After signalling it a week ago, yesterday National launched their new housing policy which abandons their support for the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) that they had worked with the government to deliver back in 2021 and shifts the focus to more sprawl.

Overall there are three key areas National is focusing on:

  • Unlocking land for housing
  • Infrastructure financing tools
  • Housing performance incentives for councils

Let’s look at these

Unlocking land for housing

National seem to have fallen back to embracing the trope that the cause of high land prices is restrictive urban boundaries, citing that urban-zoned land is much more expensive than neighbouring rural-zoned land.

To fix this, they say they’ll throw open the boundaries

“New Zealand is not short of land, but restrictive planning rules and a broken funding system have driven up the price of land and housing, creating a social and economic disaster.

“National’s plan will require councils to quickly make land available to meet 30 years of housing demand, creating abundant development opportunities. Councils will either do this through greenfield development or greater density, particularly along transport corridors – but they’ll have to do it, or central government will do it for them.

And in their policy document they say

Instead of the current approach of drip-feeding new land for housing development over a period of decades, National will require Tier 1 and 2 councils to zone enough developable land (housing capacity) for housing to meet their 30-year long-term demand estimates, but make it available over the short-term, not long term.

In other words, 30 years’ worth of developable housing capacity for housing growth will become available very quickly. Councils will be required to zone land where houses can actually be built, rather than “future zoned” for possible zoning changes sometime in the future.

In the case of Auckland, this will mean areas currently designated as “Future Urban” on the edge of the city are likely to become available for housing immediately.

Future Urban Land shown in yellow (residential) and purple (business)

Of course urban-zoned land is more expensive than surrounding rural land. A big part of the difference is the supply of infrastructure to support it. As we learnt recently with Warkworth, the cost of just the transport component alone can run into the hundreds of thousand per household.

Currently, to change those areas from Future Urban Zone (FUZ) to getting urban zoning a plan change is required and that involves going through planning and RMA processes. Just recently the council rejected a plan change for doing this at Riverhead due to it being on a floodplain.

The Supporting Growth project has been working out where the large-scale transport infrastructure will go but it isn’t building any and even if it was fully funded tomorrow, building all the infrastructure needed to support the FUZ will take decades – not to mention the industry is already flat out and already often has to pull expensive resources in from overseas just to deliver existing projects.

Therefore, just flinging open this land open without detailed planning and infrastructure to support will almost certainly result in negative outcomes for those that eventually live there. Sure there might be some extra houses built but how liveable will they be if they don’t have water, transport, schools, parks and other services for 20-30 years.

Auckland in particular has been delivering record levels of housing consents since the Unitary Plan was passed and around 80% of that has been within the older and much tighter urban boundaries.

As noted earlier, this encouragement to sprawl comes at the cost of more gentle development in our existing urban areas.

“We have received feedback that councils and communities want greater flexibility about where new houses are built. National has always said we are open to sensible change that still deliver a massive increase in housing, and this policy does that.

“National will let councils opt out of the one-size-fits-all approach to intensification – the Medium Density Residential Changes. But councils must show they can meet future demand by either zoning land though greenfield development or though greater density.

“National supports the retention of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) rules which requires councils to zone for at least six storeys in catchments near rapid transit. To achieve their new housing targets, National expects many councils will further increase density in these transport corridors.

It’s good the National still support the NPS-UD but have they not been following the news on housing? Our large councils have spent almost all of their time since the the NPS-UD and MDRS came in trying to find every loophole and flawed methodology imaginable to avoid having to enable more housing in areas people want to live rather than planning on how to make it work, all in order to appease a handful of existing residents who don’t want change.

National can expect these councils to increase densities all they want but it won’t happen unless they’re forced to.

Notably, National’s Housing Spokesperson Chis Bishop said this back in 2021 after the MDRS was announced as to why the government needed to force upzoning.

In a funny way the council’s only have themselves to blame because for 20 or 30 years they have made it through their various district plans and land use policies made it very difficult to build.

There’s also a good chance council’s will withdraw their existing plan changes to comply with the current housing rules in order to ‘opt out’ of them. If that happens it will likely result in years of delay as they rework everything before re-notifying new plans. In other words, National’s policy will delay the delivery of more housing.

For Auckland at least, we’ve seen a lot of positive progress on housing deliver in recent years and the NPS-UD and MDRS will supercharge that even more. Now is not the time to change course but to ensure the council deliver them.

Their final main change under this section is to scale back protection for highly productive agricultural land to enable it to be turned into housing.

National will re-focus the NPS-HPL by maintaining protection of the most productive soils (LUC 1 & 2), while excluding LUC-3 category land. National supports protection of our most valuable soils, but NPSHPL goes too far – protecting far too much land that could be better used for housing.

Infrastructure financing tools

The provision of infrastructure is the main determinant of whether land can be zoned for housing. National have three aspects to their policy here.

National say they will reform the Infrastructure Funding and Financing (IFF) Act to make the process easier – the IFF is where the government fund the building of infrastructure through a Special Purpose Vehicle to keep it off a council’s books, with the money repaid by charging it to the land owners.

One of the better aspects of their entire policy is to make developers pay the full costs of the infrastructure.

National will require councils to declare that infrastructure for new greenfield development will be funded from rates and levies applied to the new development, instead of being subsidised by other communities. The prospect of subsidised infrastructure encourages developers to ‘land bank’ instead of delivering new houses. Councils will have the choice of financing this infrastructure on their own balance sheet or through refreshed financing tools, like IFF.

The challenge will be that it can often be difficult to fully separate out the infrastructure costs for greenfield developments but this is a good step.

National also say they’ll develop value capture tools.

In other countries, value capture tools allow the beneficiaries of central government investment in public goods like roads and public transport to be levied to help pay for those projects. Otherwise, costs are socialised and gains privatised.

National will develop value capture tools for New Zealand, meaning new state highways facilitating housing growth could be partly financed by levies on land unlocked by the road. The same could be true of major new public transport projects in urban centres.

This is good in theory but isn’t this kind of covered by making developers pay the full costs of sprawl?

Incidentally, perhaps the best value capture they could do would be to buy large swathes of rural land, undertake the master planning, deliver the infrastructure and then sell the land to developers to build on top of.

Housing performance incentives for councils

The final part of their policy is to pay councils a bonus for getting housing built through a programme they called Build-for-Growth.

Councils will be eligible for $25,000 for every dwelling they consent above average of new consents in the previous five years. In the case of Auckland, this means the Council would have been eligible for a payment of $152 million last year. Other councils that did not exceed their five-year average, like Tauranga, would not have been eligible for a payment.

Incentivising councils financially for delivering more housing sounds like a good idea – though Auckland would be a bit disadvantaged over other councils due to having had record consenting levels since the Unitary Plan was adopted.

The issue with it is that National intend to fund this by pulling funds from existing government funding for directly providing houses.

Overall, while a few good things, National’s policy feels like a step back, back to focusing on the wrong parts of the problem and back to allowing a small handful of anti-change advocates dictate housing policy for generations to come.

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  1. It’s curious that a platform that supports PT, reductions in car use and reduced emissions also supports the blanket intensification enabled by the MDRS, which will result in more car use, more traffic congestion and higher emissions.

      1. Thanks for the morning ad hominen to go with my coffee.
        why am I am idiot?
        I assume you think I welcome sprawl – I most certainly don’t. I welcome density on steroids near train stations and centres.

        1. People choose the best housing they can afford. The only reason people would choose to go to poorly serviced areas upzoned under the MDRS is if we fail to get enough housing enabled / built near train stations and centers. Which would be an enormous own goal, considering how desirable living in a station catchment, or walking distance to amenity is / will be.

          Advance the cause of building / enabling near stations. Don’t ban peoples potential best housing options for if you (we all) fail.

    1. You’re right, the answer is definitely letting the central suburbs with a higher concentration of alternatives to driving force all the development into new exurbs, that they will then object to connecting with proper rapid transit.

      In other words, you’re happy for congestion to happen, just as long as it’s not somewhere that inconveniences you personally.

        1. It’s not that I missed his point, it’s just that his point sucks. We’re not going back to the pre-2020 election statement, we’re going back to the same logic that forces development out to the farmlands at the end of highways and congests them to the point of being unusable for everyone in-between. It doesn’t “need” new roads because they’ll just look the other way while the existing ones get overwhelmed.

          Some of us are already living with the consequences of feet-dragging on proper intensification. Those effects are not shared equally across our cities. I was no fan of the expansion of the MDS that would have taken focus off key transport routes, but I can’t support unwinding proper intensification full-stop given National’s craphouse track record on supporting public transit and rapid transit in particular.

          And the Council would not have been able to block the central Auckland planning rules if Light Rail hadn’t been such a horrendous balls-up. But the proposal isn’t to do those things better, it’s to literally not do any of them at all.

      1. Way to completely talk past his point, lol. I assume Zen Man is hardly in support of preventing all development in the central suburbs. But the MDRS did cause all that development in exurbs that won’t have decent transit for years, even if we were building it at a decent rate… currently looking more like decades. It’s lots of development, and it’s denser than SFH, but it’s all still built around cars.

        Meanwhile, councils were able to block the MDRS stuff where it mattered, i.e. in the central suburbs of Auckland. So on that front the policy has basically been a failure – the amount of transit oriented development delivered has been low. It’s only universal upzoning on paper. In reality it’s just incentivized a lot of exurb development, basically greenfields +1 that doesn’t need a bunch of new roads, doesn’t eat farmland etc.

        1. So you’re just openly saying that where the housing is put matters more than housing existing at all?
          The low income family or student flat that has pushed themselves in, 2 or 3 to a bedroom because floor space is twice the price it would otherwise be, get told “well yes I did actively advocate for rules that created this, but it was the other guys fault, yeah”

          Ie if the government fails to enable housing in places that are better for reasons (climate / congestions etc), it should also continue to ban people build housing anywhere else too?

          Housing delayed is housing denied. I refuse to sit through another decade of outright housing failure for anyone who doesn’t already own a home while people quibble about where to put housing. Advance the upzoning of better places, don’t spend half the day arguing to take peoples best option away if you fail.

        2. Which suburbs has the MDRS caused development in? As far as I was aware its literally only just been implemtented and Auckland hasn’t rolled it out yet, so we shouldn’t actually be seeing the affects from the NPS and MDRS yet…me thinks you are confusing the MDRS with the AUP and are refering to West Auckland? Which has been failed by both Governments inability to build rapid transit to the North West.

        3. @Jack – I’m really happy the MDRS delivered a lot of warm, dry, efficient, cheap housing. That’s the good part and I totally agree with you it’s better to build all that housing stock than just ban development everywhere. I was just specifically talking about reducing car dependence, since Zen Man was originally talking about how the MDRS “will result in more car use, more traffic congestion and higher emissions.” And I do think it is car-oriented development, even though I’m happy development is happening. I’d rather not repeal it, but I do think we can do a lot better, and that it’s basically failed at delivering transit oriented development. Acknowledging something’s flaws isn’t campaigning against it.

          @Joe – Fair enough and yes we are seeing mostly the effects of legislation like the AUP in the built environment at the moment. But just look at the regions of Auckland that council has been able to exempt from MDRS with their qualifying matters. The outcome of the MDRS as it stands now will basically look like the AUP with the development happening in exurb regions. This development will probably be less car-oriented in the South and North where there are better transit options but it’ll still be mostly car-dependent. Hope I’m wrong though (and hopefully said development does go ahead anyway).

        4. @Adept – So what you are saying is that there isnt a problem with the MDRS, just a problem with the inner suburbs not accpeting the MDRS. Got it, the MDRS isn’t the problem, where the houses are going and the lack of Rapid Transit is the problem. I agree.

        5. “But the MDRS did cause all that development in exurbs that won’t have decent transit for years”

          It must be powerful legislation if it managed all of that in less than a year since council plan changes took effect!

        6. re … “Meanwhile, councils were able to block the MDRS stuff where it mattered, i.e. in the central suburbs of Auckland.”

          Have they though? The MDRS standard – in terms of dwellings volume – isn’t dissimilar to Akl’s Mixed Housing Urban Zone and just a tad bigger than Akl’s Mixed Housing Suburban Zone.

          The planning maps show huge capacity in these two zones. Add in THaB zones and the MDRS effects are far less when compared to other Councils that haven’t intensified.

          Methinks Council’s biggest beef is the fact the MDRS wording means that a development that sticks to the letter of the MDRS doesn’t require a resource consent. I.e. Council planners can’t stick their their grubby little paws into a design. While many designs will be fine – there will be some awful ones where we need their grubby little paws all over them.

          How to stop the suggested 1 in 5 that would be awful? (1 in 5 is often touted as a likely outcome.) This is a dilemma!

          One solution would be for a review panel of 3 to review and if 2/3 objects then a RC would be necessary.

          Another option – given so much design is done digitally – is to submit the digital design to a validation program that evaluates all the zoning rules but also evaluates things like sunlight, slope, planting, etc. After some tweaking – each design can be checked in less then 15 minutes and the designer gets recommends and a good/not good indicator.

        7. I think Zen Man is assuming that most people can only walk to public transport, and that somehow ebikes/cycles shouldn’t be factored for moderate length trips?

          Over 50% of people arrive at train stations by bicycle in NL. A few kilometres to an express PT hub doesn’t take that long for most people, and a lot of people walk on the other side because commercial areas surround stations. The problem with Auckland’s PT network is that there is no/hardly any cycle parking, and that we need to build out our express layer and put them at the heart of out metro centres.

          It took a loooong time for the Dutch to figure this out. We are so far behind. And I think it especially dumb that we are not using increased catchment areas to boost revenue for express public transport to improve frequences. And, I bet, this will entice people to move into metro centres to walk to the stations, when they actually start to care to build this stuff.

          Interesting info:

          Synergies Between Cycling, Public Transport and Urban Planning –

          Paper that video is based on:

          Here is example infrastructure…

          Large station parking:
          Small station parking:
          Moderate station parking:

          No keys needed for some parts of the OV-fiets shared system:

          Also, here is a few pages from a book on it:

    2. The only reason people would live in poorly serviced / high emissions areas up-zoned under the MDRS is if the government fails to adequately enable enough housing in more well serviced areas, and fails to improve low emission transport. In which case good. It’s a necessary blow off valve for that failure, to avoid even worse outcomes.

      Housing is not a football to achieve a laundry list of other goals. Using it as such, or advocating the suppression of housing to advance other goals is unconscionable.

      1. Well said … This bundling of goals occurs far, far too much – and worse – many people’s goals are very different other peoples.

        KISS – The goal must be: More dwellings at reasonable prices. Anything else is a distance second.

    3. The MDRS won’t create more car use, more traffic congestion and higher emissions. The expert report the Council planners *should* have been quoting, and the body of research on the topic, show the opposite.

      The idea that the MDRS will increase car use comes from the assumption that single house areas away from core rapid transit hubs won’t be provided with the infrastructure and services the residents need to shift modes. This assumption is flawed – and is misaligned with the Auckland Plan and TERP. We must provide every child with safety to bike, every family with the public transport services needed to release them from the shackles of having to own a car per adult, and of having to chauffeur their non-drivers everywhere.

      The MDRS is one tool to help transformation of the system. It works because:

      – increasing proximity to amenities and friends, meaning shorter trips,
      – shorter trips are more easily walked or biked,
      – more ridership per bus service means more services can be provided, improving the network and attracting more riders,
      – this drastically reduces car use, including for “chauffeuring” non-drivers
      – this leads to reduced car ownership
      – fewer cars doing fewer trips require fewer car parks, improving land use, enabling more intensification
      – etc. Too many mechanisms to list.

      1. So your argument that exurb intensification enabled by the MDRS won’t result in more driving is that “the assumption that single house areas away from core rapid transit hubs won’t be provided with the infrastructure and services the residents need to shift modes” is wrong? From what I’ve seen that assumption has been a pretty safe one so far. Just look at the state of the northwest!

        Just saying that it goes against the council’s strategic planning documents and that we “must” provide alternatives to driving is not an argument that local & central government are about to do an about face and start building rapid transit and cycleways everywhere cheaply and quickly. The council has been perfectly happy to totally ignore these documents whenever it’s convenient in the past and I expect it to continue to do so in future.

        As for all the boilerplate arguments for density everyone here is already familiar with, this is exactly why I’m unhappy with the exurb intensification the MDRS has delivered. I want people to live nearer amenities. Exurb intensification consigns people to an existence out in the city fringes where they are many kilometres away from all the amenities concentrated in the central isthmus. Most of these new developments are so far out that even on an ebike it’s inconvenient to get into town. This means almost all of the people moving into these new developments just drive everywhere anyway – seriously, go visit these places, every carpark is full as well as all the street parking people can get.

        Now, I’m not totally down on the MDRS. It has delivered a lot of new housing stock, stock which is warm, dry, double-glazed, small and affordable, has heat pumps, and so on. That’s a huge win that has actually been realized. But in terms of making a dent in car dependency? At best it will take a major expansion of our rapid transit network, which just seems like fantasy from where AT and local/central govt are at the moment. Even the most unambitious first little bit of LR is dead in the water.

        1. Adept, in both this comment and the one you made above, you seem to be confusing the MDRS and the AUP. Do you mind clarifying?

          Also, have you read the PwC analysis of the effect of the AUP and how that informs the MDRS?

          I’m certainly not in favour of exurbs – I’m in favour of the MDRS because it frees up development potential in more central suburbs. The PwC report shows that the market pivots to the more central areas **if the regulations allow it**.

          Perhaps with the clarification of where I’m expecting to see this intensification happen – in the existing built area, with far more happening the more central the suburb is – this will clarify for you my point about transformation. Intensification **is** a tool of transformation, and without it, we cannot meet our commitments.

        2. To clarify, I know that the MDRS is very different to the AUP on paper, but I believe that currently the outcome of the MDRS in reality will look very similar to the AUP. MDRS is only universal upzoning on paper and in practice, councils have been able to worm their way out of making any changes where it matters. It looks like central government aren’t going to be willing to force council to give up their qualifying matter stuff and actually adopt MDRS, hence discussion about what would or would not happen in the central isthmus is moot and MDRS is in effect more donut city legislation. And don’t get me started on christchurch.

    4. “the blanket intensification enabled by the MDRS, which will result in more car use, more traffic congestion and higher emissions.”
      It may, or people could decide to use some method to get to the bus station on the arterial such as bike, micro mobility, or some people can still walk. Remember that all the suburbs on the isthmus were served by a great PT network in the 50s that delivered more ridership than currently.
      Is it preferable that medium rise should be within 600 -800m of bus/train stops, yes it is.
      Should 3 storey be allowed everywhere, probably? If you walk through parts of Ponsonby/Grey Lynn some of the villas are that height and the sky didn’t fall in.

    5. Compared to the politically viable alternatives, the MDRS won’t do that. Most likely to make decent buses viable.

  2. This whole policy screams quick sale of greenfield lands to developer mates (Luxon), then someone with some actual brain use (not sure who) has tried to layer in some smarts so it’s not a complete s**show. They’ve begged and borrowed from Tory proposals from the UK, which I’m sensing a theme from Christopher Luxon and rushed it together over the space of a few days…hence Willis and Bishop being unware. A shambles really..that said be great if they went back to the table with Labour and worked on a new consensus, but I get the feeling the current National Party are ‘you say white, I say black’ to anything.

  3. This is calculated climate crime on National’s part. I would’ve thought most people are sick of the destruction of farmland, and the long driving trips that result from sprawl.

    I have two areas of questions:

    1: Who are National trying to attract with this regressive move? I wonder what their polling shows, and which kind of voter they are trying to attract. What it looks like is worse than that – that they are now directly trying to piss off and disenfranchise the younger generations so that they don’t vote at all. Is that what things are coming to now?

    2: Do National not realise that making a U-turn means the party can no longer be trusted? Cross-party support is needed when there are issues that the media will blow up in a divisive way, but are critical to pursue for the good of the nation anyway. National are indicating they are no longer a party that should be consulted; that it’s better to forge ahead with good policy and get it locked in before a change in government. This is a very sad development. I wonder how people who usually vote National can help them reflect on this, so the party can return to respectability.

    1. It’s aimed at their old homeowner NIMBY voter base. They don’t want others to build new housing near them. But simultaneously they recognise that house prices are too high, their kids or their neighbours kids haven’t brought a house yet and they’re approaching 30. Or have only been able to buy with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of help. So they recognise the need for more housing, just not near them.

      National promising lots of housing, just somewhere else is just the ticket to clean their conscience. No matter that its a 2 hour commute away from the best job and education centers and any kids there will only see their parents for a couple hours a day before bed. Those are details that they don’t care about.

      I also seriously doubt that National will actually meaningfully increase greenfields supply. Its extremely expensive, and they’re running on an austerity platform. A billion dollars will buy stuff all.

      1. Yep, they’re fighting a battle with ACT at the moment, when they really should be fighting a battle with Labour.

        It’s the main reason the election race is neck-and-neck despite the current government’s failure to deliver and the current economic situation.

    2. Yeah, National is a party of climate criminals with very few plans to decrease emissions. The big question is whether they are reading the room? While NZ certainly has higher inflation that is causing cost of living pressures, there is nothing more certain that climate change will lock cost pressures in. (Sorry, hard to buy that we have a crisis when I lived through mortgage rates of 20.5%. We called those high interest rates. Maybe it was an apocalypse?) Already we see higher insurance, higher Council rates, higher food prices as potatoes float in ditches around Pukekohe, pressure on govt to rebuild. Short term expediency is likely to be very costly in the long run.

    3. I don’t think that is their intent. It is more likely Chris Luxon taking a swipe at his own deputy Nicola Willis. His position has been looking weaker while her position was getting stronger so this policy is a kick in the guts for her because she worked on the rules. It is a way he can put her in political trap.

  4. I think that you are all missing the point, so far. Luxon has acted because he needs ACT to be able to govern, and ACT did not vote for the MDRS. Clearly, ACT have said to Luxon that they will not support the MDRS if the two of them get into the next government, and so despite the MDRS being avidly supported by Luxon’s deputy Nicola Willis (when she was on team Judith Collins), he is shafting her so that he can buddy up to ACT. In the long term, ACT is so much more important to National than Willis is.

    In answer to Heidi’s questions above:
    1 – National are trying to attract ACT, property developers, and mass housing companies, whose model requires the traditional low density, mass volume houses, not difficult-to-do en masse density in the inner city. Ask any developer – doing density well is hard to get through the Councils, so they will go for the quick and easy wins where they can: in the suburbs, the more Greenfield the better.

    2 – National’s mistake was to do an agreement with Labour in the first place, so by breaking the pact with Labour they will be getting back their former voters who automatically hate anything that Labour proposes.

  5. How are councils meant to sustain the infrastructure for these far flung suburbs 30, 40, 50 years from now? As it stands, local government is full of failed democratic institutions hijacked by vested interests who refuse to raise the revenue required to invest in maintaining current infrastructure. Yet somehow they expect to find the money to develop and fix hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of water pipes and roads? Anyone who buys a house in a far flung greenfield development is buying a huge targetted levy of some sort when the infrastructure bills start to fall due.

    1. Servicing far flung suburbs is very costly. Waste removal trucks having to travel 100s of km, busses picking up a handfull of customers per block, NZ post delivering to one or 3 houses in the area, km of footpaths only ever used by a few, most houses with 2 or 3 cars parked on front lawn, closest supermarket about 5km away, 100s of road sweepers required to clean 5000km of Auckland streets and 100s more to cut the local reserves, people with no time for gardening or joining local groups.

    2. “How are councils meant to sustain the infrastructure for these far flung suburbs 30, 40, 50 years from now”

      Won’t be Luxon’s problem, even IF he wins the election. So he’s not asking that question.

  6. As Zen Man has rightly pointed out, the answer for Auckland is neither blanket intensification or urban sprawl, but rather concentrated intensification around transport hubs such as train stations and bus ways. I think we all understand where urban sprawl ends up but many commentators and journalists fail to understand that blanket intensification is completely unpractical in many areas due to the existing infrastructure not being sufficient. It makes much more economic sense to have concentrated development in certain areas where council can afford to target infrastructure upgrading and is much more climate friendly as there is a higher chance of those residents using close by PT. By the way, there is no lack of development land in Auckland, there is currently hundreds of high density sites on the market for which there are no developers willing to buy due to the residential downturn.

    1. The people that say that always leave out the most obvious area to build, near the CBD such as Ponsonby, Mt Eden, etc . This is normally because they live there and only want change elsewhere.

    2. Most of the Auckland isthmus has frequent bus services. Simply painting more bus lanes and extending the time they run would speed these buses up. Just having development around railway lines and the North Shore busway is a mistake. Hence the need for blanket intensification across the Auckland isthmus. And in suburbs that feed the North Shore busway.

      1. How about “within 500m of a bus stop that gets to CBD within 20 mins”. Surely that is as useful as a train station? Or even with 500m of any frequent service bus stop.
        Then watch Auckland Council deliberately slow down buses or remove frequent services from the isthmus to save the all important heritage!

    3. I don’t object to a bit of urban sprawl … BUT only when all those untidy, unkept houses in the outer suburbs siting on massive sections have been turned into higher densities.

      That should take 20 – 30 year.

  7. While I am supportive of anything that allows more development, I do think allowing 3 houses on any section is a dumb idea, providing the infrastructure for that is almost impossible and it won’t lead to a particularly nice city.
    What we really need is areas of high density, medium density, and low density to provide choice. Ideally the high density is located around the CBD and train stations. The original MDRS did the train stations but not the CBD. Draw a 5km circle around the city centre and zone it high density, much cheaper to provide good infrastructure their than everywhere.

    1. Jimbo. How do you think the MDRS make it harder to build climate friendly medium density areas?

      Providing the infrastructure for that is not impossible. It makes it easier. New houses use less resources, less water, less power. It creates demand for local shops and services. All of this existing suburban infra will have to be renewed anyway with a few decade. More people to share the load makes it more viable.

      1. The problem is that the extra people will be scattered everywhere. If your area had 20% more households to pay for the required pipes, parks, etc it will still be very expensive per household. If your area had 200% more households then it isn’t so bad.

        1. This is already happening everywhere, except the central burbs. MRDS was attempt remedy this a bit.

          50 plus homers are right being built on my 100 household street right now. I am not walking distance from the city so guess how most people are going to around?

  8. MDRS opposers continually miss the crux of the issue.

    The MDRS does not make it any harder to build climate friendly medium – high density housing. Or whatever other type of housing you think is the best / most virtuous.

    By opposing the MDRS on these grounds you are implicitly saying that you already think that we will fail to upzone sufficiently around stations, or do whatever other housing policy you like. Getting rid of the MDRS only makes the outcomes better from your perspective, because the outcomes you want are worse from the perspective of the future MDRS home occupant.

    People always choose the best housing for their situation that they can reasonably afford. If you want people in around rail stations then that had better be their best option. We can’t just rely on saying no to things that would be better for their situation.

    It’s just more of this “no housing until the revolution” type stuff, that is admittedly worse overseas, but the same base idea here. And also of note is the incredible double standards we apply to all facets of thinking when it comes to existing homeowners vs future households.

  9. Given what the recent extreme weather events have proven, this “policy” is no more than a huge backwards step that could push us even closer to our own end (extinction of the human species). All European cities show that medium level, 6 to 8 level multi apartment blocks are perfect for buiulding communities, as OCKHAM continues to push for despite the roadblocks installed by older developers. Fletcher has controlled construction in the country for 125 years and continues to clearly have a major influence inside government and both major political parties. First Auckland’s plan has been stalled by a silver tsunami council, now Aotearoa could be permanently living in mud, thanks to this “policy” by this clearly disconnected ex behemoth political party. Wayne Brown became mayor with less than 17% of a mandate from Auckland, the National Party will need more than that as motu wide elections still garner twice the democratic turnout than those of the local version. But it is sad that our politics has become so partisan that the opposition would deliberately oppose climate change action that could mitigate and perhaps prolong our now shortened lifetimes. These elections, as predicted, may be simply the ignorant / religious / anti vax versus the evolved educated revolutionary reformists that would like to allow their grandchildren the same chance at life as their parents gave them by surviving the war. Luxon appears to believe that the Silver Tsunami will resurrect his party, but as in the play H*milton; what is a legacy really worth, if there is no one alive to write your story?!?

  10. They tried to do too much too quickly and didn’t take the public with them. I still think a Future Intensification Zone (FIZ) is the way to go. The Council could identify an area, zone it FIZ and people who don’t like intensification would have 10 years to sell to people who do like it or who want to develop. By extending the FIZ every 2 or 3 years we would soon get enough increase in supply and it could be coordinated with infrastructure.

    1. Really good suggestion for making MDRS work better. Staged release of land for development makes landowners realise sales value all together at the best time, rather than piecemeal, allowing accumulation of lots for redevelopment.

      1. It’s a good suggestion if you want to replicate the maximum land value extraction model like we have for greenfields. With the massive jump in land values once you get through the decades long process of turning rural land into urban land.

    2. The AUP didn’t do this and has been a success. NPS-UD + MDRS is a fairly natural extension to patch up the holes for Auckland, and apply the learnings to other cities.

      I don’t think it was too much too quickly. It was unexpected to have both major parties on board. Changes like this are normally rammed through, and then that party holds power for long enough to have it embedded.

      The mistake was only starting all this years after the current govt came to power.

    3. Politically they did not do it quickly enough. The zoning changes should have been operative immediately. Councils should then have been allowed to individually list about 10% of houses over the entire urban area. People would have quickly realised there was nothing to worry about.

  11. Easy for National to announce something like this to sound like you’re pro intensification and pro-sprawl –
    But as pointed out, providing infrastructure in greenfield areas is so costly (well it is in Auckland, Wellington and Tauranga).
    So the ‘developers’ that traditionally love greenfield developments will be running hat in hand to Council’s and Govt for money to do it.

    It’s just sad that neither political party has a track record of providing transport choices for the future occupants of where the housing is built.

    1. It would be interesting to see a brown field vs green field cost debate. Ie buying all of the houses in beach haven, demo the houses, build additional infrastructure to replaced the current that can’t support townhouses, add the cost of a building hobsonsoville point type development vs a milldale greenfield development.

      As you hear a lot of noise about brownfield vs Greenfield without practical evidence.

  12. True value capture is necessary, to ensure that the infrastructure to enable housing can actually be delivered. The Nat policy looks like: Build wherever you want, whenever you want. If you’ve got land, sell it for as much as you can get, pocket the profit. If you buy it, borrow as much as you can, so long as you can pass the debt on.
    If you can’t afford the extra infrastructure costs, never mind – the tax-payer will bail you out.
    You should be able to trace through this policy how the wealth moves upwards from the householder to the developers, land vendors and bank shareholders.

  13. LUC3 land may be marginal, but still better in production than in housing. A lot of it will not really be free for development, being too steep or flood-prone or with valuable ecology. Certainly unlikely to be space for affordable housing in large quantities with easy access to employment, education and other sercvices.

  14. I think that what is of critical importance, is that Auckland stops building on all their rich fertile land in and around Pukekohe. Just about made me cry last time I drove south and saw the rich soils being dug up and displaced, so that identikit horrid single family homes and asphalt roads could be laid.

    Surely, somewhere in Auckland, someone has the sense to stop this happening? It is the best, most fertile land for growing veggies in the Auckland region – you should never be building on top of your food base. Pukekohe and the Bombay Hills needs to be preserved as rural / agricultural and housing banned.

    1. Can’t sleep in a potato. Housing is more important than some marginal number of potatoes, especially in NZ which is an ag powerhouse and a huge net exporter. If the council refuses to let anyone build the required amount of housing in the existing urban area this this is a better option. Would be better if people didn’t feel the need to finance / buy a house out there because they had better options however…..

      1. Jack, We can have our potato and eat it too. It’s done via the intensification of existing suburbs. Although some of this will be done by Mom & Pop developers, troll your way through the Ockham or Simplicity web sites to see how it is going to be done. We need a eco-system of these guys and stop thinking we can rely on the current two blokes and a diesel ute supply model that underpins our current housing supply model.

      2. I agree with Mr Plod.

        I don’t think there’s any reason not to elevate Guy’s point about soil in every discussion on this topic. There’s no reason to play points off against each other – good decisions here work on all fronts at once.

        It would be better to fill at grade carparks and line the streets all over the city – with tiny homes and caravans – as a temporary measure than to continue to sprawl in any direction, and certainly over the horticulturally productive soil of Pukekohe.

        There is simply no justification for wasting money on building so many km of infrastructure now, and for shackling our children to having to maintain it and find a way to travel on it. There is simply no justification for ruining productive soil when the international picture of food production is so dire.

      3. We also can’t sleep without having eaten enough due to the price of food. The price would somewhat be affected by any lack of local productive land. These Pukekohe areas should be hands off to sprawl. I suspect anyone looking at that from overseas would think we are crazy.

  15. They just had to make a political stand and stuff this up again didn’t they. For starters this will create uncertainty for developers & slow things down again.

  16. The NZH article says Greg Hill and kit Littlejohn have resigned form the hearing panel.

    Anyone have more? When did it happen? Did they give reasons?

  17. Zoning greenhithe or other fringe suburbs for 11m height, with 6m walls 1m from the boundary without a phased approach was always a mistake.

    The failure in the policy is it was a colouring in exercise to town planing instead of a phased plan considering as the article points out the existing zones in Auckland are working.

    It enable further intensification without the right infrastructure was a mistake. If they had of said here is the immediate, the 5 year and 10 year plan for a staged rezone and the corresponding infrastructure plans it would of been sensible.

    But it was failed thinking from both labour and national.

    1. What’s your baseline?

      What we had? Surely not – it led to way too much sprawl.
      What we will have now that National’s done this? No, it’ll be chaos.

      The MDRS was a step up. It wasn’t perfect. The less sprawl we end up having, the less of an infrastructure, transport poverty and emissions burden we create. The more intensification we end up having, the more integrated, sustainable and affordable a city we create.

      1. The key to your comment was it wasn’t perfect. The building up around the main market made 100% sense. Having a trippling of single house zone at the same time made no sense give the urban and suburban zones in place. As if you know anything about development you do it for the best return. Meaning if there is a return to put 3 townhouse on a lot in a single house zone with little public transport you do it.

        The density rules dont channel development to the areas you want, it is a shoot gun approach.

        Meaning enable going up close to the market in areas like gray Lynn etc where there are good transport. The thinking is right the exucution lack thought.

        This isn’t hard to get right.

        As it I was thought out it would of been better as you could of built up devonport and remuera too. The building up of the fringe makes no sense.

        1. “This isn’t hard to get right.”

          Carl, please read the archive of posts here: people with expertise disagree with you and do not have the energy to repeat themselves.

  18. “meaning new state highways facilitating housing growth could be partly financed by levies on land unlocked by the road”

    In short; Mor Roads!

    Media need to keep asking National, why are they intending to increase emissions. Because everything I have heard so far seems to be fine with increasing emissions.

    1. Not to sure this is an issue if you ban the sale of petrol cars by 2030 as Europe and parts of the USA are. If the fleet is electric what’s a few roads.

      1. They are also going to stop the Clean Car Discount – aka ‘ute tax’, and reverse light rail.

        In other words policies that are designed to reduce fleet emissions, are going to be abandoned. Result has to be increased emissions.

        No matter what the civilized world are doing with new fossil fueled car bans, National/Act are not going to ban petrol and diesel vehicles anytime soon; they appear to be promising the opposite. We will end up a dumping ground for every high emissions vehicle going and suffer because of it.

        I am not that opposed to voting National, except for Simeon Brown and transport policies that mean that I just couldn’t.

        Simeon doesn’t understand law of induced demand; so doesn’t appear capable of understanding that more roads, EVs or not, won’t work to reduce congestion either

      2. Joe, the emissions have to be reduced now, not after our massive fleet is finally electrified.

        This is in the IPCC reports. If you haven’t got to grips with the scale and urgency of the emissions reduction, you’re doing yourself and your family and all society a disservice.

  19. There is a solution no one is talking.

    The MDRS had good intentions but it had to go, as it was creating density in areas not fully serviced by infrastructure, so would require significant infrastructure spend. Also, I’m pro-development, and even I can see that people living in suburban areas don’t want a three level townhouse next to them, it’s not reasonable.

    NPS-UD is good, however it has many obstacles and won’t realise its full potential, and mainly because it involves brownfields sites near transport nodes that are generally too small in size and owned by landbankers.

    The Govt is expecting to rezone land and it will magically be developed to it’s highest and best use….this won’t happen unless there is Govt intervention.

    If you don’t believe me, look at any THAB zone around a train station…this land hasn’t been developed because the lots are too small to be developed to maximum height, or isn’t for sale.

    To resolve the situation, the Govt needs to undertake compulsory acquisition of sites around transport nodes, amalgamate to larger parcels of land, invest in infrastructure and then sell to developers.

    If this approach is implemented, Auckland will develop a competitive advantage over other competing cities, such as Sydney, Melbourne etc.

    Your thoughts?

    1. I would like to see rezoning of commercial land to mixed urban.
      Commercial land is not usually as expensive as residential, and with mostly big box stores and budget malls carparks car yards etc occupying the land there is not much to be demolished.
      I’m talking parts of Onehunga Henderson most of Albany and Westgate Panmure.
      I envision these shopping districts being turned into proper town centres with street front shops with apartments above, malls with multi level parking similar to Westfield Newmarket, big box stores will need there parking underneath similar to mitre10 Albany.

      1. Ah yes, West Auckland definitely needs to do more heavy lifting in terms of housing. Just ignore, you know, the thousands of extra houses being added between Henderson and Westgate, which now has an entire suburb next to it that wasn’t there before.

        Otherwise the central suburbs might have to demolish an already-renovated villa every now and then. Perish the sodding thought.

    2. Well if we look at Sunnynook bus station the land around it especially going towards Countdown are own by families that have no intention of selling, I have talked to one of them and they said their planning on giving it to away the property to children so assuming govt does not aquire them it will be a while before they will be developed into apartments. Also the land sizes near the Sunnynook Station are small so a developer will have to convince quite a few home owners to sell in order to build one apartment.
      By any chance anyone here knows why the land next to Constellation park and ride has not been brought and developed. I remember in 2022 Baylays tried to sell the land and said it had RC ready for apartments to get bulit but now the sign gone and does not seem anyone brought it. Potentially the police station next to the land maybe had strict requirements leading to developers putting off purchasing the land and developing apartments?

  20. When I heard nationals plan I got a bit depressed tbh.
    Despite the increased traffic on arterial roads and many of the poor architecture (ugly houses)
    I believe it is the only thing Auckland has going for it, as many old cold and damp houses have been demolished for affordable warm efficient housing.
    The extra traffic for the most part hasn’t effected the motorway network, largely due to limited capacity at existing motorway junctions, unlike typical edge of town greenfield development that adds new junctions alongside motorway extentions that dump more traffic into already congested motorway networks, not to mention these new residents often need to use the motorway network to get anywhere.
    I also believe high density housing will force local and central government to think again when it comes to infrastructure. The local roads will eventually become gridlocked, a few extra lanes will do nothing, it will force people to adapt if they want to get somewhere and government will need to adapt with them.
    Also there will eventually be more townhouses then standalone, and the townhouses will no longer be seen as cheap subpar housing, people will eventually change their expectations and except that if you want a house it will be a townhouse or apartment, the remaining standalone houses on big sections in any suburb will be for the wealthy.
    It’s just a shame that there is still a lack of mixed medium density, ie walkup apartments with grocery shops and restaurants cafes etc at ground level.
    And that most developer’s are just looking for a quick buck, so are not concerned about the aesthetics of the neighbourhood.

    1. Agree the plan won’t work unless you develop like hobsonville. Doom to fail if left to profit seekers.

  21. I really feel with the mdrs that the removal of parking was a bad idea especially for suburbs with small roads. I recently saw a new medium denisty development near the Constellation Bus station in Unsworth Heights and they only provided one parking spot per house. This resulted with people just parking on the street and clogging up the road making it majority one way road. Auckland Transport should have made one side yellow lines but everytime you write about these problems to them they say the road can fit an ambulance through it one way when both sides are park with cars so it fine no problems here which I think is ridiculous. I think Council need to do something about house owners using street parking to compensate for lack of parking on there address so maybe charging for on street parking may make people reconsider parking on street?

    1. You’re right that charging and proactive management is the responsible path to resolve the problem.

      It’s good to remember that the removal of parking minimums might increase on-street parking in the very local area, but city-wide, it has the opposite effect. It directly reduces car ownership, so that there’s less on-street parking elsewhere – in all the parts of the city that those cars would have been driven to. And it allows more housing to be built more centrally, thus cutting down vkt – and parking – substantially. Imagine if all those houses had been built in sprawl instead, and the driving and parking those fully car dependent households would have been required to do.

      1. Hello Heidi
        I am not sure if you know the case about the apartments in the city, I remember it was called the Daisy apartments and they provided no parking and the end result was people parking on the street and business fighting with residents to get them off their private car parks. Also another issue is in New Zealand we are going to own cars even if we live in the city it been ingrained into our culture. The conversation that happens in high school especially when people get to 17 is are you going for your driver license and you can see school student parking full of cars.

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