Homes demolished to make way for growth

By Bernard Orsman


Between 50,000 and 80,000 Auckland homes have to be demolished and replaced with townhouses and apartments to create the world's most liveable city, says a housing expert.


Martin Udale, ex-chief executive of McConnell Property, yesterday said that up to one in five of the city's 385,000 existing homes had to be replaced with infill housing to accommodate an extra 1.2 million people over the next 30 years.


The figures are based on the Auckland Plan, which calls for 300,000 of the 400,000 new houses it expects the city will need to be built within the existing urban boundaries.


The challenge of building 10,000 new houses a year to cope with Auckland's growth was discussed yesterday at a Property Council conference on residential development.


It followed comments by Finance Minister Bill English on Tuesday that the "housing market is not working properly" and housing affordability remained a deep-seated, complex and serious problem. On the same day confidential council plans for intensification in Takapuna were made public by a local ratepayers' representative, Colin Andrews.


The plan allows for developments of three to eight storeys between Killarney and Huron Sts, west of Auburn St. Takapuna is one of 10 metropolitan centres in the Auckland Plan identified for the greatest intensification outside the city centre.


Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay told yesterday's conference that the city had a crisis in the making around residential housing. "Most areas will be subject to significant change," he said.


The most affected areas would be close to the 10 metropolitan centres - Albany, Botany, Henderson, Manukau, New Lynn, Newmarket, Papakura, Sylvia Park, Takapuna and Westgate/Massey North - and near public transport nodes.


Mr McKay said the Auckland Plan, the city's 30-year blueprint and Mayor Len Brown's vision for the "world's most liveable city", set out to tackle intensification and growth.


He said the council was now working on a single unitary plan to bring the Auckland Plan to life which could include simplifying the number of housing zones to four - terraced/apartment housing, mixed housing, single house and large lot.


Faced with the huge task of putting together the unitary plan, the rulebook of what people can and can't do on their land, Mr McKay called for an intelligent debate.


Mr Udale, who now heads Essentia Consulting Group, said one of the biggest risks for the unitary plan was holding political leaders' feet to the fire. "We can't allow the politicians to hide behind community nimbyism and the cave dwellers," he said.


The unitary plan had to make widespread infill development easy with provision for height - "this town has a phobia about height".


"We want innovation welcomed, pushing the envelope to be the norm. It's how better things get done."


Neil Donnelly, planning manager for Todd Property, said the industry would struggle to supply 10,000 houses a year for the next decade. Todd Property was the largest residential builder in Auckland, but its plans for 5000 houses over the next eight to 10 years represented just 5 per cent of the city's needs.


Mr Donnelly said building had to move from a cottage industry to roll-ing out thousands of houses a year.


Housing squeeze


What's the problem?


Auckland's population is expected to grow by 1.2 million people over the next 30 years, requiring 400,000 new houses.


Where will the houses be built?

The Auckland Plan says 300,000 will go within the urban boundary and 100,000 on greenfield land.


What will it mean for the city's towns and suburbs?

More high-rise towers in the city centre. Apartment buildings up to eight stories high in 10 metropolitan centres. Apartment buildings up to four storeys high and infill housing in most suburbs.


How can the public have a say?

The Auckland Council is drawing up a rulebook, the unitary plan, for residents and developers. Discussions have started with local boards and some groups. The draft plan will be released in March.


 

- THE AUCKLANDER

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