Tag: New Zealand

Housing, Housing, Housing

Is The Housing Situation in Auckland That Hard to “Solve?”

 

I see the Main Stream Media and Central Government have  got on the bandwagon about Auckland’s housing affordability situation. Much as I hate to say it, the MSM I am having no issues with reporting the news (when they do) but I am having issues with Central Government interfering in what is a debate between Council and its ratepayers.

I say that as two particular articles have cropped up from the NZH in regards to housing affordability:

First article

Govt to open up more land for houses

By Adam Bennett , Kate Shuttleworth

Prime Minister John Key says fast-tracking the supply of land will help solve the housing affordability crisis.

The Government is to work with councils to open up more land for development as it seeks to rein in New Zealand‘s high house prices.

Finance Minister Bill English will unveil the Government’s response to theProductivity Commission’s inquiry into home affordability after the Cabinet meets today.

He said it would act to address one of the main issues identified by the commission – a lack of land for building new homes – but the package was a broad programme.

“There isn’t really one simple initiative that changes the way the housing market works.

“It’s a very complicated beast so I wouldn’t get expectations too high about changing the trajectory of house prices next week.”

The commission focused on the need to free more land on city fringes for home-building, but Mr English said some of the best opportunities for development, particularly for low-priced housing, were within cities.

 

And the second article – actually an opinion piece

National’s affordable housing package lacks any substantial detail

By John Armstrong

Package? What package? No wonder National avoided over-selling the contents of their plan to make housing more affordable. The plan looks more like a rough first draft.

As Annette King, Labour’s housing spokeswoman noted, the Government’s long-awaited announcement was a combination of “considering new ways”, “undertaking more inquiries”, “doing more work” and “undertaking evaluations”.

The lack of detail serves to illustrate one thing: when it comes to increasing the housing stock, there is not a lot central government can do unless it is willing to spend big bikkies.

 

The two parts I am going to raise were both in bold in the first article:

“Prime Minister John Key says fast-tracking the supply of land will help solve the housing affordability crisis.”

Opening up supply of the land will help and was mentioned in the Auckland Plan, Long Term Plan and the Civic Forum (that I attended) for the Unitary Plan. What it needs is Council to follow through with the plans and get opening up that land now rather than later. So no need to worry John, already ahead of you there mate.

 

And from the Minister of Finance:

“The commission focused on the need to free more land on city fringes for home-building, but Mr English said some of the best opportunities for development, particularly for low-priced housing, were within cities.”

Well that seems to be more hitting the point on the head there. And the easiest way to accommodate what the Minister is saying is to:

  1. Zone appropriately
  2. Lower the cost of construction
  3. Lower the regulation hurdles to build

Get on top of those three points via adopting the Keeping It Simple Stupid philosophy and you might find the above points going some distance (but not all) into helping get on top of our housing affordability and supply situation.

 

I was pondering over my coffee this morning a few things. First of all acknowledging that a house is deemed affordable when the price of purchasing your house is not more than three times above the total gross income of the people going to be paying the mortgage for that house. Four times above the income is indicating stress but still okay, but anything above five times the income (Auckland is at 5.3-6.0 times) is deemed unaffordable and the situation needs to be addressed FAST!

The second thing I was pondering over was; who is actually getting in the way of solving the housing affordability situation here in Auckland. Traditionally I would stick my boot into our planners, however after the Civic Forum on the Unitary Plan last Saturday I concluded that actually our Planners can and are redeeming themselves here are actually not the ones in the way for the most part. I told our planners at the Civic Forum that the biggest hinderance to urban development were our planners and they simply need to get out of the road. That point still stands in my eyes but to a lesser degree now after talking to them at length on Saturday. Planners have their shot at redemption if they can work with the Local Boards and ratepayers in a multi-way partnership as urban development occurs. Saturday showed the potential there from our planners in working with that partnership with the Local Boards and the ratepayer and I am hoping that potential can develop and flourish (rather than go backwards and me having to stick the boot back into them again – which I don’t honestly want to do as I do that enough with our beyond hopeless CCOs).

Now I know there are planners reading this who I talked too  on Saturday and my message is this: Lets work together (planner, ratepayer and Local Boards) in developing an outcome forward for Auckland and its development through to 2040. The foundations were laid on Saturday and a lot of good faith and will was set at that Civic Forum. I extend my hand as a ratepayer to you – our planners as I don’t want to stick the boot in no more to you guys. I have ideas, you have ideas, we all have the same outcome as the Civic Forum showed, lets work together rather than apart. And that I make as a serious genuine offer. As for the ideas I have, you can read my rather extensive submission to The Auckland Plan which I will translate over to submissions for the Unitary Plan in due time. Oh and even though I am advocating the decentralisation of the urban development processes, Planners will be still flat-out if not even more flat-out as they buddy up with the Local Boards in delivering and providing advocacy during urban development phases 😉 !

 

So then if Planners are not getting in the road, then who is?

Sorry hate to say it but it is our Councillors and Central Government Politicians and in my next post, I am dedicating my boot to you both and how YOU are causing the housing affordability situation…

 

For Auckland Council Planners Consumption – My Submission to the Auckland Plan, and due to be translated to the Unitary Plan submissions

 

 

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.