Auckland needs to get bigger

In my Herald column I argue Auckland needs to get bigger:

I’m not sure if Aucklanders are aware how much is at stake with this Auckland plan. Do they want a city where almost half the dwellings are apartments?

The other impact of this proposed intensification will be on house prices. Currently there are 400,000 houses and 100,000 apartments for 1.5 million Aucklanders. By 2040 there would be 2.5 million Aucklanders competing for only 500,000 houses. I can’t think of anything more guaranteed to push house prices up massively so only the rich can afford one.

House prices are deemed to start to become moderately unaffordable when the median house price is three times the median income, seriously unaffordable at four times and severely unaffordable at five times.

In Auckland the median house price is currently 6.4 times the median income.

Under the draft Auckland plan, Auckland could by 2040 end up like Hong Kong – where house prices are more than ten times the median household income. Again, this will restrict ownership to the wealthy, but also lead to rents significantly increasing as a proportion of income. Already a growing number of families are paying more than 30% of their income in rent. Under the intensification plan, some families could end up having to spend over half their income on rent.

I conclude:

Auckland needs to grow outwards as well as upwards. A plan to have 75% of new dwellings occur within the current urban limit is too draconian. A 50/50 split would be a far better balance for Auckland’s future. The Government and the Productivity Commission have both asked the Council to alter their plan, to allow the city to grow outwards as well as upwards. I hope they listen.

If they don’t, I pity those under 20, who will have to live with the consequences.

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