How to take advantage of the Auckland Unitary Plan

How to take advantage of the Auckland Unitary Plan


Drastic changes to Auckland’s planning laws have opened up a wealth of opportunities for home-owners to become their own developers, says CBRE’s Peter Turner.

If you own a house in Auckland, or you’re thinking of investing in one, there’s something you need to know about Auckland’s Unitary Plan (AUP). It’s going to change the landscape so much, the city will be almost unrecognisable. And it could be money in the bank for homeowners.

The purpose of the AUP is to create 400,000 new homes by 2020, while improving the quality and density of housing along arterial routes, towns, shopping centres, and transport hubs.

The question I hear many landowners ask is, “How do I take advantage of the Auckland Unitary Plan?”

The opportunity for rezoned landowners

The plan provides opportunities for investors, developers, and homeowners to build a wide range of housing under the new Urban, Suburban, and Terrace Housing/Apartment zones. A major change under the plan is that, in many cases, there’s no longer a minimum site density (land area).

The main requirement to subdivide under these zones is being able to show how proposed houses comply with relevant development controls, and fit on your plans.

Resource consent is required if you’re proposing to build three or more dwellings, to address any planning infringements. What this means for many landowners is that with careful planning, they can now subdivide their property into more new sections than previously possible.

It’s important to keep in mind that more is not always better. Depending on their location, two townhouses may offer a greater return than three smaller units, after building costs.

A good team always does robust analysis at the beginning of a project to determine the best return.

What are the zones?

The AUP substantially affects the entire city, but there are three more favourable zones for development:

·         Terrace Housing/Apartment

·         Mixed Housing Urban

·         Mixed Housing Suburban

Who will benefit?

Three main groups of people will benefit under the new AUP:

·         Owners of residential properties which have subdivision potential, who can effectively become their own developers, or enter into partnerships to develop their land.

·         Investors who own subdividable residential property.

·         Developers who can commit capital and expertise to projects.

How successful a project is will be defined by the land there is available to develop, financial resources, time commitments, expertise, and preference for risk-return.

Step by step

The process of subdividing and undertaking a project depends on the professionals you’re working with.
The key steps I always recommend are:

·         Investigation and planning.

·         Finance and legal advice.

·         Subdivision design and management.

·         House design and/or build.

·         Sale and return.

There are a number of professionals involved, from subdivision consultants and engineers through to architects or designers, finance and legal, project managers, builders and contractors, so I always recommend spending the time to find a team you trust.

As the process can take 12 to 18 months, you need to prepare yourself for everything that’s involved.

To get started go to Subdivision Solutions,

What are the options?

There are four main options, based on each person’s time
frame and preference for risk and return:

1.     Sell the project

Fast turnaround, low cost and return

This option involves getting resource consent and subdivision approval only, and selling the whole property as a project for someone else to develop. This is a great option for a fast turnaround, but it provides only a small return.

2.     Sell off the sections

Medium return, moderate investment

This option involves subdividing the property into complying vacant lots, then selling off the sections. This is a balanced approach with a good trade-off between time, cost, and return.

3.     Sell home and land packages off the plan

High return, moderate investment

The preferred option for most landowners, this involves subdividing the property into approved lots, then developing and selling home-and-land packages. This allows you to unlock a high return for moderate investment.

4.     Sell finished homes

Highest return, highest investment

Buyers often place more faith in a finished product, and this option involves completing the new homes prior to sale in order to maximise the return. As the added building cost significantly increases the level of investment needed, this option should be considered carefully.

SUMMER 2017 - By Peter Turner

The editorial below reflects the views of the editorial contributor only and content may be out of date. This article is sourced from a previous JUNO issue. JUNO’s content comes from sources that it considers accurate, but we do not guarantee that the content is accurate. Charts are visually indicative only. JUNO does not contain financial advice as defined by the Financial Advisers Act 2008. Consult a suitably qualified financial adviser before making investment decisions.