Auckland special housing areas extended to add up to 1100 new homes

Nine new sites have been added to the special zones, taking the total number of special housing areas to 106.

Housing Minister Nick Smith and Auckland mayor Len Brown today announced an extension to the city's special housing areas, which they say will add potential for another 1100 homes to be built in the fast-track zones.

Nine new sites, a mix of greenfield and brownfield, have been added to the special zones, taking the total number of special housing areas to 106 with capacity to add 48,000 properties, Messrs Smith and Brown said in a joint statement. The biggest areas are an extension to an existing Takanini site, and Belmont and Manurewa, which are expected to account for about 750 of the new houses.

"There is still a power of work involved in converting special housing areas into completed homes but Aucklanders should be encouraged by the fact residential construction in the city is booming," Mr Smith said. "The next major step will be the planned second phase of reforms to the Resource Management Act, which will address the long-term issues affecting housing supply and affordability."

Under the fast-track mechanisms, approvals for greenfield developments must be within six months, while for brownfield sites the deadline is three months. Approvals had previously averaged three years and one year respectively.

Auckland's house prices have been surging as supply has lagged behind a growing population, swelled by record inbound migration. Rapid increases in house prices have prompted the Reserve Bank to impose restrictions on high loan-to-value ratio mortgages, to try and tame demand while a construction pipeline catches up to fill supply.

The Reserve Bank has cited forecasts that the country's biggest city has a supply shortfall of between 15,000 and 20,000 houses, and needs 10,000 new consents annually to meet population growth.

Earlier this year, a Productivity Commission report recommended more interventionist approaches to fix the housing shortage, scrapping local body rules that exceeded Building Act requirements and creating a new urban development authority with compulsory land acquisition powers. It said the special housing zones weren't big enough for large-scale developments and didn't stimulate private sector investment or infrastructure funding.