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Auckland’s future is up and out

Extensive rezoning to allow 422,000 new dwellings has been recommended for Auckland's Unitary Plan - and that could be good for investors.

Wednesday, July 27th 2016, 4:00PM

by Miriam Bell

Auckland Council released the Independent Hearing Panel’s Unitary Plan report and recommendations today and they present a blueprint for Auckland’s growth which is upwards and outwards.

The Panel recommends greater intensification via a focus on urban growth around centres, transport nodes and corridors.

To this end, it recommends doubling residential capacity to allow for 422,000 additional dwellings in the Auckland region by 2041.

This is a significant increase on the Council’s initial proposal that there should be capacity for 213,000 new dwellings.

While the new figure might err towards an oversupply, the Panel states that the costs to individuals and the community from an undersupply are more severe.

To allow for this, there needs to be the capacity to develop 270,000 new dwellings in existing urban areas and 152,000 in rural areas and future urban zones.

The Panel recommendations to achieve this include that:

• Sections zoned for single house be reduced by 22%.
• Sections zoned for terraced housing and apartments (which allows for five and, in some cases, six or seven storeys) by increased by 25%.
• Sections zoned for mixed housing urban (which allows development of up to three storeys) by increased by 42%.
• Density controls be removed in residential zones.

Further, the Panel recommends that 60% to 70% of development should occur within the rural urban boundary – which it states should be retained but expanded to include 30% more land.

The Panel’s report includes 28 headline recommendations and its recommended version of the Unitary Plan. They can be read here

Maps which represent the Panel’s recommendations in relation to rezoning, precincts, the location of the rural urban boundary and the extent of the overlays can be viewed here

Auckland Council regulatory services director Penny Pirrit said the Panel had endorsed and retained much of what was included in the council’s proposed Unitary Plan, along with many aspects of the evidence presented by submitters at hearings.

She also said the new dwelling capacity recommendation figure (of 422,000) was somewhere between the Council’s submission and that of Housing New Zealand which had wanted even greater intensification.

For investors, the Panel’s recommendations could herald interesting times - assuming the recommendations are adopted.

Auckland Property Investors Association president Andrew Bruce said the rezoning of sections to allow for greater density could add value to the portfolios of many investors.

“You value land for the land’s highest and best use. In many cases, you would think that if are able to create extra density on land formerly for a single dwelling that would add value to the land.

“For investors, rezoning to allow for such use, would certainly provide additional options.”

However, he said for investors with properties just outside of rezoned areas the rezoning might not be so appealing.

This is because intensification could lead to less appealing results like increased shade, infrastructure pressure, and traffic issues which could also impact on property values.

In Bruce’s view, the recommendations focus on enabling practical, rather than theoretical development, but they will not be an overnight fix.

“It is an acknowledgement that supply is a significant issue for Auckland – not just demand as many have implied of late.

“But it will take construction of around 16,000 houses a year for 25 years to reach that 422,000 mark so it’s long-term plan.”

He added that a lot of what came of the Panel’s recommendations depended on the decisions of councillors who are facing election very soon.

Auckland Council now has 20 working days to consider the Panel’s recommendations. It has to publicly notify its decisions by August 19.

Decisions on the Panel’s recommendations will be made by the Council in meetings, which will be open to the public, from 10 to 18 August.

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Heartland Bank - Online - - - -
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Napier Building Society - - - -
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Resimac 4.50 4.86 3.89 3.94
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