Auckland Desperate for More Residential Land

land construction planning

The city of Auckland needs to double its supply of land available for residential construction if it is to meet its accommodate a rising population and meet long-term government targets for housing, a new report says.

Released on Wednesday by New Zealand Minister for Housing Dr Nick Smith, the Residential Land Available in Auckland report highlights a trend of reduced land availability in and around the city as well as soaring prices for vacant land.

Thanks to a combination of population growth and changing household make-ups, with a trend toward smaller household sizes, Auckland City Council has previously said the city and surrounding region will need 400,000 new dwellings over the next three decades – roughly 13,000 dwellings per year.

Current land supply, however, falls well short of government targets. Land that has either been subdivided and is ready to be built on or is ready for subdivision amounts to the capacity of 14,500 dwellings, well short of the Council’s target setting of five years’ worth of supply (estimated at 23,250 dwellings for the next five years) by almost two years’ worth of development.

vacant greenfield land auckland

Residential sections in Flat Bush Stage One.
source: Housing Affordability: Residential
Land Available In Auckland, New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

The volume of land in the pipeline, meanwhile (54,500 dwelling capacity) is just over half government targets of 103,500.

The report also highlights problems associated with current patterns of housing development, saying that declining levels of building activity throughout the city have resulted in fewer centrally located high density dwellings – exactly the type of housing which aligns with the profile of forecast demographic growth, including more single-person and couple-only households and strong growth in lower socio-economic areas in the city’s south and west.

Smith says the report shows a desperate need for more land supply and more high-density housing.

Birkenhead in 2040

One possible projection for Birkenhead in 2040 (assuming major rezoning).
Image: Jasmax, Urban Designers

“This report shows Auckland needs double the supply of land to meet the Council’s own targets,” he says. “These targets for land supply are conservative in that they also rely on ambitious targets being met through additional housing from intensification. The Government’s further concern, detailed in this report, is that Auckland’s plan will require the building of 4,000 high-density dwellings every year for the next decade and 10,000 per year after that. This compares to 830 higher density dwellings consented last year and an average of 2,674 per year over the past decade. Officials are cautious that this can be achieved, particularly when previous intensification targets set by Auckland planners a decade ago were not met.”

The report also highlights soaring land prices, which are putting upward pressure on construction costs. It notes that between 2002 and 2012, the median average value of a vacant residential block in Auckland has more than doubled from $NZ100-$125,000 to $250-$275,000.

Over that same period, values in the most desirable lot size (350 to 650 square metres) have more than tripled from $NZ75,000-$100,000 to $300,000-$325,000.

By Andrew Heaton
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