Development update: December 2016

2016 has been a big year for development, and by “development” I mean the process of getting new homes built, or any other new buildings for that matter. In the last “development update” post for the year, I wanted to look back at some of the highlights which you might have missed. You can click through to these at the bottom of the RCG Development Tracker page. January focused on retail. “Up until 2007, the retail sector was on a roll, and new shopping centres were being built all over the place. That changed when the recession hit in 2008 [but] 2015-2016 sees the biggest expansion since the GFC”. In …
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Development update: November 2016

I’ve just updated the RCG Development Tracker for November – it’s now got almost 800 developments listed, across all property sectors but with a focus on higher density residential. The ones which didn’t make it In the last month, we’ve had a bit of media coverage about developments being cancelled. It’s always sad when a project doesn’t proceed, especially for first home buyers who put down deposits, and were looking forward to owning their own home. They’ll get their deposit back, but in the meantime property prices have kept going up, and their plans for moving home are disrupted. Unfortunately, developments being cancelled (or put on hold, or reworked) is …
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Farnham Street residents looking at each other down the barrel of a gun

Caution: this post contains references to John Farnham. I was updating the Development Tracker recently, and added another one to the list – 9 Farnham Street. It hasn’t made it off the starting blocks yet, despite a couple of attempts. In 2008, and perhaps for some time before that, 9 Farnham Street was being advertised for a five-storey building, with three floors of office and two penthouse apartments: The sign was still up in 2009, but sometime after that it was taken down. The GFC put a dampener on new development in a lot of places. In April 2013, resource consent was granted for 14 apartments, but – shockingly – …
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Unitary Plan Recommended Zoning – the maps

Unitary Plan Recommended Zoning - the mapsThe version of the Unitary Plan released last week and recommended by the Independent Hearings Panel (IHP) almost doubled the number of dwellings that they believe can feasibly be built over the next 30 years. By far the biggest change comes from enabling more dwellings within the existing urban area which goes from 84,000 in the version of the plan notified in 2013 up to 270,000 in the IHP version, a massive 221% increase. While some of the increase has come about as a result of changes in the rules, most of the change is a result of changing zoning. A presentation b the council on Wednesday highlighted the 270k increase in the existing …
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How to reduce Auckland house prices

Arthur Grimes, the former chair of the Reserve Bank board, caused a stir with his proposal to crash Auckland house prices by 40% by building lots more housing: My call for policies to drive a house price collapse is driven by my personal value judgement that it’s great for young families and families on lower incomes, to be able to afford to buy a house if they wish to do so. My concern is not for older, richer families, couples or individuals who already own their own (highly appreciated) house… Research at Motu (accessible from www.motu.org.nz, and published in international scholarly journals) shows that (given current interest rates and incomes) …
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Local board Rhetoric Doesn’t Match Reality

Let’s start with a quick pop quiz: you’ve got an existing town centre that you want to improve, making it more vibrant and successful. Do you A) Encourage more people to live locally who will use the town centre B) Encourage more people to live locally who will use the town centre C) Encourage more people to live locally who will use the town centre D) Oppose people living nearby and worry about the cars trying to drive through and past your town centre being ever so slightly hindered. If you answered A, B or C then correct, have a gold star, but it seems far too often our local …
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Govt Offers a $1b Infrastructure Loan

Yesterday the Government announced its latest policy on addressing the housing crisis in Auckland and increasingly in other centres, a $1 billion infrastructure fund to pay for the bulk infrastructure needed to support *some* of the new houses needed in greenfield areas. The Prime Minister today announced a new $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund to accelerate the supply of new housing where it’s needed most, Finance Minister Bill English and Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith say. The contestable fund will be open to applications from councils in the highest growth areas – currently Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland. Mr English says the Housing Infrastructure Fund will help …
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Are vacant homes adding to the housing shortage in our leafy suburbs?

People sometimes worry that investors (or foreigners) are buying up properties and leaving them empty, speculating on capital gains instead – but if this is happening at all, it seems to be on a very minor scale. In a post last year, I looked at unoccupied homes in Auckland and other NZ cities, using census data. Most of them, including Auckland, had similar percentages of unoccupied homes – roughly 5% to 8%. In this post, I’ve dug deeper, looking at the unoccupied homes figures for each Auckland suburb. I’ve also put together an interactive map showing the percentage of unoccupied homes for each area: Across the Auckland region, there were 33,201 …
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Development update: June 2016

It’s been a little while since I wrote a “Development Update” post, and a lot has happened since then: The final batch of Special Housing Areas was approved. Downtown Shopping Centre has closed, and is about to be demolished. Tunnels for the City Rail Link will be built underneath, and the site will be redeveloped as Commercial Bay, an office tower and shopping centre. Speaking of the City Rail Link, it’s is now officially under construction. My count of homes which are currently “under construction” keeps edging up – it’s now up to 6,000, and that’s just for Auckland apartments and terraces. Several major buildings have been completed, including Urba Residences …
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Housing Issues Hotting Up

Housing issues in Auckland have become a fairly constant news piece in recent years and the affordability issue has become louder and louder. And it’s not just people wanting to buy a house either but also for renters as rental prices rise too, something that is particularly tough for those on low incomes. We know that one of the key tools to helping unlock development in Auckland is of course the Unitary Plan – depending on what final form it takes. It reached a new milestone last Friday as the Independent Hearings Panel held its final hearing on it. The amount of work the panel has undertaken has been significant. There were 9443 submissions and 3951 further …
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