Long Bay housing development 'too expensive'

By Bernard Orsmon


Long Bay land too expensive to be used for affordable housing envisaged in council blueprint, say developers.


One of Auckland's few large-scale housing developments, at Long Bay, is exactly the type of model the Auckland Council does not want - expensive houses on large sections gobbling up prime land.


This time next year, residents will have moved into the first three-bedroom, stand-alone houses costing at least $700,000, backing on to Long Bay beach and regional park.


The park's facilities have struggled to cope this summer with up to 25,000 visitors a day during the holiday season.


Police have been called in to manage a "one out, one in" traffic system after the 4000 carparks fill by mid-morning on sunny days.


When the Herald visited this week some motorists had queued for two hours to get a park and more than 270 vehicles were lined up to enter the park, blocking local streets.


The size of the sections at the new development are typically about 500sq m for the first stage, with the largest section 936sq m. Three sites are reserved for terraced housing.


When the 67ha of housing at Long Bay, just inside the city's urban limit, is complete in more than 10 years, there will be about 2000 properties housing up to 6000 people.


This is the density of a traditional suburb, nowhere near the kind of density envisaged in the Auckland Plan, the city's blueprint to accommodate an extra 1.2 million people over the next 30 years.


Nor is Todd Property Group, which is developing the estate, answering the call for affordable housing.


Chief executive Evan Davies makes no bones about developing upmarket housing on the 160ha estate, of which just 67ha is for houses.


The rest is set aside for a green buffer between the regional park, roads, stormwater treatment areas, wetlands and landscaped zones.


"When you've paid what we've paid for infrastructure that nobody else provided and when you have taken 13 years to get here, the possibility of providing that kind of [affordable] outcome is precluded," Mr Davies said.


Todd senior development manager Stephen Martin said smaller properties towards a town centre in the middle of the site might be cheaper but affordable housing was "completely impossible".


"The density proposed is more intensive than most of the North Shore, and has been developed in a sustainable way that looks after the local environment," he said.


Todd has been handicapped in many ways to meet the council's calls for intensification and affordable housing. The company has had to spend $7 million laying a 2m diameter wastewater pipe and $3 million on a water pumping station to meet the capacity of the area and prevent stormwater spilling into the park.


Long Bay is being developed under a structure plan that faced considerable opposition and took years to wind its way through the Environment Court and appeal process.


Regional planning manager Penny Pirrit said the Long Bay development on farmland was not as dense as a brownfield scheme and it faced environmental issues and a public wish to integrate with the regional park.


Mr Martin said the new unitary plan for Auckland - the rulebook for the city - gave Todd the chance to look at all areas of the region and examine the best mix of land use for housing and the best use of the land.


"It's positive that they are looking at bringing in mixed-housing zones in the city, which will allow significant flexibility in what can be produced.


"However, we're concerned the council might take a more rigid approach to greenfield and structure plan areas, which will constrain our ability to offer a mix of housing options and reduce the number of dwellings that can be built.


"With Aucklanders crying out for more housing, council needs to work with private-sector partners and alongside the community to find ways of bringing more and different types of housing to market, in a faster timeframe, rather than simply rolling over current planning provisions."


Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, who chairs the committee overseeing the unitary plan, said the background to Long Bay, its complex environmental issues, and the value and location of the land justified some big, more expensive houses.


However, she said the unitary plan would probably put the squeeze on and increase the level of medium-density in an area like Long Bay.


"We are always up for discussion and I know Todd Property are."


The Auckland Plan anticipates that the city will need to accommodate an extra 1.2 million people over the next 30 years. It calls for 300,000 of the 400,000 new houses to be built within the existing urban boundaries.


Housing consultant Martin Udale told a conference on residential development in October that Auckland would need an extra 20,000ha to accommodate new houses in that time if it continued building traditional suburbs.


Mr Udale said there were few development areas within the urban area and one in five of the 385,000 existing homes would have to be replaced with townhouses and apartments to meet the goals of the Auckland Plan.


Long Bay


* 162ha land area

* 67ha area for housing

* 500sq m average section size for two-thirds of housing

* 250sq m average section size for other areas

* $700,000 starting price for first houses.


additional reporting: Anne Gibson

- The Aucklander

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