This week, Auckland celebrated its birthday. What better occasion to take stock of where the city is and think about what happens next? It’s a great place — but it can be even better.
In the third of our five-part Future Auckland series, we aim to stimulate debate. It’s not intended to be definitive, or to be a list of fully realised proposals. Instead, it aims to get our readers and leaders thinking and talking about our future.

5 great things


There is something for everyone in Auckland's housing mix; whereas not everyone can afford to live on the beach, many less expensive suburbs still have a strong sense of community identity and pride. — Auckland 2040 leader Richard Burton

2. For new housing there are many opportunities, from suburban infill, redevelopment of areas close to main centres, with townhouses and low-rise apartments to high-rise development in and around the CBD and metropolitan centres. — Richard Burton

3. An average first-home buyer with a budget of $485,000 could mortgage their way into any of thousands of stand-alone two, three and four bedroom properties in Auckland's outer suburbs, says research from Bayley's Real Estate Agency, based on government data and bank lending conditions.


4. The Auckland demographic is changing and in the next two to three years, there will be more one and two-person households rather than two to three persons. Reduction in household size means we can expect more houses being built to reflect the smaller household units. There has been an upsurge in building of apartments. — Auckland Council chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley

5. People have complained about the time it takes to get resource consent but over the past few months, 98 per cent of all consents have been processed within the Resource Management Consent statutory time frame of 21 working days of receipt. Last year, it was 95 per cent of 14,000 resource consents processed and 19,000 building consents. People can be assured that if they put in adequate information as part of their application, then almost all consents will be processed within the 21 working days. — Dr Roger Blakeley

To view our interactive map Commuting interactive: How transport has changed in New Zealand click here.

Auckland migrants

Bonnie Zhang, 30. Moved from Guangzhou, China in Sept 2013.

Ms Zhang and her husband John Yang, 34, bought their Flat Bush home in 2012.

Mr Yang, a sales rep, was already living here.

The houses in Auckland are "very good" compared to China, Ms Zhang said.

"China [has] very small rooms" and having a four-bedroom home and a big piece of land was a novelty, she said.

She was pleased the couple had purchased their home in 2012.

House prices had since increased dramatically and they probably wouldn't have been able to afford the same place now, she said.

Hazel Cocker, 23. Moved from Shropshire, England, in June 2013.

The high number of renters made it difficult to find a flat, Ms Cocker said.

"I was looking for a house share, because I can't afford to rent by myself and every time I would look, the moving dates are within a week or two within the advert.

"At home [England], you can get a tenancy agreement a month or so before you need to move in, maybe because there's obviously more housing, less of a demand.

"Everybody wants to live in Auckland so everything gets snapped up so quick."

Katie Wolf, 36. Moved from Atlanta, US in Dec 2011.

Mrs Wolf and her husband rent in Mairangi Bay.

While the couple love living in Auckland, Mrs Wolf believed it was incredibly expensive to buy a home in the city.

"It is shocking to me - I really don't know how people afford to live here," she said. "We have a great quality of life and live quite well. I don't know how people can afford to buy something [and have] the kind of life people want to have for their family."

Future leaders

Flora Apulu, 23, mentoring services manager Genesis Youth Trust, chair of Auckland Council youth advisory panel

"Young people don't need a three-bedroom house on a piece of land - we need compact sky rises.

"There are not enough affordable apartments for young people in the city, close to the university. It's an issue. Either you make a lot of money and live in the city or pay for a little box.

"There is definitely a need for a variety of housing.

"There is a shortage of houses for big families."

Ben Dowdle, 20, Auckland University student and campaign director Unmask Palm Oil

"The problem in Auckland is that it is missing a market for young professionals. It is a fantastic place to bring up kids with its parks and playgrounds but if you are in your 20s and 30s, do not have a car and want an easy apartment lifestyle, it seems impossible in Auckland.

"That's not to say everyone 20 to 35 wants an apartment, but there's a group of people that Auckland does not service.

"We missed an opportunity in the Unitary Plan to designate some areas around our transport hubs and ferries and build a little more intensely, for example, three- to four-storey apartments, and design shops around them where you can wander down to bars, cafes and the trains are right there and everything is within a couple of minutes.

"There are few places where you can do that.

"The whole city is not designed for that younger generation in terms of housing affordability and transport."

25 solutions


We believe one of the main avenues of creating supply is through rezoning large parts of the single house and mixed housing suburban zones to [more intensive] mixed housing urban. — Property Council

2. We want through the Resource Management Act reforms for councils to know, understand and willingly consider the implications of consenting decisions on building. — Property Council

3. Councils overestimate the available supply of land available for development and have no way of reflecting market realities in planning. There is a need for proper understanding and analysis into the availability of land which can feasibly be developed. — Property Council

4. Councils must take into account the impact of their requirements on the feasibility and viability of the proposed development. Otherwise, there is a real risk that the development will not go ahead, or additional costs passed on to the consumer. — Property Council

5. Some of the essentials are greater level of co-ordination between local and central government and simplifying the resource consent process while balancing the sentiment of existing communities with the desire to intensify development so there is room for all who want to live in Auckland. — Real Estate Institute CEO Helen O'Sullivan

6. The buying public needs to see quality apartment and detached developments coming through to the market that are not small and unattractive. — Helen O'Sullivan

7. I'm looking for the supply of homes in the $400,000-$800,000 range on the city fringe to start improving. It's likely we will see increasingly the apartment/unit options being taken up. — Helen O'Sullivan

8. Master planning of greenfield and existing built areas can achieve a well-planned community where people will want to live, and higher density development at a more affordable price. Examples of developments done through a Master Plan include Hobsonville Point and Stonefields. — Auckland 2040 leader Richard Burton

9. Government and council assistance to require amalgamation into large parcels of land (several hectares) in selected locations would facilitate higher density development at a more affordable price. — Richard Burton

10. We are discussing as a city around paying for new services and infrastructure. Suburbs that have chosen to accommodate more housing should be rewarded with better public transport and council services in light of choosing to grow. It's only fair that suburbs that reject growth should not receive extra services or infrastructure that we all pay for. — Generation Zero director Sudhvir Singh

11. Intensification does not have to be a battle with heritage. There are many pockets of land in Auckland's town centres and inner suburbs which are under-used and offer no heritage value - empty car yards and disused industrial buildings. These "low-hanging fruit" pockets of land should be transformed into vibrant areas with mixed development. The Great North Rd ridgeline is a perfect example. — Sudhvir Singh

12. Light rail would be an incredible addition to the central Auckland suburbs, returning them to their heritage of suburbs built around tram lines. To justify the investment, we need to allow for more growth in these central suburbs. — Sudhvir Singh

13. Allow for mixed development around transport hubs - integrating housing supply, transport and land use planning and allowing the market to respond to the demand for higher density living close to jobs and amenities. — Sudhvir Singh

14. Make renting more attractive. About half of all individuals live in some kind of rental. Tenancy policy and agreements provide flexibility but this is a barrier to regarding renting as a substitute for owning. Renting is a short-term arrangement in New Zealand and it makes it difficult. It doesn't need to be because both landlords and tenants, not everybody but quite a few and increasingly more, want longer term tenancies. — Shamubeel Eaqub, principal economist NZIER

15. Make land and house supply more responsive - regulations and local politics, fuelled by nimbyism, means greenfields development and intensification is not as responsive as demand could be. But nimbyism ignores the wider trade-offs: Auckland Council's chief economist recently noted that reduced regulations could be exchanged for greater local amenity, improved levels of services, financial compensation or some combination. — Shamubeel Eaqub

16. First home buyers should be buying now the homes that were built in the 1970s as inexpensive homes for their parents, instead of looking at larger homes in the more leafy suburbs like their parents own now. Home ownership is achievable but it isn't easy and never has been. — Property Investors' Association executive officer Andrew King.

17. A lot of people think it's landlords who don't want to have a tenant for a long time. Some don't want to lose control of their asset. But when we ask tenants if they would prefer a periodic tenancy or fixed term, nine out of 10 say periodic, because they don't want to be tied to a place for a couple of years. There should be a way of matching tenants who wish for a long-term agreement with the landlords who want that too. — Andrew King

18. The proposal for a warrant of fitness for rental homes will result in many places getting torn down and that will drive down a section of the market that tenants really want, like old villas, which can be in three flats. — Andrew King

19. Building materials are really expensive and it is a long-term underlying problem for housing affordability. There should be regulation to make them cheaper. — Andrew King

20. The Government has asked the Productivity Commission to investigate ways to improve the way local authorities regulate to make land available for housing. In 2012, the commission completed an inquiry into housing affordability. This identified constraints on the supply of land as a major driver of housing affordability problems. This new inquiry will delve deeper into how councils make decisions about making land available as well as decisions about increasing the capacity for housing in existing urban areas through rules around subdivision and intensive development. — NZ Productivity Commission

21. Rising stars - a handful of once unglamorous and working class suburbs around Auckland's city fringe have been identified as the next wave of residential "hot spots" for the coming decade - Avondale, Mt Wellington, Glen Innes, Northcote Basin and Three Kings. The homes are at about the $500,000 mark and it is only a matter of time until those suburbs eventually start to nudge average values approaching $700,000. Most of those suburbs were with Auckland Council's Special Housing Areas, set up to fast-track the subdivision and building resource consent process. — Bayleys Real Estate Agency Auckland residential manager Hayden Stanaway

22. It's got to be quality development. We don't want the shoebox apartments that came up in Auckland in the early 2000s. But also people want more range of choice in size and cost of housing so that's the aim of density controls for what is called mixed housing suburban zones. — Auckland Council chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley

23. The council's current plans for intensification should make more development opportunities for building low-rise one and two-bedroom dwellings, which is where much of the pressure is. The proposed Unitary Plan restricts such units to just 15 per cent of the available land within Auckland. — Peter Jeffries, CEO, Cort Community Housing

24. Government must urgently build more high quality state houses. — NZ Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly.

25. Bring in a warrant of fitness for all rental properties so they are warm and sound. — Helen Kelly

5 challenges


"We have got homes more expensive than LA and London. How is this possible? A dump in Auckland's Pt Chevalier demands a million dollars, which gets you a mansion in Beverley Hills in the United States. We have reached the point of madness." — Property Council CEO Connal Townsend

2. Dwelling prices are determined in the long run by delays or uncertainties related to regulation. The proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (the rule book for development, currently before an independent hearing) has a mile-long list of restrictions on development that majorly hamper density and intensification targets. — Property Council

3. At the moment there is more supply coming in at the upper end of the market (price range) than the bottom end. — Real Estate Institute CEO Helen O'Sullivan

4. Lack of clear direction from Auckland Council on the areas where significant redevelopment is proposed undermines confidence of existing residents as to just where development is going to occur and dilutes and disperses redevelopment across Auckland. — Auckland 2040 leader Richard Burton

5. Building a lot more social housing - there were 1142 Auckland families on the "Priority A" waiting list on December 31, more than half the national total of 1828. In 2004 the national total was 153. In the "B" priority, 1548 Auckland families were on the December waiting list. — Ministry of Social Development website

Now it's your turn

What are your ideas for improving Auckland? They could be a way to perk up your local park, or a big-ticket investment for the whole city and beyond.

The series

Monday: Transport
Yesterday: Economy
Today: Housing
Tomorrow: Health and wellbeing
Friday: Recreation and leisure