Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Long Bay development starts to rise

Todd Property focusing on mixture of housing that fits demand of Unitary Plan

Todd Property CEO Evan Davies at the Long Bay development and (below) an aerial view of Stonefields, Mt Wellington. Photos / Brett Phibbs
Todd Property CEO Evan Davies at the Long Bay development and (below) an aerial view of Stonefields, Mt Wellington. Photos / Brett Phibbs

The country's biggest housing land developer and vendor has sold its first residential apartment site at Long Bay and the first terraced houses have gone up.

Evan Davies, chief executive of Todd Property Group, which is creating sections for about 7360 residences nationally, said the first apartment block with around 46 units would rise on the ridge near Long Bay College.

Universal Homes has nine new terraced homes under construction and three sold. Another 17 terraced places from 142sq m (two bedroom) to 176sq m (three bedroom with study) are in the planning and design phase.

Those are selling from $840,000 for three bedrooms and two bathrooms to $959,000 for the larger terraced homes.

Larger stand-alone properties in the development are selling from $1.2 million to $1.4 million, a scheme which has been criticised as paradise in the making, but only for the rich.

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.

But the Unitary Plan would probably put the squeeze on and increase the level of medium-density in an area like Long Bay, Hulse said.

Davies said Todd was way ahead of the game.

"We're already building what the Unitary Plan demands," he said.

Around 400 to 500 apartments could eventually be built across the entire site north of Torbay "but it could also probably be 300 to 600".

He predicts around half the 2500 residences will be standalone and the other half terraced or apartment-style.

"It's probably a little more dense than we originally thought, partly because we can make more money out of higher density because there are more houses per hectare of land, partly because that's what the responsible approach to the community needs are.

"But it's harder for us to do. There are fewer people able to buy a big site for apartments," Davies said.

Todd's Mt Wellington site has more residences per square metre of land.

"Long Bay is not as dense as Stonefields."

Davies and Stephen Martin, Todd's senior development manager, said when work moves towards the beach, above the Long Bay Regional Park, houses could sell for more than $2 million.

Davies said about 100 separate building businesses were working at the 160ha site, including G.J. Gardner, Jalcon Homes, Universal Homes and Stonewood Homes, paying around $1000 a sq m of land, buying 450sq m sites for around $450,000, 550sq m sites for $550,000 and 600sq m sites for $600,000. Martin said only 62ha of the site, excluding roads, would be built on.

The extension of Beach Rd (road 16), which runs through the centre of the site on the city's northern outskirts, is now 2km long but is yet to be renamed.

Such high-density squeezing in and squeezing up on Auckland's edge seems a little strange - most towns and cities spread out on the edge and sections often get larger.

But Davies says that thinking has been turned on its head at Long Bay, due to the beach and internal and external parks. "When you think of the scale and quality of the public open space that this community will enjoy, it will feel very generous," he said.

"I don't think we're squeezing in because we have the seascape, the islands of the gulf, parks within the development and the Long Bay Regional Park. So rather than everyone having their own individual backyard, theirs is a shared community space."

Only about 100 residences are finished so Todd has many more years on the site before it is even halfway.

A new town centre will be built in the next two years and housing in that area will be denser, mimicking a traditional suburban development.

Up to 30 new shops, food and beverage and commercial units could rise "but we're flexible", Davies said.

"It could be apartments or offices or a mixture of both."

Martin showed how earthworks were under way in that area. Bulk contouring is making sites stable and safe, turning gullies and ridges into stabilised platforms.

"That eases the grade of the hills," he said, noting that land in the area was subject to slips so contouring and drainage was needed for good house-building land.

Streets at Long Bay have no grass berms, instead, they are densely planted and biofiltration mechanisms cleanse rainwater before it hits the stormwater system, creating cleaner runoff.

At Stonefields where Todd is working with Fletcher Building, the third apartment block, Illico, is going up after Saltus and Altera.

At Napier, Todd has completed its first stage of readying land for 70 to 110 residences.

At South Auckland's Ormiston Town Centre, sites for up to 700 residences are planned.

And Todd is also busy at Pegasus Town, home to about 5000 people in about 1700 residences.

Auckland councillors' opinions

George Wood: "What has been achieved so far is a modern residential development done in a manner that although the houses seem large and close together in places is still good quality housing.

"The earthworks have been extensive but the environmental controls are to a high standard, especially in relation to sediment control. As far as the overall development goes, it meets the requirements of the structure plan which was decided on in the Environment Court and the type of housing meets the current market requirements of the East Coast Bays."

Cameron Brewer: "Todd Property has poured a lot of money and infrastructure into this site to get it ready, including more than $10 million on wastewater and stormwater.

"They have huge capital and investment overheads, so cheap housing was never on the cards, nor promised.

"Given the huge investment so far by Todd in developing this area, not to mention the spectacular location, it was never going to be full of affordable housing.

"I appreciate Auckland Council wants more affordable homes on smaller sections, and through many of the 63 Special Housing Areas, it will achieve just that.

"However, Long Bay is something quite different. It will meet another element of the market and address another aspect of Auckland's unrelenting housing demand.

"We need to remember there are plenty of consumers out there who want a new house but it doesn't need to be overly affordable."

- NZ Herald

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