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22 Jun 15

Pressure for smaller apartments in Auckland

Real full article here

Pressure is growing on our major cities' councils to relax rules on how small apartments can be.

It's one idea being floated to help ease the demand for accommodation in Auckland.

Martin Dunn has been selling apartments in Auckland for nearly two decades.

"Since we started the apartment market, we've gone from 226 apartments to 26,000."

As house prices soar, people are increasingly looking up.

"Something like 30 percent to 35 percent of our building consents are now apartment building consents," says Auckland Mayor Len Brown.

In 2007, the council brought in minimum size guidelines for inner-city apartments. But a report by the Productivity Commission questions their effectiveness.

"In a number of areas councils are applying restraints on exactly what can be built and how it can be built, and many of those constraints don't seem to meet a fairly standard cost-benefit analysis," says the Productivity Commission's Murray Sherwin.

At the moment, Auckland Council rules mean inner-city apartments have to be at least the size of 35 square metres. But, under the proposed Auckland Council Unitary Plan, that could be decreased to the size of 30 square metres.

Some people think you can go even smaller, so we put it to the people of Auckland – most thought they were just too small.

Mr Dunn says 35 square metres for a studio is "generous", and thinks they could go smaller.

"If the council would allow us to produce 20-square-metre studios, we could provide those at around $200,000."

It's attractive as first homes for singles and young couples, except some banks won't even lend to you if it's less than 40m squared.

The city's mayor doesn't want to go smaller than 30 square metres anyway.

"No, I think that we've arrived at the right point that Auckland is comfortable with," says Mr Brown.

But if the demand for housing continues to outstrip the supply, Auckland's officials may have to revisit their stance.



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