The pressure on housing in Auckland is freeing up opportunities for residential development in Wellsford, with an 87-hectare block valued at more than $3.5 million for sale in the northern satellite town.

The block was placed on the market for the first time in 85 years through Bayleys Warkworth.

The land borders Wellsford's current urban boundary and has multiple land use designations. Bordered by School Rd and Worker Rd, it is currently operating as a grazing farm.

Under the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, 78.59ha is zoned Rural Countryside Living, 7.82ha is Future Urban, with 0.5ha deemed residential.

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The dual residential zonings allow for construction of new residential suburbs with a mix of medium density to lifestyle block configurations.

The Future Urban zoning is a transitional zone which allows for land to be used for rural activities until it is released for development as infrastructure needs are planned and provided for.

That zoning defines potential land usage as anything which supports the establishment of new communities - including residential development, retail and business activities, schools, healthcare facilities, roads, electricity sub-stations, parks, and public transport hubs.

John Barnett of Bayleys said the Future Urban zoning "supported Auckland Council's drive to increase the population of satellite towns".

"With Aucklanders also moving north to Warkworth, we are also noticing a number of Warkworth home owners moving up to Wellsford.

"As the pressure on Auckland's housing supply chain and supporting infrastructure has become tighter, developers have been looking further and further afield to identify opportunities with scale. As a result, this land has moved from being a purely rural location," he said.

"The development of this land would ideally reflect a visionary new owner who can see a growing Wellsford over the coming decades - with a thriving residential population, many of whom will be commuters to Auckland thanks to an improved roading network supported by the ability to live in a semi-rural township."

He said recent sales of farm in the area to lifestyle block residential developers included a 79.33ha former dairy farm in Warkworth, which sold in December 2012 for $4.48 million, at a per hectare rate of $56,473.

A 55ha grazing block in Matakana Rd in Warkworth sold in May 2012 for $2.25 million, at a per hectare rate of $40,909, while a 36.71ha property at Rodney St in Wellsford sold for $1.65 million in July 2014, at a per hectare rate of $44,937.

"The opening of the Puhoi tunnel express highway in 2009 and its pending extension further north firstly to Warkworth and then on to Wellsford, have considerably shortened travelling times to and from Auckland.

"This evolution of the motorway will really bring Wellsford into play as Auckland's northernmost satellite town," he said.