No post Unitary Plan subdivision boom

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Subdividing Auckland properties was supposed to become all the rage once the city’s Unitary Plan came in to force – but, to date, that has not been the case.

By Miriam Bell

Subdivision consent numbers from Auckland Council show that in the 10 months before the Unitary Plan came into effect the council had 3,171 subdivision (only) applications across the Auckland region

In the 10 months after the Unitary Plan came into effect, the council had 2,286 subdivision (only) applications across the region.

But Auckland Council GM resource consents Ian Smallburn said that the differences between the Unitary Plan and the previous district plans mean this is not necessarily an accurate comparison.

“As an example, the Unitary Plan provides a quick and easy way for owners to convert an existing cross leased site to a fee simple title, so we have anecdotally seen an up-turn in those particular subdivision applications. 

“That conversion does not add any further housing potential to the city because there were two houses before the subdivision took place and there are still only two houses at the end of the subdivision process.”

At the other end of the subdivision spectrum, because the Unitary Plan encourages more density, more houses are permitted under one subdivision consent, he said.

“The numbers above do not give us the number of lots or dwellings that might have been enabled by those subdivision applications.

“Further, they don’t include “bundled” consents as the council does not currently separate these consents from their bundle. A bundled consent could include several types of resource consents, including land use and subdivision.”

Property listing and data websites also indicated they had not seen any noticeable increase in the number or cost of sub-dividable properties on the market since the Unitary Plan came into effect.

Realestate.co.nz spokesperson Vanessa Taylor said it was tough to compare subdivision sale numbers post-Unitary Plan to previous years as the subdivision rules were very different.

Also, when it comes to price/volume, volumes have come down and prices have gone up, she said.

“There are quite a few sub-dividable properties being advertised. On average, there are 300-400 new listings a month, with the average price in the early $700,000’s and the average land area in the early 600m2 space.”

Homes.co.nz spokesperson Jeremy O’Hanlon said they haven't found anything to suggest that there's a difference in sales volume across the various Unitary Plan zones that are ripe for subdivision.

It’s worth noting that other factors, like tougher lending conditions, construction industry capacity and pre-election uncertainty, could be contributing to the fact there is currently no sub-division boom.

But that could change once those market conditions change.

Homes.co.nz released data earlier this year which showed the Unitary Plan has had a big impact on house prices in high density “mixed housing urban” zones.

More than 50% of properties sold within the last 12 months in such zones have sold for over one and a half times their CV, according to the data.

This suggested that increased value is now being put on sub-dividable properties - and their potential for future development.

Meanwhile, Jalcon Homes has been running a series of design and build talks and they say it is the sub-division seminars which are proving to be the most popular by far.

Jalcon CEO Bruce McKinnon said they have run five sub-division talks so far and they’ve all been full, with Auckland homeowners very keen to see if this is an option for them.

‘Some people are looking to add an extra dwelling on their land for their children or ageing parents while others are looking to maximise the value of their properties.”

Read more:

Landlords: high density zones promising for investors 

Court rules against Unitary Plan zoning appeals 

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