The Auckland Council is continuing to push for more fast-tracked residential development in Auckland to address demand with some 80 new Special Housing Areas ("SHAs") currently going through a due diligence process. Look for further announcements of these areas next month.

By way of recap - in mid 2013 the Council announced the first 11 SHAs, with an additional 11 SHAs announced in December 2013.  At a high level, a special fast-tracked consenting and approval process applies to SHAs to speed up housing development in Auckland.  This involves proactive council pre-application processes and limited notification and appeals.  In Auckland, the Council has established a Housing Project Office ("HPO") which will be responsible for integrated housing policy and the delivery of SHAs, including the masterplanning/consenting requirements.   In December the Council received its first SHA consent application for a community development at Weymouth, South Auckland for up to 300 new dwellings over the next four years.  Because the development is subject to the SHA fast track procedures, the first part of the development may be ready for occupation as soon as July 2014, with the entire development scheduled for completion by 2017.

Last week the Council confirmed that the HPO is currently working through a due diligence process on almost 80 requests for additional new SHAs.  These include direct landowner requests, Housing New Zealand priorities and the Council's own views on where development might best occur.  The Council has indicated that some currently proposed SHAs will be larger than previously indicated and may include entire neighbourhoods that have now been identified as strategic growth areas.  The current due diligence process is aimed at analysing the appropriateness of the areas for development, identifying what issues might inhibit development in those areas and assessing whether those issues can be resolved.

The Council is standing by its intention to recommend further SHAs for approval next month.

While there is a reported increase in consent numbers for dwellings, both through normal and SHA consent processes, the Council has stated that it is only just keeping pace with growth and there is still a definite 1 - 2 year housing shortage in Auckland based on current activity.  Whether the increase in SHA processes will address this backlog of demand is still to be seen, however, with some 80 new SHAs being assessed, it is likely there will continue to be growth in this area.