Archive | Urban renewal

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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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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Unlock Henderson project moves toward firm transformation proposal

Council property & development arm Panuku Development Auckland will present proposals to the Henderson-Massey Local Board tomorrow for the transformation of Henderson town centre, based on residential intensification at 3 clusters of sites.

The proposals fall under Panuku’s unlock category of centre transformation developed in 2015 – the main category for big projects, transform, is being led by plans for Onehunga & Manukau Central and work already underway in the Wynyard Quarter and under the Tamaki regeneration partnership; the unlock category covers 7 centres plus housing for the elderly; and the third category, support, covers another 8 centres.

Senior project planning leader Richard Davison, who wrote an extensive paper on how to unlock value in Henderson and transform the town centre, said the vision built on the strong foundations of Waitakere City’s eco-city & inclusive approach.

To get to this stage, Panuku has worked with both the local board & mana whenua, but the assessment which led to Henderson being listed as a transformation target in the first place wasn’t flattering. Mr Davison wrote:

“The Henderson centre is fragmented by the 2 streams & the rail corridor, impacting the connectivity from east to west and from the surrounding suburbs into the central area.

“A combination of reduced public reinvestment & maintenance, along with the poor market perception, exacerbated by local crime rates, the area’s lower socio-economic profile and a main street dominated by shopfront vacancies has acted as a deterrent for private investors & businesses to take risks in delivering new projects to the market.

“While there is a broad & general demand for residential growth, the current housing stock lacks diversity, with apartments & terraced housing difficult to justify or get off the ground in a market that has a limited appetite and a clear limit to price point.

“Thus, combined with an eroded strategic mandate, Henderson has been rendered a financially challenging development location. Therefore, Henderson was chosen as a Panuku ‘unlock’ location as a result of a council-led assessment across the region’s urban centres that had potential for urban regeneration.”

Panuku’s high level project plan is aimed at catalysing & reinvigorating “wider private development potential in central Henderson through 3 broad stages of proposed development on specific council landholdings within the project area. The plan takes a cross-council, town centre-wide view of property opportunities to potentially facilitate & enable high quality, residential-led development.”

Panuku sees opportunities for the short, medium & long term in 3 land clusters. 2 along Henderson Valley Rd are the council site (the old Waitakere City Council headquarters) and the film studios area. The third cluster is a group of surface carparks in key central & gateway locations, which Mr Davison said would create the most urban impact if developed.

Panuku seeks the local board’s endorsement of the proposed vision, the 5 principles that would guide development and the 4 goals guiding development.

Assuming effective transformation, Henderson would have high quality medium-density residential & commercial development, walking & cycling links supporting the Twin Streams pathway, public art and Henderson Valley Rd turned into a high quality, mixed-use residential corridor.

Attribution: Local board agenda.

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Tracking ideas Sun5Mar17 – retail future, government buildings?

Online shopping rings in changes
And – with less regulation – government buildings?

Tracking ideas is a Bob Dey Property Report section devoted to ideas on property questions such as urban strategies & design, many from overseas but with relevance to Auckland.

Online shopping rings in changes

First, floorspace use

An article on the US National Housing Institute website Rooflines proposes a change in the US tradition of ground-floor retail, upstairs residential in many city districts because online shopping is reducing physical retail demand.

Crains’ New York business website suggested the retail sector was beyond the stage of bouncing back from the online shopping trend.

Project for Public Spaces, however, argues in a January article less about total retail space, more about how many “third places” are vital for the community.

Other ideas, such as “third spaces”

Sociology professor Ray Oldenburg wrote about people needing 3 places: the home, the workplace or school, and beyond that a third place – a public space on neutral ground where people can gather & interact while experiencing a sense of ease & belonging. In his 1991 book The Great Good Place, he argued that bars, cafés, stores & other “third places” are central to local democracy & community vitality.

In Seattle, property developer Ron Sher took up the message and founded Third Place Books after the author’s central theme.

The Project for Public Spaces website said: “Along with piles of books, the stores also contain cafés, restaurants & taverns that attract users of all ages, interests & backgrounds. The common areas host community programmes such as college jazz concerts, game nights, knitting clubs, farmers’ markets, story hours & tai chi lessons, while meeting rooms in the back offer gathering spaces for more private activities like study & support groups, or foreign language & computer lessons.”

And – with less regulation – government buildings?

The Atlantic – like many US media long on Trump criticism – raised an aspect of the US presidency that may well extend the retail vacancy trend into the bureaucracy sector.

Its article was about how there’s not much to do at the State Department, and a suspicion that some early redundancies will be extended within the department. Take that a logical step further: a president who’s averse to regulation is in the prime position to get rid of it, everywhere. And the US, for all its chanting of the words democracy & freedom, is a highly regulated country.

While Mr Trump seems intent on maintaining police lines and increasing the US military presence, it’s easy to see much other regulation being sidelined. In quick time the country could see scores of government buildings being vacated.

Rooflines, 16 February 2017: Should online shopping change how we use space?
Crains, 29 January 2017: Some experts say retail will bounce back. Don’t buy it
Project for Public Spaces, 5 January 2016: Can retail space be an extension of the public realm? A look at Seattle’s Third Place Books
The Atlantic, 1 March 2017: The state of Trump’s State Department

Attribution: Rooflines, Crains, Project for Public Spaces, The Atlantic.

Regular leads: Planetizen

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Economist sees scope for house price fall – my picture more complicated

Infometrics chief forecaster Gareth Kiernan said yesterday the economic consultancy saw “scope for a 12% drop in property values by the end of 2020”.

That turned into this heading: House prices to fall 12% by 2020.

A 12% price fall in 3 years – or a multitude of trend changes? I interpolate:

Some have fallen that much this year while others have been taken off the market because the windfall window has passed. How & what you measure makes a big difference.

When the America’s Cup was first touted as coming to Auckland in the 1980s, my house’s value – along with every other house in the neighbourhood – rose overnight by a million dollars. But few houses actually went on the market to catch this windfall, a handful of homes sold at escalated prices, the cup event didn’t come and the market shot back to where it had been. Did homes drop in value? They didn’t in reality rise.

Auckland was unusual in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008 – on Quotable Value’s figures, a drop from double-digit price growth in 2007 to a decline of about 7% both nationally & in Auckland in 2008, followed by a 3% turnaround nationally in 2009 – and a rise of 7.3% for the year in Auckland.

By late 2011 – the year housing consents bottomed – Auckland’s house price index was above the level of the previous peak in late 2007, but on low turnover.

Through to late 2016, both prices & turnover rose. Turnover is now down, and you can see vendors facing hard decisions at auction. Yet, at auction this week, some apartments sold at high price levels – above $10,000/m² for secondary stock that’s now “old”. That can be attributed partly to the rising cost of construction for new developments.

The unitary plan has put another factor into the pricing equation, the ability to intensify sections that previously might have been able to take only 2 townhouses. This potential can raise the apparent value of standalone houses throughout suburbia, though it’s actually a change in land values.

Mr Kiernan raises mortgage rates as a factor below, suggesting a rise could keep some buyers out of the market. Higher interest rates or increased supply over the last 15 years, or both, would have suppressed prices. Supply is starting to increase but, while net immigration keeps rising, that supply will still fall short. That could encourage price rises while, at the same time, ordinary local buyers will tot up capital & mortgage costs which will show prices for them must come down.

Over the last 4 years, New Zealand turned – swiftly – from a net outflow of 39,000 migrants/year to Australia to a zero outflow, and a little more slowly to a net inflow of almost that number (33,900 in 2016) just into Auckland.

Those migration tides can reverse again just as quickly but, as I’ve suggested below, other factors come into play and one of those is amenity for new developments.

Kiernan: several risks hanging over economy

Mr Kiernan said the solid outlook for growth – a prediction of 3%-plus gdp growth over the 3 years to June 2019 – masked several risks hanging over the economy: “Mortgage holders in Auckland look particularly vulnerable to even modest interest rate rises that are likely to occur in the next 2-3 years. Debt-servicing costs in the city now take up a greater proportion of income than in 2007, when mortgage rates reached 8.7%. A future rise of 1.5-2 percentage points in mortgage rates would clearly stretch many borrowers in Auckland and squeeze potential buyers out of the market.”

Infometrics predicts that wholesale interest rates will gradually rise further in the next few months and that the Reserve Bank will start increasing the official cashrate by mid-2018.

“Net migration & population growth will be easing at the same time as interest rates start to rise, and this cocktail could be the catalyst for a housing market correction. Apart from the stresses on the market in Auckland, underlying demand conditions in some other regions do not justify current high prices, and we see scope for a 12% drop in property values by the end of 2020.”

Looking at the wider economy, Mr Kiernan turned first to employment: “Despite the unemployment rate edging up to 5.2% in data released this week, the labour market has been tightening across the board. The capacity constraints that have previously been most intense in the construction & tourism sectors are becoming more widespread.

“Infometrics expects to see increased wage pressures as firms battle harder to attract & retain staff, with the unemployment rate dropping back below 5.0% in 2017 and continuing to decline over the next 2 years.”

Next up, international politics: “Heightened political uncertainty also has the potential to derail New Zealand’s growth train. At this stage, the main threat to New Zealand from US President Trump’s policy agenda appears to be potential trade barriers against China.

“Mr Trump has talked about 45% tariffs on Chinese imports, which would reduce American demand for Chinese products, dampening economic growth in our largest export market and undermining New Zealand’s export incomes.

“President Trump’s proposal is a significant threat to Chinese & global economic growth, and New Zealand would not be able to dodge the flow-on effects over the following couple of years if trade barriers between China & the US were implemented.

“Closer to home, a change of government or a shift in the balance of power after New Zealand goes to the polls on 23 September could also affect our medium-term economic outlook.”

Migration factors

Bald assertions can take some filling in to make sense. For migration & population growth, the biggest factor is the Australian economy.

In the June 2015 year, Australia’s net migrant inflow was 168,000, down nearly 10% from the previous year, and 40% went to New South Wales. The country’s population rose by 338,000 (1.4%) to 24.1 million in the year to June 2016. Incredibly, those seem to be the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The New South Wales economy seems to be in better shape than other states’, which may lead to a resumption of higher emigration from New Zealand in the next couple of years. A resumption of growth in Western Australia’s mining sector looks further away than that.

The Auckland construction market looks overheated and, combined with the unusually high level of infrastructure underway, will drain labour from other parts of the country and require imported labour.

One factor in New Zealand’s migration statistics that’s played down is the proportion of migrants from India, many on student visas and therefore seen as not really permanent migrants. I regard that pool of migrants differently, as a revolving supply because many return home, but still showing a net increase of over 10,000/year, at a similar level to the net inflow from China.

Statistics NZ projections

Statistics NZ’s latest regional projections show Auckland’s population growing at just over 1%/year on the low projection through to 2043, and at nearly 2% on the high projection.

One question there is whether the supply of and for housing will increase enough to dampen the increase in its price. The high growth projection for Auckland over the 5 years to 2023 would see the population up by 200,000 to 1.94 million – by an average 40,000/year, which would require an extra 14,800 homes/year to satisfy demand.

Changing trends will complicate values

The trend in new housing is toward less standalone housing and more intensive development, notably lowrise townhouses & suburban units along with retirement village units rather than a high concentration of apartments. Land values based on higher potential may change that lowrise preference.

A combination of the unitary plan allowing more building height, particularly in both suburban & regional centres, and council organisation Panuku Development Auckland’s regeneration programme for as many as 20 centres around the region could see an increase in apartment living as commercial & retail centre amenity improves.

That would shift the pricing focus away from houses in the most expensive suburbs and to different kinds of home. The expensive suburbs are likely to retain their high pricing levels because of limited supply – one reason they’re expensive even on bad days – but housing elsewhere should graduate to new ranges.

To achieve those changes, more amenities will be needed in suburban centres. As a city apartment dweller told me yesterday, Auckland fares poorly in the provision of amenities for apartment occupants compared to many cities in other countries, such as Vancouver & Sydney.

Some developments provide a pool or a gym, many don’t. Rather than an increase in inhouse amenities, and against council budgets which are very unlikely to allow for an expansion of communally owned amenities, the growth of apartment living in suburban centres could be matched by the separate private-sector provision of amenities.

That in itself would produce 2 value changes – one to reduce the value of apartments by eliminating costly inhouse amenities, the other to increase their value for proximity to externally available amenities.

Attribution: Infometrics release, my own economic date, Statistics NZ, Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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Takapuna reference group lodges ideas on how to upgrade

The Greater Takapuna Reference Group – a group of volunteers representing diverse community interests – has identified 7 steps to help shape the Takapuna town centre.

The group briefed the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board on its collective thinking on 6 December and its list of ideas for the town centre will be presented to the board’s meeting on Tuesday.

Its first input since its appointment last April has been to council organisation Panuku Development Auckland’s framework plan for its ‘unlock’ project for the Takapuna town centre.

Image above: A view from Panuku’s Tomorrow’s Takapuna video, ocean to the left, harbour & cbd to the right.

The group has told the local board it’s willing to continue putting ideas to the board, but it’s also told the board of concerns at having political membership of the group.

Issue over political representatives

Board staff recommended in November that there be political representatives – 2 from the local board and one from the council governing body – and the board voted for George Wood – former North Shore mayor, Auckland ward councillor and now local board deputy chair – and board member Jan O’Connor to join the group.

The board also agreed in November that there should be a representative of the retail sector and 2 other Takapuna residents of on the group.

However, after discussion with the group’s independent facilitator, staff have said in a report to Tuesday’s meeting: “While having local board & governing body member oversight & input into the group has been beneficial, staff request that the local board reconsider political representation on the reference group. This is suggested for the following reasons:

  • The group has reached a critical stage in its formation that could easily be undone through the introduction of new individuals not sharing the same learned values the existing group has. The group are all volunteers who can leave the group at any time. They serve on the group only because they believe they can provide a collective value to the local board & the community through their considered advocacy
  • The reference group is a group of people representing a diverse range of opinions & backgrounds. Through this process, they have become a group that listens carefully & respectfully to each other’s views and share their thoughts openly & honestly with one another
  • The issues considered by the group so far have been the thinking behind the Takapuna ‘Unlock’ project together with the streetscape upgrade of Hurstmere Rd. The group briefed the local board on 6 December about the work they had undertaken and described the common ground they had reached with regard to a desired future Takapuna.”

The group has people from the following sectors: Events, youth, parks, Panuku, transport, arts, education, Sunday market, local board, Auckland Council, residents of High, medium & low density housing, accessibility, community, tangata whenua, business, technology & health.

Council staff said they hadn’t found any extra candidates they could recommend.

13 must-haves

After 3 months of hearing each other’s views about Takapuna, the group agreed to specifically consider: “How can we as a community influence Takapuna’s development as a great place to work, live & play by enhancing our social, economic, natural & cultural environment and creating open & civic spaces for all ages & abilities to enjoy?”

First, the group considered success factors, identifying 13 ‘must-haves’:

  • Open public space
  • Public transport with high usability
  • Traffic flowing
  • Sufficient parking
  • Abundant & secure market opportunities
  • Housing affordability, access & supply
  • Natural environment maintained & enhanced
  • Maori perspective embraced
  • Retail, hospitality & accommodation vibrant
  • Arts & culture welcomed & supported
  • Universal design ensures multi-use spaces and connections, with an emphasis on pedestrian & cycle movement
  • Events are welcomed & supported
  • Employment opportunities (especially technology) pursued.

7 ideas on what Takapuna could be

A view from Panuku’s Tomorrow’s Takapuna video, ocean to the left, harbour & cbd to the right.

A number of the group members wrote about their visions of a future Takapuna that had them journeying around a Takapuna that was accessible, attractive & vibrant. The 7 narratives were then integrated into a ‘super narrative’ to give an idea of what Takapuna could be. Initial recommendations that could have a positive catalytic effect:

Gasometer site (fronting Huron, Auburn & Northcroft Sts): It is recommended that a dedicated carpark be built for longstay & all-day parkers on the gasometer site, first & foremost. The building is to be adaptable with residential & retail options possible in the future. The reference group also recognised that there will be disruption to shortstay parking with future development of the Anzac carpark and suggested that the gasometer site might have flexibility to temporarily cater for shortstay parking over the disruption period.

Open public space: In recognition that public spaces are gathering points where city dwellers interact, congregate, celebrate and break down barriers, it is recommended that there be a mix of green & hard spaces that are ‘activated’ and are of various sizes. It is recommended that sizeable green spaces are maintained and opportunities to increase green space like the Northern Reserve are explored. It is recommended that connections & viewshafts are opened up between the public spaces, for example from the ‘civic plaza’ (discussed in the next recommendation) across open space to Hurstmere Green and then beyond to the Takapuna Beach reserve, the beach and to Rangitoto across the channel. It is recommended that there be exploration of better using the hard space by the current library site.

Anzac Quarter: It is recommended that a heart be created for Takapuna on the current Anzac carpark in the form of a ‘civic plaza’ that could be called the Anzac Quarter. It is recommended that the TAB & Burger King building be purchased and added to Potter’s Park together with additional space to create a civic plaza of about 80m² for public use. Creative design will enable activation of the space. It is recommended that all war memorials be moved into this space. It is recommended that consideration be given to moving the library into the Anzac Quarter. It is recommended that a height limit of 6 storeys be encouraged around the Anzac Quarter to maximise sun and limit shade & wind. It is recommended that the multi-use design in Panuku thinking that includes opportunities for street markets & events be supported.

Sunday market: In recognition that the current format of the Sunday market requires hard surfaces & extensive vehicle access that can be found in Smales Farm as well as in the current Anzac carpark, it is recommended that there be a medium-term plan to relocate the Sunday market. This plan should:

  • have plenty of lead-in time to a change of venue
  • be initiated at the time of the Anzac Quarter developments
  • have minimal disruption to the Sunday market experience
  • take into account transport links between Smales Farm & Takapuna town centre.

Hurstmere Rd developments: It is recommended that the Hurstmere Rd developments be planned, engaged on and implemented at the same time as the Panuku Unlock initiative. Although the responsible agencies (Panuku, Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, local board) have differing budgets, the outcomes of the changes affect all Takapuna residents, workers & visitors. It is therefore crucial that these agencies fully collaborate on development in Takapuna.

Universal design: It is recommended that Takapuna become a flagship destination for universal design. Universal design is the design of products & environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible without need for adaptation. It is driven by a mindset of an inclusive environment that is good for everyone. It is recommended that all design decisions in Takapuna have universal design incorporated from the outset with no more retrofitting! It is noted that the new playground by the beach is already proving universal design value.

Events: It is recommended that all agencies with decision-making authority in Takapuna agree an event-friendly policy. Recognising that events bring people & income to Takapuna, it is important that governing bodies support events in principle and work with event organisers to plan & run events smoothly. It is recommended that the proposed Anzac Quarter in addition to Gould Reserve & Hurstmere Green be used for events.

Regeneration over the whole region

What’s ‘unlock’?

When Panuku set out its plans for regeneration in 2015 it needed both some quick hits and the presentation of action around the whole region.

To do both, it created 3 priority lists – first the majors to transform, second a list of 8 centres (and the council’s network of villages to house the elderly) where the project would be less extensive, and a third list of comparatively minor projects.

Work has started on some projects in all categories.


  • Wynyard Quarter
  • Manukau Metropolitan Centre and surrounds
  • Onehunga Town centre and Port
  • Tamaki regeneration (in partnership)


  • Takapuna town centre
  • Northcote town centre & surrounds (including Housing NZ block)
  • City centre
  • Old Papatoetoe town centre
  • Henderson town centre
  • Hobsonville
  • Ormiston town centre & nearby sites in Flatbush
  • Housing for older persons network of villages


  • Mt Eden (Dominion & Valley Rds)
  • Whangaparaoa (Link Crescent)
  • New Lynn
  • Avondale
  • Pukekohe
  • Stonefields (Morrin, Merton & Donnelly Rds)
  • Howick (Fencible Drive)
  • Otahuhu

Links: Panuku, Takapuna
Local board agenda item: Greater Takapuna Reference Group, February report

The list of previous stories below is extensive, to give you an idea of how things have/haven’t developed for Takapuna this millennium.

Earlier stories:
9 March 2016: Takapuna & Northcote first up for revitalisation
6 December 2015: How Panuku proposes to lead transformation of Auckland
4 December 2015: Manukau & Onehunga earmarked for transformation
19 November 2014: Board does the Shore thing, micromanaging Takapuna centre plan
20 September 2013: Anzac St West plan change gets final council approval
15 September 2010: Takapuna planning framework endorsed, after a bit of relitigation
9 December 2009: Weipers confident of starting Merge on gasometer site next year
9 December 2009: Takapuna development framework document nearly complete
7 September 2009: Anzac West seen as model for redevelopment of centre fringes
22 July 2009: Slow journey to a centres parking strategy
2 June 2008: Location lodges consent application for gasometer site tower
23 May 2008: Brookfield Multiplex & Perron working on Takapuna Strand plans, and wharf concepts being fine-tuned
13 May 2008: Precinct plans to be prepared for Anzac St West & Beachfront/Strand
15 May 2007: Takapuna strategic review bemoans residential influx, ignores fundamental cbd question
23 April 2007: Council agrees to 30-storey development on Takapuna gasometer site
13 October 2006: Ferry wharves proposed for Takapuna & Browns Bay
17 April 2006: Shore council sets out programmes for plan changes & district plan review
4 April 2006: Shore council puts 2 options on town centre rejuvenation
8 February 2005: East Coast Bays ferry study to coincide with overall transport plan
2004: Update: Final gasometer site decision in 4 weeks
2 March 2001: Takapuna plan out for consultation
26 July 2000: Prescribing layout for development already in motion: the Albany expansion zone

Attribution: Local board agenda, Panuku & council images.

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Consultation opens on urban development authorities

The Government released a discussion document on introducing urban development authorities yesterday, as recommended last year by the Productivity Commission.

Consultation on the document closes on 19 May.

Building & Construction Minister Nick Smith said the proposed legislation would fast-track the redevelopment & regeneration of urban areas to better meet housing & commercial needs.

Under funding & financing, the discussion document, issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, proposes that an urban development authority will be able to:

  1. buy, sell & lease land & buildings in a development project area
  2. receive & issue grants from the Crown & others, and
  3. borrow from private lenders or banks, issue bonds or shares, create joint venture or co-investment arrangements, and enter into funding contracts.

Outside the ambit of this proposal are:

  • the planning & consenting system as a whole, and
  • any ability for urban development authorities to access powers under the Building Act & Building Code.

What it could (but probably won’t) do

The greatest service the Government could do to the country would be to cut out the cost escalation from land acquisition through preparation of a serviced site. In the normal course of subdivision, a developer will factor in various elements of risk and returns on various stages, starting with a return on land purchase. Changing the way those elements are priced could bring dramatic change to the eventual cost of a house or, for an urban development authority, a regeneration project.

This document, however, appears to stick with the norm – the cost-plus mentality – instead of presenting options on finance.

It says the Government proposes that “the costs of developing new infrastructure be passed on to the eventual purchasers of individual properties and to any existing properties that benefit from the upgraded services within the development project area, either in the sale price or through a separate, targeted, property-based infrastructure charge.”

Looking for comparisons, it says: “Apart from taxation powers, the ability to acquire, repackage & sell or lease land is another method used overseas to pay for the infrastructure required to support the development. The ability to use land as security to borrow or the ability to pre-sell sections or building space can release capital to pay for infrastructure without necessarily having to take on large amounts of debt. Consequently, an urban development authority needs access to powers to independently fund new, and to upgrade existing, infrastructure systems & services, either directly or under contract with others.”

It’s about speed – or catchup

The Government proposal is about speed, to “allow nationally or locally significant urban development projects to be built more quickly. It is proposing a toolkit of enabling powers that could be used to streamline & speed up particular largescale projects, such as suburb-wide regeneration.

“Only land that is already within an urban area, or that is sufficiently close to an urban area that it may in future service that area, will be affected by the proposed legislation.

“The projects would be planned & facilitated by publicly controlled urban development authorities, potentially in partnership with private companies &/or landowners.

“The Government would decide which enabling powers could be used for particular projects; not all powers would be granted for all projects. Central government & territorial authorities would have to work together to identify & agree on urban development projects and would consult the public before granting the relevant enabling powers.”

The powers potentially available for an urban development project would relate to:

  • Land – powers to assemble parcels of land, including existing compulsory acquisition powers under the Public Works Act
  • Planning & resource consenting – powers to override existing & proposed district plans & regional plans, and streamlined consenting processes
  • Infrastructure – powers to plan & build infrastructure such as roads, water pipes & reserves
  • Funding – powers to buy, sell & lease land & buildings; powers to borrow to fund infrastructure; and powers to levy charges to cover infrastructure costs.

An urban development authority would not have building consenting powers. None of the proposed powers would override any Treaty of Waitangi settlements. National environmental standards would also have to be met. The relevant powers would only apply to a particular project and would expire when the project is completed.


For Auckland, Dr Smith turned the proposal into part of the series of Government measures to get more housing. Auckland Council, though, has already taken a measured approach to the wider context of urban regeneration, starting in 2012 with the formation (with the Government) of the Tamaki urban redevelopment company. Then, in 2014, deciding to combine its successful waterfront development organisation with the council arm that had been tasked with rationalising the council’s own property holdings.

The result of that is Panuku Development Auckland, an organisation which still does the rationalising, and has public works well under way in the Wynyard Quarter and is in charge of organising land development in that precinct, where it holds the land titles.

But Panuku has gone on to greater things, tasked with a programme of urban regeneration (see the links below).

Dr Smith put the emphasis of the new proposal this way: “New Zealand needs urban development authority legislation to enable faster & better quality regeneration in our major cities. These new authorities need the power to assemble parcels of land, develop site-specific plans, reconfigure infrastructure and to construct a mix of public & private buildings to create vibrant hubs for modern urban living.

“These reforms are part of the solution to Auckland’s growth pressures over housing & infrastructure. Urban development authorities would enable major redevelopment projects like those proposed or under way in areas such as Hobsonville, Tamaki, Three Kings & Northcote to occur 3-5 years faster.

“The international experience in cities like London, Melbourne, Sydney, Toronto & Singapore is that urban development authorities can create vibrant new suburbs with greater gains for housing, jobs & amenities than through usual incremental, piecemeal redevelopment.

“The key to the success of urban development authorities is in how they interact with councils & businesses. We are proposing a model of urban development authorities which requires the support of both central & local government, and one that maximises the role of the private sector in development.

“This proposal for urban development authorities was recommended by the Productivity Commission. It is part of the Government’s wider range of reforms to grow housing supply and will complement initiatives such as the Housing Infrastructure Fund, reforms to the Resource Management Act, the national policy statement on urban development capacity, the Crown land programme and the KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme.

“The growth of New Zealand cities has historically been dominated by new greenfield developments on the perimeter of our cities. This reform is about providing new tools to enable redevelopment of existing areas in cities like Auckland & Wellington in a way that provides more housing, better infrastructure and a stronger community.”

MBIE, 14 February 2017: Urban development authorities, draft discussion document
Productivity Commission, 19 August 2016:
What would a high-performing planning system look like?
Urban planning: What’s broken and how to fix it
Better urban planning, draft report

Related story today:
Steamrolling & funding

Earlier stories:
22 August 2016: Productivity Commission urban planning report blunt, measured & perceptive
Commission sees government change as essential for urban planning
Commission says everything English wanted on planning
13 July 2016: Deal on supermarket land opens way for Old Papatoetoe mall revamp
27 June 2016: Institute suggests competing urban development authorities
16 May 2016: Council & Government join forces to redevelop Northcote land
9 March 2016: Takapuna & Northcote first up for revitalisation
6 December 2015: How Panuku proposes to lead transformation of Auckland
4 December 2015: Manukau & Onehunga earmarked for transformation
28 November 2014: Slim council majorities say no to caps & funding referendum, urban development authority supported
20 June 2014: Council property company’s greater development role approved – but it won’t be a development company
18 June 2014: Council property arm proposes expanded housing & regeneration roles
25 July 2012: Government & council agree to form Tamaki urban redevelopment company

Attribution: Discussion document, ministerial release.

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Steamrolling & funding

There are 2 reasons to create an urban development authority: To steamroll, and to fund.

And there are 2 ways of looking at steamrolling: It can smooth the path, or it can override opposition.

Auckland Council already has its own development authority, Panuku, which has embarked on a major regeneration programme around the region, but it lacks the financial strength that Government backing would provide.

The council is close to its prudential debt limits and Panuku would not be able to carry out its ambitious regeneration programme at the speed it & the Government would like without entering some new financial arrangement.

Funding has been on the council agenda for the whole of the super-city’s first 6 years but always, when I’ve asked about progress, I’ve been greeted with blank stares. That was until a new style of negotiation was introduced last year to bring the Government into partnership with the council on the city rail link and the transport alignment project – as partners instead of protagonists.

Building, Construction & Environment Minister Nick Smith (pictured above) is a steamroll kind of person, as his approach to the Auckland housing accord and development of special housing areas has demonstrated.

If the council didn’t speed up its processes, the Government would take over the job itself, he said. Along the way, with that approach, quality has a good chance of being bypassed and development becomes a carpetlaying exercise.

The urban development authority concept as presented promises more partnership, though that’s not guaranteed.

The discussion document, issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, recognises limitations for both central & local government: “Central government entities have limited statutory powers to finance & fund infrastructure for urban development. At present, these powers primarily relate to roads, land transport, schools, prisons, hospitals & reserves.

“In contrast, local government has a wide range of powers to finance & fund infrastructure, including powers to tax land & property. Many territorial authorities in New Zealand charge targeted rates to homeowners & businesses to pay for specific services provided to their communities.

“However, their limited capacity to carry additional debt can create significant constraints on funding infrastructure upgrades & expansion. Additionally, there can be no certainty that a territorial authority would be willing to support a development project with additional funding to provide infrastructure.”

MBIE 14 February 2017: Urban development authorities, draft discussion document
Productivity Commission, 19 August 2016:
What would a high-performing planning system look like?
Urban planning: What’s broken and how to fix it
Better urban planning, draft report

Related story today:
Consultation opens on urban development authorities

Earlier stories:
22 August 2016: Productivity Commission urban planning report blunt, measured & perceptive
Commission sees government change as essential for urban planning
Commission says everything English wanted on planning
13 July 2016: Deal on supermarket land opens way for Old Papatoetoe mall revamp
27 June 2016: Institute suggests competing urban development authorities
16 May 2016: Council & Government join forces to redevelop Northcote land
9 March 2016: Takapuna & Northcote first up for revitalisation
6 December 2015: How Panuku proposes to lead transformation of Auckland
4 December 2015: Manukau & Onehunga earmarked for transformation
28 November 2014: Slim council majorities say no to caps & funding referendum, urban development authority supported
20 June 2014: Council property company’s greater development role approved – but it won’t be a development company
18 June 2014: Council property arm proposes expanded housing & regeneration roles
25 July 2012: Government & council agree to form Tamaki urban redevelopment company

Attribution: Discussion document, ministerial release.

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Melbourne prepares to start 485ha urban renewal at Fishermans Bend

Victoria’s state government released the final version of the Fishermans Bend vision last month – a plan to revitalise 485ha sitting between the existing central business district and the port.

Image above: Fishermans Bend, between Melbourne’s cbd & port, an urban renewal site including Holden’s headquarters (outlined).

melb-fishermans-bend2It’s intended to house 80,000 residents and provide 60,000 jobs in 5 precincts beside the mouth of the Yarra River, where it flows into Port Phillip Bay.

2 precincts are in Melbourne – Lorimer and the Fishermans Bend employment precinct – and 3 are in Port Phillip City – Montague, Wirraway & Sandridge.

In 2012, the state government identified the urban renewal area as an urban renewal project of state significance and rezoned it as capital city zone. Initially the rezoned area was about 250ha but it’s now 485ha, more than doubling the central city.

Last month, a major step forward occurred when the state government bought the 37.7ha General Motors Holden headquarters & engine-manufacturing site. Holden will become an import-only company once the last Commodores roll off its Adelaide production line next year, ending 80 years of Australian production.

The GM-Holden site outlined.

The GM-Holden site outlined.

The state government has earmarked the Holden land for a design, engineering & technology district, aiming to bring together industry leaders in aerospace, defence, marine & automotive design.

The government said in a release the Holden site would be a catalyst for creating thousands of high value jobs: “This project will drive private sector investment into the Fishermans Bend employment precinct.”

Benchmarks for urban renewal

The Fishermans Bend vision sets benchmarks for inner-city urban renewal on economic prosperity, sustainability, design, smart urban management, community service provision and both active & public transport.


  • A target of 80% of transport movements to be made by public transport, walking or cycling
  • Delivery of catalyst projects, starting with an education & community precinct
  • At least one activity centre in each precinct including retail, jobs & community services
  • Primary & second schools across Fishermans Bend
  • Open space within 200m walking distance for all residents & workers
  • An integrated transport strategy including cycle paths, tram lines & an underground rail line, and
  • Diverse & affordable housing opportunities.

Fishermans Bend Vision, final version
Melbourne Age, 17 June 2015: How not to stuff up Fishermans Bend
Port Phillip City: Project history

Attribution: State government, Port Phillip City, Age.

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SkyCity convention centre decision 3 weeks away

A resource consent decision on SkyCity Entertainment Group Ltd’s application for its international convention centre & hotel in Auckland can be expected around 23 September.

SkyCity subsidiary NZ International Convention Centre Ltd’s application was heard by commissioners on Friday. The applicant will supply the panel with an updated version of the conditions by Tuesday, the hearing will then close and the panel has another 15 working days to deliver its decision.

The application is being determined on a non-notified basis, so the only submissions & evidence at the one-day hearing were from SkyCity.

Counsel Bronwyn Carruthers noted in her submissions the role the new precinct would play as a catalyst for regeneration on the Auckland cbd’s western fringe and architect John Coop, chairman & regional director of Warren & Mahoney, emphasised transparency of the exhibition hall – a sharp contrast with the SkyCity casino on the other side of Hobson St.

“It’s very unusual to have an exhibition hall where you can see in & out all day long. Most of them are enclosed boxes,” Mr Coop said.

Getting around many international centres can also be a mission, but Mr Coop said a unique & very positive aspect of this one was that it would be a stacked centre: “You’ll be moving vertically through the building, which will be very quick, and as you do that you’ll be able to look out on the city.

“It’s a compact site but still a big building, 100m x 100m, but we’ve been able to create a range of spaces where you look at the city differently.

“We feel that we’re city-making here, not just constructing a building. You can see into the building, not only at ground level but also the upper levels.”

Ms Carruthers said the international convention centre, 5-star hotel across a small airbridge and larger airbridge across Hobson St to SkyCity’s other facilities (casino, 2 hotels & smaller convention centre) would “bring the world to New Zealand” by delivering facilities that promoted the country’s identity & sense of place.

The see-through look from Hobson St.

The see-through look from Hobson St.

“This will enable New Zealand to compete globally for a share of largescale conferences, exhibitions & events, while simultaneously supporting the transformation of a part of Auckland’s cbd and rejuvenating the surrounding streetscapes.”

The new convention centre will be spread over 4 levels, the exhibition hall will be the size of the Eden Park field, the plenary theatre will have 3000 seats and there will be meeting rooms & breakout spaces.

The complex will be able to accommodate 6000 people and host conferences of up to 3000 delegates or 2 separate & concurrent conventions of 1250 delegates each. It would be flexible, multi-purpose & configurable to attract a wide variety of events.

An airbridge to the 12-level, 5-star, 300-room hotel will cross a public lane, with retail & hospitality venues for locals & visitors. The lane will open to a public plaza on Hobson St, but the hotel’s main entrance will be on Nelson St.

At the Albert St edge of SkyCity’s complex, visitors will have access to the new Aotea station, while 3 streets across, Nelson St may one day revert to 2-way traffic, although the non-scoping of the 2012 city centre masterplan by Thursday’s transport alignment project terms of reference may have put an end to that dream.

The environment & values along Hobson & Nelson Sts have suffered through their use as one-way arterials, and the city centre masterplan envisaged streetscape change, including a reduction in lanes, with 2-laning an eventual possibility. It would require elevation of streetscaping & property values as inputs to transport modelling for those changes to occur.

Meanwhile, under the convention centre consent application, parking will become an even bigger component of the SkyCity precinct. Basement parking at the Federal-Hobson Sts main site is already Auckland’s biggest parking lot with 1920 spaces. The proposal for the Hobson-Nelson Sts basement is for 1415 spaces on 4 levels, with access through to the existing carpark. SkyCity wants a flexible arrangement to maximise use of the new carpark – at least 420 spaces for staff but up to 778 at busy times, and a maximum 200 leased spaces. One council-proposed consent condition was for a minimum 801 spaces to be allocated for staff at all times.

Links: SkyCity, convention centre details
Convention centre agreement
Convention centre Q&A

Earlier stories:
29 August 2015: Modelling agreement crucial to alignment on transport
28 August 2015: Council & government sign transport alignment terms
11 July 2015: Propbd on Q Sat11July15 – Non-notified hearing for convention centre, Pre-Christmas decision on Z’s Caltex buy
27 May 2015: Revised convention centre agreed

Attribution: Hearing.

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