Yes and No
First of all I do have to mention that a few of us including myself and the Deputy Mayor had to chuckle at the Herald technically labelling us living in the wops. I live in Papakura while the Penny Hulse lives back out in Swanson – both considered the wops by this report I am about to run commentary on. I would consider Piha, Helensville, Clevedon and Waiuku to be Auckland’s version of the wops.
Chuckles aside the Herald article did give most of the Auckland Development Committee and myself something to chew on. The Herald ran an article based on a recently released report on “true” housing affordability that factors in both house prices and transport costs (to and from work).
From the NZ Herald
Buying in the wops? Factor in car costs
By Jamie Morton 5:30 AM Thursday Feb 13, 2014
Migrating to the outer suburbs may not be the affordable dream many Aucklanders believe, according to a new study which lays bare the true cost of commuting. Researchers have for the first time created a detailed picture of housing affordability in New Zealand’s largest city when commuting costs are factored in, with surprising results. One calculation showed that the most affordable homes could even be found in some inner areas of the city.
“When you take into account that people in outlying areas are so much more dependent on automobiles than people in inner-city neighbourhoods, transport costs should play a role in what locations we consider to be affordable or not,” study co-author Kerry Mattingly said.
The study, co-authored by Dr John Morrissey and published this week in scientific journal Cities, criticises status quo housing affordability measurements for not properly taking transport costs into account. The researchers created two separate income-based indicators to measure combined commuting and housing affordability across different suburbs of Auckland. This stands in stark contrast to measures considering housing costs in isolation, which show affordability generally improves with distance from the centre of the city. One of the indicators, which they said presented a more accurate picture of how affordable an area would be for a typical family to live in, found the most affordable areas were found in the lower central, inner-west and inner-south of Auckland.
Areas close to employment hubs appeared relatively more affordable using the measure due to modest expenditure on commuting.
In some peripheral areas, average annual commuting costs could be five times the amount shouldered by those living in many central Auckland neighbourhoods. While mean commuter costs for some of the furthest reaches of Auckland was higher than $4000 each year, some neighbourhoods around the CBD incurred less than $600.
And while many of these “accessible” neighbourhoods came with high housing prices, low commuting expenditure could often compensate, the researchers found.
First of all unless you see the kicker (which I have placed in bold above) you would think the research report the Herald is quoting was using the CBD as the main focus point. However, as I have highlighted it seems the report recognises Auckland’s multiple employment centres and has factored this into their research – or have they.
Apparently not well enough. I am watching a series of conversations between a group of people who are critiquing the research report with some interesting findings. I have noted one of the conversationalist’s has posted a reply in Transport Blog’s Including travel costs changes housing affordability post. I will extend an invitation out to them for a guest post after I have written this post.
In the end though and as Councillor Calum Penrose said in the Puhinui Gateway debate at the Auckland Development Committee yesterday; Auckland does run multiple employment centres and either expanding them or improving the ones we have should be encouraged. Through expanding our multiple employment centres the question does living in the wops gets eventually defeated. When being logical and given logical choices a population centre will usually choose an employment centre closer to them to save the commute. For Southern Auckland that means the following local employment centre options are available or will be available to save commuting into the CBD:
- Drury South (to be zoned heavy industry)
- Takanini (Light industry)
- Wiri (heavy industry)
- Puhinui Gateway (to be zoned light industry)
- Highbrook and East Tamaki (light industry)
- Manukau City Centre (classed as a Metropolitan Centre – being pushed for Super Metropolitan Centre classification)
- Otahuhu (industry)
- Airport (mix)
To make those local employment centre (well some are more regional) more accessible our transportation access (road and public transport) needs to be up to scratch. South Auckland gets some relief though the roll out of the new bus network next year but I do say we can get more done. The Manukau South Rail Link allowing direct services from Papakura/Pukekohe to Manukau City Centre would be one such transport access improvement. Another would be frequent buses (until we are ready for a rail option) between the Airport, Wiri, Manukau, Botany and Panmure (essentially the Botany Line) to beef up cross city connections.
As I also said in Facebook yesterday in response to the Wops question:
Greenfield has its place where absolutely required. That said Greenfield is more efficient if primary employment centres are close by. So for Addison extensions towards Mill Road that would be Drury South, Takanini, Wiri and Manukau City Centre rather than the CBD. Furthermore southern Greenfield sites are factoring in transport requirements and even a new waste water treatment plant.
Note I do not condone free for all willy nilly sprawl
So no denying Greenfield developments here but rather done more tactfully than done in the past.
I will leave it to others to deliver a full critique (positive or negative) on the research report. None-the-less as the Council’s Chief Economist did say:
“The measures that are currently used are just measurements of income relative to house prices, or other reasonably simplistic measurements.”