Nick Smith and Len Brown announce property developments already underway and call it progress

Essentially Auckland Council has started receiving applications for Housing Accord related special consent processing.

The Government and Auckland Council have announced plans to fast-track developments in Auckland that could accommodate over 5000 houses.

The announcement made in Huapai, West Auckland, by Housing Minister Nick Smith and Auckland Mayor Len Brown named 10 “special housing areas” under the recently agreed Auckland Housing Accord, signed by the Government and the council.

They expect two major initial tranches being:

1. October – announced today;

2. February 2014.

The first tranche is essentially made up of mostly developments that have prior stages and future stages that are inactive or coming up that developers want to fast track.

Apart from land in Huapai and Wesley College near Pukekohe there is nothing within the first tranche list that isn’t already planned for or which wouldn’t happen over time in any case with a regular consent process. In short the list is predominantly made up of staged developments where developers are taking advantage of a faster consent process. You have to wonder why Nick Smith would stand on a stage with Len Brown just days out from election day and make big announcements like this…especially when it is nothing new or wondrous. 

Except for the two mentioned the balance could have been reasonably expected to come on stream in the next 12 months without any complications.

So this means that the first tranche of housing accord consents has not resulted in releasing any more land than otherwise would be available. Almost all of the development land is already zoned thus fate acompli in the scheme of things.

Whilst Auckland Council was always going to accept consents for proposals in zoned areas the over arching emphasis on land release was to be in greenfield areas. Clearly bugger all greenfield has been brought to the table so far.

There are some risks and concerns that perhaps the housing accord qualifying criteria isn’t helpful. Requiring a certain percentage of houses to be ‘affordable’ and qualifying that as to mean 75% of the average house value in any particular local area is about as scientific as boiling water in a pot.

The other option to qualify requires a developer to discount some properties by loading the price of the balance in a development which presents its own issues like how do you justify the higher price for the balance when you have sold some at a discount?

Nobody knows if developers can deliver to these expectations.

And here is the issue – if developers could deliver product at 75% of average house values – and presuming a reasonably large market demographic exists ready to snaffle up property at that price range – wouldn’t they already be doing that?

After all a market worth exploiting and profiting from is one desperate to own property and developers are ones to miss a trick or an opportunity.

There appears to be a lack of justification for the qualifier. And perhaps with such an onerous qualifier developers are simply finding it difficult to qualify.

At the same time Redwood Group developer Tony Gapes has been busy selling down his Panama Road Mt Wellington development – Springfield Park – in droves. His first stage is almost entirely sold out. But here is the thing – the cheapest – most affordable dwellings are one and two bedroom units priced from $330,000. He has only a couple of these yet the more expensive four and five bedroom dwellings which are priced over $500,000 have smoked out the door.

Affordable might be the political catch cry but can it be delivered and when it does do people want to buy it? Possibly not.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.