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PM English welcomes Auckland unitary plan ruling; Eyes development on govt land in Mt Roskill, Avondale and South Auckland in addition to existing projects

PM English welcomes Auckland unitary plan ruling; Eyes development on govt land in Mt Roskill, Avondale and South Auckland in addition to existing projects

By Alex Tarrant

Prime Minister Bill English has welcomed the Auckland High Court’s ruling on the city’s unitary plan, saying the decision opens the way for an increase in the number of houses on Crown land from 27,000 to 69,000 over the next decade.

The government is set to ramp up building on Crown land in Auckland, with medium density development potentially in Avondale, Mt Roskill and South Auckland in addition to existing developments in Tamaki, Hobsonville and Northcote, English told media at his weekly post-Cabinet briefing Monday.

The High Court earlier ruled that the Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel’s approach to “scope” for residential zoning in key test case areas was lawful. The move can be appealed.

The decision as it stands will probably allow for the building of slightly more than 69,000 new houses on Crown land in the city, English said. The bulk of the new houses will be sold to the market, English said.

However, he warned the building programme is still at the mercy of Auckland Council’s consent process. The government “still can’t build a house until the council says we can,” he said.

Building activity in areas like Mt Roskill and Avondale would depend on the council, English said. Community views would also have to be taken into account, he added. English declined to discuss the timing of the potential new projects.

Asked whether New Zealand’s labour force could handle the uptick in potential building activity, English said lessons from the Christchurch earthquake rebuild showed the construction industry had proven to be flexible and responsive. “People will be showing up,” he said.

An influx of workers as seen in Christchurch, for example with Irish and Filipinos coming in, would be expected as construction activity grows, he said. English said he would expect interest from foreign construction firms for large-scale development projects, as had been the case with procurement for existing ones.

Capital for the building plans on Crown land should not be a problem, English said. “That’s all under discussion [between government and councils] now,” he said. The government has already put $1bn on the table through its housing infrastructure fund. “Councils were saying they were short of funding. We’ve provided this funding,” he said.

Meanwhile, English noted there is a range of estimates for New Zealand’s housing shortage between 10,000 and 20,000. The Labour Party on Monday morning claimed a Treasury paper last year indicated a shortage of 60,000 houses, although the claim appears to be erroneous, English said.

Following the ruling, Auckland Council announced:

The High Court has today released a decision ruling that the Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel’s approach to “scope” for residential zoning in key test case areas was lawful.

The decision follows a preliminary hearing held in November 2016 which considered whether the Panel approached the matter of “scope” correctly in relation to certain areas of residential zoning in the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

The court was formally asked to rule on seven agreed questions of law. The issue at the heart of the preliminary questions potentially affected approximately 29,000 properties originally zoned Single House and Mixed Housing Suburban in the notified Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

The Court addressed the matter of scope by focusing on residential zoning in a number of test cases in Mt Albert, Glendowie, Blockhouse Bay, Judges Bay, Grey Lynn, Takanini, Howick and Parnell.

The court ruled that the IHP has approached the matter of “scope” correctly, with the exception of two site specific test cases – 117-133 The Strand, Parnell (relocation of viewshaft), and 55 Takanini School Road (notified as Industrial and rezoned Residential).

In his decision, Justice Whata said: “The purpose of resolving the test cases was to provide affected appellants with guidance on the issue of scope. It will be for them to decide whether and to what extent they wish to pursue their appeals in light of my decision.”

Auckland Council’s Director Legal and Risk, Katherine Anderson says: “As the decision has implications for appeals that are still before the courts, the council will not be making any further comment at this stage.”

Character Coalition, which challenged the scope of the unitary plan, said:

Today's decision by the High Court in Auckland to disallow the Character Coalition's appeal against parts of the Unitary plan means thousands of homeowners have been denied a say in what happens to the streets they live in.

Character Coalition chairperson Sally Hughes said " While we accept the Judge's decision, we are very disappointed with the outcome. We do not feel that the 29,000 homeowners, on whose behalf we made the appeal, have had an opportunity to be heard."

"It will now be death by a thousand cuts as developers move in over time, and destroy the character of some of Auckland's most beautiful streets.

Already historic villas in Onehunga in streets zoned THAB are being removed for intensive development and properties for sale are being advertised as development sites."

The Court's decision means that the last minute move by the Auckland Council to change the zoning of many streets that were single house zones in the unitary plan to multi level dwellings will now stand.

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NZ First says:


The Prime Minister confirmed today thousands of immigrant workers will flood into Auckland on to building sites, says New Zealand First.

He admitted, while being questioned on housing, that once more building started he expected to see an influx as seen in Christchurch.

“This is appalling. This underscores what a massive failure the Christchurch Rebuild was in terms of training Kiwi workers. It was an opportunity lost,” says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“There was never a shortage of people to train. There are 91,000 young New Zealanders languishing without jobs, training or education and the numbers have worsened under eight years of National.

“The PM and his predecessor had a grand opportunity to turn the future of the unemployed around. However, they ignored them despite predicting that up to 30,000 workers would be needed from overseas for the Rebuild. They allowed the big corporates, including labour hire companies, to bring in cheap labour.

“There were 5600 temporary work visas issued for the Christchurch Rebuild by mid-2015. At the time Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse was changing rules to ease entry for 5000 more immigrant workers.

“Now, instead of immigration being reduced as it should from record numbers, National will keep the floodgates open to the detriment of Kiwi workers.

“It is relegating thousands of New Zealanders to the scrapheap, pushing out the inequality gap all in the name of boosting the fortunes of a few. This is not letting the market decide, this is a deliberate action.

“To ensure they can’t get on top of housing demand they are bringing in even more people to drive demand up,” says Mr Peters.

Earlier today, Labour issued this press release:

New Treasury papers reveal massive housing shortage

A nationwide shortage of 60,000 houses, growing by over 40 a day, confirms the need for Labour’s Kiwibuild policy, says Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little.

New Treasury papers released under the Official Information Act show that ANZ estimates the country has 60,000 houses fewer than it needs for housing demand to be met. Each quarter, 4,000 fewer houses are built than are needed to keep up with record population growth. Latest Statistics New Zealand figures show building consents are falling.

“The solution is simple: build more houses. Labour will build 100,000 affordable homes for first homebuyers. We can fix this.

“When there’s been housing crises in the past, governments have stepped in and built, or helped to build, good, basic homes to get families on the property ladder and stabilise prices. It worked then, why aren’t we doing it now?

“Bill English needs to stop tinkering and start leading. Labour’s KiwiBuild Bill to start our affordable building programme is before Parliament. Mr English just needs to have the guts to back it and we can get on with fixing this crisis.

“The solution is in the Government’s hands, but only if Mr English stops sitting on his.

“Every day we wait, the housing shortage grows by over 40 houses. The results are all around us – out of control prices, speculators, skyrocketing rents. It means families missing out on the Kiwi dream of owning your own place. It means overcrowded, over-priced rentals. It means families ending up homeless,” says Andrew Little.

Okay , its all well and good for Labour to tell us something we already know ........... whats the solution ?

Kiwibuild is so outdated , Labour says houses will be built for $300,000 all up in their 'factsheet"

The Emperor is naked


Simple, the government has to build more houses,
The government has tried to blame the ("non existent" JK 2016) housing crisis on everyone else - but its obvious to anyone with 2 eyes, that they are still dragging their feet - they would rather waste 2 billion a year on subsidising private landlords, than actually invest in housing.

So after years of Labour Party Mayors of Auckland gifting $billions in unearned wealth to the rich, at the time it looks like the Auckland property market might just be stalling and the rest of the country taking off. Along come Labour and look what they want to do, have the taxpayer invest $billions in the Auckland housing market. Tax NZ to pay for Len Brown's Eff Ups, keeping Aucklanders rich and make the rest of the country impoverished.

A much easier fix for the housing crisis would be to simply free up all the empty land banked homes mostly owned by foreign investors.

According to this article from the Herald there are at lest 33,360 unoccupied dwellings in Auckland. And 185,445 unoccupied dwellings in NZ over all.

We just need to follow Canada's example to reap in the revenue and solve most of our housing needs over night (Well fairly quickly).

Yeah, implement a Foreign Purchase Stamp Duty of 20% and a Land Tax on unimproved land banks, and things will start to happen pretty quickly.

Well done Bill, you've said the right thing.

Bill English is not very good with Numbers, in fact he's hopeless.
English noted there is a range of estimates for New Zealand’s housing shortage between 10,000 and 20,000. The Labour Party on Monday morning claimed a Treasury paper last year indicated a shortage of 60,000 houses, although the claim appears to be erroneous, English said. Yeah Right Bill!

The Auckland Unitary plan July 2016 had a current shortfall of 40,000 dwellings in Auckland alone.

I thought Bill is a good honest Catholic. Why does he appear to be deliberately misleading people here?

Bill, "thou shalt not bear false witness".

You are talking rubbish , English has been minister of finance for many years and has steered this country though world wide financial turmoil . You should ask your self why do so many people want to come live in NZ and putting pressure on housing supply .


National has lost it. Need change. Whether change will help or not cannot grantee but can say with authority that any solution now is possible only with exit of national party.

A nationwide shortage of 60,000 houses growing by over 40/day. So does this mean there are 60,000 families without a house and growing by 40 per day. If they're not living in houses are they all living in cars, tents and caravans?

No they are living in rentals and I predict an increase in interest rates and a lot of houses and apartments coming on stream will mean eventually these renters will have the opportunity to become owners.

No shortage of houses on trade me about 19,300 odd for sale and 25,000 odd rentals ?Total 45,000 appox So is it a shortage of 60,000 houses priced at what? or rentals priced at what? So when they are all sold or rented I know that there is a shortage for real.

Many of those houses will still have people living in's not like a house is removed from use as soon as it's listed. Rental listings probably still have the old tenants in them, sales listings might have tenants or the owners living in them.

It's like how 'full employment' tends to mean a ~4-5% unemployment rate - just because there's churn doesn't mean there isn't a shortage


Yet again more bullshit and bluster from Bill and short their housing policy has been a disaster, especially but not only in Auckland and they are grabbing at straws for a solution. 10,000 to 20,000 houses short nationally -alternative facts also known as lies. This isn't even half of what Auckland needs. Mr English notes $1Billion put towards the housing infrastructure fund, paid over multiple years. Well that is going to make sweet F all difference when Auckland is already billions behind in paying for essential infrastructure to cope with the ridiculous rates of growth forced on Auckland of 120,000 people in 3 years. What about more schools, hospitals, roads, public transport, water, waste water and other essential infrastructure.
Flooding the country with immigration to boost growth rates and the tax take is a really dumb way to grow the economy. Not housing the homeless, allowing poverty minimal wages and minimal benefits to lock in poverty to children and families is also really dumb. Housing NZ just announced proudly they will be building another 400 houses nett in AKL for the next 3 years - a drop in the bucket of whats required. Record low rates of ownership as the government allows the property boom and unchecked foreign and investor buying of homes is also really dumb policy.
Vote National out at the next election, they are a bunch of visionless, deluded, dishonest charlatans.

As grandma advised her grand-daughter - remember dear - silence is regarded as acceptance

Tedious isn't it?

We've all been tedium'ed out of our brains

One thing for sure - we will be served more bluster and BS because our silence is acceptance

Tim Tam,

Good post. Though I,on paper at least,have been a substantial beneficiary of this property boom,I don't feel richer and the increasing gulf between those on the housing ladder and those not,worries me. I will not be voting National either.


There's no way that I'm voting National, not after seeing how they've sold out NZ in to a false economy at the expense of Citizens and vital industries.

If Labour and the Greens remain committed to far more sensible policies that the more developed world has followed; by restricting Foreign property Investors through taxing them, then that will help to bring in lots of revenue to pay for new housing and will help to even the playing field or at least provide a fighting chance for Kiwi's and our future generations to have a home. Rather than becoming tenants in our own land!

If National build new homes, they'll ultimately end up empty units for wealthy overseas investors to collect.

Definitely agree that national have to go or at least have their minority currently propped up at great cost to the country slashed. I am a NZ First supporter and have been for the past three elections. Winston has been speaking out on these subject for a long time. Nats will say he is anti immigration which is complete bollocks. He is pro immigrants that WE need, not those who need/want us. We cannot continue with unfetterd migration without the infrastructure investment to support it. Simple logic isn't it?

As lovely as old villas may be, there is no need for streets and streets of them, town after village filled with them. You can retain a few like the historic village in Howick, but by and large they've reached their use by date, well and truly. Time now to densify near the centre of the city rather than continually carving up new land. If you want a bit of space, head to the fringes, there is no room for you to have a quarter acre in the middle of the city anymore. What a pack of selfish so and so's, to deny others the ability to own houses in order to maintain their leafy inner city dwellings.
Whether or not we continue hauling people in to give the illusion of growth or whether we stop foreigners buying here is another matter, we are behind by vast amounts as it is, without even bringing that into the argument.

PocketAces, I'm with you on hating urban and exurban sprawl. But compared to now, Auckland was a fairly functional city even five years ago, especially as far as housing and transport are concerned. Rapid population growth from migration was not something these people chose. I don't blame them for resisting.

Back in the day when I was young, many of my cohort left NZ after university and went overseas. But when the time came to raise a family, nearly all of them left London or the States and came home. They gave up income and opportunities because in NZ they could have a decent house with a yard for the kids within reasonable commuting distance, maybe a boat or a bach. In other words lifestyle.

The way things have changed, now my kids don't see any future in Auckland, they regard it as a congested overpriced nightmare.

I agree that it is overpriced and that needs to change.
In terms of traffic, why not either live nearer your job, or if your job is in the city, live near the train?
I'm surprised they think Auckland is too big after living abroad - I had the exact opposite experience.

"Rapid population growth from migration was not something these people chose. I don't blame them for resisting."
You are correct Doris, I for one feel completely betrayed by this government with their short-sighted population growth ponzi scheme. Stats NZ projections have been blown out of the water by the recent population surge - how can anyone plan in such an environment.
I also detest urban sprawl, yet unfortunately, it seems the only mode of development, devoid of soul and a blight on the landscape as it is.

>"Rapid population growth from migration was not something these people chose. I don't blame them for resisting."

But many of them did in voting for a government who refused to take action against demand as well as spouting platitudes about supply. And in persisting in voting for this government without even holding them to account for campaigning on the housing crisis then denying its very existence for the next eight years.

Many of these seemed to vote very happily for the status quo as they watched their properties soar in value.

Labour gave them an option in a CGT, citing the need for action. Labour was ridiculed by the government and rejected by the voters.

I have never voted for Labour yet, but I've stopped voting for National because of their denial of the housing crisis and the need for action that they once campaigned on.

But yeah, I don't think it's true that none of them chose this. This is an effect of what many DID choose.


Len Brown (Labour) and Penny Hulse (Green) cut off land supply to Auckland, shoved up the cost of land and have caused Auckland to be building at less than 1/2 as fast as Brisbane or Melbourne for 6 years now.

A CGT would have slowed this even further.

So yeah, Labour doesn't seem viable.

Pocket Aces,

What fringes?

It is not possible for people to "head to the fringes" of Auckland. We have forbidden construction at the fringes of Auckland.

These are not "selfish so and so's", they can't move anywhere nice.