Have infrastructure lines companies becoming bullies and price gougers?

Infrastructure lines companies are becoming a right menace to property developers and owners around Auckland and the Government needs to pay attention.

I’m reliably informed of a variety of situations that are causing grief but two main issues arise constantly, with landowners powerless to do much about it because the law is an arse.

Issue #1:

Telecoms and power companies have the legal right to install lines in the road reserve. More often than not they have no strategic plan for where cabinets and poles should be located.

Property owner comes along with a development and for one reason or another might require an adjustment to the infrastructure location. That’s dealt with under legislation that requires the entity wanting the equipment moved to?pay for it to happen.

The problem is, at what cost? Developers and ordinary property owners across Auckland are complaining that the costs are extortionate and made up.

One Auckland developer told of receiving a price to relocate a chorus cabinet a distance of 1m for $78,000. When the developer decided not to bother – opting for changes to the development – Chorus came back with a new price of $16,000. That’s a $52,000 difference! An amazing difference? Or an absurdly expensive rort? This carry on is happening everywhere.

The problem comes down to cost. Sure infrastructure providers can’t guess where to place equipment but when they have to move it, do they need to be robbers dogs and grossly overcharge? ?? Read more »

Here’s why Auckland has a housing crisis

Nick Smith can’t work it out, probably because he keeps asking Len Brown and Penny Hulse for solutions.

But here is why Auckland has a housing crisis.

Auckland is a city.? Auckland has a centre, inner suburbs, outer suburbs (which contain the peripheral and hubs of Manukau, Waitakere and Takapuna) and eventually an extremity of its suburban development.? This extremity of its suburban development is called the Metro Urban Limit (MUL).? Outside of the MUL are some low density Auckland exurb towns.

Auckland was a growing city expanding upwards more and outwards less. Then we merged the governance of Auckland and all its surrounding areas to form a Super City.? Elections were held – Len Brown became mayor, along with Penny Hulse as deputy mayor.? After the merger the whole of Australasia entered a construction boom with a multitude of apartments being built everywhere – except Auckland.

Why? ?? Read more »

Auckland running out of property and not one mayoral candidate has a solution


Now that Auckland Council have shot themselves in the foot with a spectacular clusterstuffup of the Unitary Plan things are going to spiral out of control.

Auckland has never had enough property to meet demand, which is why lots of people competing for scarce supply will cause values to rise.

There have been plenty of migrants arriving; by some estimates 65,000 people, which requires Auckland to build between 15,000 and 20,000 homes a year. Auckland house builds, however, are struggling to hit 12,000 and are mostly below 8,000 per annum.

Auckland Council have totally made a meal of it. They should have released more greenfield land. ? Read more »

Who does Auckland Council think they are kidding?


Auckland Council’s own property developer – Panuku Development – is intending to ‘lead development’ with transformations of parts of Auckland starting with Onehunga and and the Manukau CBD.

Forgive me for rolling off my chair with laughter. So humorous is this proposition and at the same time – infinitely arrogant.

For a start, Auckland Council staff at Panuku have got to be kidding if they think they are leaders.

Let’s be clear – the organisation is mostly staffed by once upon a time has-been development and property managers along with a ratty assortment of consultants-cum-experts in everything. They are leader fodder in the same way that Kim Jong-un is world leader material.

They couldn’t smuggle snow into Antarctica let alone coordinate and lead an industry to transform suburbs.

The sheer scale of the supreme arrogance of Council and Panuku Development knows no bounds.

Some people might think they have the right stuff. I disagree. And I have proof. ? Read more »

The war between Auckland Council and the Government

A general view of newly-built houses at Dadun village of Lingshui ethnic Li autonomous county

There is no doubt that a silent war is raging between Auckland Council and the Government.

Auckland Council wants to plan itself as a utopian paradise of compact living with ticky-tacky shoebox apartments, choo choo trains and gold plated pavements.

The Government wants affordable houses and lots of them.

The trouble is that the two ideas clash.

A compact city is a very hard thing to achieve. Changing existing buildings and houses through development requires far more than just planning and pretty pictures by urban design unicorns to achieve it. It requires the economics to work for developers, lots of time and it requires a fundamental shift in the cultural aspirations of the residents from houses, backyards and swimming pools to apartment living.

The reality is that change is painfully slow. Thus Council is trying to force change with city limits that stop growth. They believe that if they reduce the available stock of housing then people will eventually be frustrated and will opt for apartments.

It’s a gamble that hasn’t worked yet and has created a boiling pot of competition for the limited houses that exist which has ramped up house prices massively. Housing stock has increased four fold in less than 15 years.

Everyone can see it, including the Government. So they instigated the Housing Accord to release more land for houses – principally greenfield.

The Council hated that idea but nodded and smiled and went along with it – tranched land all over the city. But they had no intentions on letting it succeed and quietly reduced infrastructure budgets so that, come consent time, they could say to developers that they will have to wait 10 years to be connected to the pipe networks. Developers are frustrated and unable to do anything.

In the meantime the Council has continued with its compact city planning. Not once has it resiled from its plans. Consultants for Council have worked very hard to prove it can be achieved, although they are failing to convince the Independent Hearings Panel.

The Government could step in, but they fear it will rise into a big fight and eventually result in it having to foot the bill for pipes. But the Government also created the beast of Auckland Council and stepping in means it has to admit it got it wrong amalgamating the existing councils.

And so the war is in stalemate.

And house prices are on?track to rise due to a lack of stock. I note that the rise in houses prices is precisely that – house prices. That’s where people want to be. Culturally the tie to houses is as strong as ever.

Auckland Council has created a nightmare based on utopian nonsense. The top brass don’t like being told what to do and think they know best. And they are going to do everything to screw the scrum to get their own way.

And the Government isn’t willing to meddle.

If you ask me the Council is winning the war, but not for the better good of NZ Inc. And the Government is only window dressing the issue.

The Government have stuffed up. They shouldn’t have amalgamated the super city without reducing their powers and functions. Clearly the fault has to lay with the Government for the mess because it all could have been predicted.

How can the Government make Auckland Council release land?

I wrote?earlier that the Productivity Commission have completed their report into housing affordability and again the finger of blame for rising houses is pointed squarely at Councils for very bad city planning rules.

The Government now has the mandate to step in and do more.

The issue is Auckland.

And in Auckland the issue is the drive by city planners and local politicians to draw city limits around Auckland and force the city to be compacted. As a planning tool it just doesn’t work and has been directly responsible for rising house prices.

The Auckland Council planners and politicians have clearly got it wrong. Trying to force the city to intensify hasn’t worked at all. Apartments are not affordable and are too small.

Regulation does nothing except make things too expensive.

So what should the Government do? ?? Read more »

Panuku? Really?

Auckland Council brass don’t need to do much to underline why they are dead set useless. Just name their newly formed and merged agency that will deal with property developers and attempt to do deals for surplus Council land.

A Maori word has been added to the name of a development agency for the Super City at the eleventh hour.

Development Auckland, a council-controlled organisation starting business today, has been renamed Panuku Development Auckland.

Panuku means to “move on” or “move forward” and conveys the concept of dynamism and building towards excellence, said a press release.

“It has been likened to the motion of a waka that requires skill to navigate and teamwork to propel,” the release said.

Howick councillor Dick Quax said he had no idea what panuku meant and neither would the vast majority of Aucklanders.

“There has been no input from councillors and council – the sole shareholder of the new development company.

“Other council-controlled organisations (CCOs) describe in plain language what the core function is – Watercare, Auckland Transport, Waterfront Auckland, Auckland Council Property Limited (ACPL).

“The majority of Auckland people will have no clue what this CCO’s functions are from its name,” said Mr Quax.

Panuku Development Auckland is a merger of Waterfront Auckland and ACPL.

Read more »

?Auckland Ratepayers will pay for the compact city not developers

Auckland Council is in meltdown. The pressure is now coming on from all quarters and there has virtually been nobody in support of Len Brown or Auckland Council for some time. The mainstream media is now calling the Auckland Council a disaster and lead commentators are saying that the amalgamation is now looming as a national economic crisis in the making.

The spending at Council is recklessly out of control and ratepayers are viewed as a bottomless pit. Increasing staff numbers, grandiose plans for tunnels and ballooning debt are just the beginning of the troubles. Now with excessive rate rises it is becoming hard to see how this is going to get better. Last week the Auditor General Lyn Provost reported that Auckland Council’s consent charges are vastly more expensive than any other Council and consents take much longer to process. It’s a total mess.

Then there is the Housing Accord in tatters. Auckland Council is abandoning greenfield Special Housing Areas to protect its compact city dreams but foolishly has said that the costs of sprawl are too much of a burden on ratepayers so it intends to focus on brownfield developments (intensification in the city) as a preference. They say that is cheaper. The problem with that is it is a bold-faced lie.

Most of Auckland’s existing infrastructure – the pipes in particular – were only ever built to service the capacity of the houses that are there now. It is widely known that capacity in the existing pipes around in Auckland is therefore limited. So the pipes are going to have to be upgraded if you cater for growth, although most are due for replacement anyway.

And here is the catch. The cost of putting in the new replacement pipes with larger capacity to cater for intensification – won’t be paid for by property developers. The reason why is that growth is only a small percentage of the pipe capacity and by law the developers can only be charged by Council for the portion of the pipe that relates to growth. You see the LGA sets out how a Council can apportion the costs equitably and it clearly directs that existing users bear the cost of maintenance and replacement of the existing pipes. The developers only pay for the cost to expand pipes to cater for the growth % of use that will add to the pipe system That cost is very small. ?? Read more »

Auckland Council appears to have broken the law. Again.

Auckland Council looks increasingly to have breached the law under the HARSHA legislation.

Lately property developers have been log jammed by Auckland Council on Special Housing Area consents. They simply aren’t getting them.

Auckland Council cannot provide the infrastructure links to enable the SHA subdivisions to be built.

Council will say that it cannot provide the infrastructure, because it has not the money and must plan their expenditure and the connections over time.

But that would mean that Auckland Council breached the law and it ignored it’s duties. A requirement of the Special Housing Area legislation – HARSHA – was a requirement that Council identify and tranche only the land that can be connected to infrastructure.

So which one is it? That it could be connected but now Council doesn’t want it to be? Or it couldn’t and they have realised that they stuffed up?

Here is where it gets tricky. To fulfil the obligations of the HARSHA legislation – Auckland Council was required to consent around 39,000 new dwellings within a three year period. To provide the consents all the subdivisions and projects concerned must have resolved their infrastructure issues. Thus, the consents can only be given IF Auckland Council provides the infrastructure. ?? Read more »

Auckland Council have suspended greenfield consent processing

Auckland Council has suspended all greenfield Special Housing Area (SHA) consent processing.

In a secret confidential meeting on April 16th the Auckland Development Committee (ADC) suspended any further processing of new greenfield SHA applications until the release and adoption of the FULSS (Future Urban Land Supply Strategy).

The Future Urban Land Supply Strategy is a universally unpopular control choke that Auckland Council has proposed as part of the Unitary Plan. So dumb and loathed was the idea that even the Independent Hearings Panel – chaired by Environment Court Judge David Kirkpatrick – released a decision slating the idea, raising it as unlawful and recommending that Council drop it ASAP.

But we all know that Auckland Council listens to nobody and does their own thing. So it is hardly a surprise that they have thumbed their nose at the Panel and the wider community. ? Read more »