Auckland Council says it has already approved plans for up to 23,000 new homes outside of the current urban limit

Auckland Council says it has already approved plans for up to 23,000 new homes outside of the current urban limit

Auckland Council has hit back at calls from Wellington politicians on both sides of the political fence to abolish its Metropolitan Urban Limit (to be renamed the Rural Urban Boundary) which supposedly puts a ring around where new housing can be developed in the region.

The council has released a statement arguing it is a "myth" that the current Metropolitan Urban Limit constrains building beyond its boundaries.

"Over the past three years Auckland Council has approved developments outside of the MUL that could provide up to 23,000 new homes," the statement said.

"This is possible through Special Housing Areas legislation, but it is also part of council's strategy for the forward supply of urban land.

"The proposed Auckland Unitary Plan... includes proposals to open up 11,000 hectares of land outside the MUL to cater for growth over the next 30 years, with the potential to build 110,000 new homes."

The MUL had been in place since the 1990s and the proposed Unitary Plan talked about replacing it with the Rural Urban Boundary (RUB), which would not be a hard line, the statement said.

"In fact the idea of a hard urban limit would be scrapped in favour of a commitment that there is always a boundary that ensures 30 years of land is available to expand into," it said.

The council estimated it would cost $17 billion over 30 years to provide the necessary infrastructure to allow land outside the current MUL to be developed.

"No one wants to see development in areas which aren't properly serviced - it needs to be properly sequenced and thought out," the statement said.

'They just don't get it'

Earlier this week Labour's Housing and Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford called on the Government to use its upcoming National Policy Statement on housing and urban land use to abolish Auckland's RUB and to free up density rules to accelerate Auckland's ability to grow housing supply both out and up. Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith said he welcomed Labour's repositioning on the RUB and a broad political consensus was helpful, but he stopped short of endorsing a full abolishment.

Finance Minister Bill English then ramped up pressure on Auckland Council saying; "It's a pretty clear signal to Auckland City Council that when the plan turns up in six weeks time they need to demonstrate it enables enough supply and Mr Twyford's statement illustrates to them that there's a strong Parliamentary majority for a plan that's going to allow more houses."

Twyford responded to the Auckland Council statement with one of his own, saying they just don't get it.

“The Auckland Council doesn’t understand the reality that having an urban growth boundary where land is cheaper on the outside and more expensive on the inside is a magnet for land bankers and speculators. And that periodically adding new land to a highly speculative land market just feeds that speculation.“I am not surprised Council Chief Executive Stephen Town was too embarrassed to put his name to this nonsense,” said Twyford.

Here's Auckland Council's statement

Urban boundary myth busted

Auckland Council is busting the myth that there is a constraint on building beyond Auckland’s current Metropolitan Urban Limit (MUL). 

23,000 homes already planned outside the MUL 

Over the past three years Auckland Council has approved developments outside of the MUL that could provide up to 23,000 new homes. This is possible through Special Housing Areas legislation, but it is also part of council’s strategy for the forward supply of urban land. 

The Unitary Plan could open up 11,000 hectares outside the MUL 

The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, which is currently before the Independent Hearings Panel, includes proposals to open up 11,000 hectares of land (that’s about one and a half times the size of Hamilton) outside the MUL to cater for growth over the next 30 years, with the potential to build 110,000 new homes. 

The new Rural Urban Boundary would not be a ‘hard line’ 

While the proposed plan talks about a Rural Urban Boundary, this is not a hard line, unlike the existing MUL that has been in place since the 1990s and was located hard up against the urban development. 

In fact, the idea of a hard ‘urban limit’ would be scrapped in favour of a commitment that there is always a boundary that ensures 30 years of land available to expand into. 

Servicing land outside the MUL would cost $17bn over 30 years 

Additionally, expanding into the RUB can’t happen overnight. The land is currently un-serviced and it will take time and in excess of $17 billion to put the right bulk infrastructure in place. No one wants to see development in areas which aren’t properly serviced – it needs to be properly sequenced and thought out. 

Hearings before the Independent Hearings Panel have now finished. The Panel will deliver its recommendations to the council on July 22. The council will then have until August 19 to consider the recommendations and make a final decision.

And here's Phil Twyford's response

The Auckland Council’s statement today shows they don’t understand the problems created by the urban growth boundary, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“I have been the first to defend the Auckland City Council when Bill English has been blaming them for the housing crisis over the last few years, however reading their latest press release, maybe he has got a point.

“Their statement from an unnamed council bureaucrat shows they just don’t get it.

“The Auckland Council doesn’t understand the reality that having an urban growth boundary where land is cheaper on the outside and more expensive on the inside is a magnet for land bankers and speculators.

“And that periodically adding new land to a highly speculative land market just feeds that speculation.

“I am not surprised Council Chief Executive Stephen Town was too embarrassed to put his name to this nonsense,” says Phil Twyford.

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?

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"Are'nt properly serviced"
What are they afraid of?
Surely there could be an area with green practices, rainwater, fancy toilets,solar selfsuficiency and scrap the sewerage, water, power, telecoms...
Wash your mouth out....


As long as there is land banking going on, and there is lots, the council have failed to rezone enough land.

Come back to us when the price of land isn't 10+ times as much on the urban side of the boundary than the rural side.

Sorry, not good enough, they deserve to be overridden by Government.

That's absolute nonsense. When the council (not the land owners) decide the next zone of farmland becomes residential they put that rates through the roof so youre forced to develop or sell to someone who will. This is not the farmers fault, its the councils.

It's hard to tell if you are high on something or just obfuscating with a straw man. You seem to be the only person who didn't get that my comment was directed at the Council.

Half the trick to land banking is buying the land BEFORE it is rezoned....not holding it for years after it has been. Although there is so little land released in Auckland it is still very profitable to hold rezoned land off the market or drip feed it slowly. There are very real examples of this happening in West Auckland - take a look near Westgate.

It's amazing how hysterical the usual (spruiker) suspects on here are getting about urban sprawl now there is a very real possibility action will be taken by Government.

That's good but we also need densigication. Expanding outwards is very slow because it takes very long to supply the infrastructure (I live in central city but I say forget about the selfish NIMBYS

NIMBY is an acronym. Stands for, Not In My Backyard. I say deport those that aren't NIMBY's.

Ummm......thanks for the explanation. Needed that.

Glad you enjoyed it.

Auckland Council's Urban Designers have created a fantastic 30 year plan for Auckland based on sound research. They have advised that a compact city will prove to create a better outcome than sprawl. Yes we are experiencing some house price pain now but this is temporary. Bad sprawling development will be permanent.

I'm not impressed with Labour or the Nats using this issue to win votes. If a few politicians can determine such outcomes we are no longer in a democracy!

I can tell you are kidding..

A small fortune has been spent "educating" us on the benefits of intensification. Now central government is saying sprawl is the solution. What am I to believe? Auckland council invested large sums researching the best solution. They flew all over the world looking at other cities. What was the point of this if Bill English can just wave his stick and threaten to take over if his wishes aren't adhered to? The whole process to create the Unitary Plan looks like a total waste of time and money!

Its just that intensification isnt everybodys cup of tea.
For example, Sydney, the highrises are just a pimple in the total city and they pretty much built three stories around the railway stations.

Yes intensificaiton is not for everyone. That is why the council is planning to build infrastructure to allow homes to be built on 11,000 hectares of greenfields land over the next 30 years. That's land outside of the current urban boundary.

But at $17000000000 for the infrastructure, thats $154,000 per home, you can appreciate that as a city we can't afford to cater for all growth in this manner and hence council has adopted a balanced approach of up and out. In fact you will find that the proportion of up vs out they are planning for matches exactly how Auckland has grown over the last few decades.

$17 billion divided by 400,000 (the number of houses in Auckland) is $42,500 over 30 years. So probably not that much on an annual basis. Especially as most of the $17 billion will be paid for by the new communities. Of course $17 billion is a scarily large figure designed to stop Aucklanders from asking questions of their Council.

But there is an even bigger and scarier figure, consider that according to charts the median house price in Auckland has increased $370,000 in the last 8 years. Multiple that by 400,000 houses and Auckland houses now cost an additional $150 billion! If we could prevent the majority of that sort of rise from occurring -then we would easily have the ability to finance $17 billion in infrastructure investment.

You think existing homeowners want to shell out 17 billion to prevent their assets from appreciating in value?

I was using the 110k homes that the infrastructure will provide for which i think is a bit more relevant than the existing ratings base. As you say, most of that we be loaded as development contributions on those new sections. Adding 150k to the asking price on top of whatever it costs the developer to put in a new subdiv.

People also seriously underestimate the true cost of retrospectively intensifying infrastructure. All of Auckland has been built on the assumption that it is flat and wide. The sizing and location of pumps and pipes, for instance, reflects that. When you move towards higher densities you run into all sorts of costly problems:

- replacing existing, serviceable components with bigger versions
- the high cost of construction work in an already built environment
- armouring or building redundancy into networks to mitigate the higher impact of failure in dense networks
- needing to use specialised components that are relatively more expensive to install and own

And don't forget that when we get to any building higher than about 4-5 stories the council shoves a whole lot of costs out of its patch into the building residents' laps:

- water storage and reticulation
- sewer reticulation
- stormwater reticulation
- the most widely-used form of public transport in the world: the lift

As a resident you pay for all those services via rent. Auckland Council doesn't actually count all those transferred costs when it declares that per dwelling infrastructure costs are lower in dense environments. They really only care about their own patch and don't pay much attention to the overall well-being of their residents.

Political flip flopping to suit the moment at any given time.

Or perhaps Machiavelli they spent a small fortune looking for the outcome they were desiring.....the Auckland agenda has had an extremely narrow focus which excludes far too many people........if someone wants to live like a sardine in a tin that is fine that is their prerogative the same as some people have a need and desire for is not up to Councils to force their particular model on anyone.............Auckland Council has shown nothing but contempt on constitutional matters......

Sure there is lots of land in Auckland that could be built on. We can all see that. The fact is however that it is not happening. We can all see that too. One suspects that the reason that it is not happening is that the market is being manipulated by the land bankers. This response by the Auckland Council reveals their complicity with the land bankers. They have had their chances and have either failed or abused the power that they have. The time has long past when matters need to be taken out of their hands. With the proposed changes the strangle hold of the land bankers will be broken and their smartest response will be to develop their land as quickly as possible. If they loose money, then it is only their own fault as they brought it on themselves through pure greed. At the end of the day I doubt that very much will built beyond the urban boundary because there are only a finite number of new houses required. The demand will dictate how many will be built and to perpetuate a situation that prevents this is not acceptable.

Well said +1

The current situation proves they are not capable, intervention is required to get it sorted.

We should all be very wary of calling for 'intervention'.....

heavy handed intervention in a complex problem with the aim of a short term solution has a nasty way of turning out quite badly.

The situation we have now is already an intervention. It is already a heavy handed intervention by the council and it has created massive complexity. Take a look at the silly map they have produced showing acceptable areas for development. Imagine the next map and the next and the next.

That is how i felt yesterday aftter looking at the maps
They hould just put two lines in,coast to coast, one at the Bryndwyns and the other at the Bombay Hills and be honest

In World's Best-Run Economy, House Prices Keep Falling

Interesting read, regular release of land for development and strong tenant rights..

House prices to income and rent in Germany are below their long-term average based on OECD data. In fact, they;re closest to their LTA than any other country, except for Ireland, the U.S., and Japan.

There are many great things about the German economy with their intelligent and efficient designs, people and industry. However before we get too carried away, their export success is highly leveraged by the distorted competitive power that Euro currency gives them.

And they work on Saturdays. That's deal breaker for me ..

No they dont

Yes I was a bit surprised at that . I thought that they were so efficient that they only worked 35 hours per week and up until recent years retired much earlier than most.

And the Germans are smart with intelligent design etc, and are also smart enough to be in position to control at least part of Euro currency policy. What's not to like? They cover all the bases. That is an asset. Not a liability.

This german lovefest is all very well but they lost two world wars and only tie in world cup soccer for wins with italy.
And we had to write off their war debts, forgotten when it comes to dealing with the greeks.
And some say Deutchebank is kaput

It happens. Move on. Look at German current voting power base in the World Bank. #4 I believe.

Germany has gone through massive house inflation in the past five years, when an old build comes on the market it is sold by lunchtime, salaries are higher here and as interest rates are low, most can afford to live in a place they want, the biggest difference is that Germans expect to live in an apartment where as kiwis expect a 400sqm Section in Ponsonby

Can't wait to see how kaput our banks will be when the reality of the Aus/NZ housing markets is revealed...

Yip not long now. Just wait until {insert something that never happens or has no effect here}. Just a little longer for the "Ponzi" scheme to unravel.....

You're starting to get it OB! Well done

Yip, just need to wait a little longer..... almost there......

We are stuck with the San Fran model but with imported money rather than high paying jobs

More likely to be the Los Angeles model if the sentiments expressed by others here, is anything to go on; with sprawl potentially stretching from the Bombays to Wellsford over the next 50 years, and crappy public transport to boot. What happened to Copenhagenization, is that off the table now? If we are to have excessive immigration maybe they should all be
sourced from Germany. Key needs to look a bit further north, rather than Switzerland of the South; Auckland should aim to be the Berlin of the South.

The lesson for price stability in every academic study on housing is clear - build more houses

ITS TIME TO NOT JUST GET RID OF AUCKLAND COUNCIL , but also those over-paid bureaucrats who try to pass themselves off as Town Planners .

There are cities in Africa that are better planned than Auckland.

the council have failed - full stop!

Cape Town is quite nice but i don't think any other african city i've seen is better planned than Auckland.

Just to start the discussion i propose we divide the area between the bryyndwyns and bombay into 100 hectare squares like a draught board and put a access corridor around the squares
And thats the plan.

Auckland Council has planners!

Not seen much evidence of that, it has to be one of the most un-planned cities going.

Oh come on now Munes, this level of stuff up doesn't happen by accident you know.

What about the underground money launderers operating in Auckland based out of China, Taiwan and other corrupy entities and countries.

I was informed this morning of 3 such properties being purchased by front men who have ID and Bank Accounts to enable land, houses to be purchased.

Off shore purchases have pushed up price by 50% over valued therefore destroying the kiwi family dream.

There is an abundance of land in and around auckland, but when you have huge money launderers inflitrating the banking system via via via not wonder there is a problem.

The focus should be on who is purchasing properties and where is the money coming from and how was it earn't i have been informed of one student who bough 5 properties.

But if the fish is rotten from the head down the issue wont be solved there will just be more political sound bits from councils and govt.

Roll on the enslavment of kiwi people and their families.

Auckland is a mess lets face it. The rest of nz is dead on its feet unless you have a freehold home $500k in the bank and can flee from the coming slavery that is about to have its clutches on this great and once free land.

Plan Part 2
At a time time to be determined the square kilometer will be acquired under the Public Works act and auctioned, with conditions...

So, a hostile take over of Auckland Council is in the offing ?
Any White Knights around ? May be Sydney ?

Time to go back to 3 separate cities, you think ? May be even more.
Supercity has been a super failure, any one can see that..

Why would you want $500,000 in the bank earning next to nothing. Better buying a rental that at least gives you a income

Its not hard to work out is it?

Cash is King. How much is spent checking up on the occupiers of a stupid rental. Value your time in what it's worth. What is it worth to change a light bulb or fix a stove element? For What? A tennent who couldn't give a rats behind who ultimately gets the rent money?

who has a stove that needs an element changed now days? Thats 1980s stuff. If they cant change a lightbulb they know they are gone at the next renewal. Thats just willful ignorance, costing your landlord time and or money.

Yeah. Imagine having the nouse to change a stove element, or even change a light bulb. Such a shame when the youf of today could be spending thier time prancing around on thier iphone all bleeding day. Still, dirty jobs ehhh, someones got to do em.

Awesome, more cars on the motorway with no infrastructure in place for decades. Talk about backward thinking.

Time for some new thinking.
You may not be aware that British Rail have a line that snakes north past Helensville.
Perhaps time for some new stations.

I dont think British rail are either.....

Then it will have to be Deutcche Bahn if that helps

sounds great but that requires a second harbour crossing and either stacking the motorway or widening it. Both very hard choices no one wants to make in the next decade.

They arent great but it will sure beat sitting in traffic 6 hours a day.

That's Ok within 20 years max we wont have cars, or not most of us.

The current government is allergic to rail improvements. The current line is slower than the bus and you can't run electric lines through the tunnel at waitakere. So it's the motorway or no way, and we all know how great the motorway out west runs. Not hard to see the the locals at Huapai don't want any more development near them with the traffic the way it is.

Public transport ids for poor ppl who wont vote for them, hardly surprising then.

Henny Pulse, Deputy Squawker for the Associated Cluckfusters Collective, is all a’flutter about the challenges recently made to the proposed Unitary Plan.

Your humble scribe interviewed her on the background. Henny, resplendent in polished wattles and her customary bright pink legband, was positively crowing about the proposals.

‘As you know’, she intoned, ‘we already have a Plan, which includes a RUB. It’s taken years and years and a whole lotta pellets kindly supplied by our ever-giving funders, to get this to the starting point. We have a whole team devoted to it, the grey-leg-banded ones. We call them the ClusterFlock. And we have a Hendependent Hearings Panel to make sure it goes through just like we want. And there are 23,000, no wait, 23,005 new plans consented. So the challenge is just piffle - there's no shortage of Potential HenHouses.’

Your scribe reminded Henny that the point of the challenge was that the land pricing was All Clucked Up because of the RUB, as shown by the Productivity Commissions Hextensive research. This shows price differentials for raw urban land inside the chicken-fencing, that were around 10 times the price of the cow paddocks Outside the aforesaid fence. Plus, your scribe boldly asserted, the assorted CluckFusters had caved to the NIMBY and BANANA types who infest the Wider Chicken-run.

Henny was quick to bounce this away.

‘Why’, she warbled, ‘there just hasn’t been enough thought given to the working poor and those who need to get their tiny claws on the first rung of the Ladder to Permanent Perchdom, not to mention laying the odd Egg or three in a Suitable Nesting-Box. That's what those 23,005, no, wait, 23,023 new consents are all about. Perches for All!’

Assuming the royal ‘we’, we then reminded Henny that this didn't at all address the two Unfortunate Obstacles to Affordable perches: the fact that artificial chicken-fencerating raised HenHouse prices everywhere, and that practically every one of those 23.040 consents could not be afforded by younger two-tooth chickens, or by those with Insufficient Chicken-feed to - er - Deposit.

‘Oh, that’, she waved an arm dismissively. ‘Well, as you will be aware, we now have a Team of Henconomists who have clucked around with this notion, subjected it to Henpirical Tests and have advised us of their findings.’

‘It seems there's a rare phenomehen they are terming Henflation, which has thereby condemned a whole generation of hatchlings to nesting under bridges and at the top of power poles – all Elfin Safety Hazards in the Extreme. Nothing to do with Fences or suchlike.’

‘Therefore we are determined, after more, careful Henconomic Research, to put a stop to this Henflation in the Interests of the Wider Flock’.

We then reminded Henny that the rare phenomehen had already caused Nesting-Box prices, expressed in terms of years of pellet supply per annum, to rise way above 10 years’ supply: in the Severely UnHenFordable range. And what did she propose to do about That, given that there was, whodathunk, a link between Planning and Price?

‘Well, nothing immediate’, Henny replied. ‘We will have to rely on the Sage Advice of our Henconomists and Planners to get ourselves out of this. Plus of course, the Hendependent Panel will cast their completely unbiased eye over it all. What more could one ask? What? What? What-wat-Whaaaaaat?’.

‘Now, sorry, must fly, there’s Perch Contest soon and I wanna be Head Hen for once’.

And so she departed, leaving your faithful scribe to ponder why it was that the very same Cluster-Flock who had propelled us Into all this schemozzle, were gonna be relied upon to get us Out…..

Top work!

I must confess to Greenishly Recycling large chunks of an older post, but I understand that's fully in line with ACC policy.

Besides, being slow-moving and none too bright, TLA bureaucrats are always Comedy Gold raw material.

Well, if you can't recycle satire on a Friday -- what is life coming to?

And that is a lot to think about.

Council need to do far more and be concerned with winters cold rainy nights that those poor buggers freezing out their on the street or in cramped condition live with due to their incompetent planning and action


More denial from auckland. What don't they get about competitive urban housing markets? How many planners ars there? 400? Clearly more does not mean better. In fact it probably only reinforces groupthink.

I hope you are not offended about my comments.
We really need a shake out if Auckland is to be a international city

I agree with Auckland council...3,666 new homes to be built outside of the current urban boundary seems OK, perhaps they need to up that to say 5,000, the rest you get by building upwards or building townhouses on existing lots

How about charging residential rates on land that has been rezoned but undeveloped. The land bankers need a swift kick up the ass.

It seejs that most commentators fail to understand the effect on underlying lot prices of having an in boundary/ out of boundary issue. Eliminate it entirely. This council beauracracy, with decades of self serving incompetency, simply needs to be swept away, take the job off them alltogether.

Perhaps stop blaming the council for an explosion of population growth caused by our immigration policies.
Its a no brainer that if you raise the countries population by 60,000 people year on year that the infrastructure can't cope. 68,000 population growth in the last 12 months alone. Thats more people than live in Whangarei, Whangarei has a hospital, over 20 schools, a sewerage system, 1000 km of paved streets with footpaths and storm water etc etc. 68,000 migrants arrive in NZ in the last year alone and that infrastructure is provided or upgraded or overwhelmed at the cost of the NZ taxpayer. That cost is financial and quality of life. We don't owe these people a home or a job or hospital care. Population growth is not a sustainable economic recipe. Yes our economy has a temporary boom and some of us get rich. when the boom is over, the hangover is increased poverty for the majority of NZers. The larger the population the less for everyone. Stop blaming the council and recognize we have a catastrophic immigration policy. Think past our personal greed and think about our young people who are having there futures stolen from them.

How about this, why don't we look at zero-growthing Auckland? Stop all growth in its tracks, so that people are forced to go and live elsewhere? Wouldn't that actually be a great outcome for most people. Auckland is loathed by many and there are lots of spots in NZ far nicer to live in. Everyone is fixated on accommodating unending growth. But of course to even think like this is taboo. For some reason we all have to "support" growth.

On a related note, how come the Greens have been so quiet on the excessive immigration here pressuring our resources? They certainly need to have a read of the own immigration policy and start earning their keep. Or is it that the media ignores them?

hi denpal. You miss my point. We don't owe these people a home. The provinces already have high unemployment. The NZ taxpayer doesn't need the financial burden of providing infrastructure that is needed with increased population. Its only a matter of time and we will need more electricity generation, a new Auckland harbor bridge etc etc, are the migrants going to build this new infrastructure that is needed to support a larger population? of coarse not, the costs fall on the NZ taxpayer. and ratepayers.

Northland Hippy - the great thing is that all the migrants will be living in cars and these come with a built in power supply (alternator - assuming they can afford the fuel to run the engine), so there will be no additional draw from the national grid. Its a win/win situation really.

Downside is that they don't have to pay rates at this stage. However I can see Len and his team of council pro's looking at the option of adding council fee's into vehicle registration in the near future to tap into this potential gold mine of additional income.

So overall not really much additional infrastructure that needs to be built for all the new arrivals to Auckland. Perhaps we should be turning Auckland golf courses into caravan parks? (seriously....)

'End of the day' this is a great outcome for Auckland that needs to celebrated asap.

Yeah, good point Independent Observer. Our Prime Minister says "its a celebration that our country is so popular that so many people want to live here". I seriously want people to take notice what is happening but most of the comments on this site are hating on property investors, instead of recognizing that property investors are a symptom of the real problem. The real problem being too many immigrants and foreign buyers buying NZ property as Smith so correctly points out. Anyone anywhere in the world can purchase property in NZ. even if it was just 3% foreign buyers, thats 3% too many. Yeah sure if they were making helpful investments we would all be winners but there not so where not.

Government is jusy passing the buck. Not to be bullied by one but to stand for truth and justice.