It’s estimated close to 60,000 extra residents made Auckland their home last year and the demand has created a serious housing shortage.
Harcourts CEO Chris Kennedy says it’s a critical time for the city.
“If we get things wrong now, we risk parts of Auckland becoming pockets of ill-thought out, ugly and poorly-made construction.
“Like most Aucklanders, I love the city and want it to get bigger and better, not just bigger.”
It’s vital that future construction is well-planned, high quality and falls in line with the overall aim of making Auckland a beautiful and liveable city.
A balance needs to be struck between optimising land use, timely construction and people’s lifestyles.
Kennedy believes higher density housing doesn’t need to be ugly and quality should never be neglected to put more money in a developer’s pocket.
“On the flip-side regulatory issues need to be streamlined to encourage developers. There needs to be strong guidance, not impediments.”
Auckland Council should go into this phase of the city’s evolution with purpose and vigilance, but also flexibility and vision.
However, there is a massive hurdle to leap over first. Before anything else, we need to address our infrastructure, Kennedy says.
“Talk to Aucklanders and, aside from the property market, the area of biggest concern is congestion on our roads and inadequate public transport. The city has become a stressful and unpleasant place to navigate.”
There is no easy fix to this and the situation will get worse if large scale development starts occurring across the city. More people will look to move outside of Auckland in pursuit of a better lifestyle that was possible here 15 years ago.
Auckland needs more busways, train tracks and cycle paths. Auckland needs to be innovative. Our leaders need to look at examples of solutions that have worked overseas. It’s going to come at a huge cost, but what alternative do we have?
Another issue, Kennedy says, is the desirability of many suburbs within Auckland. There are many affordable suburbs which have the capacity for further development, however, these are places that are not desirable to live in. There needs to be a strategy around gentrification, which again is not an easy task.
And, once more, the infrastructure needs to be in place to support growth in these suburbs.
“I want Auckland to grow and I believe immigration is vital for New Zealand’s economic success. However, unchecked population growth without adequate infrastructure will be problematic.
“Unless we can have massive investment into Auckland, with a skilled workforce ready to execute immediate and significant infrastructure upgrades, it is my belief that guidelines should be put in place to encourage new arrivals to New Zealand to settle outside of Auckland.”
A pause in Auckland’s growth while we catch up to where we need to be in terms of infrastructure, is vital, Kennedy says.
Once the infrastructure is in place, then higher density, high-quality housing construction could, and should, start.
“The rebuild in Christchurch shows us what is possible in a short space of time. Land was made available (and this is where council will have to take the lead in Auckland), the consents process was expedited, skilled labour was brought in and new, quality subdivisions were constructed. Six years later, Christchurch has recovered to the point where there is now an oversupply of houses to buy and rent.
“The same is possible in Auckland, but first the infrastructure.”