After more than four years the Auckland Unitary Plan has been publicly notified and while there may be final appeals before the plan becomes operative, there's now clarity around what can be built, and where, in the Super City.
The plan aims for Auckland to become the world's most liveable city and provides for 422,000 new dwellings to be built over the next 25 years to house an expected growth in the city's population of more than one million people.
To put that into perspective; around 509,000 homes were built in Auckland during the 73 years between 1840 and 2013, so to say more than 400,000 homes will be built between now and 2041 is an ambitious target is an understatement.
The plan allows for a more compact city with more opportunities to build more homes in the existing urban area of two to three storeys, and up to six storeys close to town centres and transport hubs.
It also provides for expansion of the Rural Urban Boundary in places such as Kumeu and Drury allowing more land to be opened up for development over the next 30 years as the city grows.
Rural towns such as Warkworth, Kumeu and Pukekohe will become satellite suburbs.
There's also protection for the city's historic heritage with approximately 120 additional historic places scheduled, as well as the retention of protection of 74 volcanic viewshafts. Heritage suburbs such as Herne Bay, Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, Devonport and Mt Eden will not see much more intensification.
Land in many other traditional single house suburbs has been rezoned for mixed housing urban and mixed housing suburban where multiple dwellings can be built if developers gain resource consent.
A number of areas have been rezoned for residential terrace housing or apartment buildings particularly on land that borders railway lines, town centres or main arterial roads and motorways.
This includes land in Kingsland, Sandringham, Point Chevalier, Mt Roskill, Royal Oak, Onehunga, Newmarket, Greenlane, Panmure, Mt Wellington, Point England and Glen Innes. As well Avondale, New Lynn, New Windsor, Blockhouse Bay, Te Atatu Peninsula, Glen Eden, Henderson and Glendene to the west. As well as Takapuna and Albany on the North Shore and Otahuhu, Manurewa, Mangere and Papatoetoe to the south.
It's too early to tell how the new zones will affect land values and until the plan is operative it will be more about what developers are willing to pay and what they can build on any given site on a case by case basis.
Property owners on land zoned for terrace housing and apartment buildings may be asking whether their land will now be worth more and what options they now have. The best idea is to talk to Auckland Council planners as it will all depend on the size of the land and in many cases more than one site may be required to move forward on such a development, so it may take time for the land intensification to eventuate.
Land values in areas zoned for more intensification are likely to rise and if sites are developed for a 10-unit developments, for example, then each unit should be more affordable than a couple of stand-alone homes on the same land, so it's hoped this will equate to an increase of affordable homes in the city.
The latest qv.co.nz E-valuer quarterly report figures show there's already been strong value growth in previously lower value suburbs where intensification is already under way due to existing SHAs.
New Lynn is one example and values there have jumped more than 40 per cent in two years. Nearby Kelston, Glen Eden, Sunnyvale and Henderson along the western rail line have also seen values rise just more than 40 per cent over the same period.
Massey, too, has seen high levels of interest and speculation on land proposed for intensification under the new plan and values there have risen 44.9 per cent over the same period.
The suburbs of Point England and Glen Innes, just a short 15 minute train ride from the CBD have also seen values jump 45 per cent in the past two years.
It's likely this is in part due to the fact the area is under-going massive development with the Tamaki Regeneration Project which will see 2600 Housing NZ homes on 170ha transformed into 7500 new dwellings and community facilities over the next 15 years.
The challenge for the council and developers, now they have the blueprint for Auckland's future growth. is to ensure the city develops in such a way as to add, and not subtract, from the city's intrinsic aesthetic value and to take it from the eighth most liveable city (as ranked in a recent survey) to the number one spot.
In order to achieve this, the city needs not only affordable housing (for owners and renters) but of a high quality with sun, light, shared communal and green spaces, a healthy environment, clean water and a population with access to a world class public transport network -- so they can get to work as well as accessing everything the city has to offer.