used for.
      Eg if this land should have high value per ha apartments on it, like around albany busway station :,174.7104409,495m/data=!3m1!1e3
      But it grows gorse. The rates payments should be crippling for a sole owner to pay for, much closer to what 1000’s of people would be able to pay. Inner city suburbs that have massive privileged access to jobs and services should pay again much more than what a single house on a plot should be able to reasonably easily support.

      1. Thank you for your questions:

        “Why is access to sunlight for existing well housed, even on the radar when it comes to talking about building more housing?”

        Because everyone deserves a warm, dry, affordable home in a thriving community.
        Because allowing people to shade others is the height of selfishness when we don’t need to do it to give everyone a great home, and indeed allowing this means FEWER people will have great homes.
        Because whether you’re talking Passiv Haus or 120 year old villa, houses work best with sun.
        Because sunlight matters for people’s wellbeing, and in a deregulated system will be collected by the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
        Because the planning systems does a pretty good job of dealing with these issues at the moment – if you look at the 99% plus of non-notified consents rather than the fewer than 1% that get media attention 🙂

        “Why are complaints about an “ugly building” or “horrid boxes” on the plot next door even allowed to not be laughed out of the room?”

        See my comments elsewhere about 99% of consents being granted and over 99% not being notified. Show me where the terms you quote have actually influenced anything to any great extent – for example a decision of the Auckland Design Panel that says talks about horrid boxes etc?

        I have been a hearings commissioner since 2007 and I have yet to see or hear of any decision where these sort of comments have been in any way pivotal.

        “Why is more people using the local public services (parking, etc) considered more important than building more homes?”

        Ummmm – got me here. Do you mean why is parking congestion considered in resource consent decisions? Again I’d say its rarely a determinative factor, unless a particular District Plan places a heavy emphasis on it – Tauranga comes to mind – and that is a nightmare for many reasons.

        I appreciate your questions were rhetorical to some extent but I do think they have serious answers.
        I’ll do a separate post re landbanking…..

        1. Roland, I think you continue to show your privileged homeowner position here.

          Because allowing people to shade others is the height of selfishness when we don’t need to do it to give everyone a great home, and indeed allowing this means FEWER people will have great homes.

          No if someone builds a 3 story apartment block next door that shades 1/2 the neighboring house. They have significantly raised the average quality of housing. Those apartments will be vastly better homes than the vast majority of existing housing stock. Even constructed to the minimum building code standard of today. Even with no sunlight and zero view. I think you overestimate the quality of buildings in NZ. I have lived in a peak leaky homes crisis era townhouse that breaks all of the trendy urbanist design principles. Zero sunlight in any of the windows at any point of the year, concrete wasteland, near zero plants etc. It was a much healthier and happier home that the 1980s lockwood that gets plenty of sun in all main windows that I find myself in now. Winter was a nightmare here, much of my belongings have been mould damaged. This building should be condemned. But restrictive existing zoning laws mean that this would be the largest building ever built, preserving this POS in amber, to cause health problems for generations. Or it would be if MDRS didn’t get put in place. Im not a plant, I need watertightness and insulation before a few paltry watts from sunlight that I have to counteract with AC in the summer.

          This high quality building + shading doesn’t raise the quality of housing for YOU, because you wouldn’t be buying one. But it does objectively raise the standard of living on average for the rest of the population.

          Because whether you’re talking Passiv Haus or 120 year old villa, houses work best with sun.
          I would argue that houses work best when they are built. Usually a prerequisite for being a house at all in fact.

          Because allowing people to shade others is the height of selfishness when we don’t need to do it Ahh, I feel we have reached the crux of the argument. Cake and eat it too type scenario. The onus is on you that we could do this, in such a way to be stable in the long term, induce zero new sprawl, preserve our industrial land for industrial purposes, densify sprawl neighbourhoods, densify high amenity areas……. (the list goes on)

        2. By stable in the long term, I mean enabling hundreds of thousands of new dwellings over the span of decades.

        3. Jack – if we are talking privilage – and my view is that is something for people to be aware of rather than weaponised – the I respectfully suggest that you are demonstrating a high level of middle class privilege and entitlement, and well as indifference to the wellbeing of others.

          I am really sorry you have had a bad experience in your rental accomodation. I’ve lived in a fair few shit rentals myself, and rented for far longer than I have owned a house.

          Healthy Homes ought to help with that (it requires HIGHER standards than for new builds, if you are interested), especially if we can get decent enforcement eg through a rental WoF.

          Stopping councils being able to manage quality in terms of site location, orientation, shading etc will not make for better homes.

          My entire point is that we can have warm, dry housing in thriving communities through thoughtful planning. Paying attention to shading does not stop density done well – it just stops selfish indifference to others.

          I find it particularly odd that having experienced a damp home yourself, you cheer on creating that experience for others. I hear your preferences but I can tell you plenty of people – people on low-incomes – value daylight.

          I think you perhaps somehow assume it will be the well-off/NIMBYs/older people or whichever “othered” group you choose to be angry at who will suffer. Wealth can always buy protection.

          Deregulation privileges power and wealth. The people who suffer will be those who are already disadvantaged. The idea that planning rules can be unlocked to deliver greater equity is a well-known myth called “middle-class capture”. This emperor has no clothes.

          I would love you to try actually telling some people who rent an old villa in Mt Eden/Grey Lynn that making their house darker and danker to the benefit of luxury apartment dwellers is a good thing, because average sunlight is increased. This is the world I hear you championing – one where sunlight reflects wealth rather than some communally agreed rules about fair sharing.

          I want everyone to have a warm, dry, affordable home in a thriving community. You want to deregulate and let wealth dictate outcomes. I wonder who, in truth, is showing their privilege?

      2. On landbanking – the NPS-UD and MDRS will make landbanking worse in my view. The most egregious landbanking in my view is the way sites are left vacant, or used for storage or parking when they are zoned for far more. If you walk around central Auckland and the “leafy” inner suburbs there are large amounts of land that fall into this category – enough to house tens of thousands of people if developed to the level allowed by the AUP.

        As an aside, there are also a fair number of very bad quality new housing developments. I don’t mean “ugly” I mean their build quality makes them likely to fail in a few decades at most.

        Watching the new apartments around Kingsland and Mt Eden from the Western Line train is scary – some of these will be damp, leaky horrors in 25 years. Quality matters because people matter.

        Back to land banking – take supermarkets for example – the head of Progressive Enterprise Australia (who own Countdown) is on record as saying they can’t be bothered with the hassle of being commercial landlords and so don’t build accomodation even though it would be highly profitable on paper.

        To me these behaviours are an order of magnitude more important than the planning system in driving our housing crisis and yet both the government (and I feel this blog) just goes yeah whatever 🙂

        To me, if people really cared about housing, they’d give Councils the power to impose land-holding levies on such sites.

        1. The NPS-UD / MDRS might make land banking worse (speculation, speculation), but if it does, thats just because it uncovers greater problems, rather than have them festering further out of sight.
          It’s a different problem that also requires solutions, not retaining existing poor rules in order to try mitigate.

          Your concerns about the bad quality housing developments, in the way you describe, are issues with the building code, not issues with zoning. Not entirely relevant to the discussion on zoning. Quality builds do matter, we should continue to strengthen our codes.

          The, “if people really cared” argument / tagline I think is pretty disingenuous. People on here clearly care very much, and so does the rest of the country. You wouldn’t

          I think writing and talking more the vacant land problem would do a lot of good. There is massive public support for more housing, strike while the iron is hot. You could do such a thing even! But you also say it pretty clearly, “enough to house tens of thousands of people“, thats just clearly not enough. We need hundreds of thousands of people housed.

        2. “Watching the new apartments around Kingsland and Mt Eden from the Western Line train is scary – some of these will be damp, leaky horrors in 25 years. Quality matters because people matter.”

          Proof please, and also evidence how Resource Consent has anything to do with building quality?

        3. On landbanking – I don’t understand your point that the planning system is somehow making things worse? Let me share some real world examples from Wellington where I live:

          Victoria University owns a large number of rental properties near me. The ones covered by character demolition controls are maintained to health housing standards. The ones outside are allowed to deteriorate become derelict and are then demolished. No new housing gets built It’s simply a least resistance approach to property management.

          Nearby in Te Aro, a vast area of land has been upzoned for nearly 20 years. After a brief burst of apartment building, little has been touched. More than 80% of land by area is under-utilised. There are zero planning issues with building 100% site coverage and 22m high. There are fairly minimal design controls which are non-notified, and which no-one every mentions as an issue.

          This is low-hanging fruit. So I have to wonder about an agenda (on this blog and in government) which says design quality, character and heritage are the root of all evil but landbanking meh, capitalists do what they do. As far as I know no-one has ever written a post on this blog looking at under-utilised land and the potential for housing people rapidly without either attacking others or – crucially – evicting low-income tenants to build high end apartments. To me its the win-win-win/

  11. Hi Joe – If you want proof I was on the train, perhaps I can send you a picture sometime? Seriously, this is an anecdotal observation, borne out of conversations with various people in the building industry. But do have a look at the cladding and the pipeware, as well as how well they are designed for heavy rain. The minimum lifetime for cladding in NZ is 15 years, and some of them are clearly specced to that level. We have ticking time bomb (similar to Dux-Quest) with much pipeware as you can order in bulk on-line and get whatever compliance certification you need stamped on the outside. I am guessing there might be a bit of that in the developments which also use cheap cladding 🙂

    If you doubt either of these statements do talk with people with some experience in the trade. Auckland’s building inspectors are over-worked and overwhelmed due to the sheer volume of construction at the moment.

    I’d actually challenge you to find me examples have been built with any thought to passive heating and cooling, or to temperature stress on cladding and seals.

    I agree these are technically building consent issues – its relevant to the broader conversation about quality of design, and the general delight in deregulation that manifests on this blog at the mo 🙂

  12. Auckland Council are the master of their own destiny here. They endeavoured to pass a private plan change to exclude Integrated Residential Developments in the single house zone, bowing to political pressure to stop the developement of apartments at 30 Sandspit Rd Cockle Bay and aided by Christopher Luxon, see;
    This for a high quality developement,
    Opposite and adjacent to a secondary school, a primary school, neighbourhood shops, parks, beaches and walking tracks and on a on a bus route the site is ideal for developement but been stymied for 5 years by local NIMBYS, weak politicans and bureaucrats.

    1. Really? Rather than a promoter link and a FB page, could you point me to the resource consent application assessment and decision on the Auckland Council website?

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