Auckland is consistently ranked in the world’s top-10 most liveable cities. And with this high reputation, comfort and beauty, it’s no surprise the city expanded by more than 50,000 newcomers last year alone, and shows no sign of slowing.
With a construction boom predicted to be the biggest ever in 2017, further waves of council’s special housing areas being released, new terraced housing developments, and the inner-city apartment lifestyle craze heating up, land will continue to become a rare commodity.
So is this the beginning of the death of the backyard dream for many future Aucklanders?
A remnant of our colonial history
Massey University Pro Vice-Chancellor, Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley FRSNZ, says our Kiwi dream around owning the house with big back yard was initially formed in New Zealand’s early colonial period. Land was plentiful and space was needed to provide for families – gardens and small holdings for a cow or some sheep.
“This was further underlined by the welfare state,” Professor Spoonley says, “especially in relation to ensuring that there was support for home ownership and that basics were provided for by the state so that there was disposable income for major purchases, such as housing.”
He says the shift really began in the 1980s when the Labour Government changed the social contract that underpinned the welfare state and universal provision.
Changes under the 1990’s National Government and since then have also played a part.
“Major issues really emerged in the second decade of the 21st century when the cost of housing compared to income began to diverge, hence the ongoing debates about housing affordability,” Professor Spoonley says.
“The shift really began prior to the Global Financial Crisis, but as we have come out of this with a significant inflow of migrants, reduced departures from New Zealand, and the inflation in housing prices, especially in Auckland, the issues have become very stark.
“It is acute for those who are entering the labour market and are establishing families.”
Auckland’s future housing dynamic
Professor Spoonley poses several questions as factors to consider when looking at Auckland’s future housing dynamic and landscape:
- What will baby boomers do as they retire – will they head into apartments?
- Will there be more intensification of land use?
- And will buildings go up rather than out?
“There’s a strong ideological position in these debates which says that the main issue is land supply.
“It is a simplistic view, especially given that the housing deficit between demand and supply has been obvious for some time in Auckland.”
The Massey University professor says there are younger generations who are going to struggle to get into the housing market while baby boomers own houses that are becoming too large for them both in terms of the size of the house as an empty nest and the section.
“Affordability issues are combined with a growing housing mismatch - need versus ownership.”
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