Archive | Land use

Construction rising but more slowly

The rise in building work put in place dipped again in the year to September, as it did in 2015.

It still rose – by 10.4% for all buildings, 13% for residential – but those increases were down from a total 17.3% increase for all construction in 2016 and a 20.2% increase in 2014, and from 19.3% for residential in 2016, 26.2% in 2014.

In current dollar terms, residential work in the 12 months to September was worth $13.6 billion ($12 billion the previous 12 months). Total work was worth $20.93 billion ($18.95 billion in the previous 12 months).

Statistics NZ said the volume trend for all building work was 0.6% below the series peak reached in the September 2016 quarter. (This series began in the December 1989 quarter, so doesn’t include the mid-1970s residential building boom seen in building consent statistics).

For the September quarter, the value of residential work rose 9.7% from a year ago to $3.6 billion ($3.29 billion), and the total rose 6.4% to $5.5 billion ($5.18 billion).

Methodology to change

Statistics NZ said it would raise the value threshold used to determine which building project activity is modelled from consent data, and which activity is surveyed in the quarterly building activity survey, in the December quarter. “This change will reflect recent inflation in construction industry costs. This will not affect any activity already being surveyed, only the data source for new projects being monitored, and will therefore not cause any revisions to historic value of building work put in place statistics.”

Statistics NZ will publish more information about these changes at its next release on the value of building work put in place, for the December quarter, to be published on 7 March.

Attribution: Statistics NZ tables & release.

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Victorian taskforce detects cladding blindspot, but 8 hospitals are being reclad

A cladding taskforce the Victoria government established in July has found extensive compliance issues. And, as products became more prevalent & visible, “a general complacency or blind spot occurred as to the risks”.

Outside the taskforce’s report, state planning minister Richard Wynne said in a release that cladding had to be replaced at 8 hospitals and another 12 hospitals remained “under assessment”.

The state government established the taskforce to investigate the extent of non-compliant external wall cladding on buildings statewide, and make recommendations for improvements to protect the public and restore confidence that building & fire safety issues are being addressed appropriately.

The fire that ripped up the Grenfell apartment tower in London in June, moving vertically via the external cladding, resulted in a confirmed 71 deaths. 350 people were evacuated from the building.

But the alarm bells were raised in Melbourne’s Docklands 3 years ago, when the same thing happened in the Lacrosse apartment building – that time without any deaths.

The Victorian taskforce has found systems failures had led to major safety risks & widespread non-compliant use of combustible cladding.

An audit by the Victorian Building Authority after the Lacrosse fire confirmed the extent of non-compliance.

The taskforce said in its interim report, out last Friday: “We found the failings identified by the Victorian Building Authority in 2015 were not merely administrative, or paper-based, but were significant public safety issues, which are symptomatic of broader non-compliance across a range of areas within the industry.

“The problem of widespread non-compliant cladding can be attributed to 3 factors: the supply & marketing of inappropriate building materials, a poor culture of compliance in the industry, and the failure of the regulatory system to deal with these issues.”

The taskforce tapped into the expertise of industry professionals & organisations through a stakeholder reference group, and summarised their submissions:

  • inadequate compliance & enforcement and low risk of consequences to deter breaches of the law
  • competitive commercial pressures which incentivise the taking of shortcuts
  • over-reliance on the building surveyor role as an assurance mechanism
  • inadequate onsite inspection, supervision & quality assurance
  • inaccurate & potentially misleading labelling &/or marketing of products
  • complexity, ambiguities & poor understanding of the application of the national construction code and how to comply with it
  • variations in regulations & codes and their inconsistent interpretation over time regarding combustibility tests & use of panels
  • a widely held view that combustibility standards in the national construction code are too onerous and stifle new product innovation
  • substitution of non-compliant products between the approval & construction phases
  • incorrect, inadequate or misleading documentation, including product certificates
  • poor quality workmanship, or inexperienced professionals, highlighting a general need to increase skills & capabilities among building practitioners, and
  • poor understanding of performance-based solutions, evidentiary requirements & inadequate oversight.

The taskforce said aluminium composite panels with a polyethylene core were of particular concern: “This type of cladding has been implicated at Grenfell & Lacrosse and is combustible. Rendered expanded polystyrene cladding is also of concern.”

Australia’s national construction code requires that external walls of buildings, 3 storeys & above, must be non-combustible. This includes cladding affixed to or forming part of an external wall.

The taskforce identified up to 1400 buildings as most likely having aluminium composite panels with a polyethylene core or expanded polystyrene.

The state government said no building had required an evacuation order, “provided certain safety measures are met while rectification works are carried out, such as alarms, sprinklers or evacuation procedures”.

But the government directed its building authority to inspect more worksites & buildings, including a statewide audit of residential buildings likely to have combustible cladding.

And the state’s health & human services department said an audit of 1100 buildings had identified 8 hospitals where non-compliant cladding must be replaced. Another 12 hospitals remained “under assessment”.

1 December 2017: Victorian cladding taskforce, interim report
Lacrosse Tower fire, Melbourne Docklands 2014, city surveyor’s report

Attribution: Taskforce & ministerial releases.

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Sharp drop in apartment consents, standalones & total static

Statistics NZ highlighted a sharp drop in apartment consents yesterday when it issued building consent figures for October, but that’s only a small part of the total market, and a volatile one at that.

Most significantly in a comparison with October last year, consents for standalone homes were static and the total for the October year was also static – still in the range of 30-31,000.

Consents for standalone homes & retirement village units were down slightly for the year, apartments & suburban units were up by about 500 each.

The national consent numbers for October and the year to October, compared to October last year, and the latest 12 months compared to the previous 12 months:

Total consents for new homes: 2549 (2575), down 1% ; 30,866 (30,225), up 2.1%
Total values for new homes:  $1.23 billion ($1.14 billion), up 7.7%; $13.36 billion ($12.46 billion), up 7.2%
Standalone homes: 1806 (1802), up 0.2%; 21,194 (21,369), down 0.8%
Apartments: 78 (229), down 65.9%; 3001 (2555), up 26.4%
Retirement village units: 220 (174), up 26.4%; 1902 (2034), down 6.5%
Suburban townhouses & flats: 445 (370), up 20.3%; 4769 (4267), up 11.8%

All construction for October compared to October last year, and the latest 12 months compared to the previous 12 months:
Total: $1.86 billion ($1.74 billion), up 6.6%; $20.2 billion ($19.05 billion), up 6.2%
Non-residential: $584 million ($526 million), up 11.2%; $6.47 billion ($6.1 billion), up 6.1%.

Attribution: Statistics NZ tables & release.

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Auckland Plan refresh approved for consultation, 2 private plan changes to be notified

Auckland Council’s planning committee approved the revised draft Auckland Plan for formal public consultation yesterday.

A joint consultation on this plan and on the council’s 10-year budget, 2018-28, will open on 28 February and run until 28 March. The council’s governing body will approve the consultation document on 7 February.

The Auckland Plan, first adopted in 2012 and now reviewed for the second time, is the spatial plan that sets the direction for how, where & when Auckland will grow over the next 30 years.

Other planning committee business

Manurewa Takanini Papakura integrated area plan:

The committee endorsed the Manurewa Takanini Papakura Integrated Area Plan, which provides a planning framework to guide how the area develops over the next 30 years.

2 private plan change requests under new unitary plan

Otahuhu, King’s College, Mangere & Hospital Rds:

The committee agreed to publicly notify King’s College’s private plan change request to rezone 2 land parcels, one to the north-east of the main campus and the other to the south.

The private plan change will rezone land adjoining Mangere Rd from special purpose – school to terrace housing & apartment buildings, and land adjacent to Hospital Rd from terrace housing & apartment buildings and single house zones to special purpose – school.

Ellerslie, 614-616 Great South Rd, Goodman Property Trust:

The committee agreed to publicly notify Goodman Property Trust’s private plan change request to rezone 614-616 Great South Rd from business park to mixed use.

Link: Planning committee agenda 28 November

Attribution: Council releases.

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Supreme Court rejects appeal by James Hardie against class action

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday against house cladding manufacturer James Hardie NZ’s attempt to stop a group of owners of leaky homes from having their claims heard as a class action.

Others who haven’t yet joined the group have been given until 30 January 2018 to do so.

High Court judge Rebecca Ellis ruled in 2016 that the group of owners of homes clad with James Hardie products Harditex & Titan board could take a class action against James Hardie & group company Studorp Ltd.

The Court of Appeal also ruled in favour of a class action in August this year.

Justice Ellis found 3 common issues which warranted making a representative order:

  • whether James Hardie owed the owners a duty of care in tort
  • whether James Hardie had breached that duty, and
  • whether the statements made in James Hardie’s technical literature were misleading & deceptive for the purposes of the Fair Trading Act.

The Court of Appeal upheld those findings, saying on the issue of duty of care, the considerations would be “materially the same or similar” for all claims.

The Court of Appeal found that, when the substantive case is eventually heard, “determination of the 3 common issues will result in findings that are binding on James Hardie & all members of the class. Determination of other aspects of the claims such as causation & loss will be determined on an individual owner basis.”

The Court of Appeal also concluded that a class action would “better achieve the just, speedy & inexpensive determination of the proceedings than the test case procedure” for which James Hardie contended.

Wellington law firm Parker & Associates, representing the building owners, is now encouraging affected owners still outside the group to move quickly. Lawyer Dan Parker said: “We are dealing with a large number of inquiries, many from people who have seen and are responding to the claim for the first time. A number of owners have approached us, unaware of any problems with their properties until expert investigations identify issues. They have subsequently joined the claim.

“We will be pushing forward now to deal with owner inquiries and to get as many owners signed on as possible. As it is a self-funded action, the bigger the group is, the lower the costs/owner.

“The opt-in period will be the last chance for most affected owners to pursue any legal action for recovery of their losses. If they join during the opt-in period they will not be affected by a 15-year limitation longstop that will probably otherwise bar claims after the opt-in period expires. Also, the Supreme Court confirmed last year in the leaky schools litigation that the 10-year Building Act limitation longstop does not apply to a product liability claim like this.”

The group first took a product liability claim against James Hardie & Studorp for negligence & breach of the Fair Trading Act in 2015.

Owners alleged that leaks in their homes were attributable to inherent defects in James Hardie cladding systems, and that the company made misleading statements about its cladding systems in its technical literature. James Hardie denies the allegations.

Harditex was used in construction of thousands of homes from 1987 until the early 2000s, and Titan board was widely used from 1995.

Attribution: Supreme Court decision, Parker release.

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Panuku buys site to support Unlock Avondale project

Auckland Council regeneration agency Panuku Development Auckland has bought a property on the corner of Great North Rd & Racecourse Parade to support the unlock project for Avondale’s town centre. The site had stood vacant for 15 years.

Whau Local Board chair Tracy Mulholland said securing the site unlocked significant opportunities for the upgrade of the town centre: “The site will be incorporated into the plan to enliven the town centre which will introduce new open spaces, the development of a community facility and implementation of a retail strategy that will attract new businesses.”

Panuku chief operating officer David Rankin said the site had been identified for mixed use development, but Panuku would work with the local board & the community to explore interim uses that could include ‘pop-up’ retail & community activities.

Panuku Avondale

Earlier stories:
8 November 2017: Unlock Avondale project gets go-ahead, Takapuna carpark decision deferred
24 May 2017: Council supports regeneration actions

Attribution: Panuku release.

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Ngati Whatua wants East-West Link consents buried

Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua Orakei raised its concern on Friday that the East-West Link through Penrose & Onehunga could go ahead one day, even though the current government has cancelled it.

The $1.85 billion link was intended to run between State Highway 1 at Mt Wellington & State Highway 20 at Onehunga.

The board of inquiry which heard the NZ Transport Agency’s application for it released its draft report & decision on 14 November – by which time new prime minister Jacinda Ardern & Auckland mayor Phil Goff had confirmed it would be cancelled in its present form. The board confirmed 2 notices of requirement and granted resource consents, subject to conditions.

Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust spokesperson Ngarimu Blair said: “While the iwi welcomes the stated aim of the new government to scrap the project, this does not provide a sufficient degree of certainty and Transport Minister Phil Twyford needs to formally honour the Government’s commitment to cancel the project completely.

“The notices of requirement & resource consents have a 15-year period for implementation, and will therefore outlast the current term of government. We want to ensure the East-West Link as proposed never goes ahead, no matter who is in government at the time.

“We have written to Minister Twyford asking that the Government direct the NZ Transport Agency to formally withdraw the notices of requirement and surrender the consents.

“This would avoid the danger of the current government’s intentions being undermined. We note in this regard that the NZ Transport Agency are currently proceeding with moves to implement the project as if nothing had changed post-general election.”

Mr Blair said Ngati Whatua Orakei, Te Kawerau a Maki & Makaurau Marae, along with other community & conservation groups such as The Onehunga Enhancement Society (TOES) and the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society, went to great expense & effort to stop the motorway during a gruelling 3-month hearing before the Environmental Protection Authority board of inquiry.

Royal Forest & Bird environmental lawyer Sally Gepp said the society was concerned that the decision to grant the consents & designations meant key policies in the brand-new Auckland unitary plan “have been treated as little more than words on a page.

“Forest & Bird played an integral role in ensuring that the unitary plan provides for nature as well as people. We went to the High Court to change the unitary plan – and won – and as a result Auckland’s remaining biodiversity hotspots are protected in the plan. This decision has rendered those protections meaningless.”

Onehunga Enhancement Society chair Jim Jackson commented: “There is no way to now ‘redesign’ the Onehunga/Neilson St interchange end of the East-West Link within the designations & consents supported by the board of inquiry. Those designations & consents have to be scrapped.”

Mr Blair said Ngati Whatua o Orakei opposed the link designed for freight traffic for its “enduring & significant” adverse environmental & cultural effects.

“We look forward to having real input into the Auckland transport alignment project review and will contribute proactively on future sensible options for the Mangere Inlet & Onehunga area. There must be true collaboration amongst all the parties and not a short-sighted singular focus on road building as we’ve seen in recent years,” he said.

Historic Ngati Whatua links

Mr Blair said Ngati Whatua Orakei had a deep & ongoing connection to Te To Waka, Te Papapa, the Mangere Inlet & Onehunga area: “Its direct association with Onehunga dates back to the mid-17th century, while links through marriage connect the iwi to the entire length of the Maori occupation of the area.

“Ngati Whatua resided at Mangere & Onehunga in autumn & winter and, soon after Matariki, would plant & till the extensive gardens in the area. The Rev Samuel Marsden & John Logan Campbell both visited Ngati Whatua at Onehunga and, after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Ngati Whatua Orakei with Waikato iwi were major players in the economy based around the trading port at Onehunga. The iwi moved its main base to Orakei in the mid-19th century.

“Onehunga land was ‘acquired’ from Ngati Whatua Orakei during the period of the Fitzroy waivers (1844-45), when settlers could purchase land directly from Maori vendors, itself a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi. When these transactions were later examined by land commissioners appointed by Governor Grey, the sale of only 8 acres was upheld. Of the remainder, 723a became Crown land and a further 575a were kept by the Crown as defence land – none was made available to the original owners, despite a requirement 10% of land sold was to be kept aside for the benefit of its ‘former’ Maori owners. This historic grievance was settled with Ngati Whatua Orakei in 2012.”

EPA, East-West link
About the east-west link
Draft report & decision

Attribution: Ngati Whatua release.

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Northern transport corridor works approved

The board of inquiry into the Northern Corridor improvements proposal has confirmed & granted the NZ Transport Agency’s notices of requirements & resource consents applications.

The board of inquiry produced its final report & decision on 16 November and released it publicly last Wednesday.

Parties, including submitters, can appeal the board’s decision to the High Court, but only on questions of law.

The proposal provides the final motorway connection for the Western Ring Route project. It includes direct motorway interchange connections between State Highways 1 & 18 and capacity & safety improvements on State Highway 1 between Constellation Drive & Oteha Valley Rd, and on State Highway 18 between State Highway 1 & Albany Highway.

It also includes an extension of the Northern Busway from Constellation Drive to the Albany bus station, reconfiguration of the Constellation bus station and the addition of shared-use paths along the length of the proposal area.

The Transport Agency lodged its application for 6 notices of requirement & 25 resource consents with the Environmental Protection Authority on 14 December 2016.

Links: Final report & decision
Northern Corridor improvements project

Attribution: EPA release.

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Local board identifies 10 city fringe economic actions to prioritise

The Waitemata Local Board will vote on Tuesday on a refreshed local economic development action plan for the city fringe, which has identified 18 actions, 10 of them prioritised.

The board approved its first such plan in 2014 and the replacement is intended to provide a framework to guide local economic development actions for 3-5 years.

Auckland Council local economic development strategic planner John Norman says in a report to Tuesday’s local board meeting the local economic development team at Ateed (Auckland Tourism Events & Economic Development) commissioned Business Lab to undertake the refresh on behalf of the local board.

“The refreshed plan has concentrated on the role that the local board can play in assisting & supporting economic growth within the city fringe. The actions are identified against the desired outcomes of the adopted Waitemata Local Board plan – namely thriving communities, placemaking, the natural environment, built environment, accessibility & strong economy.

The board has identified 10 actions as priorities:

  1. Enable a city fringe identity
  2. Lead space activation
  3. Advocate for local area plans
  4. Advocate for a Parnell precinct plan
  5. Advocate for a low carbon economy
  6. Advocate for minimisation of disruption
  7. Enable connectivity to Parnell train station
  8. Enable improved relationships with Auckland Transport
  9. Enable business intelligence, and
  10. Enable greater business support.

Mr Norman said that, once the refreshed plan is approved, Ateed staff would work with the board to agree which of the priority initiatives should be activated first and what budget would be required to deliver them.

Waitemata Local Board agenda, Tuesday 21 November
20, Auckland’s city fringe local economic development action plan refresh
Final draft action plan

Attribution: Local board agenda.

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Unlock Avondale project gets go-ahead, Takapuna carpark decision deferred

Auckland Council’s planning committee approved the over-arching plan for regeneration of Avondale yesterday.

The Unlock Avondale high level project plan will be delivered by the city’s urban regeneration agency, Panuku Development Auckland.

Whau Local Board chair Tracy Mulholland said the plan built on work completed by the local board & community groups: “It will drive momentum for change in the area, with a focus on the town centre. The regeneration of Avondale will see current & future residents enjoying new open spaces and a purpose-built community facility, including a new library that will serve its needs.”

Ward councillor Ross Clow said the regeneration of Avondale was long overdue: “This plan is important to drive the development of quality residential neighbourhoods and to help meet Auckland’s growing demand for affordable homes. It will also address the issues arising from population growth in Avondale & the wider area.”

And Panuku chief operating officer David Rankin said a number of key moves would enable the vision for Avondale: “Panuku will work closely with the local board & community to implement a retail strategy that attracts new businesses, increasing diversity of products & services.
“The train station, upgraded bus network & new cycleways offer great transport options, and we will continue to strengthen connections between these activity hubs & the town.

“A focus for the regeneration of Avondale is working with developers to build quality residential neighbourhoods that offer a mix of housing types, including terraces & apartments. A number of significant developments are already underway in the area.”

Ockham Residential is due to complete the construction of 72 new one- to 3-bedroom apartments at 24-26 Racecourse Parade in March 2018. Through a partnership with the NZ Housing Foundation, 33 new homes are near completion on Trent St, including 21 affordable homes.

Takapuna carpark decision deferred

In other business yesterday, the council committee deferred its decision on a hearing panel recommendation to change the use of the carpark at 40 Anzac St, Takapuna, to one that enables a mix of uses.

The deferral is to allow Panuku to consult further with the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board on how this process can be progressed. It will report back to the planning committee by next March.

Attribution: Council release.

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