Housing New Zealand (HNZ) is pleased by Auckland Council’s decision to pass the Unitary Plan, accepting most of the recommendations made to it by an independent panel.
As Auckland's largest residential landowner, Housing New Zealand participated extensively in the Unitary Plan process from its outset more than three years ago.
Housing New Zealand Board Chair Adrienne Young-Cooper says the corporation always supported Council’s Auckland Plan vision of achieving a quality, compact city.
“But it was also vital for us that the final plan enabled greater development capacity and fewer constraints than what was initially proposed. That’s a position that obviously also resonated with the panel and we’re pleased Council has seen fit, for the most part, to endorse it.”
Under the plan notified by Council three years ago, Housing New Zealand could have created up to 19,000 additional dwellings over the next three decades.
But it sought amendments to zoning and density provisions so that capacity for up to 39,000 additional dwellings, a likely mix of both social and private housing, could be achieved instead.
“We’re working through the modelling now to determine if 39,000 is still achievable following Council’s decision, but we certainly have a far better zoning and regulatory climate to achieve much more than 19,000,” says Mrs Young-Cooper.
“Overall we’re in a stronger position to manage and reconfigure our housing stock, both socially and economically, to meet demand into the future.”
Mrs Young-Cooper says other aspects of the newly-approved plan, such as the removal of the pre-1944 demolition overlay, will also have significant future benefits for people living in Housing New Zealand homes.
“We have a number of very old houses that simply don't have heritage features or meet the needs of contemporary living. Yet our ability to renew that stock has been hindered by constraints like blanket heritage overlays.
“We have never advocated that the city be stripped of its heritage or cultural identity but we have sought a more pragmatic approach for dealing with properties where a heritage overlay simply doesn’t make sense. We now have a clear opportunity to move forward and renew some of our oldest stock so that it’s warm, dry, safe and fit-for-purpose.”
And she says the renewal of the organisation’s portfolio (the average age of the stock nationally is around 44 years) isn’t just vital to the adequate on-going provision of social housing.
“Being able to reconfigure our 1200-plus hectare landholding will also release land to increase housing supply for the Auckland region,” she says.
The corporation's work to transform its portfolio is already underway in Auckland, with Housing New Zealand land being redeveloped in a number of Special Housing Areas (SHAs) across the city.
On its land, within 46 SHAs, Housing New Zealand expects it could build approximately 3000 new dwellings where there previously stood only 550 homes.
In total, around $2 billion will be spent on building up to 4,000 homes in the next three years – most in Auckland where need and demand is greatest. And Housing New Zealand aims to build and acquire 5,500 homes by 2019.
The Housing New Zealand Board chair says a challenging and exciting time lays ahead, with improved housing choices and greater affordability the likely outcomes of the new Unitary Plan over time.
“After a lengthy and robust process, Auckland at last has a planning framework that provides for quality intensification of residential land, more housing options, and that will help Auckland realise its potential as a culturally and socially diverse international city."