New south Auckland town could be a 'utopia' - Infrastructure NZ

Phil Twyford.
Phil Twyford. Photo credit: The AM Show

A planned new town south of Auckland could be a "utopia" for those who hate commuting, it has been claimed.

Infrastructure New Zealand is praising the approach of a new master plan for south Auckland. A city around the same size as Napier will be built in Drury, with road and rail connections. 

Chief executive Paul Blair says it will capture value from considerably cheaper rural land.

"Ideally what you want to do is you want to is capture that as the Government, then you can recycle all of that value uplift into either cheaper infrastructure and more infrastructure, or into cheaper and more affordable homes."

Local and central Government are working with private developers on the $2.4-billion project, which will offer more than 40,000 homes. 

Blair says residents will be able to walk to public transport with commercial areas nearby.

"You might have that utopia of being able to live, work and play within a walk or a cycle of your home. That's very, very different to the model we have today, where a lot of people are choked up on the Southern Motorway."

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the development would undergo consultation, and expected some opposition. But he backs the plan.

"This is a break from the ad hoc way we have previously planned our towns and suburbs. Instead of transport infrastructure having the catch up with housing development, we are investing in the roads and rail from the outset. For the first time, we're putting the horse before the cart."

Blair says more announcements like this are needed to tackle Auckland's housing crisis. 

"Rather than one-by-one, there would be a framework over the top, and things like Drury would happen really regularly. That would fundamentally change the way New Zealand looks." 

It might even pay for itself.

"If these homes sold for Auckland’s median home value of around $900,000, $36 billion in residential development activity would be generated," said Blair. "The Government would yield $5.4 billion in GST alone - more than twice its transport investment."

The developers hope to get started in the next two years.