The Eye of the Fish

Leviathan
February 23, 2017

New Wellington housing

Good news today – at least I think its good news. WCC is to build 750 more houses, in order to help relieve the incredibly tight housing market we have here. It’s got ALL the buzz words we want to hear: New, Affordable, Social, Warm, Dry, Housing, funded from a ring-fenced fund which won’t cost anything to the ratepayer. Seriously: what more could you want?
arlington courtyard
It’s not exactly a huge surprise, as the SHA for this area was devoured a year or two ago, but it is good to finally see some movement on this Special Housing Area. Up in Auckland, they have been trying to build on their SHA as fast as possible, but Wellington was looking pretty much like a SHAM on the SHA front due to their inaction.
SHA_Arlington
The original article on stuff seems a little confused to me – it includes the Arlington 2 project as part of the 750 (already started on site), and one day going to look a little like this:
arlington2
That’s very much just a lowish medium density, not really trying to pack them in on site, unlike the Arlington House nearby, (the really adventurous, really dodgy, leaky, earthquake prone one):
arlington house
Some quick maths on this: $200 million for 750 houses, equals an average of $266,666 construction price each (not including land, as the Council or Government already own the land), and if you allow $2000 per square metre construction costs, then they will average out at about 133m2 each. That all sounds about right. No doubt there is a mix of sizes and purposes, but 130m2 should be able to make a perfectly adequate three bedroom townhouse. Hawkins Construction have the current lead contractor role on the Arlington project, but the remaining houses will be scattered around the city on other sites, and so will be up for grabs. Interestingly, the 105 units currently under construction are costing $33 million, which averages out at $314,285 each, about 18% more than this next phase. Do they have enough money, really?

There are a couple of questions up for discussion though: firstly, what is going to be done with the Arlington House Athfield Tower? It badly needs work, but it is also a pretty exciting, individualistic building, with views to die for. The other (new) houses are nice, but pretty suburban really. We could get a better, more dense solution, could we not? Who are the Architects? It looks like either DesignGroup Stapleton Eliot, or maybe Architecture Plus? Lastly: where are the other sites going to be, and are they going to be out for design tender to other architects or is this all packaged up already? So far, all that is said is that: “Other sites will be mostly on existing council housing land in the CBD and beyond.” That leaves it pretty wide open if you ask me…

m-d
24 - 02 - 17

New? Really? I seem to remember social housing before, which would make this replacement rather than new capacity. The difference is rather important I would have thought, when we’re talking bout increasing our housing stock. Or could WCC simply pull down their tower blocks add a few more twee neo-blah townhouses, and cry victory over the housing shortage?

I’ve got no time for political double-speak.

starkive
24 - 02 - 17

Huh. Allowing for a bit of creative double-counting, I had assumed that the target figure would be partly achieved by substantially upping the density of the demolished Arlington.Doesn’t really look like it.

Any information on the future of the rather ropey Rolleston St block?

Leviathan
24 - 02 - 17

Thanks m-d and Starkive. Yes, I’m a bit confused over the numbers as well. The density of the demolished block has gone up by about a third, from memory – i.e. from 75 units to 105? So, it wasn’t very medium density before, and it isn’t much more so now. But whether the 105 is included in the 750 or not, is unknown. Councillor Paul Eagle – if you ever read this blog – want to clear up that question please? And help out on the question of Rolleston St too?

Leviathan
24 - 02 - 17

Of related interest, is this article rom overseas:
http://www.curbed.com/2017/1/25/14342828/denver-rents-affordable-housing-apartments

“How did Denver do it? A total of 9,962 new apartment units were built in the city during 2016, a record-breaking number.

“In 2010, only 498 new apartment units were built in the entire city. Fast forward to 2016 and we’re seeing that same number being delivered every three weeks in Denver,” said Teo Nicolais, a real estate expert and Harvard University professor quoted in the study. “That’s the most apartments we’ve built during one year in Denver’s entire history.”

And more affordable units are on the way: In September of 2016, the city council approved a $150 million affordable housing fund that will be paid for with property taxes and development fees.”

So, Wellington – you’re on the right track – you just need to do a lot, lot, lot lot more of it.

Leviathan
24 - 02 - 17

And just now – there’s this article too:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/property/89673175/poriruas-old-hospital-site-set-to-be-turned-into-housing
800 “Affordable” homes to be built in Porirua, in “Kenepuru Landing, a joint project between developer Carrus Corporation and local iwi Ngati Toa.” Now, that IS significant.

m-d
24 - 02 - 17

Potentially.

Is there a demand for housing out in Porirua though? Or will this simply mean more traffic through Ngauranga Gorge during peak (in effect shifting costs from housing to transport)?

These are genuine questions, becasue I really do not know. Is this the solution Wellington is seeking, or just more numbers for the not-fake news?

Leviathan
24 - 02 - 17

Well, by default any shortage of affordably priced housing in Wellington will automatically trigger searching for housing in Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua and even further up the Kapiti Coast. There’s not really many actual jobs in the Porirua region – well, no office blocks at all (there was one, but it is being turned into accommodation) – so jobs there are mainly manual service positions for the homeowners there. But the place itself is lovely – many people very keen to live in beachside suburbs like Titahi Bay or Aotea – not so much inland at Cannons Creek. But yes, a lot more people to either drive down through Ngauranga, or to take the train.

m-d
24 - 02 - 17

That’s pretty much my point – is it the solution that Wellington needs though? Or should we be concentrating out efforts in some other more productive way of managing local housing demand?

Not that this is a local govt effort mind you, and there must be demand unless the iwi are subsidising the development. But I’m really hoping that this ISN’T significant, in terms of the rhetoric that is defining WCC’s avoidance of an “Auckland-style crisis”.

Back to the architecture of the OP though, does anyone else find the handling of public/private spaces really really awkward, both inside the development and on the street frontage? This is an area that really needs some work with regards to these type of townhouse developments imo.

DeepRed
24 - 02 - 17

Meanwhile, they keep bickering about the same thing in Auckland. I sometimes wonder if Auckland has a far more vocal landed gentry than Wellington’s. Or if Welly does have a landed gentry, it’s way out in Khandallah or Karori.

Leviathan
27 - 02 - 17

Well, some even more disturbing news about our housing shortage this evening – this headline:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/property/89760364/wellingtons-housing-headache-stats-reveal-city-is-3590-homes-short-of-what-it-needs

Councilor Paul Eagle, the deputy mayor, apparently said that there would be “no more sacred cows” regarding housing, but I’m not sure what that is meant to mean. Presumably nothing to do with Hindus, but I’m not sure what the things are that he thinks were holy bovines. His comments are reported as:

“Eagle said the main problem was developers focusing on larger residential builds where there was the maximum profit, rather than creating housing for first-home buyers.
A lack of land, alongside a shortage of labour and slow consenting process, was also exasperating the problem, he said.
“That’s why we are intervening, because that cannot continue to happen.”
Alongside the council’s plan to build 750 new units, Eagle said it would utilise its powers to end land banking, petition central Government for new powers to free up land, allow for more housing intensification, and take a stronger stance on dictating the types of consents developers were granted.
“We’re not in a crisis like Auckland, but if we don’t do something – everything is pointing to us that we have to move,” Eagle said.”

starkive
28 - 02 - 17

I am also not in favour of exasperating the problem.

m-d
28 - 02 - 17

Are you defiantly sure about that starkive?

starkive
28 - 02 - 17

Bigly

m-d
5 - 03 - 17

Interestinger and interestinger: http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/86314/singapore-solution-wellington-housing-or-sling-it-crazy-bucket

Some interesting discussion in the comments there as well…