Bill English tells Auckland's anti-sprawl NIMBYs who won't allow growth 'to go up' to at least allow growth to 'go out'; eyes big state house reforms

By Bernard Hickey

Finance Minister Bill English took a swipe at those Aucklanders who opposed more intensive housing developments close to the city to stop campaigning against 'sprawl', arguing their NIMBYism was a major contributor to Auckland's unaffordable housing and the resulting pressure on interest rates and the exchange rate.

English was speaking at an Auckland Chamber of Commerce and Massey University luncheon event where he announced details of the Government's float of Genesis Energy shares.

He was asked by a luncheon guest why the Government's support for the Inner City Rail Loop was only conditional and what it was doing to prevent sprawl. English repeated the Prime Minister's comments about the Government needing Auckland City to meet jobs growth and population growth targets for it to secure the Government's support for building the loop before 2020.

"Both of those in the census (jobs and population growth) have turned out to be a bit lower than expected," he said, adding it would not be a panacea anyway for Auckland's traffic congestion problems. "It's a big expensive project so we've got to be careful," he said.

English then turned to the issue of urban sprawl.

"With respect to so-called urban sprawl, I think that's a nonsense. If you're against urban sprawl and that means lower to middle income Kiwis can't buy a house and you can't build an apartment in the middle of Auckland for less than NZ$600,000, then that's too high a price to pay. And if it means driving up house prices in a way that wrecks the economy then that's too high a price to pay," he said.

"Funnily enough the people who are most worried about urban sprawl live in the middle of the city. They don't get to see it. How much time to they really spend out the end of the Western motorway or Botany? None actually. They think you should be able to walk to the countryside. Well...welcome to Gore. If you're really mad, that's where you should go. But they don't. They stay in Auckland Central," he said to laughter from the audience.

"What's actually happened is that the local authorities were keen for a denser city, but the inhabitants weren't, so they've jettisoned a fair bit of the densification aspect," he said.

"So if Auckland wants to grow now, it has to grow out because you don't want it to grow up. Now that's a fair choice, but please don't stop it from growing out as well, otherwise we'll get another few years of 15% house price growth and you get a real mess when it crashes," he said, adding the special housing areas agreed under the Housing Accord with the Auckland Council "do spread the city because the planning rules don't let you do anything else."

"We're indifferent as a government as to whether you grow up or out. But you said don't grow up, so we expect to help you grow out."

English said people making planning decisions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch needed to understand they were making decisions about New Zealand's largest asset class, where the decisions they make affect the whole economy, not just your neighbourhood.

"Of course there's tension there, but we are pretty determined to turn ourselves into an affordable housing market," he said.

"There's no obvious reason why little old New Zealand should be one of the most expensive housing markets in the developed world. It really puts pressure on our households. It's one of the reasons why we have interest free student loans, working for families, subsidised early childhood care and savings are low," he said.

High mortgage costs were a reason why the Government provided payments supplementing incomes costing billions, "and a lot of that is driven by planning decisions in this city."

State housing

Earlier in English's prepared speech he reiterated the Government's plans to to reform Housing New Zealand by selling housing stock that was in the wrong areas or the wrong quality and building elsewhere in parternship with social housing community groups. He suggested this process of restructuring social housing could also help increase supply of more affordable and denser housing.

He said about a third of the Government's NZ$17 billion of state housing was in the wrong place or was the wrong size.

"In housing and other areas we will continue recycling taxpayer assets to free up money for reinvestment in areas where there is genuine demand," he said.

Later in the questions and answer session with the audience, he expanded on the plans.

"We actually don't need to own all those houses to help those people who need help,"he said, referring to the Government's partnership with the likes of the Salvation Army, the New Zealand Housing Foundation and IHC's Idea Services.

English said the Goverment wanted to assess a family's need for housing in an area close to jobs and schools, which was difficult to do with its existing stock of 60,000 to 70,000 houses. "You've got to stick them in a house that's empty," he said.

"That will mean growing the non-Housing Corp social sector and redeveloping the Housing Corp assets."

English said there were big tracts of Auckland such as Mt Roskill and Tamaki where "there's endless potential for supplying medium housing to the Auckland housing market if we redevelop those areas."

"But our top priority is to meet the needs of the people in the houses first, and then redevelop what we don't need in order to supply the market better, and there could be a lot of that happen."

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment or click on the "Register" link below a comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current Comment policy is here.


Some usefull insight into Sprawl Central here

Auckland should use a CARROT AND STICK approach to free up the land supply backlog 
If a piece of land is subdivied and not developed and built on  for say 2 years , then the land banker should be subject to a 3x annual land tax ( Rates should be increased  300%  )
And to encourage subdivision , there should a reduced Council fee "window " until 2017 to encourage land to be freed up and new subdivisions created and brought on stream
These two measures  will free up thousands of sections and sort out the immediate problem

The the way Bill English frames the sprawl debate he carefully avoids the government responsibilty. But the simple fact is that housing and transport are linked. As me and Kumbel discussed earlier in the day here and was debated in transportblog here. Transport is funded by Central government and the the 'where and what' of it is decided by NZTA or more explicitly by CG with the RoNS.
Currently NZer's are given the choice of affordable car, road centric "sprawl" or unaffordable UGB, denser mix of road and public transport centric "liveable" city.
What we are not being offered is affordable and liveable. But as indicated by the transportblog discussion affordable and liveable many of us want affordable or liveable or ideally both.
Something like 70% of kiwis want affordable housing. But local government elections in places like Auckland and Christchurch have gone to the Left promising the liveable options of bike or public transport centric development.  
So the voters are being difficult and want it all. The politicians who can square this difficult circle in my opinion will do well.

Sorry that middle paragraph sentence should have been....
"But as indicated by the transportblog discussion some argue strongly for affordability, some argue strongly for liveability and a few argue for both."

The Clueless Councils must bear a majority of the blame for unaffordable housing.  Bill E has rightfully fingered them. 
A small litany of Councils' lack of economic nous: 

  • restrict land supply against a rising demand via zoning, MUL's, RUB's and other squiggles on maps, thus causing ECON101 price rises
  • as the first side effect, handing a luvverly CG to a selected lucky few landowners inside said squiggle.  Less commssions to the squigglers, natch.
  • as the second side effect, watching as that vastly increased land price for undeveloped land inside the squiggle instantly transmits itself across all comparable developed land plots in the adjacent market, thus multiplying the initial if localised CG thinly but evenly across that entire market over time.
  • as the third side effect, handing banks and financiers a vastly increased interest revenue stream, as eager or desperate buyers borrow to buy said plots (existing or new, with or without house) at a now higher price
  • effectively lock out new entrants to the housing market by thus raising the price floor against relatively static incomes
  • effectively transfer development to the many thousands of lifestyle blocks outside the MUL/RUB or other squiggle on a map
  • levy fees, contributions and other costs upon any and all attempts to develop the land or densify existing properties - without realising that by raising input costs, output prices must also rise, and transmit through the entire market much as per land prices do
  • add multiple cost layers to any attempt to develop, densify or otherwise improve properties in a way which attracts a resource consent (a sampling: pre-application consult, require engineers/surveyors/feng shui consultations, inject time (=money) into processes, impose conditions during the process)
  • display a breathtaking ignorance of such basic economic fundamentals as supply and demand, or the time value of money

The sad result is that Councils make decisions, plans, policies and processes which (what else) ignore economic fundamentals, and thus foobar or at the least, sub-optimise, large parts of our economy.
And the really sad part?
If any of 'em - Any - are tackled on any of this, they simply do not believe it.  Or, acknowledge that there's an egg/omelette deal goin' down, but that it's All For Our Own Good.
C S Lewis had the best quote about this sorta thang: from  the 'Screwtape Letters':
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

I think the general public baulks at the solution that is attached to the above analysis. That is US style car/road reliant splatter sprawl. Now I would be ok with it if it meant affordable housing. It would be better than what we have now. But I can understand that some people want a choice. They aspire to live in a European style walking, biking and public transport friendly environment.
So another way of characterising the unaffordable housing debate is it is a kind of US/European culture war.
Not all of Europe is unaffordable, green belts are a British thing and some countries have citizens 'right to build' constitutions. Germany has mostly escaped the many housing booms that has plagued Britain. But the country does not look like the US, there are areas that are bike, walking and public transport centric. There are places like Vauban.
So it can be done. But it seems to take more resourced local government, something Bill English our central governments finance minister will not consider.

Christchurch could provide affordable housing by developing a new town. The numbers are quite clear. Family homes could be built for under $350K, a saving of $150K compared to the current new homes in Canterbury. Athough the transport links would have many benefits to new and existing Cantabrians, they would need significant public funding. If it was done to European standard like Houten, even more.

... Brendon , great minds thinks alike ... the Gummster has been championing the idea of a new town on the north bank of the Waimak River ( " Eyrewell Forest " ) for years , and a new bridge to link Oxford and the new town to cross near Harewood ...
Good on yer , mate !

It's 4km south of the centre of Freiburg.
In auckland we would call that an inner suburb.  In Germany where things are less sprawly, they call it a satelite town.
Berlin with a population of 3.4Million is also much much much more PT, walking, cycling friendly than auckland.  You don't have to be small to make towns livable, you just have to re-prioritise spending away from urban motorways.


ZZ, sorry again to resort to facts rather than wild exaggerations but here are the numbers:
- Houston, 4644km2, 1100people/km2
- Melbourne, 2543km2, 1500 people/km2
- Auckland, 544km2, 2400 people/km2
- Berlin, 1347km2, 2900 people/km2
Auckland is also higher density than all the Australian cities, New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, Lyon, Marseille,

Better comparisons for Auckland:
- Copenhagen 1.18m, 453km2, 2700 people/km2
- Helsinki 1.12m, 492km2, 2400 people/km2
- Munich, 1.36m, 466km2, 2900 people/km2
- Dublin, 1.14m, 453km2, 2500 people/km2
- Amsetrdam, 1.05m, 474km2, 2500 people/km2


For a meaningful comparison of density, you need to use urban area otherwise you are including farms/forests/lakes surrounding the city. The greater area is only an administrative district. For Auckland, the greater area of 1086km2 includes 277km2 of the Waitekere Ranges and 38km2 of Rangitoto. For Houston for which Wiki says 26060km2 there is 2930km2 of water (this is nearly 3x Auckland's area). Good luck making meaningful comparisons between these.
My data is from from which defines urban area as "An urban area (urbanized area agglomeration or urban centre) is a continuously built up land mass of urban development that is within a labor market (metropolitan area or metropolitan region)."
The distance from the CBD to the fringe in the west (Melton) and east (Silvan Reservoir) is less than 40 km and in the north (Craigieburn) around 30 km. While Pakenham in the south-east is 55 km from the centre and parts of the Peninsula even further, Melbourne does not sprawl “100 km in all directions”.
Auckland to Huntly is 95km

I have lost track what were you arguing about?

You have to draw a line somewhere otherwise, auckland is just a suburb of Melbourne.
" "An urban area (urbanized area agglomeration or urban centre) is a continuously built up land mass of urban development that is within a labor market (metropolitan area or metropolitan region)."" 
Sounds reasonable to me.
Are you saying that you can only compare density between cities that occupy the same landmass?

"Remember the lines drawn is artificial."  It's not artificial, it where the city physically ends.
You comparison is totally artificial, it's not apples to apples.
A circle the size of Melbourne drawn around Auckland is not comparable to Melbourne.  If you live in that space in Melbourne, you have access to city infrastructure, motorways across the city, fast rail and tram lines, libraries, swimming pools.  If you live in the countryside in auckland you don't have access to such facilities.  Of course it is cheaper to live in the countryside.

If you go to the above link to wiki Vauban has 5000 residents.  
Houten the satelite town has a population of nearly 40,000 and it is a satelite of Utrecht which is about the same population of Christchurch.
These were intended as solutions to the Christchurch housing problems. They were just examples of the sort of thing that could be done. If you go to the transportblog link above you will see there is no one silver bullet.
I suggested for Auckland a new satelite city -say between Papakura and Clark's Beach with all the transport links, high and low density areas, parks etc. zoned and planned for. With approximate time frames for the building of said transport infrastructure, based on various population growth models. This approach would then give a free to build anywhere right in this whole large area. This should bring prices down as land owners and developers compete against each other.
I think this would give the combination of 'liveability' and 'affordability' that people want.
I would suggest this is only possible if significant resources were transfered down to local government so they can provide the promised infrastructure.
It seems to me that not only should housing be provide elastically but so should the infrastructure that goes with it.

Um, ya needs to be a Local to figger out that That's exactly what has happened. 

  • Selwyn DC has Rolleston, Darfield, Weedons,Lincoln.  All booming.
  • Waimak DC has Kaiapoi, Rangiora, Oxford/Eyre.  All booming.
  • Hurunui DC has Leithfiled, Amberley.  All booming.
  • Ashburton DC has...AshVegas.  Booming.

And their secret?

  • Low or zero development taxes compared to Christchurch City
  • Low rates cf CCC
  • Quick, engaged consenting models.
  • Positive attitude to developers, new residents, contractors.

It's known, in the private sector, as Customer Service.

Population increase is government policy:

The construction industry has grown by 10,000 firms since 2002, a new Government report shows, but still lacks capacity to deal with the massive demand of the Christchurch rebuild and the Auckland housing boom.
The Construction Sector Report was released this afternoon, the fourth of seven reports designed to improve understanding of the economy.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said that the construction sector now employed 7 per cent of the New Zealand workforce - around 170,000 people - and generated annual revenues of $30 billion.
He said that the industry was experiencing unprecedented growth, driven by the Christchurch rebuild and demand for housing in Auckland.
The report showed that despite the global financial crisis and an associated downturn in construction, the construction workforce grew by 30 per cent in the last decade.
It also identified challenges faced by the sector - low productivity, the aftermath of the leaky building fiasco, and the vulnerability of the industry to boom and bust cycles."

Savings Working Group
January 2011
“The big adverse gap in productivity between New Zealand and other countries opened up from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The policy choice that increased immigration – given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve – looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration. This adjustment would have involved a lower real interest rate (and cost of capital) and a lower real exchange rate, meaning a more favourable environment for raising the low level of productive capital per worker and labour productivity. The low level of capital per worker is a striking symptom of New Zealand’s economic challenge.
Follow the Money

unprecedented growth in Chch?

when did that Earthquake occur?  

It not so much that the Councils are clueless.  It's more a issue of culture and law.

Councils don't (aren't allowed?) to oppose Central Government Rule.
Staff often are there to get wages and do local works, they're not business people developing a long term profit or plan.

The Government says "do this" and "comply with these directives" and thus it falls to the Council to meet that requirement - no matter how foolish, how inappropriate, how unaffordable...or how much it violates their own longer term planning/budgets.

Huge numbers of Kiwi's, especially those tied into social endeavours and local government actually believe the government is there to run their lives for them for their benefit.  Thus if the government puts anything in to Law, it is immediately considered A Commandment of morale excellence.  Failure to conform is a quick way for office politicians to oust others from influence and empires.  Thus we end up with a bunch of people who won't think, and covering your arse is the only game in town (if you want to not get sued and keep your funding - these people are bandits and muggers armed with paper and laws rather than guns and knives. )  This is the culture and it's not just inside Councils, much of it is the hundreds of interferring truly clueless irritators who all want to push their cause or just want to bring down the council.

So we end up with a culture of personal defence.  Live by the letter of the Law, take no risk, never put your neck on the line, don't stand out.  And while I might not agree with Council spending policies, they are sitting targets who anyone with a grudge and a piece of paper.  No longer able to effectively make their own choices..instead appearing "clueless" because they are reduced to being remote agents of unthinking C.Government policy.


There's a scrap brewing in Milford on Auckland's North Shore as the mall owners have won their court battle with the NIMBYs - round one done and dusted.
Milford needs development as the place is a dead hole after 5pm......all the NIMBYs are at home waiting for Coronation St to start.
More people in the subhurb improves the community, the opposite to the propaganda the old fogies in MIlford will be trotting out

There are only a handful of people in this country that truly understand urban design and English isn't one of them. However when you say "Milford needs development as the place is a dead hole after 5pm" you cut right to the heart of the matter and perhaps add yourself to that list.
The next step is understanding the steps required to achieve that. A cap at four stories is one of them. Eliminating the motor car from where you want people is another.

Oh, and I had my heart set on an EV!

Only 40 years of copper left at current rates of consumption. The switch the electrical generation and consumption will up the current rates dramatically, so how long do you think the electric car window will last?
There is also your density of energy problem and electricity isn't the solution to that.
Nothing wrong necessarily with owning an electric vehcile mind you, it is how much you use it that counts.

Aluminimum and when temperature becomes less of an issue, ceramic composites.

Aluminium = Solid Electricity! Aluminium only has 2/3rd the carrying capacity of copper also.  But probably the main trouble is that they won't switch until exhausting the copper, or they put the price through the roof.
Your comment below on batteries is a very good one. There is also the supply of minerals for them to consider, probably less reserves than copper.

How typical, the stone age didnt end because of lack of stones
To start with copper is used for a very good reason(s). The impact of using aluminum instead is quite large eg  you need more of it for the same power transmission and eg its a pig to join, so its a very poor replacement, composites....maybe, but consider the energy needed.
So sure copper all gone in your lifetime? who cares eh what? On top of that we are looking at how we survive as an inter-generational thing, our children and grandchildren.

The lithium is actually more of a concern.
But, yes really when you start to look at all these promises of "yes just buy my product/solution/fanasy" as a sop to continue BAU you realise they are all on quicksand.  EROEI, time, scale, money; one, two, three or all stack up to make all alternatives not a BAU solution.

Waymad the below is a copy of email from an friend re the energy situation of going electric. It doesn't discuss the problems that Scarfie mentions but does indicate from an electricity production point of view going EV for NZ is possible. I posted this elsewhere but i think you might of missed it, even Steven agreed with it for the most part. The cost of EV vehicles he thought would be something like $65K not the $30K used below, otherwise a good post!
NZ vehicle km travelled (VKT) is 37Bkm in 2012. This is for cars and light commercial vehicles (LCV).
Electric cars do about 15kWh per 100km. So that’s 4650GWh per annum if all those vehicles were electric. That’s about the same energy as the aluminium smelter uses.
Those cars would best be charged by wind farms, as when the wind is not blowing the existing hydro storage can be used. This is because the short term variability in wind is very small compared to the seasonal variation in hydro, for which we already have storage.
If each car cost $30K, then the cost of wind turbines to charge it would be about $2000. I used the 37B VKT /3.1M (cars and LCV - = 9000km per annum. This is 1350kWh per annum on average. A wind turbine has 0.35% capacity factor so to get 1350kWh of wind energy in a year you need 1350 kWh/8760 hours in a year / 0.35 = 0.440kW of wind capacity. Wind capacity costs about $2700/kW. So the investment is $2700*0.440=$1200. And I doubled it almost to pay off the landowners (it can’t be that much paid to landowners or wind generation would be too expensive already).
So to build wind farms fast enough to supply electric cars you need to spend money on new generation at a rate one fifteenth the rate of the people buying the cars in the first place. Is that affordable to the industry? If the entire fleet was replaced in 10 years, you’d need about 500GWh of investment per year in wind generation. Total demand is about 40000GWh so that’s 500/40000=1.24% pa. Which is less than the historical electricity demand growth rate. (Fleet age is 13years in 2012 pg 9)
Is there enough wind? Prior to the recent flattening of demand there was about 9000GWh of new wind generation consented or undergoing consent. There is about 90000GWh of potential wind generation taking the good sites only. All of it on already modified farmland, far from dwellings and near existing transmission. The grid can handle the capacity as its largely already been built for peak, and the entire fleet can be charged without increasing peak demand loading. So that’s the NZ electric car situation in terms of supplying the electricity.
Other issues – is there enough material to make the batteries for the world fleet, can they be made cheap enough fast enough, can you smelt the steel to make the wind turbines without emitting too much CO2?? Can you drive far enough in an electric car that it would be a true transport system?? What about agricultural machinery??? Shipping??? Air travel????

Agains all that and missed the real problem.

The batteries in current EV are limited to 1000-2000 charge cycles. The lighter the battery the shorter it's life span even under ideal conditions.

What do you do with all those batteries?  Stack them next to the used tire mountains?

Yes some can be recycled...but the energy involved (and also cost recovered) would mean about 75% of your vehicle cost every 3 - 5 yrs.... with an outside 5yrs if you don't use the vehicle.

Do we see massive State investment in developing that technology, in a world that's increasingly battery dependent?

Years, most batteries seem to be around 10~12 years lifespan, but at that point the car isnt economical to re-battery, ie putting a $30~35k battery in a $3k car makes little sense.
"state investment" not really, (expect maybe the USA via military contracts), but then look at the massive denials from in particular right wing Pollies.  ie the "solution" isnt wanted therefore there isnt a "problem".

The EV batteries aren't 10-12 years.  That's the low use, don't drive much option, and the lead-acid lifespan.   1000 charges is Li-ion and other modern batteries.   That works fine for the built in redunancy for cellphone technology, not good for national fleet.

 Lead-acid is ok for short range (eg forklifts, especially when ballast is a bonus) or stationary but are way too heavy per coulomb for practical traveller use, that's why the EV has been in its infancy even when people like Clive Sinclair poured fortune after fortune into the technology.  Their weight load is even worse than highpressure gas equipment.

Thats why the search for lighter batteries, or at least heavier charge density but that comes with lots more complications.

Got a URL on this?  For instance the Chevy Volt I think has a 8 year warrantee on the battery, I think the Prius does as well.
And no I dismissed lead-acid as a solution....
This is what Im looking at,

Prius uses NiMH.  Hybrid needs are quite different to full EV.  
After 10years apparently the battery still performs as new
Volt uses Li-ion and is guaranteed by General Motors for eight years or 100,000 miles (160,000 km), and will cover all 161 battery components.[76][77] GM estimates that the Volt batteries will degrade by 10 to 30% after 8 years or 100,000 miles

Nah, I'm working from the reports from all the second hand sales that happening in the last 5yrs, and from owners forums that I went on when I was looking at purchasing.

A lot of new release vehicles were new and updated technology, but turns out they didn't really state the test of real world application.  Likewise many folks found that when the went to get their vehicles checked and/or warranty replacements done the company had small print which excluded the majority of normal use written out.  Multiple small trips with frequent recharges, over-expending, repeated under-utilisation, multiple long trips during a year, all grounds to reduce your battery life and the company's liability.  That's why the secondhand market for them was so dodgy for a long time.

20yrs ago a 8yr warranty used to mean minimum 8yrs, expect 12 - 16 usage.  Modern marketing means 8yr warranty is acceptable number of failures by 8yrs and a slightly higher price to cover the early failures.

Yep in simple terms EVs can be powered with no great issues in terms of generation, that however is the easy part. 
Though things like how to get enough lithium out of the ground fast enough and cheap enough are head scratchers.  (Yes I know South Korea is looking at extracting from sea water, but the economics of it as its so dilute? use nuclear reactors to do it? oh my god....think of the concrete {energy and CO2} and risk, takes us back to EROEI)
Will that $65k drop in real terms as some have said once we start to mass produce them?  Given the problems around battery production rates as lithium is a clean room technology, I wonder.
In the short term, what does that do for "poor" ppl faced with a $65k car every 10 years or no job given we have laid out surburbia and our lives based on cheap fossil fuel?  Which will be no longer cheap and might even be rationed in the next 5 to 10 years? and the demand (and hence cost) as ppl realise they HAVE TO have one will be huge.
How do we transport food wholesale? and all the other "invisible" goods movements ppl simply dont see? 3 tonne EVs?  ho hum. EV Farm tractors? no.....So fuel density, so biofuel, EROEI is at best 1.5 to 1. Competes with food just look at mexico for that...Ethanol or food for mexicans.  What does such a method do to a housholds typical food bill?  Double it?  What does that do to the household's ability to buy a house?  1/2 it?  What about dealing with a far higher un-employment arte? like 12%? 18%?
How do we afford and invest in Public transport to replace all these combustion cars that are obsolete and un-affordable in 5~10 years?   How about all the HP owed on them?
Ho hum...

Have you read up much on the shale oil and gas boom in the US?
I hope you're right about the energy squeeze coming up, as that will make other countries, particularly energy hungry india and china, to be forced to move to unconventional gas to power the machinary used as they move to become more developed.
UK is next in line as industry (particularly chemical industry) is really struggling to compete with USA with nat gas prices around half what they pay in the EU and UK.
Some people get a bit emotional about things like 'fracking' but when push comes to shove, and its a choice between potential but unproven risk Vs. your country entering decades of depression, then there is only one outcome. Nat gas is the bridge between oil/coal dependence and renewable

Have you read up much on the shale oil and gas boom in the US? Haha good one, I suggest you go back a week or two and look at some of the discussions that have taken place here.
Listen very very carefully to Steven, PDK and a few others on this issue.  They are Rational personalities, as I point out from time to time. They know a lot and are capable of getting the big picture that some other personality types struggle to grasp.
The longer we keep expecting to consume the energy we do on our current lifestyle the worse the decline will be when it comes. And it will come, that is a mathematical certainty.

Seeing as we are discussing what should be listened to:
steven and PDK both, at times, make generalisations without qualification - which is a quite unscientific principle or approach.  For example, insistence the earth is a closed system without explanation or qualification. That is quite simply not correct and if we expect to be right then accuracy is important.

  • For the purposes of thermodynamics it can often be thought of as *closed*; especially in short time periods but certainly not in long time periods.
  • But it is probable the iron core of the earth owes its very existence to an external asteroid and the longer the time period the more it must be treated as *open*.

Both make high volumes of character attacks which are a poor substitute for argument or rational and should certainly not (IMHO) be listened to carefully.
IMHO their best (most rational and scientifically based) points are in the area of EROEI.
To anyone who is not a disciple but is interested in rational conclusions they should carefully listen to the assumptions supporting claims.  These are often left unsaid.  For example;
Science by vote - climate science is "in".  This statement is not science  Truth is never arrived at by popular vote, science is not a democratic process.
Fixed inputs - formal computer models are, by definition, extrapolations of assumptions so logically *within those asumptions the model cannot be wrong*.  It is logically impossible.  Only by changing assumptions (inputs) or accepting not every variable is known can the models outcomes be "incorrect".
I will agree with PDKs general view of the energy problem we face in the following logic statement;
IF all PDKs assumptions (inputs) are correct AND no unknown variables exist or are possible in future THEN the outcomes PDK predicts are correct.

Ralph - I have never claimed that it was a closed system - I have claimed that it is a colsed system with one input - solar energy.
We are currently running our everything on stored solar energy (fossil fuels) which took millions of years to accrue, and which we will have exhausted withing a 2-300 year period.
We will end up with solar energy, by default - but it doesn't do the concentrated thing that a tankful of poil does - never will (and I'm an enthusiast; 10 years off-grid solar, past co-chair of Solar Action). Other resources come into play; conductors, insulators, battery-materials.
Climate Change? Once, there was no oxygen in the atmosphere. Little thingys produced it as excretion, and shanged their habitat to their own detriment. That gave us our habitat - but we should be smart enough to understand the lesson. If we alter this one - and we are - then at some point (it's not an 'if', its a when) we will get to the point where it cannot support us. CC is but one of the global problems. Try aquifer depletion, erosion, nutrient depletion, finite-resource depletion.
Good on you for saying that truth is never arrived at by vote or opinion - maybe you could relay that on to the Editor of the Otago Daily Times?

I have never claimed that it was a closed system - I have claimed that it is a colsed system with one input - solar energy.
Fair enough.
If I knew the editor of the Otago Daily Times I might be of use to you but sadly this is not the case.

Although I will also point out that if we took the following definition of the second law of thermodynamics (wikipedia; they link to Max Planck): 
"Every process occurring in nature proceeds in the sense in which the sum of the entropies of all bodies taking part in the process is increased."
Then earth would not qualify as a closed system because as a system it has an external energy input (the sun).  The conclusion being the external energy input can stop or slow the path to maximum entropy.

Your point about science by concensus is certainly correct.  In regards to climate change it's considered settled because,apart from blogs where uninformed people just don't think it's real, there has been no evidence to show the hypothesis of global warming false.  If there was scientist in the field would be discussing it and they are not.  That does not mean that models of future warming are 100% accurate as clearly they are not.  The trend however has been predicted accurately.
your logic statement at the end is disingenuous.   You seem to be implying that if PDK is wrong about one thing (which is of course likely after all the world is a complex place) then his theory is incorrect.   Obviously it depends on how incorrect he is to effect the out come.  Since the world is finite his assumptions will be correct it's just a matter of timing.  Your and point is relevant but again will result in an extension of time and is highly unlikely in the short term (20 years).  
It all comes back to the trends Climate is warming (fact) oil is running out (fact). Burning fossil fuel adds to warming (fact) and most importantly we live on finite world (fact) therefore growth cannot go on forever (fact).
Just because a problem is tough doesn't mean you don't deal with it.  My dad avoided going to the doctors because he thought he had cancer but didn't want to face it.  He died, too late for treatment, if he had got treatment earlier he may still have died but had a better chance.
economic growth will stop (fact).  Because finite world, how long do we hang on to growth when we know logically it has to stop?  Denial?

I was not trying for implication, the use of a logic statement was to state explicitly in conditional terms.
Being a formal logic statement it doesn't allow for "amount of incorrectness" as such.  Either the predicted outcome was correct or it was not.  This does not exclude an argument to materiallity; that is to say although the prediction was incorrect it was materially so close as not to matter in the real world (that is to say in a certain external constructed context).
Some might say this is just semantics, but I would argue meaning and accuracy are important and especially so in any endevour to arrive at truth; which science is.
If the model is incorrect, this means either the model;

  • did not include all variables, or
  • the assumptions of the model were not true.

So my reply to the argument (explicit or implied) of materality (close enough) is; because you don't know why the model is incorrect (if you did then you would fix it and it would no longer be incorrect) you cannot say where the source of your error lies (within your model).  You can't even say for certain it is a single error or multiple errors.
Becuase you don't know the error(s), to suggest it/they is/are small error(s), or the model is 98% accurate (or whatever) is not in any way amscientific fact.  These are unproven claims and therefore at best hypothesis and at worst statements of faith.
I do not (and did not) advocate not dealing with anything.  I advocate going back to the science and finding out how the climate system actually works and why the models to date have been wrong.  You can moot the heat is hiding in an ocean where we can't measure it - but that is going to be a very hard assumption to prove.  A moot is not a fact.
I also advocate ignoring all claims that science is over or we should give up, stop funding alternate research, lock the lab and go home.

You would have to explain your use of the word denial.  Who denied what exactly?

"read up much on the shale oil and gas" Yes, and you obviously have not.  get beyond the hype to the geo-tech, economics, ecological damage and terrible EROEI...
"when push comes to shove" Yes a fair comment...except...EROEI means that indeed we will have decades of depression. This is snake oil salesman stuff, they'll be long gone with others money when this scam implodes, or they hope to be.
Think a bit longer term, in the 1950s MK Hubbert warned that conventional crude oil would peak as it has done 60years later.  Everyone ignored him at oil was $10 a barrel.  So lets rinse and repeat with fracking, all it buys us if we take the hype at face value is some decades.  If we look behind the scenes it might buy some parts of the world 5~10 years.
Nat gas isnt the bridge, at least as THE bridge, (its partly, sure) and no one is really building a bridge, they just want to use it for BAU....

85:1 EROEI ratio for fracking based on one study:;jsessionid=7F84CE61C9872C3B98277514CCF19DDE.d03t02
85J per 1J spent doesn't sound too bad to me...
Don't let perfect get in the way of very good..

Disappointing Simon, you obviously haven't watch the video I linked you to. I hope you are not another paid shill that has come here to disrupt the forums as it is looking like. A low key approach before you let loose with your propaganda.
Please get to grips with exponential growth, the video is as good a place as any. If you can manage to grasp that then take a look at a graph of the world population growth and note the peak of the rate of growth in 1961 (the inflection poin when graphed). That point was peak EROEI for fossil fuels. everything since then has been about obfuscating that fact so I hope you are not going to come on here and be a part of that.

It looks like a long video, will watch it over the weekend. Never afraid of another point of view..  
But, I am not interested in something that might cause a company I have an interest in problems in 50+ years time as there are 100 other things that could happen between now and then. 

Mate it isn't an opinion, it is a physics professor giving a lecture on physics. It has been posted on these forums for a few years now and I have not heard anyone yet argue with it. You don't even need to watch the full lecture to get the picture, personally I have only been to about the 25 minute mark. Watch it with your family because quite frankly it affects all of them as we haven't got your 50 years. You might hopefully have a rational personality in the family that will be more intuitive in understanding.
Be interested to know your reaction.

Except thats for not oil.
A) Oil isnt gas and gas isnt oil.
B) Much of the oil shale plays are only economic is some parts of them.
But a very interesting piece, a good methodical looking piece. 
I cant immediately see where the energy used to get it to point of use is....and,
"A focus on the energy-consuming steps only is limited and does not include important or potentially important aspects of the shale gas production process. Potentially important aspects include the following:

  1. Energy not directly used in the shale gas extraction process or embodied in machinery and materials directly used in this process (e.g., energy inputs associated with exploration, geologic characterization, site engineering activities, and land acquisition)
  2. Energy used to remediate any social, environmental, or infrastructure problems caused by or arising from the shale gas extraction process
  3. Energy used by workers employed in the shale gas industry
  4. Energy costs and other costs associated with impacts to resources, such as depletion of water supply, fragmentation of forests and related loss of habitat, and contamination of the local or regional atmosphere with air pollutants, including GHGs"

So when we say EROEI at an economic level thats for our Global economy.  The minimum suggested is 8 to1, but maybe as low as 6 to 1 or higher, 10 to 1.
#1. Important that you consider that these are signifcant impact on EROEI.  So finding it and getting it to point of use.
#3. Is a negative as well.
Extracting this gas therfore has a worse ERoEI in the "real world"
Excellent, keep digging maybe you will get the total picture, at least you are looking, unlike say profile.
Your comments on "do this or a depression" for decades are spot on...IMHO....
Devil or the deep blue sea, assuming we can dodge the depression...otherwise we end up with both at once...
Oh and one of the links is well worth reading,

Lithium from reactors would be an option but you'd have to be totally sure it's not radioactive at all.  Otherwise more shielding...and then when there's an accident or spill, or even dumped vehicles...

Don't worry...Monsanto and other crops will take care of the food issue (and the population one... :( eventually )

Regarding cars; there already exists cars so safe that if it was law to own a car that met these high safety standards then the road toll would be next to nothing.
But even $10k is considered to be unaffordable enough to make enforcing a law like this impossible.  Its still legal to drive a 1980's car with no air bags, basic drum brakes all round, no electronic anything, that you can buy for $500. 
You can make and sell electric cars, but unless you can pick them up off trademe for a grand and not be expected to pay significant maintenance costs, then the take up is going to be next to nothing.  Early 90's toyota's are still one of the most popular cars going around due to low costs to fix anything on them.  Engine gone? Chuck in one from the wreckers for $200.
Obama recently offered incentives for industry to convert machinary/trucks etc to nat gas.  This is a more realistic move, as its a win-win; i.e cheaper for owner, and less carbon emissions than diesel.
Lots of countries around the world are starting to discover they have massive amounts of nat gas under them. UK last year realised it had a massive amount trapped in the shale rock under much of the country.  If it can buy another 50 years then great.


Try $149 for a 4 cylinder carby

Ah my type of scrap yard ie sane prices, thanks, as actually Im looking for a 2nd hand engine to rebuild...fuel injected, $289.....hmmmm...ponder...

As a previous owner of a natural gas based vehicle... it's not good.
The lower explosive energy release requires more gas and releases higher heat, which eventually glazes the bore in the motor, and destroys the rings.  
 After 2.5yrs driving the car was using near twice the gas it did at conversion time.

"urban design and English isn't one of them"
Yes i wonder how much English would appreciate being lectured on farming issues by an Auckland urban designer.

Any pollie is an expert on any area that they care to be....when it threatens their political viewpoint.

Milford needs development as the place is a dead hole after 5pm......all the NIMBYs are at home waiting for Coronation St to start.
More people in the subhurb improves the community, the opposite to the propaganda the old fogies in MIlford will be trotting out
More slander by the construction industry of old people with memories of an earlier age and better life.
How is life better in a country with sales agencies in Shanghai?

Texas Drought and Climate Change
As they say, Texas is a state where it is impossible to bribe a politician, just so long as you call it a campaign contribution. The home builders hope to profit by persuading politicians to attract or create new (low wage) jobs, and new business investments, which of course would expand the market for new homes. All this while opposing any limits or regulations on growth, and while expecting local taxes on current residents to provide the roads — and now water — needed for development.
Whenever climate science, environmental considerations, or legal reform get in the way of making money on land development, the Texas bankers, developers, and land speculators know how to play to win. Since the Texas constitution was written mainly by and for the landed gentry of Texas after the Civil War, this legacy means that Texas landowners have “property rights” — meaning the right to develop almost anything in the untaxed, unincorporated suburban areas outside a central city.
There is the prospect of making billions of dollars from suburban sprawl land development surrounding the major metropolitan areas where most Texans now live. Natural limits to growth? Any limits on land development come as bad news and have always been strongly opposed by the well-organized, well-funded Texas growth lobby. The big money in Texas is largely made through selling and developing raw land for ever-expanding rings of suburban sprawl growth that surround its big metropolitan areas.
Austin is now in the midst of a highly profitable Austin-area growth boom, Climate change denial prevails through most state agencies (although the state climatologist believes that climate change is real). The politicians who make the rules outrank the scientists no matter how good the science, or how urgent the scientific warnings.
In Texas, climate science is considered subversive because it tells the politicians stuff they would rather deny. When Gov. Rick Perry was running for president he made his climate change denial very clear. Perry considers global warming a scientific hoax.

This article has it backwards.  Land speculation is far less profitable in Texas than in smart-growth areas, because there is no magical line that causes land to suddenly increase in value by 1000%.  I'm also puzzled by the link between 'sprawl' and water use.  Do people in apartments and terraced housing not use water?   

The first thing that comes to mind is people in apartments don't have lawns to water.  

The article is written in the context of climate change, drought and increasing demand.

Its looking at TCO, total cost of ownership.  Its pointing out that sprawl becomes a problem of running to keep still. ie the costs to maintain the infrastructure become un-managable/un-affordable as the distances increase.
Ultimately its saying you cannot grow for ever and hence you have to stop population increase and in fact reduce it.
If you had ever played a game like Minecraft (which is a flat earth and hence infinite ie unlimited)  you would find that as you exhausted the materials close to you it becomes harder and harder (cost and time) to travel to get to what you need, get back and process it. Hence your rate of expansion slows as the cost to expand to get more plus you have to maintain plus you have to "improve" the lifestyle. All these competing things mean that at some stage you simply cant get any bigger, you first triage and then you fall back, but there is nothing left close by.
Its a very educating experience.

"What's actually happened is that the local authorities were keen for a denser city, but the inhabitants weren't, so they've jettisoned a fair bit of the densification aspect,"
The unitary plan is a failure; The I’m all right jack brigade win again. Because they’re wealthy, privileged and connected enough in time and resources to challenge anything that threatens their assets.
PARADOX AND MADNESS: The economic and social cost of unaffordable housing to the tax payers is far greater than having affordable housing?
·          Government provided payments supplementing incomes costing billions “It's one of the reasons why we have interest free student loans, working for families, subsidised early childhood care and savings are low" Council and State funded housing costs
·          Time and cost of travel.
·          People over borrowing - paying 70% plus of their income to meet the inflated market and high mortgage costs.
·          Social cost to people and families, the pressure of making ends meet or failing, and consequential costs.
Tax payers are paying to prop up the minority rich through subsidies – why? Haven’t they got enough. They’re set up to take money in every  way, and the system supports/pays for it.
“There's no obvious reason why little old New Zealand should be one of the most expensive housing markets in the developed world. It really puts pressure on our households”
"and a lot of that is driven by planning decisions in this city”

Good post 2TB. The 'system' as it operates now benefits the wealthy, transfers taxes to the middle class and doesn't provide for the poor. It is rubbish. Something has to and I think will give.

True Brendon.
A very ugly "Financial Class" sytstem has developed in NZ as we adpot an American capitalist system hook line and sinker:(
Who really wants inequality dividing people.
Not saying property is for free; but affordable.
Driving prices up through constrained supply; media and market manipulation; cheap, easy overseas money (paying interest overseas - money out the door) for land that's here, is making NZ poorer.
Oh and don't forget poor Kiwis competing against the majority of rich migrant investors; who are only in for what they can get out of NZ; contributing very little:( They must build new and not buy existing stock.
The Government need to act? crazy ignorance!

Yep, but also that seems world wide.

Nah, the system at the moment subsidies many benefits for the ultra poor, gives them handouts and lifestyles well in advance of their efforts and value, and encourages them to learn to work the system for extra benefit..provided they don't want to do anything with their lives.

Bill English does have a point , but kest not forget the Auckland housing issues was multi-dimensional and there is no single solution.
We need to address all contributing factors  , in no particular order  :-



Indeed.  And, frankly, for once, the SHOUTING is well justified.
My list here.

not just the NZD, but our local interest rates.   Lack of real price competitition by our Australian owned banks combined with Central control that is pushed through OCR which affects _local_ interest payers, and cripples _local_ New Zealand citizens and businesses....while having absolutely no effect on the foreign sourced banks.  Giving an advantage that local operators can't match in our own community.

I agree with absolutely everything the man says about this subject, especially how this pernicious, baby-boomer (sorry, couldn't resist) NIMBY nonsense has led to all these ridiculous perks and hand-outs which, unfortunately, give the left their insufferable sense of smugness. (I'm not lefty bashing - the right is no better with their trusts, tax-avoidence, property spec and no CG tax)

It might be best if we (and that includes me) stop the ranting and support whatever practical proposal there is to make the supply of housing more responsive to demand.
So that would be supporting reasonable plans for densification.
Opening up the green belt and removing the MUL or UGB.
Encouraging new forms of development, co-housing, carless villages, satelite towns/cities. (I would not mind some (not all) special zoning for these if we got rid of the rural zoning.
Increasing transport funding for both public transport and roading with the explicit purpose of creating a larger amount of buildable land that is of commutable distance (say max 1 hour travel to any other point in the city).
If someone doesn't support some or all of these then you have to suspect some sort of selfish vested interest.

So you'd have no sympathy with somebody who had bought a house on the basis of the beautiful views and open spaces that surrounded it, and is now confronted with the prospect of the spaces being filled and the views blocked by other people's houses?    If he is guilty of a "selfish vested interest", does not the same apply to the people who want to build homes next to him?

I did say reasonable plans for densification, what you are saying probably is not reasonable. But I would expect the people who have grabbed a piece of the NZ dream should not object to measures to make the supply of housing more responsive, so others may find their NZ dream too.

If they're pro-immmigration, or anti-population control...then I would have no sympathy.

Where do they think the extra people are going to go??

Another form of development is village/towns.

It's to late to change and besides most Kiwis that have been able to buy their piece of paradise don't want high density housing next to them thanks.
All the building I currently see is bigger and bigger 5 and 6 beadroom houses on small bits of land. We are already too spread out so its a little late to start building high rises close to the CBD unless you plan on knocking down existing houses on full sites.
There has to be benefits from living in a chicken coupe, like you can walk to work and you don't need a car. Who wants to still drive 30km plus a day and live in the type of shoe boxes we build in New Zealand ?

I am not sure I understand what you are saying Carlos 67. Are you saying that there is no point in densification or sprawl (of any type) or both. That we are buggered. So just accept the status quo?

Exactly we are buggered, in the same way we are going to have major trouble in upgrading the roads to cope in the future unless we begin to run out of gas and are forced to drive tiny cars. The housing change had to start years ago and they can talk about higher density but they are still not building them even now. The reason is not many people want to live in them unless they are forced economically to do so. Saw all this in 1990 in the UK, whole high rise blocks just abandoned with the windows smashed waiting to be pulled down, they just turn into ghettos due to the types of people living in them. If you want to build a Gotham city then keep it away from exising single level and two storey hosues and start building it in the middle of nowhere, then no one can complain.

I think if we keep following the UK by restricting residential land and increasing land prices we are buggered.
But if we switch to the Northern European/German model or the middle America model/Texas then who knows.
I don't like to let the buggers get me....

ZZ a lot of Berlin was in East Germany a Soviet Republic from the end of WW2 to 1989. The rest of Berlin was surrounded by said Soviet Republic. So Berlin is not a representative German city. I am sure you could find a city in Western Germany with the same population as Auckland and make some comparisons regarding affordability and housing inflation.
Check out this link for a comparison between British and Germany urban planning mechanisms.

Although i haven't travelled extensively in Germany, from what i've seen Berlin isn't so unusual.  It is a little less dense, because the population was much greater prior to WW2 (4.5M in the early 1940s)
Population 3,401,147
Area 891.85 km2
Density 3,800/km2

Population 1,388,308
Area 310.43 km2
Density 4,500/km2

How much does a typical family earn in Munich and how much goes on housing. Does it have a house price to income ratio of around 3 or around 8 as it is in Auckland. What about rent is that under 25% of income. Do you have secure tenure in your rental or an unstable existence that pushes you into an inflated housing market.  
I think you will find the answers favour Munich not Auckland.

Oh totally... Germany wins on so many levels, i have a number friends living there, and have met many families in my travels taking a year off from their jobs that they are allowed to take up until the child is i think 8, while the employer must hold their job for them.  This is on top of 14 months paid parental leave when the child is born.  Meanwhile in NZ you are expected to be all bonded with your child in 14 weeks. 

Agreed : )

who pays and covers for your tasks while you leave your employer hanging?

The employer will pay your wage to someone else on a 12 month contract.
What often happens with these types of arrangements, is your employer pays you 80% of your salary for 4 years, then you take a year off and they keep paying you 80%.  It's the same as if they have paid you 100% for the 4 years that you actually worked.  Aside from helping those with no budgetting skills, there's usually a tax benefit as  a greater proportion of your income will fall into the lower tax brackets.

Being smash to bits at the end of WW2 and then divided and controlled by the victors for the next 45 years might explain the pop loss. But this stupid argument is going nowhere it has lost all meaning.
Berlin's population fell immediately at the end of WW2 remained static during Soviet times and after the collaspe of the Wall (even ZZ might of heard it) Berlin's population gradually increased. Pretty much as I said.
Non of this has relevance to general principles of planning. For that you would need to compare Germany with say Britain to get an overall picture. I think I did that earlier.

So are you going to say that Wellington is not a compact city, because if you include the surrounding 30,000skm, it's less dense that Houston?
"If we stretch Auckland out to include all the tiny little towns to say Meremere we will still have 1.5 million on a comparable 891skm."
But auckland doesn't stretch out to Meremere.  If you redefine Berlin to include all the surrounding countrside you will find it is low density too.  I don't see why you feel the need to include the surrounding countryside?

I find the best way to define a city is by its public transport routes - as this reflects the serrvices that are available to regular users.  That way the inner city, pedestrian and central services (trams, pedicar, those hacks pulled by asian blokes);  places where its a days travel not by choice but because that's the only service runs, and supporting areas where at best it's a station to station service with no extra support.  beyond that you're private and might just as well be rural where we don't get into towns let alone cities for more than a week apart.

It's a pricing issue.

Many people who would be happy to live in such places can't afford decent ones. Those who get shoved in the cheapest ones, have no respect for other peoples' property and little to occupy themselves.

There is a high correlation between income and good treatment of other peoples property.
Tis makes it hard to build decent apartment blocks for the multitudes.

The real NIMBYs are the hoity-toity set who think anything taller than a bus belongs in Detroit. Or those with a vested interest in the property bubble. Or both.
For some thought-provoking visuals on a similar issue in Silicon Valley:

Whoever did that has just copied Corbusier, but hasn't figured out his ideas didn't work.

Here's a nice one, from the Australian Council of Trades Unions (via Eric Crampton's blog, and I wish he had put it in his top 10 today as well):

  • There's a trade-off at play here, one that can't be wished away or ignored. With a growing population, you can't restrict rising density in established suburbs, prevent sprawl on the urban fringes, and prevent housing from being unaffordable. Pick two out of the three. The urge to preserve historic neighbourhoods, the desire the conserve all the green bits around our cities, and the wish to maintain affordable housing are all noble impulses with which I sympathise. But, again, we can't have them all.

Yep it resonated alright. Could have saved about ten billion words here :-)

I live in an apartment in Shanghai. I would never live in an apartment by choice.. I can't stand  the noise of  people living ABOVE me . I grew up in a semi-detached, and could hear the people BESIDE me.  It's the noise at night, when i want to sleep and they don't, that really causes me stress. You can't beat a detatched house on your own bit of dirt. I'm all for sprawl, but follow the rail. There's room for growth between Papakura and Pukekohe. Drury must be ripe for development, maybe i should be land grabbing there??? 

"I live in an apartment in Shanghai. I would never live in an apartment by choice."
How exactly do they force you to live in an apartment? Aren't you allowed to leave the country or allowed to commute to a distant sprawl subdivision?


Are you actually Chinese ljm? If so come on down to Auckland buddy, you won't be lonely.

Good discussion on Bill English's intensification comment here.