Two years after Auckland Council and the Government signed a "housing accord", only 102 houses are known to have been built under its "fast-track" rules.

All of them have been constructed in just two areas: Weymouth and northern Tamaki. The council is not aware of any homes being completed under the fast-track provisions in any of the other 95 special housing areas (SHAs).

Instead, at least two blocks of land and a commercial property have been put up for sale after their value was boosted by being designated as SHAs. One was advertised as "a land-banking option".

At least one other property owner has opted out of the fast-track provisions allowed under the SHA rules because these require a proportion of "affordable" housing.


The "affordable" threshold, set at 75 per cent of the region's median house price, is now $578,250. But Ivan Frisken, who is building 140 homes in one of the first SHAs, in Murphys Rd, Flat Bush, said land values had risen so fast that each section was now worth about $500,000 and completed houses would sell for at least $1.1 million.

"We are not getting involved with the SHA side of it because as far as I was concerned it's not really an area where special housing would be appropriate," he said.

Surprisingly, the council is unsure how many houses have actually been built under the SHA rules. Its manager of housing growth and infrastructure strategy, David Clelland, said it had not yet set up a system to tag building compliance certificates when homes were completed in an SHA.

"We need a better system for the Housing Project Office to be informed that a home has been completed," he said.

"We know of the [102], because our compliance officer wanted to check the number [in Weymouth and Northern Tamaki]. We will have to do more of that phone calling."

The housing accord, signed in October 2013, set a target of 39,000 new sections created and dwellings consented over three years.

So far the council knows of building consents for 2027 homes in 26 of the 97 SHAs.

More broadly across the region, just over half (19,921) of the targeted 39,000 new sections and building consents were achieved in the 21 months to the end of June. The numbers exceeded a target of 9000 in the first year to September last year, but are running behind a target of 13,000 for the year to September this year, with only 8861 new sections and dwelling consents by June.


The owners of at least two blocks of land and one commercial site in special housing areas have put their properties up for sale without building a single house.

One 4.2ha block at Paerata, which is part of a planned redevelopment of the Wesley College site, was advertised by Bayleys in August as "a prime development opportunity for an active investor or as a land-banking option".

A 0.6ha site, currently commercial, in George Tce, Onehunga, was designated as an SHA in December 2013 but is now for sale in a tender closing on Wednesday. A spokesman for the Masfen Group, whose principals Peter and Rolf Masfen own the land, declined to comment.

A 16ha rural block in Oraha Rd, Kumeu, has also been sold since it was designated an SHA in May last year.

The council data shows that 622 of the 2027 homes consented in special housing areas, including all 102 actually completed so far, are "affordable".

Housing Minister Nick Smith said the data was not comprehensive.


"There are no accurate figures on the number of houses completed," he said.

Labour Party housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the SHAs had created "an even greater property speculator's opportunity for developers and land-bankers and has not led to the building of substantial numbers of new houses".

Costs blowouts upset owner of $70m project

Illustration of 10 St Marks Rd, Remuera.
Illustration of 10 St Marks Rd, Remuera.

A medical specialist is planning a $70 million Remuera project on his land, declared a Special Housing Area.

"I'm the accidental developer who has become horrified at the costs," complains John Harman, founder of one of New Zealand's largest surgical breast specialist facilities.

Issues include the discovery of a rock-solid lava flow 2.5m underground, sparking major geotechnical testing, and proximity to the Southern Motorway, which placed restrictions on his scheme.

The St Marks Rd land is valued at about $20 million and he has consent for 79 units, but only plans to build the first 48 of those.

John Harman, who is developing a $70m Remuera project. Photo / Supplied
John Harman, who is developing a $70m Remuera project. Photo / Supplied

As a special housing area, 10 per cent of the new units must be affordable so four units are being marketed for $450,000: "That makes all the other places more expensive because they're subsidising those. It's ... essentially unfair."

Having the land zoned as special housing resulted in fast approval.

"It took me a month to get consent but I spent a year modifying my plans and interactions with Auckland Council," he said.

And after all the frustration and delays, what will he make on the project? "Ten million to $15 million profit. But it's not about the money, it's about the quality of life."

Ree Anderson, the council's housing project director, said non-notified consent was processed in just 13 working days after all the information was in.