Auckland Council

So, why does the property industry hate the compact city?


The property industry hates Auckland’s compact city dream. The loathing is substantial.

There are a few players who like the compact city idea – but those people have more to gain from restricted supply that boosts the value and demand for their investments.

And there are the gravy train troughers who sit on committees and feel important and cherished. They like the idea too. But they are mostly consultants.

The rest of the property industry thinks the compact city sucks. It’s like dog poo on their shoes.

Partly the loathing is universally influenced by the seething hatred that the property industry has for planners and the processing hoards of hairy-foot hobbits in the Council organisation. These meddlers and haters of the world cause mayhem and angst 24/7 for the property industry with slow processing, crap decisions and constant niggle.

But the compact city is the incongruous icing on the cake.   Read more »

Council Economist tells it like it is

So, Auckland Council’s own Chief Economist gets it but the rest of Council is going to continue to act like a bunch of stubborn old stooges, and stick with the impossible dream of a building a compact city.

Auckland Council’s plans for higher density housing cannot succeed unless the city also expands further into the countryside, says the council’s chief economist.

Chris Parker said the only way to contain Auckland’s runaway house inflation – up $70,000 last month to $820,000 on a median price house – was to open up more rural land to relieve price pressure on a “dysfunctional” urban land market.

The council’s flagship compact city plan, based on more people living in apartments, terraced houses and townhouses within city limits, was necessary but unable to work by itself.

“Intensification won’t do it – not alone, it’s got to be part of a package,” Mr Parker told the Herald in an interview for the Home Truths series.

“Intensification increases the opportunities for what can be done on each piece of land and it increases the value of land underneath. The hope is that you can spread more houses on top of it, but the problem is we’re in a race we can’t win.   Read more »

Auckland Council’s war on workers continues via parking fees

The ‘mode shift’ to push Aucklanders into public transport continues as Auckland Transport prepares to hike car parking rates in the CBD.

Auckland city workers and inner-city dwellers could be paying more than $60 a day to park on the CBD streets from June.

As part of its regular review, Auckland Transport is planning to increase its inner city rates in response to the increased demand.

The central area, which is at present priced at $4/hour for the first two hours, is proposed to increase to $4.50/hour for the first two hours then $9/hour for every subsequent hour.

For an eight-hour working day this would hit $63.

The city fringe zones, which are at present priced at $2/hour and $3/hour for the first two hours, would rise to $3/hour across both zones for the first two hours and would cost $6 for every subsequent hour.

This would cost $42 for an eight-hour working day – a significant price increase from the present $16/day in the lower-priced areas around Wynyard Quarter, some streets around Sale St and Vector Arena.

Read more »

It’s supply not demand

Auckland’s housing issues can’t be solved by fiddling with demand.

Taxes and high LVRs don’t work, and the proof already exists.

That’s because demand outstrips supply so much that even with the possibility of tax, or with a high LVR, the growth curve is so large it negates the effect. There is still plenty of cash to be made on the upside.

Demand levers won’t change a thing. Only supply will.

Which brings me around to it. So far supply hasn’t mustered any more capacity than 8,000 dwellings.  It’s possible that the property industry is peaked out on capacity.

Except that in 2003-2005 the supply curve did hit 12,000 dwellings.

The main difference was that the majority of it was standalone houses on sections. Whereas now there is a vastly greater proportion of intensive housing.

Hint: greenfield development is the easiest way to increase supply.

The Government pretends to want it with talk of SHAs but isn’t really doing much more than sabre rattling.   Read more »

Auckland Council admit there is a problem with water infrastructure as well

Watercare have taken offence at my assertions that Auckland infrastructure is stuffed and has 10% capacity remaining in it.

That’s not necessarily their fault – they inherited a legacy of poor management from the seven former Councils and they have a limited capacity to raise funds for more expenditure.

Now they say that the limited capacity isn’t really an issue because they have lots of expenditure planned.

Except that the planned infrastructure is spread over decades and, importantly, it doesn’t fix the issue today. It doesn’t even fix it in the next 5 or 10 years.

Auckland Council even admit that the current infrastructure is stuffed.

Only last week a presentation made by Council’s own Manager for Growth and Infrastructure Strategy, Dawne Mackay, states clearly that they have issues:   Read more »

Watercare are feeling the heat

Watercare are feeling the heat.

The type of heat that – at first – is warm. But before you know it, it has quickly turned into a full-blown pants-on-fire experience.

Last week I pointed out that Watercare have only 10% capacity today in their network for approximately 45,000 connections. That’s not only a tiny amount, it’s also a bit of a looming problem.

Simple maths says that if Auckland is growing at 8,000 dwellings a year (plus commercial space) the network capacity is in the kaka.

Turns out Watercare didn’t really like us pointing that out.

Watercare response to Whale Oil article ‘How will Watercare support intensification when their network is stretched already?’

Watercare strongly refutes suggestions by blog Whale Oil that their networks cannot service a growing Auckland.

The statement published on Whale Oil claiming that Watercare has 10 percent capacity remaining in its existing water supply and wastewater network does not reflect the extent of Watercare’s planned investments that will accommodate Auckland growth.

There are currently about 430,000 homes and businesses connected to the Watercare network, which has capacity for approximately 45,000 new homes and businesses to connect today.

Every year Watercare invests hundreds of millions in growth-related projects. This year, the organisation is spending $150 million on projects to cater for a growing population. Next year, Watercare plans to invest $200 million.   Read more »

Why is Auckland Council so dumb?

The most amazing fact about Auckland Council is that it is an organisation bereft of smarts. Quite literally the organisation is dumb.

Council has been the Achilles heel for Auckland. The entire organisation has systematically stymied the opportunity for Auckland to be dynamic and growing. Bogged down in bureaucracy and all controlling, the Council has stiff-armed the city. It’s not fast and its ideas continue to fail to work.

We all know the issues so I won’t dwell on the them.

But the solutions are incredibly obvious. No matter what side of the fence one sits, the fact is Auckland Council can’t identify any solutions and it certainly can’t put its hand up and communicate what it needs and lobby for them.

Which is why the organisation is stupid?

I don’t for a second buy into the compact city model. It’s the stuff of unicorns and rainbows and hallucinogenic drugs. No city in the world has magically transformed from one type of built form to an entirely different one. In-filling the gaps doesn’t count for much either.   Read more »

Useless Auckland Council’s halfwit policy on dogs


Lame Duck Mayor Len Brown and his merry band of idiots on council have decided to offer an amnesty to dangerous dog owners. As if another regulation will actually work, but it is a good excuse when it comes to not enforcing current regulations properly.

In the real world, South Auckland’s people want real action. For a moment it seemed the politicians had listened. There was a glimmer of hope after south Auckland Councillor Callum Penrose announced a high-powered group of politicians would front the media with their solution.

But by the time Thursday’s highly publicised photo-opportunity concluded, hope was lost. Read more »

How will Watercare support intestification when their network is stretched already?

Watercare have now only got just over 10% capacity remaining in their existing network.

With Watercare stating that they have approx 435,000 connections and an estimated 45,000 connection capacity remaining they’ve basically signalled that their networks cannot service the city.

The booming population is affecting housing, traffic as well as something a little less noticeable – water.

Two future water pipelines are likely to be installed to cope with the massive population growth in west and north Auckland.

Watercare is lodging applications to secure the routes for the pipelines that will run across the Upper Harbour area.    Read more »

Changing the zoning won’t solve the immediate problem

My eyes are rolling in my head and glazing over.

It’s just possible that everyone in the city drinks from the Council Kool Aid and forgets everything that’s happened over the last five years.

Remuera home owners may not like it, says Peter Jeffries, but three-storey apartments in the suburbs offer the last real chance at housing affordability in Auckland.

The chief executive of CORT community housing is a vocal supporter of the compact city model in Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan, a new planning rulebook that will define the shape of Auckland’s future for decades to come.

The plan decides what can be built and where – and it has sparked a generational and politically divisive debate about housing density and height in traditional suburbs.

The council did itself no favours with a proposal to rezone about 30,000 properties in a late change to its submission on the proposed Unitary Plan without informing homeowners.

The proposal – which would have had to come back to the council from an independent hearings panel in July for a final decision – was rejected by a majority of councillors, after a long, often emotional debate in which young supporters of change accused their older opponents of selfishly protecting their own interests.

Jeffries argues that the problem will not go away. Auckland is going to grow by 75 per cent over the next 30 years, he says, and suburbs like Remuera have to share the burden of growth.

Read more »