Hundreds of new affordable houses planned for Auckland

The Government has allocated $52.2 million in the Budget to free up around 500 hectares of Crown land for home construction in Auckland.  Housing Minister Nick Smith is to oversee the building of hundreds of new homes on this land, and wants more than a third of them priced for first-time home buyers.   The proposed sites are spread throughout Auckland, including areas in Massey, Manukau, Avondale and Hobsonville.

Smith wants 20 to 38 per cent of the new homes to be priced as starter homes, meaning they would be priced at or below $550,000. But the exact proportion is to be determined through negotiations case-by-case.

The project is still in its very early stages.  The next steps are to assess the commercial viability of these sites with regard to zoning and infrastructure. The sites being considered are in the below suburbs:

  • Massey East, within close proximity of the Royal Rd on-ramp to the Northwestern Motorway, is located on major bus routes connecting to the CBD as well as amenities like parks, schools and a major shopping centre;
  • Manukau, which has potential for intensive housing close to the town centre and rail links;
  • Avondale, which is zoned for terraced housing or apartments;
  • Brigham Creek Rd, just off the Upper Harbour Motorway near the Whenuapai airforce base.

Smith wants to have a development agreement for the Massey East site before the end of October. Earthworks would start over the summer, with the first homes completed in late 2016.

While the project sounds like a step in the right direction, concerns have been raised about its viability, some arguing that construction resources are still tied up in the Christchurch rebuild.  However, Fletcher Building, the Government’s prime partner in building homes on Crown land, is confident there are enough competent tradespeople to take on such a huge project.  Chief operating officer for Housing at Fletcher Building, Steve Evans, says their early work as part of the Christchurch rebuild demonstrated the company’s capability.   Fletcher has tasked Evans with ramping up the capacity of the construction company to deliver new homes. He says he is working with developers, the Government and other partners to increase the supply of new houses.  Evans maintains there is no skill shortage in his business at the moment, but they continue to seek quality people as either workers or subcontractors.

While the initiative is not a “silver bullet” to fixing Auckland’s acute shortage of affordable housing, it is a step in the right direction towards improving housing supply and affordability.

Read more about the proposed development here:

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