Auckland Deputy Mayor confident the region can make a good start toward target of 39,000 houses in three years; Housing accord and Unitary Plan approved

Auckland Deputy Mayor confident the region can make a good start toward target of 39,000 houses in three years; Housing accord and Unitary Plan approved

Developers are "keen to get on the starting blocks" and begin building Auckland's targeted 39,000 homes in the next three years, the city's deputy mayor Penny Hulse says.

Hulse told Radio New Zealand that she was expecting the Auckland Housing Accord agreed with the Government would now be approved by the council, along with the formal notification of the new Auckland Unitary Plan. (The council has now approved both the Unitary Plan and the accord. See lower down this article for details)

The council has already laid out a detailed action plan to get the ball rolling after the accord's enabling legislation was passed by Parliament last week. See articles on the accord here

But while Hulse is now taking a very conciliatory tone, a few months back she suggested that the council might not sign the accord if the Government did not remove "over-ride" powers from the legislation enabling it under certain circumstances to take charge of fast-tracking housing developments itself.

The "over-ride" provisions were not removed - but the Government has made a slight concession by inserting provisions that make for inclusion in the accord of a "dispute resolution" process.  

Smith has 'softened stance'

Hulse said that Housing Minister Nick Smith “seems to have softened his stance and certainly seems to understand how Auckland works a little bit more clearly than he did a few months ago”.

It was clear that opening up rural land further and further out was “not the way to go” Hulse said.

She said that under the terms of the accord the council would not now be opening up more land for development than it had intended.

“I’m very comfortable that we haven’t started to bleed out into the countryside.”

She said the mediation provisions now included in the legislation make “a lot more sense” and while the over-ride provisions were "still there as a backstop" the council had "assurances" that they would not be employed.

Over-ride provisions 'superfluous'

"My hope would be that we would have that eventually removed altogether. It seems somewhat superfluous.”

The legislation makes clear that the accord targets - the number of houses to be achieved - will be regularly reviewed.

There is widespread disbelief in the community that Auckland will manage the 39,000 in three years target. But on the question of what happens if the targets are not achieved, Hulse said the Government had realised the council was not responsible wholly for those targets being achieved.

"We are the enabler making the rules easier, making the rules clearer and working actively and proactively with developers – but the final decision is with those developers and those landowners to get on with the building and making things happen and the targets are there as a guideline.

"They [the targets] certainly will keep the pressure on council and developers.

"But is there something the government can do to get those houses actually physically out of the ground short of building them themselves? We have to wait and see."

'A lot of chest beating'

Hulse said there had been “quite a lot of chest beating" around the targets, “probably more by the Government than the council”. But she said she was not concerned about meeting the targets.

“That was exactly the debate around the over-ride; that if the targets were missed, Government would step in. We quietly said, ‘well, step in to do what?’ and there was kind of a deafening silence, so the reality is the relationship is now much warmer with Government. They realise that we are doing everything humanly possible to make it easier for those houses to be built. But it is now Government, developer, council and community that need to join together to make them happen."

Hulse said the council had "some excellent developers who are very keen to get out of the starting blocks as soon as things are notified".

“So the first couple of years, that’s going to be the key. That’s when we really get a/ the plan proven that it works appropriately and b/ we get the trust in the community that those good developments are happening and then I think we will be away."

Going through hoops

Hulse said while the new developments were going to be fast-tracked, they would still have to "go through a lot of hoops”.

Another concession made in the legislation was the inclusion that new developments would have to include a portion of affordable housing.

 “Without that there’s no reason for us to fast-track the process,” Hulse said.

Developments would include “some greenfields and some brownfields”, but Hulse was not for saying whereabouts in Auckland they might be.

The council had yet to decide, she said.

Accord and Plan approved

Auckland's Mayor Len Brown, subsequent to the Hulse interview, announced that both the Unitary Plan and the accord had been agreed by the council. A council fact sheet can be viewed here.

Here is the full Len Brown statement:

Auckland Council’s agreement today on a proposed Unitary Plan clears the way for immediate action on Auckland’s housing affordability challenge, says Auckland Mayor Len Brown.

“With a proposed Unitary Plan in place, we can now get on with the actions agreed in the Housing Accord – unlocking new land for development and fast-tracking the build of more affordable homes in Auckland,” says Len Brown.

The Auckland Housing Accord, an agreement between the government and council, provides for streamlined consenting of up to 39,000 new homes or sections in Auckland over the next three years, but relies on a notified Unitary Plan to have effect.

Following today’s decision to notify a proposed Unitary Plan:

  • Auckland Council will be ready to receive applications for ‘streamlined’ consent of housing developments in Special Housing Areas from 1 October
  • The rules of the notified Unitary Plan will apply to all new developments approved under the Housing Accord for the next three years
  • All developments will include requirements for affordable housing, to be set by Auckland Council and backed by the new Housing Accords legislation

Len Brown says the version of the Unitary Plan agreed by the council will ensure a balanced approach to new developments approved under the Housing Accord over the next three years.

“This plan, supported by the Housing Accord, will enable us to immediately unlock the current MUL, increasing the supply of land for new homes.  But it also means we can move more quickly to increase options available within urban Auckland – whether it’s apartments, terraced houses or stand-alone homes.”

“I’m pleased that councillors have swung in behind this effort and backed the accord. It’s right that we work together with the government to address housing affordability challenges now, before we have a fully operative Unitary Plan in three years time.”

Next Steps

  • Publish criteria for Special Housing Areas – mid September
  • Establish the Auckland Council Housing Project Office – to implement the Housing Accord and oversee the streamlined consenting process – late September and ongoing
  • Identify the first Special Housing Areas (SHAs) - including requirements and criteria for the provision of affordable housing – late September
  • Receive first applications for new developments in SHAs – 1 October


  • The Auckland Housing Accord is an agreement between Auckland Council and central government to support increased housing supply and affordability in Auckland
  • Gives Auckland Council access to powers under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act (HASHA) to streamline resource consent and plan changes in Special Housing Areas (SHAs)
  • HASHA enables the Council  to set affordability criteria and requirements within new developments
  • SHAs will be a mixture of undeveloped urban and rural land within Auckland’s new Rural Urban Boundary (RUB) that will be subject to the new streamlined consenting process.
  • All applications will be considered under the rules of the proposed Unitary Plan

Nick Smith hailed Auckland Council's action in the following statement:

Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith today welcomed Auckland Council’s unanimous support for the Auckland Housing Accord to urgently increase the supply and affordability of housing in Auckland.

“Today’s adoption of the Accord and notification of the draft Unitary Plan by Auckland Council maintains the momentum for our housing supply reforms,” Dr Smith says.

“Last Thursday the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act was passed and comes into effect next Monday. The next step will be to identify the first batch of Special Housing Areas that will contribute to the 39,000 extra homes provided for under the Accord over the next three years. My ambition is to provide sufficient Special Housing Areas by Christmas to accommodate an additional 5,000 homes.”

The Accord will see low-rise greenfield developments of more than 50 dwellings within Special Housing Areas consented within six months as compared to the current average of three years; and three months for brownfield developments as compared to the current average of one year.

“The Accord will ramp up Auckland’s new build rate from the average of 3,600 a year to 9,000 homes next year, 13,000 in 2015, and 17,000 in 2016,” Dr Smith says.

“It’s up to Auckland where it wants to grow. What this Accord does is support them to get some momentum around building the least contentious 39,000 of the 400,000 homes identified in the draft Unitary Plan that Auckland needs to keep up with population growth over the next 30 years.

“The Accord will remain in place for three years and is an interim measure until Auckland’s Unitary Plan becomes fully operative. This Accord and new law are just part of the Government’s housing reform programme. The Government is taking action on reforming the Resource Management Act, reigning in council development charges, scrutinising building material costs, reducing compliance costs, improving productivity in the building and construction sector, and expanding the Welcome Home Loan and KiwiSaver First Home Deposit Subsidy to support first home buyers.

“I commend the Mayor and Council on the work that has gone in to the Accord and Unitary Plan.  The steps taken today are essential if we are to make progress on increasing housing supply and to cool the overheated Auckland housing market.”


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My 20% deposit + Westpac pre-approval are ready to go too. Bring it on!

The council are only the enablers and not responsible for their own target of 39000 homes in 3 years. Seems a bit mickey mouse ... letting the free market dictate the way in which a non binding plan is achieved ... tick tick tick ....

Marcus Lush on RadioLive has been querying why an express train service to Hamilton isn't constructed , to take the pressure off Auckland's limited housing land supply ....
.. a 40 minute commute to the city would be possible ... and less stress than the motorway ..

As a Waikato dweller i can assure you we want neither Mr Lush, or indeed any Aucklanders ,anywhere near here.

The only growth industries in Hamilton are fast food outlets,liqour stores,2nd hand car yards,pop up dairies,booze barns and ladies of the night.
No need for Aucklanders to come here at all but if you do it will be like a home away from home.

Incorrect, Mr Gold. As i peer out of my window here i see a herd of cows. Now Aucklanders may think that there are plenty to go around, but that is simply not true. I do not need a bunch of slick haired wide boys from the city, competing with me for thier affection.

Isn't Waikato dweller one step lower than sewer dweller?

No Mr Scarfie, just checked my septic tank and no Aucklanders were evidenced!
So all good.

You didn't happen to see Lisa's teeth in there while you were looking? Heck she would fit right in nicely in South Auckland now.

Well Mr Scarfie, there were indeed some calcium deposits. The local Iwi are calculating thier proposed invoice to investigate as we speak. I mean i don't want to pay it, but what are you gonna do? Bet ya they are just old moa bones anyway.

Mr Lush should do a little research first and ascertain if New Zealand could secure those with the necessary skills to complete such an endeavour - Chorus is struggling to do so

Mr Lush seemed unaware of the difference between an oil rig at 100m v one at 2000+mteres on his show the other day. I wouldn't be taking anything he says seriously until he starts doing some research.

"a 40 minute commute to the city would be possible"
That'd be some train that could average 192km/h between Hamilton and Auckland including up the Bombays!
Even to get to Manukau from Hamilton it'd have to average over 160km/h!

...I can't see an express train working... it relies on large numbers wanting to leave at one time going one way leaving from one place.  All commuters  needing to come back at the same time from the same place.  (woops I had to work late..what know?).  The cost of the service would equate to dozens and dozens of buses who can  take 40 odd a time and leave at different times, varying routes and so on. 
Nice as an idea but would need massive subsidys

Ultimtaley, large developers build when hey can make the most money.
I would bet that if there is a new glut of land available, and supposedly the prices drop, then we will not see the development required so prices stay higher. It is in their interests for demand to be above supply.

I think you'll find Mr Lush lives in Southland (Bluff if I remember correctly) and produces his radio show from Invercargill..
Does that mean he's welcome in the Waikato Mr Moa? Or do you have to be born in Waikato to be allowed to live there?

If he doesn't live here, then why is he inviting a bunch of nitwits to come here then? Why is he not inviting them to come and live in Southland or Bluff, right next to him?

I think he is bunking down in Auckland at the moment. Last week he did a "one-more-minute" article where he attended an Auckland-Town-Hall meeting with the AKL Mayoral candidates

I agree with you Moa Man. No Aucklander in their right mind would like to live in Hamilton. However there are many here who are not of sound mind............
I always like going to Hamilton, best part of it is heading north on SH1 back to Auckland.

If Auckland could increase the density and efficiency of housing on the city fringe (Ponsonby, Mt Eden etc) by flattening all those crappy old villas and putting in some smart terrace-style housing it would be great for the city. Increased activity - better crowds - less energy - increased housing supply etc etc.
Why won't this happen?

Someone once commented that inner Auckland was ringed by 10,000s of State houses. Why is that not systematically replaced by row houses. Keeping the same number of State housing whilst selling of the remainder as affordable housing.
Is it too difficult for our politicians who are all talk no action?

Perhaps because putting families in row houses (i.e terraced slums) encourages rat like behaviour which occurs when you pack too many people into a small space.
Maybe the pollies are right.

High density housing can be done well or badly. Ultimately it comes down to design, which admittedly we don't do well. But maybe this scheme would encourage better design because a lot of the houses would be put on the market to be sold.
I think row houses are better than apartments because you do have immediate access to an outside space and potentially this could be better designed and utilised than the outside spaces of existing state housing which mostly seem to be underused barren grass plots.

Agree Brendon, nothing wrong with high density when it's done well, that includes apartments.  Also the only way mass public transport starts to make sense. 

I think apartments are good for older people, couples with no kids and single people but in my experience families especially with young kids want more outside space than a balconey. So apartments can definitely be part of the mix, but not the whole solution.
I come from the pragmatic perspective of we need to look at all possibilities of increasing the supply of housing. I see this as one option. If that makes public transport system more feasible then I'm ok with that.
I am wary though of planners who start with the idea of promoting public transport and therefore density has to increase. I do not think that works. For a start who is to say high density housing is more efficent than low density housing in a resource constrained world. Would you rather be able to feed yourself from your own land or be able to walk or catch a bus to a shop where you may or may not be able to afford to buy the food? PDK our local peakist favours the second.
And artificially increasing density has the effect of creating unaffordable housing. So a transferance of wealth to the largely foreign owned FIRE industry (finance, insurance and real estate) and toff-nosed large property owners. This is not counting how radiating public transport benefits the property owners in the centre the most but they get someone else to pay for it.

Terraced housing generally has at least one major flaw that is hard to design around, that is every room should be naturally lit from two sides. It is possible to share walls, in fact desireable in some circumstances, but the fenestration deserves the appropriate attention.

Well built well insulated terrace housing could really wotk in the city fringe suburbs. Unfortunately the council seems to be more interested in preserving expensive leaky old wooden villas. It's a shame so few politicians have a long-term vision.

That's the gist of the unitary plan, to allow that sort of building in certain areas.  The reason Auckland is expensive is because we don't offer enough cheaper forms of housing.  If we build a lot more apartments, terraces and flats (and include them in the statistics alongside other dwellings) the average price will come down quick smart. 

Even if we have high speed train to hamilton.  No Aucklanders will want to live in the same city as Lisa

Tell you what Chairman, it just gets worse, there is no happy ending here.
I live in Cambridge. Although in a slightly better part of town.

“I’m very comfortable that we haven’t started to bleed out into the countryside.”
Ms Henny Pulse, chair of the Auckland First Unionaterised Council / Unitary Planners (AFUCUP)  made this astonishing statement in response to the Central Government's total steam-rollering of the Auckland First's  "Unit Rabbit Hutches plan for Urban Densification, Train Sets and Fees/contributions/levies/but/not/rates! funding".
Your humble reporter reminded Ms Pulse of the thousands of 1-10 Ha lifestyle blocks in the immediate vicinity of Auckland, which have served as the expansion outlet for their inhabitants, blocked from easy expansion inside the MUL/RUB/squiggle-du-jour.
"Pouf" she replied, and waved her hands  in a gesture which seemed practised.
"We don't concern ourselves with those who choose to escape the City and go play Good Life in the sticks."
"We are here for the downtrodden masses inside the RUB, and we plan Lotsa Affordable Housing for them as part of this Marvy Plan."
"Once, of course, we reach deep into the pockets of those Awful Land-bankers, Greedy Developers, Cowboy Builders, and of course the Marketers, and extract some long-overdue Fees/contributions/levies/but/not/rates! funding from their capacious pockets.  We term this 'robbing the rich' but I probably don't want That on the record.."
Your intrepid reporter, hastily concealing the return trip ticket to his Pukekohe lifestyle block, then ventured a follow-up question.
"But, shurely, Ms Pulse - may I call you Henny? - the immediate effect of any such development tax will be to add, and cost-plus at that, to build costs, as these types simply pass it on?"
Ms Pulse paused, then answered carefully.
"Why, we had anticipated That, of course.  We've entered into an arrangement with an un-named but gigantic building company as part of our Accord, and for a Modest Fee, this company will have exclusive rights to all such development for three generations or Ragnarok, whichever shall come first."
"This will of course ensure low unit costs, a good deal for our downtrodden masses, and did I mention lotsa Fees/contributions/levies/but/not/rates! funding for our poor yet sagacious Council."
Your by now aghast reporter started to mumble about Cartels and Monopolies, but the Pulse had by now departed, exercising her arms in what seemed like a parting gesture, and counting to herself - one Million and One, two Million and Two, Three Million and....

Yes she has a reputation way back when she was at Waitakere council.  I gave up on Auckland, sold up and move to a better part.. aka Brisbane!

A narrow house can actually work quite well Hugh, some of those houses are probably substantially better than the originals on those properties. None of couse the correct way to increase density but at least the tight spaces force the designer to think. The trouble with a 1000m2+ section is any clown that thinks they can design will and the typical New Zealand subdivision is full of the awful result of that excessive freedom. I have a very succesful 12' design in my portfolio.

"38 per cent of stage one homes would cost less than $400,000", so the average price will be more than $400,000. "The subdivision will have two, three and four bedroom homes with the first 22 ready early next year, plus bare sites. Section sizes will range from 600 square metres to under 200sqm, and average 300sqm."
So $400,00+ for 300sqm in a satelite town 10 km north of Christchurch. Affordable or advertising BS.
This is all happening under the combined councils Greater Christchurch Urban Development stategy. Judge for yourself if it is working.

Hugh that isn't affordable housing.  Those are slums - have you looked at the same type of thing in Delamain?  Similar is being built in Halswell and Pegasus too.
Single level terraces with 3 beds squished into 90m2 living on 200m2 of land 25 minutes from town is just straight stupity, and at the better part of $400k is not cheap. Nor will it lower house prices in the city.
Do you know what affordable housing is, or what the market actually wants??

#43 Bishop Street  $379,000
Not Rendered Brick and Cedar
Plaster and Cedar
Half monolithic cladding
No Eaves
a-half-potential leaker

One major political party is pushing for a " liveable wage " for civil servants , a CGT , and a rent freeze in Christchurch ...
... the other is busily strong arming the Auckland city council to free up land for development ...
Hugh'd you vote for !

The liveable wage may well have a few backers, not only from low paid government workers. A Capital gains tax not the end of the world in Australia; and if implemented here in a similar fashion; along with matching tax cuts on income tax, could well also get backing.
Grant Robertson has politely and conveniently ruled himself out of the leadership race with talk of a rent freeze. If that makes it anywhere near Labour policy then I will take it back.
 Meanwhile the Nats have copied and endorsed Auckland's Labour led Council's planning; and at least have overruled the Nats' own Amy Adams' ill fated attempts to stall Auckland for 3 years. She looks like being in charge of another loser in the RMA changes she's trying to promote.
Haven't got time for a complete list of National failures but simply could start with
Turned fiscal surplus into 5 tyears of record deficits.
Reached highest unemployment since they were last in power.
South Canterbury Finance.
Trampling over rights, as well as trashing a NZ based business in DotCom and Mega Upload.
Large and growing Current Account deficits.
Growing inequality.
Housing affordability issues.
Safety and environmental record poor.
Canterbury earthquake recovery looks incompetent from afar.
All of this when NZ's terms of trade have been the best for decades.