Auckland Council's mission: 422,000 new homes by 2040

Auckland (Getty)
Auckland (Getty)

Auckland needs to fit in another 422,000 houses by 2040, and it can only do that by both growing up and out.

That's the basic gist of the swathe of recommendations put forward by a panel that has spent two years looking at the Auckland Unitary Plan - the blueprint for the city's future.

But with house prices at record levels, the panel appears to have recognised there's no time to waste, pushing for changes it says will allow another 130,000 homes to be built in just the next seven years.

"They are actually recommending enough capacity for the next 30 years - not the next 10 or 20," says Auckland Council director of regulatory services Penny Pirrit.

"The implications for individuals and communities from an undersupply of enabled residential capacity is much more supply than those of an oversupply."

The 422,000 new homes will be distributed as such:

Auckland Unitary Plan Zoning Map by NewshubNZ on Scribd

Simple mathematics was used to determine how many need to be built in the next seven years.

"They've taken what is an agreed shortfall that everybody has been talking about in the Auckland market - 40,000 dwellings," says Ms Pirrit.

"They have then used the projected annual demands that Auckland Council has been using, which is 13,000 dwellings per annum, times that by seven to give them 91,000 additional houses needed over the seven years, but on top of that have put the 40,000 shortfall."

The panel has also gone beyond what the council was asking for when it comes how much land is dedicated to higher-density zoning. The council wanted 10,962ha dedicated to single houses, but the panel wants only 8,561ha; while the council wanted 5097ha of mixed urban housing, which allows buildings up to three storeys; the panel instead has asked for 7530ha, a 48 percent boost.

As for terraced housing and apartment buildings zone, which allows buildings five storeys (and above in some areas), the council recommended 1983ha, while the panel has called for 2485ha.

After five days of digging into the panel's thousands of pages of documents, the council's initial impression of the changes is positive.

"Many aspects of the notified Proposed Unitary Plan and the council's case at the hearings have been endorsed and retained by the panel," says Ms Pirrit.

"Overall, the panel recommends that growth within Auckland's urban areas be focused around town centres, transport hubs and corridors, along with an expansion of the rural urban boundary to open up more new land for development as the city grows."

The panel has kept the proposed 70-30 split in future growth - that is 70 percent of new dwellings be built within the existing rural-urban boundary, and 30 out.

It has however suggested expanding high-density zones around transport hubs, shopping centres and schools, by doubling the "walkable catchment" area in the proposed plan from 400m to 800m.

It's also recommended increasing the number of dwellings that can be built without resource consent in certain zones, easing limits on areas deemed a flood risk and doing away with pre-1944 zoning protections.

There are also recommendations to change some areas currently zoned future urban or rural, to urban - including Wainui, Okura, Puhunui, Redhills, Scotts Point, Pararekau Island, Oratia and Swanson.

"They believe it's not that easy to reverse housing - once you've built a house, it's there for about 50 years so you need to look at the long-term," says Ms Pirrit. "Equally they also believe the investment in infrastructure needed to service those houses is not easily reversed, and needs a long-term planning frame."

The panel's proposed wording of the Unitary Plan is stripped back from the 2013 version.

"The panel has taken the position that they believe a resource management plan should not include aspects other than objectives, policies and rules, so information that was put in the proposed plan to help people navigate their way around the plan, or to understand what might be required of them, they have removed from the plan," says Ms Pirrit.

"They have also suggested the council has at its disposal other ways of achieving some of the outcomes the proposed plan wanted to achieve."

Recommendations from the panel include:

A decision on the Panel’s recommendations will be made by the council in meetings from August 10-18. These meetings will be open to the public.

The decision will be publicly announced on August 19.