Although the Unitec site is listed for fast track consenting this is just a small part of the project. The full development is expected to take 10 to 15 years to be fully complete

Although the Unitec site is listed for fast track consenting this is just a small part of the project. The full development is expected to take 10 to 15 years to be fully complete
An artist's impression of the proposed Unitec housing development's Southern Precinct.

Around 200 to 300 new homes on former Unitec land in Auckland's Mt Albert could be built under the fast track consenting process currently making its way through Parliament.

The redevelopment of the land adjacent to the Unitec campus was seen as one of the Government's flagship housing projects when it was announced by the then Housing Minister Phil Twyford in March 2018, who said at the time that 3000 to 4000 houses would be built on the site. But not much has been heard about the project since.

It sprang back into the news this month when it was identified as one of the "shovel ready" projects that will become eligible for a fast track consenting process being introduced by the Government to support the construction industry and assist the post-COVID economic recovery. However it appears that this will kick start only a limited amount of activity on the site.

A Reference Plan for the project released this month reveals that the number of homes being planned for the site has been scaled back to 2500 to 3000 compared to the 3000 to 4000 originally announced by Twyford. And the plan estimates that the project will take 10 to 15 years to complete, and planning for the project appears to still be in the very early stages.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development estimates that the fast track consenting legislation, which is expected to be passed by Parliament later this month, will only give the green light to 200 to 300 homes and even that appears conditional on a number of factors.

"This depends on the drafting in the Bill when it is enacted, and consenting is not the only relevant consideration to time frames," the Ministry said when asked for details on the number of homes to be fast tracked.

The timing of their construction appears to be just as uncertain.

"It's too early to say when construction will start as in part it will depend on finalising the master plan and construction contracts," the Ministry said.

The Ministry was also unable to say how many, if any of the homes to be fast tracked would be social housing or KiwiBuild units.

Which suggests a fairly liberal interpretation of the phrases "shovel ready" and "fast tracked" may have been applied to this project.

What does seem likely is that however many homes eventually receive fast tracked consents, they will be part of what has been designated as the project's Southern Precinct, which the Reference Plan states will be the first part of the project to be built.

The Plan says this will consist of low to medium density housing blocks of two to five storeys high, with smaller, lower density blocks at the boundary rising to medium density blocks in the interior of the precinct.

What the rest of project will look like is uncertain because in regards to the height of buildings to the built, the Plan contradicts itself in parts.

In its general overview, the Plan says housing units will start at two stories high at its southern boundary and rise to eight storey blocks in the centre and north. But the more detailed descriptions of what will be built in each precinct state that some could have residential towers of 10 or 12 stories.

Although the Plan is short on detail and inconsistent in parts, it does have some merit.

It contains several glorious artist's impressions of what the project could look like when it's eventually finished, suggesting an idyllic urban landscape with throngs of contended residents frolicking along its pleasantly verdant avenues. A true urban paradise (see below).

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61 Comments

14
up

Another grandiose promise comes down with a thud. Averaging a minuscule 166 to 300 homes built per year over possibly 15 long years. With a new shiney legislation tool in their toolbox still HUDA and Twyford and kainga ora and megan woods cant get cracking. I certainly wouldn't want to be one of the early buyers having to put up with constant construction noise, dirt, trucks and tradie vehicles for fifteen years

The amount of sunk costs that must have already gone into this from Architects, engineers, consultants, and visual artists all has to be paid by the purchaser at the end of the day.

It's a cost that is incurred for no amenity benefit, and in fact, the developers will try to get this cost back by stripping further amenity from the design.

Dearer housing at lower quality.

Say goodbye to any affordable housing.

11
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Mallard spent over 570k on a slide out front parliament. There were sizable cost overruns on it for engineers and architects. So I'm not holding out any hope for the budget housing, the thing unitec has going for it is location.

Pish , that's only the cost of a house. Not nearly as important as a few column inches for the govt.

and don’t forget the lack of water that is a major issue for Aucklanders...., stand pipes in the street over the summer as water to houses will be turned off.

Thanks for the article at last. I have been prodding for a couple of years...
Simply hopeless from the government.

It gets worse: employers willing to hire and train apprentices have been promised monthly subsidies from the government, based on the expectation that these projects moving to construction stage will need that additional workforce.

Basically, the tax dollars we spend on retraining our workforce may end up funding Australia's faster recovery in the months to come as they fast-track projects that are already in design/construction phase.

13
up

A white elephant, a monument to the failure of Labour's flagship election campaign promise.

Ah, yes. Flagship Projects.
"Cycleway gets $50m. Key attracted criticism about the lack of price and route detail for a national cycleway unveiled at the much-hyped "Jobs Summit".
There's still the remnants of part of that great endeavour up the roads from us. But it does give one of the local farmers better access to move his stock from one paddock to another, I guess.

Lets not forget The Flag itself. How much was that stuff up, 200M. Thank you Wong Key

I think that is why he got invited to Balmoral...to get a good telling off from the Queen about removing the union jack from the flag - which might encourage thoughts of a republic.

I’m going to enjoy the next few months. Is the Commie Princess your personal friend?

13
up

Its funny how some of my male relatives in their 60's with white hair watch the news and yell out 'communist' every time they see Jacinda on TV. They vote National (their entire lives) because of the suburb they live in. They won't talk about the fact that National want to do nothing other than to get further into bed with an actual communist party (CCP). So which is it - are you trying to offend Jacinda Adern by calling her a communist, or are you deeply offended by the Chinese Communist associations of your own party which you have supported your entire lives?

It would appear to be a exceptionally hypocritical position to take - if not a completely daft way to try and offend someone as you are just offending your own terribly confused political position. But I don't bring it up with the relatives as its best to stay on good terms right?

Just to be clear, there’s nothing communist about the CCP except the name. That well known Marxist Jack Ma’s a very active member.

Chinese Capitalist Party? Making you our debt slave because we want you to have the best destroyer sized wharf in the pacific

Add on the seventies plus age group to that sector.

All while they eagerly grab at their non means tested welfare benefit and happily vote for a party that subsidises investment property yields. Socialism for me, capitalism for thee, seems to be the mantra.

Stay were ever you are, outside Enzed. You have no relavance to our country Ex Expat.

Indeed. I get some of the difficult politics and financial considerations on light rail, but this?
High density zoning has been in place for 4 years under the Unitary Plan...

When 70% of construction jobs are uncertain (https://i.stuff.co.nz/business/121402461/dire-warnings-that-property-dev... ) then difficulties compound - that's a lot of concrete to source when supply chains are damaged, production management has a lot of churn when there's so much uncertainty in the sector, and consenting processes are deprioritised by council following covid overloading. Sure, 'shovel ready' is a great slogan, one that's not particularly accurate, but both politics and business
need confidence - sometimes just enough at critical times..

that is a bit harsh ; will make a decent quarantine hotel.

Can we get a new political party thats not a bunch of complete losers please? It'd be nice to have someone to vote for that can actually do something positive, rather than trying to pick the least smelly dirty shirt.

Why not set one up yourself - present your ideas to the voters and see if they get support.

Not my thing, i'm not interested in being a public figure.

14
up

What I get from reading the comment section is that property investors don't like the government competing in their space. Even if it increases quality of life in New Zealand. The single biggest thing that needs to happen in New Zealand to make it a great country to live in again is reduced housing costs. Deal with it.

Yes note that property investors want the likes of kiwibuild to fail. They are the most vocal about it because they don't want increased supply. They don't want FHB's to own their own homes because they want their incomes in the form of rent. You don't see Mums and Dads or FHB's complaining about kiwibuild. It only appears to be those who have something to lose from it who keep shooting the government down in their attempts to build more houses.

This is why I think that landlords should only be allowed to rent out new builds going forward. Treat them like foreign buyers. They shouldn't compete with FHB's or owner occupiers in the same market. We should be encouraging home ownership, not landlord'ism.

Actually the opposite... 166 (2500/15) houses pa wont make the slightest difference. Giving the hurry along but your biased thinking has got in the way ... again.

You are probably correct about property investors but I don' see any comments on this article that would suggest that.

And what makes you think that this will reduce housing costs. As I have already commented, the sunk costs that have already been spent on this project make a mockery of trying to make this affordable.

And what makes you think that this will reduce housing costs. As I have already commented, the sunk costs that have already been spent on this project make a mockery of trying to make this affordable

Right. Therefore the argument should be that the public sector should be providing 100% affordable housing, not some kind of PPP nonsense that doesn't actually meet the objective.

Not sure how you managed, incorrectly, to deduce that was what I was suggesting.

The whole point is that the Govt. is saying they will not only build more houses to help with supply, and in doing so will do it at scale so there are fewer costs, and therefore they will also be more affordable.

I'm saying that they will not lower costs, and have already spent more on this project than what a private developer would have.

They may build more houses, but they will not be affordable. We are not lacking housing per se, we are lacking warm, dry, healthy affordable housing.

Houses can be affordable if 100% funded by the public sector. I understand completely what you're saying.

Not sure you do. The very reason housing is unaffordable now is because of Govt. regulations that mean irrespective of public or private investment, the costs are far higher than they need to be.

The public sector, which is the 'doing' arm of Govt. is very inefficient at providing value for money.

If Govt. had better regulations on how land, in particular, was made available for development, then there would be less need for public service involvement. And that is a good thing.

I don't disagree with you - but land is already super expensive right? And how many people in government own land - many. And how many people that vote own land - was most (but the rate appears to be dropping significantly). So why would anyone have a motivation to make it more efficient when incompetence is making one wealthier? i.e. the worse we are at our jobs of efficiently making land available for development, and the more we vote for parties that are incompetent at enforcing efficient regulation, the more scare land becomes and as a result is more valuable!

Its great! Be as useless as possible, for as long as possible, and watch your land price go through the roof! As a country we can get rich by being useless is the motto.

This philosophy will work incredible well for a period, like a car without a service, then it won't.

Exactly, the motivation is to keep the status quo. But as more and more become renters, then the power balance should shift, although in the past most rentiers have been younger and don't vote as much. As the average age of rentiers is rising then this will change.

However, because most of the increase in property wealth is non-value-added, it also is susceptible to disappearing when bubbles burst. So it will be interesting to see what happens over the next 12 months.

Not sure you do. The very reason housing is unaffordable now is because of Govt. regulations that mean irrespective of public or private investment, the costs are far higher than they need to be

You're chained to the idea that that affordable housing can only be achieved through some P&L mechanism. Wrong. Some examples to illustrate that: Germany, Austria, Japan, and Singapore. Govt regulations are irrelevant if the costs are borne by the public sector.

Everyone knows "costs are higher than they should be" but it's irrelevant if the that cost is borne by the public sector. If they don't want to rationalize cost, so be it.

Where do you think the public sector get the money from - the private sector ie the tax/ratepayers.

What you are advocating that Govt. waste be subsidized by the private sector.

Further, because house prices are approximately 1/3 more expensive than they should be, then for most people that is all extra unneeded debt they are carrying, which is not subsidized by the Govt. Nor should it be, but it shouldn't be there in the first place.

And the examples you give are not in any way comparable to what is happening in NZ. NZ Public service would half the size and twice as efficient if Singapore was running it. The Demographia 2020 survey has a study on Singapore http://www.demographia.com/dhi.pdf

Apart from pollies no one can get away with unachieved targets on inadequate timelines. This announcement is simply timed for the election to parade before the hopeful and patient voters to keep them hanging on for another election cycle. After election day twyford, woods and co will continue to pick pocket the public without being held to account. I wont even mention the highly overrated and overpaid leader.

Le Corbusier would certainly be proud of the featureless blocks, the wind tunnels, the air of quiet desperation one can already sense in the artists' impression, with the lack of human scale and ornamentation as an extra frisson. Still, glass half full, it will certainly simplify logistics for the dealers: so many clients, so little ground to cover.....

They look appalling, like some Soviet style cold war era bunkers. Lots of negative statistics and incidents will occur from stuffing low socio economic residents together.

Why will people never learn?

They remind me of the massive city blocks found in new Chinese cities like Cheng Du. The only things missing are the clogged superhighways, polluted skies and CCP member on every floor..

Lots of negative statistics and incidents will occur from stuffing low socio economic residents together.

Why will people never learn?

Hence, the whole idea of having state housing spread throughout the suburbs not concentrated in "projects". But the mere prospect of HNZ dwellings is enough to drop the ACT party's pretense of libertarian and reveal it as the anti-libertarian Epsom Homeowners Association, for just one example.

Yuck. Why are we so hell bent on population growth and ramming as many people as possible into as small a space as possible? Asian cities are not what we should be aspiring to.

That ship has already sailed for Auckland. Many people would be happy to live in medium density housing close to the CBD and it's got to be better than endless urban sprawl gobbling up productive land around the fringes.

Define 'medium density'. $750K for 90sqm two bedroom townhouses isn't the answer. The addition of the 'land around the fringes' is the only thing keeping prices from getting even insaner.

Tomorrows slums generally always look good at the design stage.

So now it's:

a) Fewer homes
b) Over a longer time period
c) On a project that was already announced years ago.

And the only place you can read this is on interest.co.nz. $50m buys you a lot of friends, I guess.

You must be an investor intent on pouring cold water on the govts kiwibuild so that you can continue your evil plan to get rich... if you follow blindly and worship the ground on which the govt ministers walk youre qualified to make comments. (Obvs sarc)

You must be an investor intent on pouring cold water on the govts kiwibuild so that you can continue your evil plan to get rich... if you follow blindly and worship the ground on which the govt ministers walk youre qualified to make comments. (Obvs sarc)

The 'evil plans of the investors' is really the ability of the Anglosphere model of 'lending into existence' for residential property. That is the real farce. It's already started to fall flat on its face.

God help me if I've managed to make it this far in my life and acquire no tangible skill set I can turn into cash other than rent-seeking residential property ownership.

Oh so you're not a residential property investor. Very strange, some others are adamant that any anti govt comments were being spun by rentiers for their own selfish purpose. You must be a person who thinks for themself

Not really on topic, but I have to share this link

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/06/19/disturbed-sleep-growing-prob...

Basically, its saying that modern homes are too well insulated, leading to huge sleep problems. This from a UK government department no less! The world is seriously bonkers.

Yes crazy. Basically they are saying because they are well insulated and people do not open windows or have the correct mechanical ventilation system and overheat, that means the problem is they are over insulated rather than poorly ventilated.

This does explain a lot of the reasons for the problems we have with housing in NZ, because our system is modelled on the dysfunctional British system, ie the same thinking in our public service as well.

Commonsense says that a good portion of buildings in the larger CBD's are going to be vacant. The Councils will be looking for an earn and to keep these areas going. Private enterprise will take over and repurpose these buildings into apartments.
Air B&B's coming on the market as long term rentals.
Some hotels / motels going to long term accommodations.
People who are unemployed finding smaller cheaper accommodation, with their families / friends or such...
All adds up to no housing shortage. Building more will decrease the value of houses by creating an excess. As per usual with Govt's they will act on the issue at hand and not what will happen in the future.

Best of luck with that project: Until the Central Interceptor project is complete (2025) the sewage system in that area cannot handle any more dwellings - there is already effluent discharge into the Waitemata in heavy rain.

Yes I agree. Intensification is not green.

Surely the underlying cause of the housing crisis is that councils have created "an artificial shortage of land" as Don Brash says. The only solution IMHO is to crash the land price by releasing large amounts of it.

New Zealand has the highest house prices in the world. All political problems here, pale into insignificance when you realise that housing costs here average about 40% of family income - twice what it should be. (And getting worse as mortgage free owners die off.)

Labour's remedies such as 200 concrete slum boxes is a cruel joke.

The only solution IMHO is to crash the land price by releasing large amounts of it.

We perhaps need an inquiry into the role of conflict of interest in Auckland and NZ's artificial house prices. Including the likes of Bill English denying the Reserve Bank a Debt to Income tool to enable them to support the economy without inflating asset prices and MPs' portfolios.

The time for a DTI limit was back when houses were actually 5x incomes or less, not in the early-mid 2010s when they were getting up to 8x or 9x+. I get the feeling that the effectiveness of a DTI would have been incredibly muted (other than ruling FHBs out of the market entirely) by the time RBNZ started seriously talking about it. Like the CGT, it would have made more sense when the market was lower, instead of slugging it in at the peak and pretending that wouldn't have adverse consequences as a result.

I absolutely agree it was spoken of too late, but do think it would be better them having the tool available and in place than not. It in combination with the foreign buyer ban would at least provide a couple of good starts.

We still need a wholesale change in the level of entitlement felt toward high house prices.

The artists impression should include a brawl, police patrols, graffiti, drug deals, washing on the balconies and overgrown unkept public spaces because that’s what it will look like in 10 years time.

Nice imagery. We'll see how many more thumbs up you get - this can be a tough crowd...

Cool. That would leave about 9400 more homes to be built that year

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