While there is no answer in the short-term to Auckland’s housing shortage, high prices, and restricted choice, there is also no need for concerns about long-term solutions being found.
As a community we simply invested too little in housing development from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s – a time when the population was starting to grow rapidly – and the result is something we have to live with for some time to come.
However, looking out a decade from now the picture around Auckland’s commercial future and housing supply is far from gloomy.
Already under construction, and in the planning pipeline, is a whole string of housing initiatives that will at least allow the City to keep pace with its growing pains, and eventually start to eat into the accommodation log jam.
There is a real commitment on the part of Auckland City, the Government, and developers to do whatever it takes to build more homes, and within reason keep costs within the means of working families.
What I find encouraging is that although decision makers are under extreme pressure to fast track new developments, there remains a commitment to ensuring the planning around the big projects – the ones that are game changers to easing supply – are focused on creating what are ‘master planned communities’.
These are developments that have at their heart a community focal point, incorporating schools, medical centres, local shopping, public transport links, parks, restaurants, and leisure amenities.
Rather than simply being a sea of suburban homes, they are clusters within which a sense of neighbourly community can develop.
Architects and planners are intermingling low rise apartments, town houses, and duplexes with traditional stand-alone homes.
These developments are taking place right across the isthmus.
To the south, Flat Bush is being planned as a new regional hub that will, within the next 10 years, house 36,000 people.
At the northern end of the city limits, some 2,500 homes are being developed at Long Bay, while to the west 3,000 homes are under construction or planned for Hobsonville Point.
Only 8km from the city centre is Stonefields, which is well on the way to seeing a former quarry site converted into a 2,900-home master planned community.
In Papakura, upwards of 500 ‘affordable’ homes are planned at McLennan Park, which will transform the former Army base into a mixed community of social housing, private homes, and houses reserved for first time buyers.
Within the city itself, next month the first sod will be turned in what will ultimately see the old Tank Farm revitalised into a world class, inner city waterfront village.
Renamed the Wynyard Quarter, the plan for this area over the next 10 years is to convert this once industrial site into a village community of some 1,000 people living in 17 buildings linked by boulevards, pedestrian lanes and shopping precincts. These buildings will be on leasehold land owned by the Council, and the developers are the renowned New Zealand based firm of Willis Bond, which specialises in high-end projects.
Already, Willis Bond has sold off the plans half the residential properties within the first two buildings that will available for occupation in 2017.
The Wynyard Quarter is destined to become the residential heart of the inner city, located as it is within strolling distance of the Viaduct Harbour, Queen Street, Victoria Park, and the commercial buildings that serve as head office to many of the country’s most substantial companies.
Without doubt as a City we are going through some challenging growing pains.
On top of the intense housing development, the central business district is in for major development work in the form of the construction of the city-block sized convention centre, the start of the $2.4 billion City Rail Link between Britomart and Mt Eden, and massive new tower blocks at Downtown, Mills Lane, and Albert Street.
Our City is undergoing a massive transformation that is being backed by investment from the Council, the government, and developers.
We truly are on a path to becoming a Super City.
Peter Thompson, Managing Director, Barfoot & Thompson
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