Two big Auckland development blocks

6:58 PM Friday September 22, 2017 Colin Taylor

An elevated view of the 2.472ha subdivision site at 194 Mahia Rd which offers scope for ‘a new waterfront residential enclave’. Photo / Supplied

Two large land blocks suitable for intensive residential development have been put on the market in Wattle Downs South Auckland and in Avondale West Auckland - with the latter having provision for ground level retail outlets.

Both properties feature in Bayleys’ latest Total Property portfolio magazine which has just been released.

The Wattles Downs land offers scope to create a new waterfront residential enclave, says Ben Bayleys of Bayleys Manukau who, with colleagues Nick Bayley and Graeme Sun, is marketing the 2.472ha subdivision site at 194 Mahia Rd for sale by deadline private treaty, with offers closing at 4pm on October 28.

Ben Bayley says the property has already been granted resource consent for the construction of 67 residential sections under its Mixed Housing Suburban zoning.

The second big land sale ‘out West,’ is a 7447sq m site on the edge of Avondale Racecourse - adjacent to the Avondale town centre.

“It’s zoned for Town Centre redevelopment under the Auckland Unitary Plan,” says James Chan who, with Owen Ding, is marketing 1909 Great North Road and 4 – 8 Racecourse Parade for sale through a tender process closing at 4pm on October 19.

“The Town Centre zoning allows for construction up to 32.5m high – permitting eight storey apartments buildings with retail or commercial premises on the street level,” Chan says. 

Dual access from both Great North Rd and Racecourse Pde would allow vehicle access and parking underneath or behind an apartment or mixed-use structure.

“Development of the site totally underpins Auckland Council’s direction for greater intensification of residential developments around public transport hubs. The location is just some 200m from Avondale Train station,” Chan says.

“Residences in a multi-storey apartment development of say eight floors would have vista views of Avondale Racecourse in the foreground, stretching out the Waitakere Ranges in the distance. “The racecourse is a wonderful civic amenity used by the horse racing fraternity and a number of sporting clubs year around. It also used for pure recreational use by locals and is the location for a very popular local Sunday market.”

Chan says Great North Rd/Racecourse Pde block is less than one block from a 3498sq m site previously occupied by the Suburbs Rugby Club overlooking Avondale Racecourse. It was sold in 2015 in the fourth batch of Special Housing Areas designated by Auckland Council and has been developed into a horse-shoe shaped format of new two and three-bedroom terraced homes.

Chan says that property was part of the Racecourse Pde masterplan designed to create a diverse range of terraced and apartment dwellings and community facilities supporting the growth and regeneration of the Avondale Town Centre.

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The big L-shaped vacant land site for sale at 1909 Great North Road and 4 – 8 Racecourse Parade. Photo / Supplied

“When the neighbouring project was released, Auckland Council Property said the project showcased the council’s desire to make land use more efficient.”

Chan quotes a council spokesperson saying it was hoped the development would give other land owners in and around the town centre the confidence to develop their own land and continue the regeneration process for the benefit of the local community.”

Nick Bayley says the sale of the Wattle Downs site reflects a clear acceleration in the process of growing Auckland’s housing inventory – particularly in an area of the city where per square metre land rates are cheaper than city-fringe locations.

He says the Mixed Housing Suburban zone envisages a moderate level of intensification, while retaining a relatively spacious quality consistent with a suburban residential character.

“Development within this zone is generally two storey detached and terraced-style attached housing in a variety of design types and sizes to provide multiple housing style choices – very much like what is being seen at Hobsonville Point to the west or Stonefields in Mount Wellington,” Nick Bayley says.

“To allow for the efficient use of these sites when assessed through the resource consent process, dwellings can be built closer to site boundaries.”

Ben Bayley says the marketing of the two big land blocks reflects political calls for more Auckland ‘greenfield’ and ‘brownfield’ land to be released for intensive residential development.

“The Wattle Downs and Avondale sites could jointly sustain the potential construction of several hundred new residences in both terraced and multi-level apartment style formats,” he says.

Bayley refers to the Housing Affordability Inquiry report – compiled by the New Zealand Productivity Commission – which highlighted that the term ‘housing’ encompassed both the land, and house-building components in any property-value equation.

“The report cites the importance of new suburban landholdings being opened up for residential development at a more affordable ‘component’ cost.

“It says section prices have grown more quickly than house prices over the last 20 years – indicating that appreciating land prices have been a key driver of house price inflation in New Zealand

“This suggests a shortage of residential land in places where people want to live. Land price pressures have been particularly acute in Auckland, where section prices now account for around 60 per cent of the cost of a new dwelling – compared with 40 per cent in the rest of New Zealand.

“Policy and planning practices may be constraining the supply of residential land. Strong land price pressures in Auckland raise questions about the impact of policies aimed at increasing density – such as the Metropolitan Urban Limit (MUL) and other planning restrictions – on housing affordability.

“A major challenge ahead is to improve land release and planning approval processes so that affordability considerations are integrated fully into spatial planning.”

Ben Bayley says both the Wattle Downs and Avondale sites for sale meet the Housing Affordability Inquiry report’s desired outcome for a cheaper land component as part of overall ‘home’ value packages.

“For the past five years, constraints on the availability of medium-to-large scale greenfield residential development opportunities have been cited as one of the major factors contributing to Auckland’s new building costs being so high. The issue had been highlighted several times by most political parties in the run up to this month’s general election.

“With these two land-holding offerings, we are now seeing sizeable residential development sites coming to the market at a time when the major political parties have been calling for solutions to Auckland’s housing shortage.

Ben Bayley says that a quick sale of the Avondale and Wattle Downs development sites will “set the ball in motion” for what he hopes will be “an expedient construction programme”.

He says his views are mirrored in the New Zealand Productivity Commission’s report “which said Auckland Council - as the administrative local body for the two locations - held the key to ensuring a smooth pathway through the consenting process.

“Councils have a major influence on all stages of house construction as they are responsible for urban planning – including the release of land for development and zoning decisions, providing or arranging for the provision of infrastructure to land that is to be developed, issuing building consents, and ensuring compliance with the building code.

“Constraints on the release of new residential land create scarcity, limiting housing choice, and increasing house prices. In Auckland, the Metropolitan Urban Limit is a binding constraint on the supply of land for urban growth and has increased section prices within the city.”

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Ben Bayley and James Chan of Bayleys