Penny Hulse blaming everyone but the Council


Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse has come out to blame everyone else for not delivering houses in Auckland.

No, it’s not Auckland Council’s fault. No. No. No. (Squeeze eyes shut and throw tantrum.)

Whilst her comment is typical of the Council,?it is also out of touch – and off-the-planet wrong. She really doesn’t know what she is talking about – and she shows it.

The Property Industry is filled with people who are quick to smell a buck and seize the opportunity to make hay. If the industry isn’t producing more it’s because it can’t. There are things in the way of it.

Penny says that there is plenty of infrastructure-enabled land. That’s a cheap parlour trick because what she means is zoned land within the city: land zoned for apartments and terrace housing, in accordance with their dumb compact city.

The problem with zoned land is that most of it has improvements on it: buildings and houses. Businesses occupy those buildings and they have tenure and don’t want to move. Many businesses own their own buildings.

People live in their homes and don’t want to move. They quite like it. They have made more than a few bucks owning the home and are not commercially minded to sell for a buck to a developer. Besides, where do they go?

And where do all those businesses move too? ?

What if the occupants of houses and businesses want and need to be in the places that Council think should be smashed over and redeveloped?

Places like Onehunga and New Lynn, filled with old commercial buildings and small business and zoned for redevelopment into high rise. But where do those people and businesses go? For the same price? In the same area so they can get to the same customers, schools and work places?

The truth is that they have nowhere to go, and no reason to either. So, the status quo will continue.

It’s dumb to suggest that zoned land is available and ready to develop.

But even if zoned land can be obtained with free tenure – not all of it is ‘infrastructure enabled’.

Ask a property developer. Most of the local pipes are rooted and need replacing too. A simple street pipe that needs replacing might cost $200,000 and ruin the financial viability of a project.

And the SHAs? Merely tranching for an SHA is meaningless. Most of the SHA land is infrastructure constrained by Council who control when the pipes get built even if the developers will pay for them.

Go read the FULSS (Future Urban Land Supply Strategy) on the Council website. That plan deliberately holds back and plans when SHA land will be supplied infrastructure. Some land won’t get it for 30 years.

In New Lynn, a Council SHA on the former brickworks site of Clinker Place has been SHA enabled and vacant for over 3 years. Developers have come and gone. Some selling product but giving up. Others deciding it is too hard. Why isn’t it developed? Because Auckland Council needs to build a storm water pipe from that land to the Whau Creek at a cost of $4.5 million. It has to run the pipe through a neighbouring Placemakers’ site, at great disruption, and down a street it ripped up for new pipes 5 years earlier.

They’ve got the money and the plans but can’t get themselves organised to build it, meaning the land is unable to be developed.

And that’s one of many examples I have, saved up for election time.

There are sites all over and around Auckland that can’t be developed.

Because displacing businesses and people is virtually impossible.

Because zoned land is meaningless if it has crap infrastructure, is in the wrong place or is better off with its existing use.

Because Council have cocked it up.

It’s easy for Council and half-baked politicians like Penny Hulse to point to land that is zoned or SHA-ready and blame someone in construction for the land not being developed.

But the fact is, most of it can’t be developed.

The reality is that Council also haven’t woken up to the single fact that, just because it can blow lots of money on pretty plans and zoning for a compact city, doesn’t mean that anything will change.

When Penny says that the city isn’t building enough homes she means apartments on land that Council hopes will be developed in accordance with its stupid compact city plan.

Council foolishly thought its compact city plan would just happen. And they are wrong. It won’t.

So Council and Penny should stop blaming other people and take a look in the mirror. They created this mess. It is their fault.