Talkin’ bout a housing revolution


Homelessness in Auckland

There is a whole lot of talk about housing in Auckland right now. It is one of the key issues facing our city and for me, good quality affordable housing is vital to the future of our region.

We are challenging Aucklanders to face up to what growth will really look like over the next 30 years and are taking this discussion out to Aucklanders as part of the informal engagement on the draft Unitary Plan. For the last eight weeks, I have been meeting with communities across the region every night of the week and most weekends to talk about what the Unitary Plan means for them. Some of this is pretty robust discussion but it shows that people are passionate about where they live and about the future of their communities and their city.

It’s exactly the kind of engagement I was hoping for. People sharing their views about what they think works and what doesn’t and the options they want council to consider. As I keep telling people this is the joy of a “draft” draft plan – we can change it and we will!

There has been huge interest and participation, which is fantastic. At the end of last week, there had been 177 council supported events across the region, with approximately 10,400 attendees, and more than 100,000 people have visited the Unitary Plan website.

What has become apparent though, is the increasing levels of misinformation being distributed about the draft Auckland Unitary Plan. People are being really frightened by scenarios that will never happen.
For a start, I’ve had to reassure many people that their house will not be taken away from them to make way for apartment buildings…or worse their house will be taken away and then they will be forced to live in a 30sqm apartment.

This is nonsense. Nobody will be forced to change their way of living. Auckland Council does not have the power to take your property from you. Nothing will ever change on your property unless you as the property owner decide to renovate, build or sell.

Nor will apartments appear in every neighbourhood. In fact the proposed terraced housing and apartment building zone will make up only 7% of Auckland’s total residential land use.

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What people are also forgetting is that many Aucklanders already choose to live in apartments. There are 3-4 level and higher apartment buildings across Auckland. Those choosing this lifestyle are not just younger Aucklanders or students but baby boomers who are downsizing their property for low maintenance living. This is the exact situation I find myself in at the moment having sold our family home in Swanson last month. I am now looking for a smaller home in the West, close to transport and in the meantime will be renting an apartment in the city (road testing the urban reality).

One of the biggest myths being flung around is that Auckland Council is trying to attract 1 million more people. As Len said at the Housing Accord announcement last Friday short of stopping our children having babies and putting up barb-wire fence to stop people moving to Auckland, growth is coming.

Auckland Council is not trying to attract more people nor does it have a target for another 1 million people. But we are prudently planning for it. The figure of 1 million is based on the Statistics New Zealand high growth rate, which has made predictions about Auckland’s population for the next 30 years.
When it comes to the plan itself there are also some saying things are fine as they are. The existing plans might not be perfect but why change a thing? There are currently 14 different district and regional plans many of which are out of date, have inconsistent rules and are more than 10 years old. There are many things that simply don’t work in the operative plans, particularly when it comes to protecting the things that are important to Aucklanders.

The Unitary Plan is attempting to fix this. For example, good quality urban design will be consent criteria in any new development and there is proposed character and heritage protection for all pre-1944 settlements across Auckland. This has never been delivered before.

The Unitary Plan cannot solve everything. Fixing the issues facing our young people who can’t afford to stay in Auckland and for families who are struggling to find housing that is safe, warm and close to jobs is a complex task. However, by taking a compact city approach the Unitary Plan changes changes our focus to ensure that we give all Aucklanders the housing choices they deserve.


  1. Thank-you, Penny, for so clearly expelling the main scaremongering myths circulating in relation to the draft unitary plan.

    From what I’ve seen of the draft AUP, there is a lot of good stuff in there.

    However, I agree with John Minto that it doesn’t deal with the main need: expansion of state and other forms of social housing. I know there is a problem that the government is the main authority that needs to step up on this.

    However, making home/apartment buying more accessible to first time buyers, will not tackle the area where there is a crisis in affordable housing: low income renters. And there are things Auckland Council could do to put pressure on the government to improve and increase state and community housing in Auckland.

    Why isn’t this flagged in the AUP, with suggestions of areas where state and/or community housing could be developed?

    As a middle income life time renter by choice, I don’t understand why Auckland Council is not giving equal weight to renters/ing as it gives to the eternally-inflationary home-buying ethos.

  2. it utterly sickening that people who should know better keep prattling on about growth over the next 30 years.

    Penny Hulse is well aware that Peak Oil will demolish present economic arrangements in the very near future and that growth is the problem, not the answer.

    Anyone with a brain knows that we are living through the biggest DISCONTINUITY in all of human history and that historical trends are completely useless fore planning.

    Indeed, Near Term Extinction for humanity is likely in less than 30 years, now that CO2 emissions have triggered so many positive feedbacks.

    There seems to be little point in bringing REALITY to people’s attention when they are so utterly determined to ignore it.

  3. This comment from Penny’s post…
    “For a start, I’ve had to reassure many people that their house will not be taken away from them to make way for apartment buildings…or worse their house will be taken away and then they will be forced to live in a 30sqm apartment.”
    …is untrue when it comes to families on low-incomes. They are already being forced from homes in Glen Innes to provide seaside mansions for the rich while high-rise accommodation which will look like an urban slum in five years is being planned for them.
    The council unfortunately has signed up to this community destruction through a heads of agreement signed by Len Brown last July.

  4. I understand why Auckland’s wealthy and propertied are fighting the unitary plan, but for lefties, what’s your excuse? If we don’t intensify, where will people in Auckland live? Do want to price us out of the market and force us to move elsewhere? Crowd out existing properties and live with our parents? Or sleep on the street?

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