Auckland Council getting their beans from all sides now…except Phil Goff

Labour have called Auckland Council’s housing plan deluded:

Labour says Auckland Council is deluded, after it said its metropolitan urban limit wasn’t holding up development of new housing.

“I think [Auckland Council is] utterly out of touch,” says Labour’s Phil Twyford.

“If they think that the current status quo is working they are absolutely deluded.”

A rare alliance between Labour and National saw the council backed into a corner, but today the council came out fighting.

“We feel there’s quite a lot of misinformation out there,” says Auckland Council’s Penny Wright.

Much of the debate is around freeing up land for new housing.

The council rejects the idea it’s kept a tight grip on the Metropolitan Urban Limit — essentially a ring around Auckland dictating where housing is built.

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Government to go feral on Auckland Council, at last

Finally, the government is talking of going feral on Auckland Council.

The blame game between central and local government over the housing crisis is getting personal.

Housing Minister Nick Smith has attacked an Auckland Councillor, calling him a “Nimby” for blocking a housing development.

A corner in Herne Bay is a small battlefield in the war between the Government and Auckland Council over how to speed up housing supply. The Government wants 70 apartments built there, but Auckland Councillor Mike Lee is trying to stop it, and that’s got Dr Smith angry.

“Mike Lee is guilty of Nimbyism,” said Dr Smith.

The Government has designated the site of the old Gables pub a “special housing area”. That allows for fast-tracked development, with between four to seven of the apartments “affordable housing”. It’s about getting more housing into inner-Auckland’s “urban intensification”. ? Read more »

So, why does the property industry hate the compact city?


The property industry hates Auckland’s compact city dream. The loathing is substantial.

There are a few players who like the compact city idea – but those people have more to gain from restricted supply that boosts the value and demand for their investments.

And there are the gravy train troughers who sit on committees and feel important and cherished. They like the idea too. But they are mostly consultants.

The rest of the property industry thinks the compact city sucks. It’s like dog poo on their shoes.

Partly the loathing is universally influenced by the seething hatred that the property industry has for planners and the processing hoards of hairy-foot hobbits in the Council organisation. These meddlers and haters of the world cause mayhem and angst 24/7 for the property industry with slow processing, crap decisions and constant niggle.

But the compact city is the incongruous icing on the cake. ? Read more »

Council Economist tells it like it is

So, Auckland Council’s own Chief Economist gets it but the rest of Council is going to continue to act like a bunch of stubborn old stooges, and stick with the impossible dream of a building a compact city.

Auckland Council’s plans for higher density housing cannot succeed unless the city also expands further into the countryside, says the council’s chief economist.

Chris Parker said the only way to contain Auckland’s runaway house inflation – up $70,000 last month to $820,000 on a median price house – was to open up more rural land to relieve price pressure on a “dysfunctional” urban land market.

The council’s flagship compact city plan, based on more people living in apartments, terraced houses and townhouses within city limits, was necessary but unable to work by itself.

“Intensification won’t do it – not alone, it’s got to be part of a package,” Mr Parker told the Herald in an interview for the Home Truths series.

“Intensification increases the opportunities for what can be done on each piece of land and it increases the value of land underneath. The hope is that you can spread more houses on top of it, but the problem is we’re in a race we can’t win. ? Read more »

How will Watercare support intestification when their network is stretched already?

Watercare have now only got just over 10% capacity remaining in their existing network.

With Watercare stating that they have approx 435,000 connections and an estimated 45,000 connection capacity remaining they’ve basically signalled that their networks cannot service the city.

The booming population is affecting housing, traffic as well as something a little less noticeable ? water.

Two future water pipelines are likely to be installed to cope with the massive population growth in west and north Auckland.

Watercare is lodging applications to secure the routes for the pipelines that will run across the Upper Harbour area. ?? 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 »

Why intensification of Auckland is a dream


Planners are taught at university that intensification is good and low density is bad, despite no evidence to support it.

Most planning ideology stems from Europe, which has contextual issues and history that determine its urban shape and form.

For example, Europe is made up of a billion people living in a land mass smaller than Australia where small, dense villages developed into closely located big cities before the advent of the car. Most of Europe has been defined by classes, with the poor classes forced to live in small, intensive conditions whilst wealth and aristocracy enjoyed the open space and vast land holdings. Separation of the classes defines the intensive form of London, for example.

Auckland Council is besotted with intensification. They see European cities with trains and a particular lifestyle and believe that it is the pinnacle of city planning.

At the same time the planners hate cities like those in the USA, which is a young country that developed spatially because of the influence of the motor car.

The urban form of the USA is modern. It is without class and everyone has access to quality homes with private space. It does also have intensification.

Despite the hyperbole from planners that the modern spread city is bad, the USA is the only super power in the world with unmatched economic success and quality of life. It’s genuinely hard to argue that quality of life could be improved. Americans live the dream.

The point is that context is critical. Every place needs to be planned with a firm eye on the localised context, and not comparative to places in other parts of the world.

Auckland Council hasn’t bothered to understand the context of Auckland. Despite that Auckland, until recent times, was contextually a medium-density city dominated by stand-alone houses (that’s the character of it). The planners want that uprooted and changed to replicate the ideologies of Europe.

Auckland is also tiny. It’s the 180th largest city in the world covering 530 sq km compared to, for example, Tokyo and New York metro at over 8,500 sq km. It doesn’t need change.

There is also a significant hurdle for Auckland Council to overcome: there has never been any evidence of wholesale change of a city and its character around the world. Bits of cities change and in a piecemeal fashion. But wholesale change?

Apart from natural disasters and the passage of hundreds of years, the planet provides no examples of the extent of development sought by Auckland Council. Zip, nada, zilch.


Cities that have intensified have almost always done so on vacant land within their limits rather than by demolition of existing buildings to make way for newer more intensive buildings. Take a drive around Sydney, for example, and you will notice it has vast tracts of vacant land for redevelopment.

Auckland is different. Every parcel of land has a use on it: residential homes and commercial businesses. Council is powerless to make those activities change to something different. They can’t make commercial tenants in a building leave. They can’t make residents sell up, let alone sell specifically to a property developer. They can’t make investors develop. They can’t make anything happen at all.

Auckland Council believes that zoning the city for more intensive activities will result in change. Yet, in Auckland, the examples of where it happens are piecemeal. Nowhere do we see wholesale change of suburbs. Some Auckland zoned suburbs have barely changed at all. So, already evidence exists that demonstrates the vision has no follow through.

The people of Auckland have a better idea of what the context of Auckland is. This week’s revolt by residents opposed to change indicates that a strong preference to maintain the existing character of Auckland is preferred.? What is evident is that residents understand the importance of the culture and character of Auckland better than the Council does, and we show it in our choices for dwellings: houses, houses, houses.

Auckland Council planners are nuts. They believe in a ideological city that reflects a way of life that doesn’t suit New Zealand or a modern era. They have also failed to demonstrate how it will ever convert to the vision.

That brings me to the point – it’s all a pipe dream. Theory. Ambition. Wafty utopian ideas and nothing more. It’s the sort of thing we expect from 7-year-old kids doing a classroom exercise on “What would your ultimate city look like?” It’s not realistic.

There is no consideration of how we live, just a determined drive to change how we live; a desperate attempt to force Auckanders to live like Europeans even if they don’t want it.

Auckland Council needs to wake up and smell the coffee. The world is not a blank canvas without restriction. It’s random, indifferent and there is no link between the dreams and the delivery unless you do it yourself.

Controversial intensification maps MIA


Auckland Council is as dodgy as a 20-day-old uncooked chicken.

We all know it has been playing silly buggers on the planning of Auckland – even managing to outsmart Nick Smith with the Special Housing Areas by giving out SHA status to anyone who wanted it, only to stiff them later by refusing to connect sewer and potable water pipes to their new subdivisions. Seen any new subdivisions lately?

Nowadays the Unitary Plan – the rule book for Auckland – is its focus and it is sharply?focused on getting its compact city. ? Read more »

Council digs in on intensification

Auckland Council just won’t give in.

It’s desperate times at Auckland Council. They are desperate because the Compact City dream they have held for years is on the brink of being lost to greenfield expansion.

Unitary Plan submitters have Council on the ropes. The evidence prepared by Council to support the Compact City is rubbish and the Independent Hearings Panel well and truly buys the truth that there is no way Council’s dreams can turn to reality.

The only option is to release more land in greenfield locations. But no, Council is so desperate they would rather zone most of the city for high rise apartments than concede defeat.

The poshest and poorest neighbourhoods in Auckland will be rezoned for more housing and apartments, confidential documents and maps obtained by the Heraldshow.

Some of Takapuna’s most prized streets could lose single house, tree and garden status. Housing density along Lake Rd, one of the city’s worst bottlenecks, will more than double in places.

Many of South Auckland’s poorest suburbs are also set to house more people. Intensive terraced housing and apartment blocks of four to six storeys are planned for Otara, Mangere, Manurewa and Clendon Park.

The full extent of the changes, marked “confidential” and “legally privileged”, were discussed by councillors on the Unitary Plan committee behind closed doors on Tuesday.

They represent the council’s latest position on the Unitary Plan for the North Shore, Rodney, the eastern suburbs of Howick and Pakuranga and South Auckland.

The Herald has not seen the zoning changes for the central isthmus and West Auckland, approved by the Unitary Plan committee on November 10.

This week, the Herald reported senior council planner John Duguid saying tens of thousands of suburban homes in Auckland would probably be rezoned from the single house zone for multiple townhouses and apartments.

Mr Duguid said the rezoning was part of the Unitary Plan process and the council would not notify individual homeowners of the changes. Maps showing the zone changes will be made public next month.

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