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.

Sure look I get it. Some people think there is land to buy and that the city could be compact.

But so far the success rate is abysmal. Besides – Auckland needs critical mass of development supply to cool housing prices and to keep up with demand.

What nobody appears willing to concede is that the horse has already bolted. Once a city is established and houses and commercial premises are built – that’s the most likely form that will exist on the land for a long time.

Change will be piece meal, slow and sporadic.

But that’s assuming developers can get stuff to happen.

Here is the reality:

– as long as there is more money to be made holding residential property there will be no incentive to redevelop it. Risk free, tax free capital gain is overwhelmingly the best way to make money and it easy to do. Just buy property and do nothing.

– where will all the commercial tenants and business owners who occupy existing buildings in redevelopment areas go? Will moving be good for business? Will it cost more to occupy another building? Will it be near their customer base? Do they own or have leases with long tenure? The truth is that most businesses don’t want to move so they won’t. And the land is therefore locked up.

It just blows my mind that people continue to think Auckland will transform. It might but not at a rate that’s meaningful. So the pressure will continue until someone realises that releasing supply in greenfield locations is needed.

Nobody has ever proved that Auckland will change if you zone it for change. Planners think that if you plan it the job is done. Except that the nothing happens and so we have a supply demand issue.

Stop drinking the Kool Aid.


– NZHerald


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  • edenman

    With the massive intensification they propose, I have not seen any reference to the requirement for new schools, increased medical requirements etc. If they were to extend their boundaries these things could be included in their planning.

    • David Moore

      That’s where the whole intensification idea falls down. They have ignored the fundamental fact that it’s far harder, more expensive and time consuming to upgrade existing infrastructure than it is to build new.

      They are either profoundly ignorant or lying.

      • Herb

        The selective perception of ideology is blind to anything but the merits of it’s own idea.

  • Ross

    Is there any truth to the rumour someone has suggested the land that’s currently occupied by the Remeura Golf Course for development?

    I can’t see that happening…

  • David Moore

    These people have never done basic economics. The opportunity cost of turning a highly desirable and expensive rRemeura house into 4 less desirable apartments is far, far greater than turning some farm land into houses.

  • Jman

    So we have these well-established, beautiful suburbs, that have given Auckland its character and made it a great place to live. Now these scumbag councillors want to replace that with hordes of 3 story boxes that will utterly change the city we have today. How about get stuffed!

    • Orca

      I think the logic goes something like this: Auckland is currently about #3 on the “World’s most livable city” list, but we want to be #1. Obviously, the way to do that is to look at all of the things that currently make Auckland such a nice place to live, and then eliminate them.

  • Rebecca

    The flaw I see:

    “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.”

    Why? How does it help Remuera citizens for the city to grow? What do they get in exchange for this burden that is presented as a moral obligation?

    Sometimes it seems that “experts” believe that ciy growth is an uncontrolled force of nature resulting in burdens for everybody. What nonsense. The city’s primary obligation should be to those who built and paid for it- meaning current Aucklanders. Perhaps there should be a vote on whether citizens and ratepayers actually want this sort of growth and the “burdens” assigned in such a cavalier fashion.

    • SlightlyStrange

      The one thing they might get is lower-paid workers still being willing to work in their immediate vicinity. I can see a lot of people in those low to mid paid jobs (cleaners, café staff, teachers etc) opting to work closer to home when they can get the work there (and chances are they can).

  • andrewo

    Come back in 50 years and assuming development continues normally, Auckland will be a strung out conurbation from Whangarei to Huntly with dispersed areas for housing, work and leisure. It makes no sense to try and significantly compact a city on a land bridge and it simply won’t happen.
    The city as it stands can accommodate some high rise and we should do that, but not vast acres of 3 storey apartments: Go ten storeys plus in carefully selected areas to keep the costs of additional underground infrastructure down.

  • Mine it,Drill it,Sell it.

    Below is the Mission Statement from the web-site of CORT.I think Mr Jeffries and his Cohorts can take a trip to North Korea and stay there.

    Safe, quality, affordable accommodation for people in greatest need

    CORT Community Housing’s vision statement ‘
    Good homes for all’ reflects our aim of contributing to meeting a basic human
    need. Everyone needs a decent place to live, a place they can afford, a
    place in which they feel secure and a place which they can call home.

    For some people, finding and maintaining that place can be a
    struggle. CORT’s major focus is to support these people with high
    housing need by providing quality, safe, affordable and secure rental
    accommodation, together with the appropriate support services. We work
    in partnership with families, friends, neighbours, private landlords,
    community groups, government agencies and supportive businesses.

  • Doc45

    Is this too simplistic?? Shouldn’t the council work out the cost of infrastructure in any given locality and transparently price that into the resource applications and rates for that area. Then sit back and let the market decide where the houses should go??

    As for areas ready for development just charge rates up till it becomes available. When the cost of rates exceeds the return from sitting on it the land will be developed.

    This way housing could go to the most appropriate areas – inside the city boundary or outside. At the moment too many socialist bureaucrats and do gooders want to control things.

    Or is that too easy??

  • Oh Please

    Classic socialist claptrap, bring everyone down to the same level. You live in a nice neighbourhood? Tough, we are going to mess it up. Thanks Len, you are achieving your aim of making the rest of the Auckland region be like Manukau.