Auckland

An interesting idea, but one no political party will touch

Arthur Grimes reckons that the government and Auckland Council should work together to collapse the Auckland property market.

A former Reserve Bank chairman has called for the Government and Auckland Council to enact policies to deliberately “collapse” the city’s house prices by at least 40 per cent and intensify building along Tamaki Dr with Gold Coast-style towers.

Arthur Grimes delivered a hard-hitting speech at an Auckland Conversations event, calling for swift action to resolve the housing crisis, and the city’s eastern suburbs to have high-rise residential blocks, ready for the next generation of Aucklanders.

The median house price was $1 million, up from an already too high level of $600,000 five years ago, he said.

“I think we should set ourselves a target now of looking for a collapse in house prices of at least 40 per cent in Auckland, OK? And that should be a political approach … central Government and local government politicians should be out there saying, ‘We’re trying to have policies in place that will collapse house prices in Auckland by at least 40 per cent’, because that will only take them back to a level where they were too high already five years ago,” Grimes told the Auckland Conversations forum.   Read more »

Twyford epitomises Labour’s chasing passing cars strategy

Phil Twyford, the architect of Labour’s assault on people with Chinky-sounding names, has again wrapped himself in the Cloak of Hypocrisy and strode forward hiding behind his Shield of Sanctimony.

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford has been accused of being a hypocrite after calling out the government for turning the housing debate into a “race issue.”

In Parliament last night, Mr Twyford accused the government of standing on the side of foreign, non-resident speculators against the interests of young Kiwi first-home buyers.

He was speaking on Labour’s bill that would amend the Overseas Investment Act to apply new restrictions on non-resident buyers of New Zealand residential properties to “better protect New Zealand home buyers.”

He says most New Zealanders want to see more restrictions on foreign buying but the government is telling voters that they are “xenophobic.”

But National MP Christopher Bishop says Mr Twyford’s comments are hypocritical.   Read more »

Could the new port be on the Firth of Thames?

Richard Harman from Politik seems to think so.

The study on the future of Auckland Port to be released on Friday is likely to recommend a “super port” near Waimangu Point in the Firth of Thames to be built within the next 35 years.

And the port is likely to replace  both Auckland and Tauranga.

POLITIK understands the study will reject the Manukau Harbour proposal because it would pose huge technical and resource consent challenges.

Northland has also been rejected because of the difficulty transporting cargo backwoods and forwards across Auckland city. POLITIK has spoken to two sources close to the Study Group and has been briefed on the details of the report.

One source  says  offers several advantages:

  • There is 15m of water depth almost right to the shore
  • It is closer to South Auckland
  • And it is closer to the Waikato

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Oh, that’s going to stuff up housing projections

I’m laughing because good quality evidential research always shows up how piss-poor local government is.

Len Brown and his cronies at Auckland Council have sold a storm on their compact city and the rate of intensive development that is occurring. It’s always been fanciful.

Plans for 28 new Auckland apartment blocks containing 1900 units have not gone ahead as originally planned, a real estate expert says.

Zoltan Moricz, CBRE research head and senior director, said changes had been made to schemes for about 15 per cent of planned new stock.

Some of the new apartments might never be built, but plans could also be on-sold to other developers or perhaps the projects would be down-scaled, he said.

Some of the planned projects were badly located, too expensive or not what the market wanted, he said.

Moricz said people should not see the trend as indicating Auckland’s apartment market was heading for the doldrums as most new Auckland apartment schemes were proceeding as planned, bringing thousands of new units to the city.

“We don’t see a 15 per cent abandonment rate for project launches as a materially adverse outcome given the diversity of active developers, apartment product and locations. A prominent theme behind abandonment has been the wrong product, at the wrong location, at the wrong price.

“The market is discerning. Success requires a careful balance of having the right specification and type of product for a given location at a price that the market will accept while still allowing development profit.

Moricz would not name any ‘abandoned’ projects.

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Rudman whining about trains to the airport now, not his theatre

Old boy Rudman – who loves a good troughing spendthrift Council – is bemoaning the right decision to axe rail to the airport.

Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy is dangling the vision of driverless buses tootling back and forth to the airport to distract attention from his board’s decision to kill dreams of a train link from Onehunga.

It’s not the only thing driverless which comes to mind when it comes to Auckland transport. This week’s burial of airport heavy rail brought to the surface once more the behind-the-scenes tussle among a gaggle of politicians and bureaucrats from AT, Auckland Council, New Zealand Transport Agency, and the airport company, over whose turn it is to pull the levers.

The AT board officially pulled the plug at Monday’s meeting. But NZTA, the Government’s road builders, had all but sabotaged the proposed route already, with its plans to trench the motorway at Kirkbride Rd in Mangere so deep that trains would not have been able to manage the gradient. The airport company was adding to the problems by insisting a train station would have to be underground, and be built to its deadlines.

I expect wowsers to do that. There are plenty of people who crack a woody over rail. And that’s ok – we’re all entitled to our opinions.   Read more »

Watercare continues the blame game

Watercare appears to be toeing the line of its paymaster Auckland Council who want to continue the blame game regarding housing supply.

Not willing to concede that the Council have stuffed Auckland they are trying desperately to blame everyone – from landowners to property developers – instead of accepting responsibility. Talk about being sensitive.

The property industry and I have been saying for a while that the issue is Council refuse to build the infrastructure and are using sewers, potable water and roads to stymie the expansion of Auckland. Some weeks back I pointed out that there is now only capacity for 45,000 dwellings to connect to the infrastructure.

So what does Auckland Council do? They shove Watercare out to pitch a story about expenditure that’s over a long time frame and to tell a fat pork pie.

Most of the article is talking up a storm about infrastructure works that replace and improve the stuffed existing infrastructure servicing areas of Auckland. It’s not for new areas. It’s all the deferred maintenance and asset management playing catch-up with a bit more capacity to allow for more apartments in certain areas.

Like new big sewer mains that connect central Auckland suburbs back to Mangere and a Hunua water connection that terminates at the water tank in Ponsonby. They are things in places where people already live, not where the city needs to be growing into, like the edges of the city.

Watercare Services is catering for 195,000 new Auckland dwellings in the next decade, and is working to expand the fresh and waste water networks to cope with this growth.

But Raveen Jaduram, Watercare chief executive, admits the organisation does not really expect that many dwellings to be built.

“The actual number will be significantly less but we’re catering for that bigger number. We have to be ahead of the growth so we built infrastructure well before it’s required,” he said.   Read more »

At last some transport sense: no train to airport

Great news. The proposed rail link to the airport, a dopey idea at best, is now off the table after the NZTA and AT agree it’s a dog.

A commuter rail link to Auckland Airport – which could slash travel times to the international gateway – has been dumped in favour of trams or buses.

The scrapping of the heavy rail connection is a u-turn by the New Zealand Transport Agency, which last year said it was “extremely committed to providing a rail link connecting the airport and the city”.

Auckland Transport (AT), which has favoured rail to the airport as a high priority, meets today to decide if it will endorse the agency’s position.

Road travel typically takes about an hour from the city centre to the airport. Commuter rail could cover the 20km journey in 35 minutes.

The Transport Agency’s board ruled out heavy rail after it was shown an AT report at its last meeting.    Read more »

Len’s crazy rail loop set to cost billions more

 

congressional-train-wreck

Sometimes I can smell a dead rat from another universe.

Only last week I mentioned that the rumour mill was rich with talk that the CRL is now massively over budget and could be as high as $5 billion.

Then, following that, John Key also mentioned the same.

It has to be said that the rumours must be thick and strong when the PrimeMinister is saying the same.

Now a group of Auckland Councillors have stuck the knife in to ferret out information.

And, at the same time, AT have come out in defensive mode with talk that admits it but doesn’t. They’re scared and yet they know the truth is going to get out there.

Auckland councillors want the Auditor-General to investigate the -City Rail Link’s billion-dollar costs with the Government and Auckland Transport admitting the original $2.5 billion estimate is almost certain to change.   Read more »

Just get on with it

After six years if shilly-shallying the government is finally making noises about sorting out Auckland and has shown the stick.

If Auckland politicians don’t pass a coherent new plan for the city the government could step in as soon as September, the council’s chief executive says.

Council officials are preparing to receive the electronic equivalent of a “wheelbarrow of printed stuff” detailing Auckland’s new Unitary Plan.

After four years, more than 13,000 submissions and 249 days of hearings, Auckland’s first region-wide planning document will be delivered on July 22.

Councillors then have until August 19 to either accept or reject key planning recommendations, such as more intensified zoning and whether to move the city limit.

Read more »

Proof Auckland Council still have too much money to spend

Auckland Council are profligate wastrels.

The Herald editorial explains just how barking mad they can be.

If Auckland Transport has been reading our mail, and doubtless its own, it will know there is outrage over its decision to paint all municipal buses the same colour. Hardly a day goes by that the Herald does not receive at least one letter on the subject. It is not just the colour that concerns the correspondents but what this decision says about the relatively new creation known as AT.

It is one of the non-elected bodies set up under the Super City to run services at a safe arms-length from local politics. The Auckland Council and the Government appoint its board but cannot interfere in the operational decisions the board and its managers are trusted to make in the interests of the service. The board’s decision to paint the buses is a classic illustration of how misguided corporate thinking can be when the body is using public funds.

Auckland bus routes are served by private companies contracted to AT. The private companies have their own livery, well known in the suburbs where they have been based for a long time, much longer than AT has been in existence.

The main fleet, once publicly owned and uniformly yellow, was painted a variety of colours a few years ago, reflecting the destinations. Bright blue went to North Shore, bright green went to Waitakere, myriad colours in a Pacific motif went to Manukau.

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