Papakura Set for ‘Large’ Housing Development

Upwards of 500 “Low Cost” Housing to be Built – In Papakura


We all know housing affordability in Auckland sucks with the Demographia Affordability rating being around 5.3 or “severely unaffordable (affordable is at 3.0 meaning the total cost of a home purchase should not exceed three times the total annual income of the household living in it. Currently Rebekka and I sit around the 3.52 mark). All sorts of measures are trying to be taken to allow the average person to at least being able to afford their very own house to live in. In this particular case Housing New Zealand has put out a tender to the private sector for the construction of upwards of 500 new homes that are: state houses, social housing and full private houses. The NZ Herald explains:


From the NZH:

Big low cost homes job set to start

By Simon Collins

5:30 AM Friday Oct 12, 2012



Housing New Zealand is seeking a private partner to build houses on former Papakura army camp land.

Earthworks for Auckland’s biggest low-cost housing development in 25 years will start next month on land that used to be part of the Papakura army base.

Housing New Zealand is seeking a private sector partner to build between 450 and 500 homes on the 24ha site between Walters Rd and McLennan Park. Tenders close on October 16.

Its general manager of asset development, Sean Bignell, said the homes would be a mix of 10 per cent state houses, 20 per cent other social housing and 70 per cent for private sale at prices likely to be “in the high 200s to the high 300s” – putting most of them below the lower quartile mark of Auckland residential properties sold this year.

Finance Minister Bill English said recently that high land prices had skewed Auckland builders towards large, high-value houses, and there was “no housing being built for people in the lowest quartile of income”.

“That is clearly unsustainable,” he said.

A start on the Papakura project comes as Housing NZ bows out of another long-planned 10ha development next to the Weymouth child welfare home, which the new Social Housing Unit in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has allocated to “third-sector” social and affordable housing.


If you want to know where approximately, check the map below


Click for full resolution


So between 450-500 new houses are to be built in the vicinity to where I live. Hmm means its going to be noisy and dusty for a while but I am not particularly minding too much. Look we need more “affordable” housing and if Housing NZ can take the lead in offering this affordable housing then so be it. If I was to have any concerns it is not around the fact “low-cost” housing is about to be built in my backyard; my concern is around the urban design factor which sets the future for this large-scale project for life.

I assume the houses will be a mix of 2-4 bedrooms on sections between 400-600m2? I need to go hit up my Local Board and take a look at the plans as they are not easily found online at the moment. The plans would tell me what kind of urban design work is being done and whether the urban design method chosen will be a benefit or a total hindrance to the future of this development. And something tells me the urban design of this development is actually going to be a hindrance more than a benefit here. How so?

Quick crude maths tells me the following:

  • My house is 110m2 on 520m2 – and I have a 3 bedroom home, so that means I have a front and back yard
  • The new development site is 24 hectares or 240,000m2
  • Divide the 240,000 into 500 houses and you get 480m2, however take into account roads, paths and berms and the average lot would be around 400m2
  • Divide the 240,000 into 450s house and the figures move to 533m2 and 450m2 respectively
  • This does not take into account parks, green spaces or “alleyways”

If we want the kids to at least have a decent backyard to play in and maybe grow the vegetable garden as well (although that is a lost art in Auckland) I would suggest 450m2 sections for three and four bedroom houses would be a generous and comfortable size. Anything smaller and we get no yard space for the kids and that can generate problems if there are no parks nearby. And no Bruce Pulman Park does not count unless you want to cross a very busy Walters Road while the McLennan Park is often used for sports. From what I have also gleamed from the graphic for this new development, thankfully the roads inside the new development are grid which promotes easy of traffic (foot and vehicle) flow while mitigating against the Fear of Crime perception that often comes about in urban development. However there are only two ways in and out of the development (so connecting to main roads) which could be a bit of a pain and isolating factor to this new development. In fact the lack of access to the main roads could isolate this new development and lack of accessibility can mean crime can fester inside the development.

In all that regard, I am going to have to go take a look at the plans to see what is exactly proposed. As I said nothing wrong with new development even in my backyard (I knew things like this would happen in Papakura when we chose to move here), but piss-poor urban design that turns this much needed housing into a crime-bed will not go down particularly well with me.


Now as for public transport access. This development is somewhat isolated from the main bus network which runs up and down the Great South Road. Rail-wise you have Takanini and Papakura Station both within 5-minutes of each other although 450 new houses will put pressure on Papakura’s existing Park and Ride which is already short of spaces. This new development would be the perfect time for Auckland Transport to haul arse and get the new Walters Road Rail Station along with a Park and Ride (with 450 spaces) and shuttle bus bay to serve Papakura north, Addison, Takanini east and the new development soon to be built. Trying to encourage public transport with Walters Road Station and Park and Ride would be a good start in improving public transport accessibility, especially for our new residents soon to move in.

Papakura Local Board as well as myself support and are advocating to AT on the Walters Road Station, this new development PLUS the continued development of Addison would be the perfect catalyst into getting our new station by 2015!

I have written in previous submissions as well as the current submission I am writing (the AT Regional Public Transport Plan) for the construction of Walters Road Station, and am making it an election campaign pledge to continue to have the station built sooner rather than later in the Local Government Elections next year!


But in the mean time, I shall go search those plans for this new development.


5 thoughts on “Papakura Set for ‘Large’ Housing Development

  1. I agree with the sentiment of your comments but don’t feel a large development of low cost housing will resolve any housing shortages for first home buyers as most would be purchased as rentals and could end up as a slum area. Papakura already has low cost neighbourhoods andI feel these communities do nothing to dispel my theory. Unless the area is covenanted for only first home buyers to purchase I feel that council would be better served to look at the mixed price planning concept of neighbourhoods that cater for all price brackets which sees renters, young families, first home buyers, seniors and the more wealthy all living within the same area. People don’t just want cheap homes – they want safe and vital communities with good infrastructure and this mixed model is more likely to provide that.

    1. Well said Janice – The issue is being confused by equating making houses more affordable for everyone, as opposed to affordable housing which most people equate with social housing.

      And there is a huge difference between building a cheaper house that is only valued at that cheaper price, and building a house cheaper than what it still would be valued for in todays market. Remeber valuations are based on historical comparables so will always lag behind what the price is today. So if you did build and sell a house for say 1/2 the price you could sell it for on the open market, the valuation would reflect that market price, not your more affordable price.

      The two main issues with making housing more affordable is reducing waste (unecessary costs) and then being able to pass those savings onto the end user without the savings being highjacked in between by council, the developer, speculators, or the affordable home owner themselves taking advantage of buying a house at below its true market value and then borrowing against that equity to fund other spending.

      1. I have seen the comments thus far and along with the discussion that was had at the Civic Forum on the Unitary Plan about affordable housing I am seeing a now common thread popping up and is not quite making its way into the main spot light yet.

        “Unless the area is covenanted for only first home buyers to purchase I feel that council would be better served to look at the mixed price planning concept of neighbourhoods that cater for all price brackets which sees renters, young families, first home buyers, seniors and the more wealthy all living within the same area. People don’t just want cheap homes – they want safe and vital communities with good infrastructure and this mixed model is more likely to provide that.”

        That quote from Janice is the common thread that has popped here and in the discussions on the Unitary Plan but not entering the main spot light yet (if the Herald and NBR are anything to go by). I will write a post about this common thread most likely early Saturday (AT-HOP is keeping me flat out as it is). However after seeing some rather sad pictures of the state of our communities I could go on a limb here and “test the waters” to see whether holding Town/Community Meetings with our Local Councillors, Local Boards, the planners, residents and businesses in the communities, Housing NZ and NGO providers would work or just be a total waste of effort and time.

        I’ll go rattle round our Local Board Chairs and see what they think and get back to everyone

  2. Hi Ben
    You have every right to be sceptical; one of the creeping council agendas is that 1. as development contributions are normally a set price then this naturally disadvantages lower cost housing, and at the same time the more housing you can squeeze onto a site the more development levy income the council can generate without have to provide a corresponding growth in services. 2. As councils force home owners into smaller properties they also then deprive the homeowner of personal recreation space like a backyard for the trampoline, backyard cricket etc. The council are meant to mitigate this by providing more public space, but this is never a full or convenient replacement for the loss of your own backyard amenity. However, what is really achieved is the transfer of your private backyard asset onto the councils public asset books ie they now own the equivalent reserve space, not you. The argument the public services allow bigger, better facilities to be provided and better utilised is limited as they tend to be used by more organised sporting facilities, even to the point of being taken over completely by professional sporting teams, which then exclude casual users, at least to the point of the freedom of use you get in being able to use your own backyard.
    However, one of the main issues as you pointed out is transport. One of the urban intensification goals is to reduce car use, which is fine, except mobility and productivity are linked, ie lower mobility lower productivity. Therefore if you provide lower cost housing (presumably to be purchased by those in the lower quartile) without providing the appropriate public transport, then you will hamper their ability to move up. And appropriate public transport is not just a link into the CBD or to the nearest super mall, but must also be to where the nearest jobs are. No development of this size should be done without knowing how and where people will work.
    I look forward to hearing what you discover.

    1. I am going to file some requests with Auckland Council and Housing NZ via the Official Information Act to see what I can find. But if the graphics the Herald gleamed were anything to go by, it seems 500 houses are going to be crammed in with no yard space, little green space, only two – two lane roads on stop signs in and out and no public transport links unless you have a car to get to Papakura station…

      This is not looking good so far already

Comments are closed.