By David Hargreaves
Figures produced by the Auckland Council this week show that the now disestablished 154 Special Housing Areas in the Auckland region had over 5,500 building consents issued for them - but 25 of the SHAs had no consent activity at all prior to being disestablished by May this year.
The figures are contained in a report to the council's Planning Committee (from page 63), which reviews and updates progress on the Auckland Housing Accord entered into between the Government and the Auckland Council in 2013.
The 154 SHAs were created in the period between late 2013 and last year. The last of the SHAs were disestablished in May this year.
The accord targeted the consent of 39,000 sites and dwellings in three years - a target which was accomplished.
The council says as of June, 5,527 dwellings were issued with building consents and 3,105 dwellings had been completed within SHAs.
The Orders in Council, which formally established the SHAs specified the proportion of dwellings in developments of 15 dwellings or more that were to be either retained affordable (provided by social housing providers) or relative affordable (targeted to first home buyers).
The report to the council says that there were 1,541 dwellings issued with consent that qualified as retained affordable housing. These were being provided by social housing providers such as Housing New Zealand.
To date, Auckland Council has consented 1,336 relative affordable dwellings through the qualifying development process and received 49 statutory declarations from purchasers of completed relative affordable dwellings.
Of the 154 SHAs, the report says, 25 were disestablished "without a qualifying development application being lodged".
It says that consenting and construction of development is able to occur after the date of disestablishment "but construction must be completed within two years of any consent being issued if an adequate application has been made and granted to extend the consents lapse period".
Councillor Chris Darby, Chair of the Planning Committee, said overall the Accord had been positive for Auckland, significantly increasing the amount and speed of land supply and establishing a strong relationship with central government on housing issues.
He said there should be "no more questions" about a shortage of land being supplied. With the Accord, helped by the Auckland Unitary Plan and Future Urban Land Supply Strategy, that job is now done.
"But the Accord also had some oversights," he said.
"It lacked affordability targets, had affordability criteria making it extremely hard to collect data and lacked requirements for developers to actually build houses once they had a Special Housing Area apply to their land.
"...We don’t build houses; consenting is our business but Aucklanders can’t live in consents and so we have a responsibility to find ways to convert these into actual homes for people to live in."
The council's Planning Committee has now requested a review of all SHAs to ascertain the number of affordable homes provided.
Darby said it was time to build on the lessons of the Accord from the last three years and "move forward to get on top of affordability issues in the same way we have with land supply".
"We will also continue to very closely monitor a range of housing issues including affordability and homes built, rising rents and house prices to ensure council can do what it can to enable greater housing development across Auckland."
The report for the planning committee, while mentioning that 25 of the SHAs had no consent "activity" doesn't give any reason for why that is the case.
In the report prepared for the Planning Committee there is a detailed breakdown of the 154 SHAs that were established.
It shows that most of the houses that had been completed by the end of June were contained within about a dozen of the larger SHAs. The biggest total on one site was 426 completed in the 'Flat Bush Strategic Area'.
Among the 25 SHAs that saw no consent activity before being disestablished, some were established late in the Accord period - in May last year.
However six of the 25 SHAs with no consent activity were created in July 2014, which is the same time as when the Flat Bush Strategic Area was created.
Additionally one of the very first SHAs to be created in October 2013, at Alexander Crescent, Otara, and targeted as providing for around 200 dwellings, has seen no consent activity. That's despite initial word from the planned developer Kokiri Trust of "an intention to have the first residential housing ready for habitation by May 2014, with the entire development completed by 2017".