Political calls for more Auckland ‘greenfield’ and ‘brownfield’ land to be released for intensive residential development have seen two large sites placed on the market for sale.
The two sites – one in Avondale in the city’s inner-wester reaches, and the other at Wattle Downs in South Auckland – could jointly sustain the potential construction of several hundred new residences in both terraced and multi-level apartment style formats.
A Government report into residential land development and housing affordability in Auckland cited the importance of new suburban landholdings being opened up for residential development at a more affordable ‘component’ cost.
The Housing affordability inquiry report – compiled by the New Zealand Productivity Commission – highlighted that the term ‘housing’ actually encompassed both the land, and house-building components of the property value equation.
“Section prices have grown more quickly than house prices over the last 20 years – indicating that appreciating land prices have been a key driver of house price inflation in New Zealand,” the Housing affordability inquiry report stated.
“This suggests a shortage of residential land in places where people want to live. Land price pressures have been particularly acute in Auckland, where section prices now account for around 60 percent of the cost of a new dwelling – compared with 40 percent in the rest of New Zealand.
“Policy and planning practices may be constraining the supply of residential land. Strong land price pressures in Auckland raise questions about the impact of policies aimed at increasing density – such as the Metropolitan Urban Limit (MUL) and other planning restrictions – on housing affordability.
“A major challenge ahead is to improve land release and planning approval processes so that affordability considerations are integrated fully into spatial planning.”
Both of the latest large scale residential developments sites being offered for sale through Bayleys meet the Housing affordability inquiry report’s desired outcome for a cheaper land component as part of the overall ‘home’ value package.
In Avondale, a 7,447 square metre site on the edge of Avondale race course - adjacent to the Avondale town centre – is zoned for town centre redevelopment under the Auckland Unitary Plan.
The town centre zoning allows for the construction of structures up to 32.5 metres high – which have the potential to sustain eight storeys of apartments, with retail or commercial premises on the street level. The site at 1909 Great North Road and 4 – 8 Racecourse Parade is being marketed for sale by Bayleys Auckland through a tender process, with tenders closing at 4pm on October 19.
Bayleys Auckland salespeople James Chan and Owen Ding said that with dual access from both Great North Road and Racecourse Parade, the location could deliver ease of access for vehicle parking either underneath or behind any subsequent apartment or mixed-use structure.
“Any development of the site totally underpins Auckland Council’s direction for greater intensification of residential developments around public transport hubs. The location is just some 200 metres from Avondale Train station,” Mr Chan said.
“Residences in a multi-storey apartment development of say eight floors would have vista views of Avondale Race Course in the foreground, stretching out the Waitakere Ranges in the distance. The race course is a wonderful civic amenity utilised by not only the horse racing fraternity, but also by a number of sporting clubs and codes year round, as well as for pure recreational use by locals.”
The Great North Road/Racecourse Parade block of land is less than one block from a 3498 square metre site previously occupied by the Suburbs Rugby Club overlooking Avondale Race Course, and sold in 2015 in what was the fourth batch of Special Housing Areas designated by Auckland Council in 2014. The land has subsequently been developed into new a terraced horse-shoe shaped format of two and three-bedroom terraced homes.
That property was part of the Racecourse Parade masterplan which had a vision to create a diverse range of terraced and apartment dwellings and community facilities supporting the growth and regeneration of the Avondale Town Centre.
When the neighbouring project was released, Auckland Council Property said the project showcased the council’s desire to make land use more efficient.
“We hope the development will help give other land owners in and around the town centre the confidence to develop their own land and continue the regeneration process for the benefit of the local community,” said a council spokesman.
Meanwhile, the second large plot of Auckland development land for sale offers the scope for creating a new waterfront residential enclave in South Auckland. The 2.472 hectare subdivision site at 194 Mahia Road in Wattle Downs has already been granted resource consent for the construction of 67 residential sections under its mixed housing suburban zoning.
It is being marketed for sale by deadline private treaty, with offers closing at 4pm on October 28. Marketing of the site is being run by Bayleys Manukau salespeople Ben Bayley, Nick Bayley and Graeme Sun.
Nick Bayley said the site reflected a clear acceleration in the process of growing Auckland’s housing inventory – particularly in an area of the city where per square metre land rates were cheaper than city-fringe locations.
He said the mixed housing suburban zone allowed a moderate level of intensification, while retaining a relatively spacious quality consistent with a suburban residential character.
“Development within this zone is generally two storey detached and terrace-style attached housing in a variety of design types and sizes to provide multiple housing style choices – very much like what is being seen at Hobsonville Point to the west or Stonefields in Mount Wellington,” Nick Bayley said.
“To allow for the efficient use of these sites when assessed through the resource consent process, dwellings can be built closer to site boundaries.”
Ben Bayley said that for the past five years, constraints on the availability of medium to large-scale greenfield residential development opportunities had been cited as one of the major factors contributing to Auckland’s new build costs being so high. The issue had been highlighted several times by most political parties in the run up to this month’s general election.
“With these two land-holding offerings, we are now seeing sizeable residential development sites coming to the market at a time when the major political parties have been calling for solutions to Auckland’s housing shortage,” he said.
Ben Bayley said that a quick sale of the Avondale and Wattle Downs development sites would “set the ball in motion” for what he hoped would be an expedient construction programme. His views were mirrored in the New Zealand Productivity Commission’s report, which said Auckland Council - as the administrative local body for the two locations - held the key to ensuring a smooth pathway through the consenting process.
“Councils have a major influence on all stages of house construction as they are responsible for urban planning – including the release of land for development and zooming decisions, providing or arranging for the provision of infrastructure to land that is to be developed, issuing building consents, and ensuring compliance with the building code,” said the report.
“Constraints on the release of new residential land create scarcity, limiting housing choice, and increasing house prices. In Auckland, the Metropolitan Urban Limit is a binding constraint on the supply of land for urban growth and has increased section prices within the city.”