Planning needed to deliver on ‘most liveable city hype’
The Northwest Shopping Centre under construction within the new ‘regional heart’ Westgate Town Centre.
Council and developers “need to be on the same wavelength and work together in a planned and coordinated manner if Auckland is to have any hope of delivering on the hype of becoming the world’s most liveable city”, says John Church, national director commercial, for Bayleys Real Estate.
In Bayleys’ latest Greater Auckland magazine, Church says collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors are becoming an important part of a new development model to cope with Auckland’s surging growth.
“The pressure that Auckland is currently under to develop more housing, and particularly affordable housing, to accommodate its rapidly expanding population has thrown up a number of associated challenges.
“People not only require a place to live, they also need places to work and shop and to be educated and entertained. In recent years, it could be argued that - in response to the urgent need for more housing stock - insufficient thought has been given to supporting infrastructure such as providing sufficient land for employment generating activities, adequate and affordable shopping and for relaxation and recreation.
“In northwest Auckland, for example, there has been rapid housing growth in suburbs such as West Harbour, Hobsonville and Greenhithe, but the region has lacked a ‘heart’ – a major hub that residents can identify with.”
Church says an attempt is being made to provide a “regional heart” with the creation of the purpose-built Westgate Town Centre. In collaboration between private developer New Zealand Retail Property Group (NZRPG) and the Auckland Council, the council is responsible for public facilities such as a bus station, library and recreation land while NZRPG is overseeing the development of retail and business premises and other commercial aspects of the project.
“The council is taking a similar approach with The Neil Group and Jomac in the development of over 60 hectares of light industrial zoned land in the nearby Hobsonville Corridor. These partnership arrangements have not been without their critics but are undoubtedly the way of the future.”
Church says central government has also become more directly involved in the Auckland property market because of very real public concerns about Auckland’s housing “crisis”. It is establishing separate entities that have Housing New Zealand Corporation assets vested in them but which are mandated to provide solutions to issues surrounding both social housing and increasing Auckland’s housing supply.
An example of these entities is the Hobsonville Land Company which has been established to undertake the development of Hobsonville Point and is working with private sector master development companies like Willis Bond and residential developers to deliver the project.
The Tāmaki Redevelopment Company is also jointly owned with Auckland Council having a 41 per cent stake. Church says indications are that government is looking for significant private sector partners with equity and capacity for this project as well.
“Of concern to Auckland Council, and the source of some friction with an impatient central government, is the need for large housing projects to be integrated with, and supported by, appropriate infrastructure including sufficient provision for commercial development,” says Church.
“This is happening at Westgate and Hobsonville and on the other side of the city where the council is partnering with Todd Property Group in the development of the Ormiston Town Centre to support massive housing growth at Flat Bush.
“It’s a model that will see the continuing emergence of multi-faceted developers able to turn their hand to a variety of projects, often with a mix of uses involved. It’s also a model that will need trust and cooperation between local and central government and the development sector if we are to successfully manage Auckland’s future growth.”
John Church Of Bayleys.