Category Archives: Politics

Hamilton as a medium sized city in German

These two earlier posts, Hamilton as medium sized city in Netherlands and Hamilton compared to a medium sized city in Australia, show Hamilton can be seen as a more densely populated type of city. To take this a step further, this post adds German cities to the list. For Germany, the number of cities that can act as benchmarks becomes larger and the closeness to major cities gives density patterns similar to those measured in Australia , with the higher density cities being part of the metropolitan area of a major city. The sources for data on German cities are wikipedia List of cities in Germany by population and City Mayors German top cities

hamilton-pop-density-thousands-netherlands-germany

What makes these German cities an interesting comparison to Hamilton is that most have a river flowing through them; below are photos from three of them, showing Koblenz with the rivers Rhine and Moselle, Kassel with the Fulda River, and Ulm on the River Danube

Koblenz Rhine & Moselle Rivers Kassel Fulda River 1 Ulm Danube River 1

Something worth exploring further is how these river promenades link with the city retail area and what activities are actually happening. Are people attracted to the river edge area more because of the width of open spaces and good sight lines or because of commercial activity?

 

Hamilton’s Boom

The council issued a media release today entitled Construction boom for Hamilton, an official acknowledgement of the recent uptick in both residential and commercial construction activity the city has seen.

Hamilton’s residential construction market continues to rise, with the number of building consents issued from January – December 2015 up almost 60 per cent compared to the same period in the previous year.

The number of new residential dwellings consented in 2015 reached 1188 by the end of the year, compared with 743 in 2014 and 880 the year before.

These consents were worth $286m in 2015, compared with $177 million in 2014 and $206 million the year before.  Over the past three years, approval has been given for 2800 new homes with a total value of $669 million to be built in the city.

The general increase in demand for accommodation has not gone unnoticed by me as I look for a place to rent, and observe the steady upwards trajectory of rents. An unintended side-effect of the Waikato Expressway’s bringing Hamilton and Auckland closer? Perhaps, although there are without a doubt many factors at play.

Hamilton house prices increased nearly 20 percent in 2015 and Tauranga’s average price was up more than 18 percent.

(from House Prices Show Signs of Cooling – Radio NZ)

Included in the release is a table using data from Demographia’s 12th Annual International Housing Affordability Survey, although it has to be said that in many places the document reads more like a diatribe than a survey, which is perhaps unsurprising, given that Demographia is a US-based think tank that generally opposes urban boundaries, “smart growth”, and other constraints on urban expansion. There has been some analysis of their work on Transport Blog.

Demographia_median_multiples_for_NZ_centres

Affordability metrics for 8 NZ centres (source: Hamilton City Council ; data: Demographia)

 

The table ranks Hamilton as 3rd most affordable (or 6th least unaffordable) of a list of 8 major NZ centres. This median multiple number is calculated by dividing the median house price by the median gross annual household income. This seems like something we should be quite pleased about, although Demographia would appear to rather disagree, the same report putting Hamilton in the “Severely Unaffordable” category.

Housing Affordability Rating Categories (p12, Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey)

Housing Affordability Rating Categories (p12, Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey)

 

The increase in Hamilton’s median multiple is doubtless a factor in the increased interest in attached houses, apartments, etc, although younger generations seem less wedded to the detached house and lawnmower approach than preceding ones.

2015 also saw a rise in the number of apartments being built with 81 apartments, 797 houses, 306 townhouses, flats, units and other dwellings consented in 2015.

The latest figures indicate this trend is continuing, with 173 consents granted in December compared to 125 for December 2014 and expectations within the building sector are the construction boom will continue in 2016.

So the relative affordability of Hamilton real estate is something to celebrate, but we should keep in mind that Hamilton’s median multiple is now where Auckland’s was a little over 10 years ago.

Is doing away with planning regulations the best way to tame housing prices in Hamilton?