Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

High-rise not the only way to go, say developers

Some in the property sector say high-rise intensive housing developers take the highest degree of risk. Photo / Thinkstock
Some in the property sector say high-rise intensive housing developers take the highest degree of risk. Photo / Thinkstock

Developers say they don't necessarily want a more intensively built, higher-rise, more compact Auckland.

Evan Davies, chief executive of Todd Property, the business building more houses than any other New Zealand developer, said his company scaled back apartment plans at Mt Wellington's Stonefields in favour of the more spacious and more popular terraced-style housing, selling for $500,000-plus and ranging from 100sq m two-bedders to 220sqm four-bedders.

"We reallocated some of the density sites to terraced-style housing because we thought that the mix we settled on more accurately reflected demand in the market. People pay for land and more intensive construction can be significantly more expensive to build. It requires more infrastructure and a different kind of construction," said Mr Davies, in charge of building 5300 Auckland homes.

Others in the property sector say high-rise intensive housing developers take the highest degree of risk, and they cite bankruptcies of Nigel McKenna, Andrew Krukziener, Patrick Fontein and David Henderson as examples.

Auckland Council councillor Cameron Brewer said the new plan would force low-income people out of metropolitan Auckland.

"That's not the compact city, liveable city, people living closer to their work, getting out of the cars and into public transport. That's not the spirit of the Auckland Plan surely?" he asked.

People need to have their say on this discussion document because some of the things being promoted might actually lead to housing becoming more expensive for the majority, Mr Brewer said.

"The council is actively looking at ways to get a lot more prescriptive by forcing developers to build affordable homes, as well as looking at a new way to clip the ticket for those who financially benefit from the rezoning of land. But when you push developers' costs up, you push up the cost for the majority of people buying into that development because they effectively cross-subsidise the affordable housing component."

Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend said Auckland was facing a lack of ready-to-be-developed land and said the new plan needed to be flexible enough for city planners to modify the density controls for the staged release of land when required.

"Auckland Council's vision comes with a double-edged sword - achieving intensification targets will result in a proportion of our built heritage being lost. We as a region must be ready for this.

"We need to identify important buildings which give Auckland its identity and character and protect them beyond measure, and stand back from others which may become a costly burden on the city ..." Mr Townsend said.

The Property Council feared a lack of political will to implement the vision of the Auckland Plan.

"Intensification will need to happen in every part of Auckland if this plan is to succeed," he said.

- NZ Herald

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