Archive | Land use

QV says home-building costs up average 3.5% in year

Quotable Value Ltd said today the average cost of building a new home in New Zealand’s 4 largest cities had risen on average by 3.5% in the year to May, and by 25.5% since the previous price peak of 2007.

The assessment is by QVcostbuilder, an arm of state-owned enterprise Quotable Value Ltd, which provides the latest construction cost data to the property & construction industries through an online subscription web platform tool.

It also shows the average cost of building a standard 140m², 3-bedroom, one-bathroom home rose most in Wellington, up 2.43% over 12 months to an average $258,000. Auckland rose 2.32% to $272,000, Dunedin rose 2.12% to $254,000 and Christchurch rose 1.92% to $277,375.

QV national spokesperson Andrea Rush said building costs rose most in Wellington as its house price index jumped more than 20%.

She said costs for larger houses (between 200-600m²) increased by a higher percentage – 3.39% over the year, 38.6% since 2007.

The averages exclude the cost of land, demolition of existing structures, additional costs due to building code changes, structural requirements, external works, utilities connections, balconies & covered ways, professional & council fees & gst.

Attribution: QV release.

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Sistema’s industrial building wins top property award

The Property Council’s top award was won on Friday night by a manufacturing & warehouse facility near Auckland Airport.

The Rider Levett Bucknall supreme award went to Sistema Plastics Ltd’s 52,000m² facility opened last year on Oruarangi Rd, Ihumatao, in Nakhle Group’s 21ha Auckland International Business Park in the Mangere Gateway business zone near the airport.

Sistema founder & managing director Brendan Lindsay sold his company to US consumer goods company Newell Brands Inc in December for $NZ660 million and has just retired. He only sold on condition that Newell agree to keep manufacturing in New Zealand for the next 20 years and, in the sale process, Newell signed a long-term lease on the building.

Sistema sells a range of plastic storage containers in over 90 countries and brought its warehousing, manufacturing & distribution operations, and its international headquarters, under one roof. The building has 3500m2 of office space & ancillary rooms on 2 floors and 17,000m2 of yard & parking around it.

Awards chief judge Andy Evans said the building’s design was a standout for the attention given to all aspects of work flow, future flexibility, divisibility & expansion: “The project is world class and demonstrated a high level of consultation & collaboration between the design teams, builder & occupier.

“I am also delighted to see the supreme award go to an industrial development that is pushing the boundaries in design & functionality, delivering the most significant industrial building in New Zealand. This building displays the innovation & attitude that has made Sistema Plastics a world leader.”

The category awards (with sponsor in brackets):

Multi-unit residential (Arrow International):
Best in category: Chambers & Station (Auckland)
Excellence: The Dylan Apartments (Auckland)
Merit: 55 Symonds Street (Auckland), Boulcott Conference Suites & Apartments (Wellington)

Education (GIB):
Best in category: Samuel Marsden Collegiate School – Te Manawa o te Kura (Wellington)
Excellence: AUT Building MH (Auckland), Te Ara o Mauao, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology (Tauranga)
Merit: Haeata Community Campus (Christchurch), Rolleston College (Christchurch), St Andrews College Centennial Chapel (Christchurch), Tarawera High School (Kawerau)

Tourism & leisure (Holmes Consulting Group):
Best in category: Adina Hotel (Auckland)
Excellence: Vector Wero Whitewater Park (Auckland)

Retail (RCG):
Merit: Whangaparaoa retail centre (Auckland)

Industrial (Yardi):
Best in category: Sistema manufacturing facility (Auckland)
Excellence: Big Chill supersite (Auckland), Coca Cola Amatil (Auckland)
Merit: Emerson’s Brewery & Taproom (Dunedin), Red Stag Timber sawmill (Rotorua), The Warehouse Ltd South Island distribution centre (Christchurch)

Civic & arts (Warren & Mahoney):
Best in category: Len Lye Centre & Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (New Plymouth)
Excellence: ASB Waterfront Theatre (Auckland)
Merit: Manu Tukutuku – Randwick Park Pavilion (Auckland), Redcliffs Library (Christchurch)

Health & medical (Fagerhult NZ):
Best in category: Manaaki by Mercy (Dunedin)
Excellence: Burwood Hospital redevelopment (Christchurch)
Merit: St John Christchurch ambulance hub (Christchurch)

Heritage & adaptive reuses (Hawkins):
Best in category: Australis Nathan Buildings (Auckland)
Excellence: Chambers & Station (Auckland), Mason Bros (Auckland)
Merit: Good Union (Cambridge), St Kevin’s Arcade (Auckland), The Christchurch Club (Christchurch)

Urban land developments (Natural Habitats):
Merit: Daventry Street & Torea Place (Auckland)

Commercial office (RCP):
Best in category: PwC Centre (Christchurch)
Excellence: 133 Molesworth St (Wellington)
Merit: Australis Nathan Buildings (Auckland), Mason Bros (Auckland)

Green building (Resene):
Best in category: ASB Waterfront Theatre (Auckland)
Excellence: New Shoots Children’s Centre & Source Café, Pakuranga (Auckland)
Merit: 133 Molesworth St (Wellington)

Property Council members’ laureate: John Dunn

Attribution: Property Council release, Sistema.

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NZ infrastructure body takes lessons from Scotland

Infrastructure NZ has brought back a long list of lessons from Scotland on streamlining processes and introducing a national spatial planning framework.

A delegation from the New Zealand organisation visited Scotland in March and issued its report last week.

Infrastructure NZ chief executive Stephen Selwood said: “New Zealand can make best use of the Government’s $32 billion infrastructure commitment over the next 4 years by streamlining plans & institutions, including specialist procurement, environment & water regulation agencies, and a top-down national spatial planning framework.

“Over the last 2 decades, the Scottish have completely transformed infrastructure planning, funding & delivery. They’ve established innovative & effective institutions at the national level which support & guide central & local government infrastructure delivery.

“The UK National Infrastructure Commission, Scottish Futures Trust, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Scottish Water are all bodies which could be employed here to rationalise & improve infrastructure planning, funding & delivery.

“Initiatives based on Scotland’s national planning framework & hub, City Deal, tax increment financing & growth accelerator programmes would each help align central & local decision-making and enhance collaboration with the private sector.

“The Scottish system is simpler, more transparent and reduces conflicts of interest across the public sector.

“The extensive infrastructure investment that New Zealand is planning over the coming years will need to be well managed if we are to tackle the growth challenge. The best elements of Scotland’s decision-making system are worth replicating.”

The key findings for New Zealand set out in the report are:

  • We could improve public understanding of infrastructure challenges and better support national investment by establishing an empowered national body charged with identifying infrastructure needs
  • Scotland’s plan-led approach gives greater certainty and better balances strategic priorities with local interests than New Zealand’s effects-based Resource Management Act system
  • We could save money and improve infrastructure performance by establishing an independent centre of expertise for project procurement, integration & public private partnerships.
  • A specialist central agency could work in partnership with local government to consolidate procurement and provide immediate & substantial benefits for water & tourism infrastructure
  • Public & environmental health could both be improved by consolidating wastewater & water supply delivery at a regional level
  • Auckland’s Watercare could be sold to fund Auckland growth with minimal impact on the cost of services and improved strategic capability
  • Dedicated independent regulators are more informed and take an outcomes-focused strategic view of the sector, which results in better services
  • Local government can be incentivised to align investment priorities with national outcomes by using the UK City Deal approach.

Link: Building national infrastructure capability: Lessons from Scotland

Attribution: Infrastructure NZ release.

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Churton warns Orakei board of declining standards from relentless intensification

Orakei Local Board member Troy Churton has questioned residential intensification at several spots around the ward in his report to the board’s meeting on Thursday, chiefly for height infringements, being out of character & resultant commuter congestion.

He’s also raised a question over the impact of cycleways on St Stephens Avenue & Gladstone Rd, which Auckland Transport is pursuing.

In his report as the board’s lead member on planning & regulatory matters, Mr Churton said that at a training day & workshop he discussed “‘triggers’ requiring planners to forward files to me for comment as to whether they should be notified or not”.

He went on to list projects where he understood the developer intended to breach the 16m height limit, notably at 29-35 & 37 Coates Avenue, Orakei, and, in one case, the quality of design on a landmark site “where the very best of design standards should be implemented”.

In his report on 29-35 Coates Avenue, Mr Churton said: “I do not accept the assessment of environment effects report at page 10 suggesting it is appropriate to disregard effects below 16m simply because a previous consent may have found there to be no more than minor effects for a 4-storey building previously applied for and of lower height.

“The receiving environment of this development is the area of Coates Avenue that currently has some multi-storeyed development. Overall the proposal is to likely to contribute to an obvious dominant high, built environment. This is said to be consistent with the future character of the area.

“It is, however, currently not the character of the area and there can be no expectation that just because a one’s set of standards enables certain types of development, that the community & landowners suddenly forego concern for the existing state of character or will seek to exploit those activities.

“The future character of the area relies on developments that are designed to meet standards and not infringe them. This proposal may, for want of being designed to meet height & height:boundary standards, therefore disrupts amenity value in the existing neighbourhood of mostly lower level surrounding residential built form & character.

“It will plainly meet many other unitary plan purposes and would not attract a notification trigger if designed to standard as to height & height:boundary.

“If the advice that I received in my training recently was that standards are to be upheld, then this matter presents an adverse effect as to height that is more than minor and should be notified.

“If, however, council planners intend on facilitating an ongoing culture of enabling developers to treat standards they are all very aware of in due diligence for a site and as measures to be willingly infringed, then there is a case to say the positive effects of the proposal in this zone & area may mitigate the potential adverse effects.”

Meadowbank Station & commuter parking

On the development proposal for 4 Koa St, Meadowbank – 14 units on 3 levels plus 10 basement parking spaces – Mr Churton said Housing NZ owned houses in the street and supported the application and the applicant wanted limited notification.

However, he questioned the adequacy of parking provision in a cul de sac which was some distance (450m) from the Meadowbank station but wasn’t exempt from commuter parking because commuters’ cars already saturated the area.

“While I have reservations about the bulk & scale, by itself in this zone it is not such an infringement as to be a special circumstance that would likely meet the requirements for discretionary public notification. However, there is a very high degree of public interest in ensuring quality built environs in this area as a number of other intensification projects are pursued, some from Housing NZ.”

Mr Churton suggested this development go to the council’s urban design panel for approval before a final decision was made on notification.

On a development proposal for 234, 236 & 236A Kepa Rd, on a prominent arterial ridgeline at the top of Mission Bay, Mr Churton said the proposed height infringement of up to 1m might seem small but, in an area where other intensification was also planned, the precaution of notification should be taken: “The cumulative effects of such a mass of multi-storey development where height infringements might be allowed for some is, in my view, a more than minor effect.”

At 9-11 Purewa Rd, Meadowbank, Mr Churton raised the quality objection: “Whilst not adverse [averse, I think] to intensification per se, the board views are to believe this proposed development will have a seriously detrimental effect on what is at present a desirable & sought-after residential area of our ward.”

He said a number of residents in the vicinity objected to “the poor design features”, drastically changed from the initial proposal “to a series of tenement-like structures with outdated features which have long been discarded in modern building practice- ie, external stairways.

“The size, and more importantly the density, of the planned construction has potential for adverse social impacts on an otherwise safe & pleasant community. This area of Meadowbank St Johns is already facing saturation problems with the increased traffic flow & parking overload on local streets from intensification, growing commuter use of the Meadowbank train station and the expansion from the nearby retirement village expansion.”

Mr Churton said the Purewa Rd site next to Hobson Bay & the railway line was a gateway to the Orakei ward via rail: “This is an example of a site where the very best of design standards should be implemented.”


Mr Churton said these cycleways on St Stephens Avenue & Gladstone Rd would eradicate onstreet parking for fringe cbd residents & workers as well as destination parking for tourism to places like the Rose Gardens on Gladstone Rd.

He said they also had “no apparent connection” to changes that might happen along Tamaki Drive or in stage 4 of the shared path crossing.

He wants the board to meet Auckland Transport to discuss the cycleways & stage 4 shared path across Hobson Bay.

Orakei Local Board agenda
12, Notice of motion, Member Troy Churton – Tamaki Drive & wider cycle route integration
25, Board member report, Troy Churton 
Addendum – examples of notification comments made as portfolio leader
NZ Transport Agency: Auckland urban cycleways programme
Auckland Transport: Cycling & walking programme

Attribution: Board agenda.

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Hamilton-Auckland commuter rail service wins support “in principle”, Panuku gets more tools

Auckland Council’s planning committee voted more strongly yesterday in favour of investigating a regular commuter rail link between Auckland & Hamilton than the tone of the debate indicated.

The committee had before it a position paper prepared last year after multiple-agency collaboration and received brief input from a lobby group chair, Rob Weir, who’d come up from Hamilton for the meeting and was invited by committee chair Chris Darby to speak.

Auckland Council staff sought committee support for a high level review to identify opportunities & constraints, but there was more debate on the value of such a study if it was unlikely to lead anywhere.

The way forward was determined by an addition by Cllr Cathy Casey to the recommendations for the committee to support the provision of a passenger rail service in principle.

While some thought it ought to be a low priority against a stack of other multi-billion-dollar infrastructure confronting the council, the “in principle” tag worked, the additional clause was supported by 18-1 and the amended recommended was approved unanimously.

That means the proposal will be studied, not necessarily resulting in a regular service.

Extra acquisition tools for Panuku endorsed

The committee also endorsed a proposal that its regeneration arm, Panuku Development Auckland, be able to use – “prudently” – statutory tools such as designation & compulsory acquisition in the areas around the region marked as “unlock” or “transform”.

  • Both the commuter rail proposition and the extension of Panuku’s ability to advance regeneration are worth a lot more attention than the few words above. I’ll write more about both in the next few days.

Attribution: Council committee meeting.

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Statistics show both home & non-residential construction well on track

The third consecutive strong quarter lifted home construction by 23% in the year to March, returning to the 22%-plus growth path begun in 2012, which ran through to early 2015. In the year to March 2016, that growth path remained positive but dipped to 11.7%.

Non-residential construction, on the other hand, has faltered more than it’s surged ahead over the last 5 years. However, the usual first-quarter dip at the start of 2017 also followed 3 strong quarters and didn’t fall anywhere near the level in the March 2016 quarter. The value of 3 months’ work at the start of 2017 was equal to about 4 months’ work in 2012.

The total value of all construction over the March quarter, $4.935 billion, was up 10.9% on the March 2016 quarter and took building work put in place over the year to March to $20.357 billion, up 18.7% ($3.2 billion on the previous year).

In Auckland, the value of all building work in the March quarter was up 12.5% over the March 2016 quarter at $1.761 billion ($1.565 billion). Between those 2 March quarters, construction jumped by between 32-39%/quarter, lifting building work to a quarterly range of $1.83-1.985 billion.

Construction in the region crossed the $1 billion/quarter line in the September 2013 quarter.

  • This is a truncated version of my usual building work story and indicates a more positive picture than Statistics NZ’s assessment via trend & seasonally adjusted figures. I’ll try to return to it over the next couple of days. In the meantime, the Statistics NZ graph comparing consents & work completed gives a helpful perspective of construction direction through to the end of 2016.

Attribution: Statistics NZ tables & releases.

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Consents down in short month but annual figure stays above 30,000

Building consents for new homes dropped by 672 from March to 2106 in April, and dropped by 255 compared to April last year, Statistics NZ said today.

Importantly for the Government, the annual rate of consents for new homes stayed above 30,000 – 30,371 for the latest 12 months, down from 30,626 for the year to March, up from 30,162 for the year to February.

In Auckland, the 726 consents for the month were ahead of 699 in April last year but well down from the 800 in February and 942 in March, and the 10,226 for the year were up on the 10,045 to February, 10,199 to March and up 9.3% on the 9353 for the year to April 2016.

Statistics NZ noted that Easter’s occurrence in April would have reduced building consents issued for the month. In addition, when Anzac Day fell on a Tuesday it resulted in another 4-day weekend for many.

You can only use that reasoning so far, though. The value of consents for new homes nationally in March last year (including an Easter break) was $1.021 billion, falling to $948 million in the Easter-less April. The value this March was $1.199 billion, falling to $921 million.

The value of consents for all construction fell from $2.077 billion in March to $1.351 billion in April (last year, $1.505 billion down to $1.430 billion), so one April against the other the fall was 5.5%. For the April year, the value of all construction was up 10.6% to $19.45 billion ($17.589 billion in 2016).

Non-residential consents for the month were down 10.5% to $411 million ($459 million), but for the year were up 9.7% to $6.4 billion ($5.85 billion). Floor area was down 28.8% for the month to 204,000m² (286,000m²), and was down 17% for the year to 2.64 million m² (3.19 million m²).

Home consents by sector, for month & year, previous period in brackets:

Houses: 1487 (1742), (1815), 21,179 (20,098), up 5.4% for the year
Apartments: 228 (25), 2874 (2094), up 37.2%
Retirement village units: 46 (259), 1702 (2139), down 20.4%
Townhouses, flat & units: 345 (335), 4616 (3707), up 24.5%

Around Auckland by ward, this April & last, and the April 2017 year & previous 12 months:

Region: 726 (699), 10,226 (9353)
Rodney: 81 (89), 882 (948)
Albany: 125 (135), 2508 (2316)
North Shore: 25 (17), 494 (528)
Waitakere: 25 (60), 617 (506)
Waitemata & Gulf: 166 (23), 1104 (857)
Whau: 51 (18), 343 (192)
Albert-Eden-Roskill: 25 (21), 674 (474)
Orakei: 4 (27), 283 (370)
Maungakiekie-Tamaki: 31 (26), 417 (463)
Howick: 28 (71), 452 (601)
Manukau: 32 (32), 394 (504)
Manurewa-Papakura: 73 (75), 1106 (890)
Franklin: 60 (105), 952 (704).

Attribution: Statistics NZ tables & release.

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Bike share study next stage in transport change

Auckland Transport & the NZ Transport Agency have begun a feasibility study into how a city centre cycle share scheme could operate. This includes looking at how it could be funded and what sort of bikes would be used as well as the range of new technologies available.

Auckland Transport expects the initial findings of the feasibility study will be available around the end of September. Walking, cycling & road safety manager, Kathryn King said: “If there is a strong case for a cycle share scheme for Auckland, the next step would be for Auckland Transport to talk to potential providers with a view to delivering the scheme in the summer of 2019-20. Budget is set aside for this project, but no cost is yet set as Auckland Transport expects to run a competitive process to appoint a company to undertake the study.

“By the end of next year we will have completed a number of vital links for people travelling into & around the city centre by bike. This, combined with international evidence that cycle share schemes work when they are done right, means that now is the perfect time to begin these investigations.”

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said last week: “Cycle share schemes are an important part of the transport system in more than 700 cities internationally, and they hold real promise here. The Government’s urban cycleways programme is delivering a $333 million programme of cycling infrastructure & initiatives across New Zealand, and cycling is becoming an everyday part of more & more people’s lives.”

Auckland mayor Phil Goff said: “Cycling is on the rise in Auckland. Bikes now make up 9.4% of inbound morning peak traffic on Upper Queen St, which shows just how significant this mode of transport is becoming for Auckland.”

Cycle share feasibility study
Cycle share factsheet (PDF 179KB)

Attribution: Auckland Transport & ministerial releases.

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Council supports regeneration actions

Auckland Council’s finance & performance committee approved 3 actions yesterday to support urban regeneration, and another likely to result in the transfer of a town centre carpark from Auckland Transport to a supermarket owner.

The 3 regeneration-supporting actions were:

Divestment of 2 areas in the New Lynn town centre totalling 3384m², which Infratil Ltd has first development right on

Sale of council landholdings in central Henderson – with the intention of the local board to recoup at least some of the sale funds – to enable urban renewal & town centre housing

Sale of a number of council landholdings in Onehunga, also to support regeneration and the development of housing, and also with at least some of the sale funds being applied to that, and

Sale of the 19 Anzac Avenue carpark in Browns Bay, most likely to remain a parking lot because a high proportion of users park there to go to the nearby supermarket.

The regeneration proposals are all part of council-controlled Panuku Development Auckland’s task of selling off land the council doesn’t use, and secondly to support Panuku’s programme of transforming town centres.

Onehunga is marked as a “transform” centre and Henderson as an “unlock” centre in Panuku’s priority list of urban renewal around the region.

  • I’ll return to these redevelopment topics in considerably more detail, probably starting in about a week.

Attribution: Council committee meeting.

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Transparency campaign gathers some ears

Transparency campaigner Penny Bright took her message to Auckland Council yet again yesterday.

Yet again, in a campaign that she’s fought for 2 decades, resulting in multiple arrests for her (some of those arrests spitefully contrived but not, subsequently, resulting in convictions), but over the years not too much improvement in transparency.

But it was notable at yesterday’s meeting of the council’s finance & performance committee that fewer ears were deaf to her message, and this time Ms Bright actually had some positive words to say about the opening up of council information.

The need for a change in attitude was reinforced in February with the sentencing on corruption charges of former Rodney District Council & Auckland Transport senior manager Murray Noone to 5 years’ jail, and engineering firm Projenz Holdings Ltd director Stephen Borlase to 5½ years’ jail over roading contracts.

Mr Borlase was found guilty on 8 corruption & bribery charges and Mr Noone was found guilty on 6 charges of accepting the bribes. Projenz also paid for overseas travel for Mr Noone and another senior roading engineer, Barrie George, who was sentenced last September to 10 months’ home detention.

Ms Bright told the committee she wanted to see all council-controlled organisations providing the same details of contracts as Auckland Transport now does, and she wanted subcontracts included.

She told the committee: “The court case proved you have 2 levels of corruption, public to private and private to private where back-end subcontracts are placed.

“The court showed the collaborative model was not working. That must also be reviewed because the proven corruption risk – we have the evidence for that.”

Ms Bright said the Public Records Act had been law since 2005 – created, according to the Government summary, “to support the effective management of records in the public sector… to promote government accountability through reliable recordkeeping, enhance public confidence in the integrity of government records…”

She said more recent guidelines from the Office of the Auditor-general on transparency were very clear and added: “I believe those guidelines have not been enforced.”

She also asked when the council would look at council officers holding private consultancies that dealt with the council.

Council chief financial controller Sue Tindal said the committee would have an opportunity to raise questions about these issues at its second meeting of the week, on Friday, when the quarterly reports of council-controlled organisations are presented.

However, that’s an unnecessarily tortuous process. The council could simply revert to the practice used at the former Waitakere City Council of presenting all details from tenders online when a tender was approved, which wasn’t followed at other councils around the region and wasn’t the practice put in place when Auckland Council was formed in 2010.

Office of the Auditor-general guidelines

Attribution: Council committee meeting, public forum presentation.

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