Growing up in Auckland: mapping drivers of residential land growth, NZIER public discussion paper 2016/3

13 July 2016

New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (Inc)
Media release, 13 July 2016 For immediate release

Growing up in Auckland?

NZIER’s Public Good discussion paper Growing up in Auckland? Mapping drivers of residential land growth was released today. In this paper we decomposed growth in residential land into population growth, household size, and land use per capita. We found that the growth in residential land between 1996 and 2013 was identical to the rate of population growth: 28%. Population density has not change significantly during that period. Auckland's urban regulations have pushed Auckland outwards, but not upwards.

To understand what might be required to accommodate future population growth we considered a scenario where half of Auckland’s population growth might be accommodated by growing out and half by growing up. But between 1996 and 2013 only a small fraction of suburbs attained the 23 percent growth rate implied by this scenario.

This history shows us that planning solutions – releasing land and putting the infrastructure in place to enable firms to build homes – has not delivered the compact liveable city of Council aspiration. Current policy settings require significant change if Auckland is to intensify.

If Auckland is to grow up as well as out restrictions on lot sizes and building height will need to be relaxed. We will also need to think hard about the trade-offs associated with preserving heritage, protecting volcanic viewshafts, or providing land intensive public sports facilities to a fraction of the population. Benefits such as these might be too costly for a compact liveable city which expects to be home to at least a million more citizens over the next twenty years.  Something will have to give.

Whatever the individual preferences for growing up versus growing out might be, Growing up in Auckland? Mapping drivers of residential land growth is a useful guide for councils grappling with the trade-offs between moving out or up and considering the uncertainties of land demand and supply as part of their Long Term Plans.

The report is available here.

For further information please contact:
Laurence Kubiak
Chief Executive
021 613 178

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