Moving Forward With Urban Development Seminar - March 2019

At our ‘Moving Forward With Urban Development' seminar Partners Bianca Tree, Tom Fail, and Rachel Devine were joined by David Norman (Chief Economist, Auckland Council) for a discussion on growth trends and what's on the horizon in the urban development space.

The Housing and Urban Development Authority

Rachel Devine discussed the cabinet papers for the Housing and Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and its wide scope of delivering “healthy, secure and affordable homes within diverse and thriving economies”.  The HUDA will have a broad range of powers to undertake housing, commercial and infrastructure projects in urban areas.  These powers include overriding RMA plans and policy statements, special land acquisition powers, more freedom to accrue debt, partner with private entities, and gather revenue.  We now eagerly await the Bill and the opportunity to make submissions on the enabling legislation.

Economic update on Auckland’s growth

Auckland Council’s Chief Economist, David Norman, gave a construction and infrastructure update on residential activity, residential and non-residential property price drivers, and infrastructure funding.  David says the Auckland Unitary Plan is working, with consented dwellings increasing markedly since 2016, and the economy remains in good shape, with 90% of all non-residential property growth happening in private sector dominated areas.  David also commented on the success of the Milldale Development and the benefits of targeted rates in general.

The Milldale Development – A New Model for Financing Bulk Housing Infrastructure

Tom Fail gave an overview of the key features of the Milldale Development, the first of its kind in New Zealand. This project demonstrates that long term debt can be raised through a special purpose vehicle if the right funding sources are in place. This financing enabled the building of large scale infrastructure necessary to accelerate the delivery of housing. Tom gave some insight into the unique challenges involved in the project, including the design of a 30 year encumbrance over the individual land titles as security for the debt finance. Following the success of the Milldale Development, we hope to see greater use by central and local Government of alternative funding models in housing and other development areas.

Inquiry into Local Government Funding and Financing

Bianca Tree presented on the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into local government funding and financing.  The inquiry is focused on the adequacy and efficiently of the current framework, including the assessment of current approaches and recommendations for alternative methods to meet future needs.  The Commission is currently reviewing the 100 odd submissions received on the issues paper (released in November 2018) and will prepare a draft report setting out its findings and recommendations in June 2019.  We encourage you to review the draft report when it is released and provide feedback to the Commission, before the Commission refers its final report to the Government in November 2019.

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