Increasing densification is seeing a proliferation of multi-unit housing in our cities. This looks set to continue and is a typical trend when urban areas consolidate their space rather than continue to sprawl.
THE RISE OF medium-density housing has been notable over the past few years. Changes to zoning in many district plans have enabled greater intensification of housing, particularly around transport hubs, largely driven by the government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development. This directs councils to enable greater housing development to meet housing demand.
Growth in ‘joined’ buildings
As of the 2018 Census, 253,398 houses were defined as being ‘joined’ – about 15% of the private housing stock. However, the trend for new housing has moved towards building joined houses, with 44% of all houses consented in 2020 being joined (see Figure 1).
Surge in demand for townhouses
Most of these joined/attached house consents are a type of terraced housing often referred to as a townhouse. Consents for townhouses was strong throughout the 1990s, averaging over 4,000 units per year.
Post the global financial crisis, consents for townhouses took a hit, and between 2008 and 2013, townhouse consents averaged just 1,328 units per year. However, as demand for housing surged, so did consents for town-houses, particularly in Auckland. In 2020, 11,603 townhouse consents were issued, 7,285 (63%) of which were in Auckland.
New Bill announced
On 16 October, the Labour Government and the National Party announced a new Bill to enable landowners to build up to three homes of up to 3 storeys on most sites in the tier one urban environments – Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Hamilton.
The medium-density residential standards will allow more-dense development, promote housing in existing suburbs where people want to live, reduce the infrastructure burden and should increase housing affordability.
Looking to the future
We forecast townhouse consents to remain strong over the next few years (see Figure 2). Demand for housing remains strong, and therefore it is likely that townhouse construction will continue, at least in the short term.
With the introduction of the medium-density residential standards, there is an economic advantage to building infill townhouses on many existing stand-alone sites. Most of these townhouses will be built in denser urban areas, such as Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Hamilton.
Looking to the future, townhouses are likely to remain popular in our cities with the high number of consents continuing.
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