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How my home fares in the 5 minute pint test

Following on from my post yesterday on the talk by Hank Dittmar, I thought I would have a look at the neighbourhood that I live in to show how it does against the 5 minute pint test. First a little bacground, I live out west nearby the Sturges Rd train station, the area was developed about 10-15 years ago and before that was farmland. Here is an image of what it used to look like from 1996:

But now it is much more developed and along with the housing we have things like schools, parks and even a community centre which I have highlighted in the image below. I live in that area covered by the blue dot.

I like my area but there is one problem, it completely fails the 5 minute pint test as while quite a bit of housing was put in and the place is generally fairly nice to walk around, no thought appears to have been given to serving the needs of the residents of the new houses. The only place in the area to get a bottle of milk is the shops at the bottom of image which for me works out as roughly a 15 minute walk away, not surprisingly most people drive there. Things are even worse if I wanted a pint of beer with the closest location being in Henderson although I’m not too sure I would want to have one there.

To me a logical place for some shops to be would be around the school. Drawing a ~500m circle  around that zone and the zone of the existing shops to roughly represent a 5 minute walk. That gives us the image below and I was surprised by just how little cross over there was.

The circle I live in contains about 600 houses and 2000 people so the question really is if that is enough to support some commercial development. It probably makes things harder to do now considering all of the sections have been developed. To me it just shows how vital it is that when we build suburbs that we do so in a way that at least allows for things like shops to be easily integrated into the community so that not everyone has to drive to get somewhere. For me, I guess I’ll just keep dreaming that my home could pass the 5 minute pint test.

37 comments to How my home fares in the 5 minute pint test

  • Deserthead

    Mate, Waitemata rugby club looks pretty close. I,ve enjoyed numerous pints there over many years. I can especially recommend their State of Origin nights and accompanying, er, ‘live’ entertainment…

  • Robert

    My local area is Te Atatu South and strangley the council is making it less walkable while trying to make it walkable. The project to widen Te Atatu Rd is knocking over a block of shops making the area less walkable but at the same time they add a cycle lane and wider footpaths??? Thankfully they are not adding more car lanes which would destroy the vibe of the area making it more akin to a motorway than a vibrant neighbourhood.

    Widening the road has also meant the local ASB is closing down, this on top of the council closing down the local library means locals have to drive everywhere and no longer have a community heart. No cafes, restaurants, shops, etc which could easily fit into the location. While the council supposedly are trying to create thriving communities they at the same time design to kill them off.

    • Pim

      The problem with Te Atatu south is that it doesn’t really have a town centre, which is primarily due to how it developed, basically around the motorway and access to it. Overall I think that adding in the bike paths and wider footpaths will help to some extent but it is nearly impossible to create a real town centre with a great vibe without completely rebuilding the majority of Te Atatu south. I’m not sure which local library you’re talking about…

      • Robert

        This is the problem with Te Atatu South. People view it as a through road (as do the people from Auckland Transport who are based in Henderson so they pass through here to the motorway). It has always had a town centre. There is a community centre behind the St Johns. This is where the library was. This area could ahve been developed better. With better planning a centre couldn’t have thrived here instead of taking it apart bit by bit. I think it’s always better to create communities in walking distance than getting people to drive everywhere.

    • Bryce P

      I agree with your assessment on Tat South and I know you have an ally in Phil Twyford as well. I am concerned that the Te Atatu Road upgrade, while providing better cycle / walk facilities, appears to just drive a bigger wedge in the suburb. I think AC / AT need to maybe rethink the project with the life of the suburb in mind.

      • Sarah

        I live in Te Atatu and the road is a tricky situation. It is heavily congested and the ideal solution must be tough to come up with. I would love the area to be more walkable and cyclable. I just hope they don’t create a soulless concrete jungle in the process.

  • Deserthead

    Also the lack of good locals to have a pint in around west Auckland probably has a fair bit to do with abysmal Waitakere Trust licensing monopoly. It really is time for that to go. But I certainly concur regards the pint of milk/shop issue

  • Robert

    To tell you the truth the licensing trust is probably the best thing that has happened in West Auckland. I prefer the licensing to be controlled. There are tonnes of stats out there about the detrimental effects alcohol has on the community and I can tell you West Auckland wouldn’t be the place it is if licencing was freed up.

    • Svartmetall

      The problem with licensing laws like this is that it doesn’t necessarily lead to a reduction in alcoholism – an example of this is evident where I am living in Sweden. Sweden has a complete national monopoly on alcohol and the only place that can sell alcohol of over 3.5% (folköl can be sold in supermarkets) yet we still have a problem with drinking here (in my opinion) in much the same way as NZ. Yet countries with more lax licensing laws, such as Germany, do not have the same levels of alcoholism. It’s far more societal factors than legal factors that influence such behaviour.

      • Robert

        Yes all true but having lived in West Auckland my whole life the area has benefited greatly by having the trusts. Ideally you’d want to tackle the attitude to alcohol but not an easy thing.

  • James B

    I’ll offer my apartment as an alternative.
    https://maps.google.co.nz/maps/ms?msid=202441697281468151715.0004cf2f69c027841ff12&msa=0&ll=-36.871793,174.751217&spn=0.007544,0.016512
    My apartment is within the blue polygon. The nearest dairy is about a 2 minute walk away. There is also an Asian supermarket in the blue polygon which is useful. Valley Road has a Countdown and is about five minutes away. Kingsland and the train station is also only about five minutes away. The area in the blue polygon is mostly light industrial and low density housing with four apartment buildings. Personally I think they could easily increase the density of this area. It’s the perfect location for people wanting a place close to the city but not quite in the city and it has very little heritage value as the buildings are pretty recent.

  • RHarris

    I’m guessing there is room for development of shops on Swanson Rd. You also have Sokol’s (Swanson Rd) for your fruit and vege and probably milk in 10 min walking distance.

  • Sister Ray

    This is one of my least favorite features of many Auckland suburbs. Huge tracts of housing with no amenity in sight. Personally, I couldn’t live comfortably in such an environment.

    • Exactly. And it is caused by auto-dependency. The car only model disperses the customer base even for small operations like corner shops and bars then paradoxically becomes the only solution to this distance, leading directly to the big box mall answer to the question that we didn’t want to have to ask. If your hood can’t support local retail and other amenity it’s a stranded one extremely vulnerable to stress from driving costs. Likely to be a factor in property value for example. Don’t go there.

      • RHarris

        Did no one not notice the train station, parks, schools and amenities within walking distance? Too me it’s not that bad a location.

        • Your right, it isn’t a too bad location and one of the key reasons we picked it that it was close the the train station so we had the option of not having to drive. It is only really the lack of shops that I have an issue with.

  • TheBigWheel

    It shouldn’t be difficult to produce a map with 5 min walking distances from all dairies and pubs in Auckland. Or shops generally, or schools and other commnuty facilities. There’s an app somewhere that shows exactly this for PT, although it’s a bit clunky.. sorry I can’t find the link. This kind of mapping has been done elsewhere to show “urban food deserts”. It’s a bit scary, but generally the more straight up and clear information we have, the better I say.

    If the demographic trend continues, maybe we can expect real estate agents to start adding this kind of information to house sale / rental ads. Come to think of it, maybe there’s scope for a standard scheme, along the lines of energy ratings?

    • Joseph

      There is walkscore.com which has walking and transit scores. Great idea. Some real estate agents do use this. Not sure how accurate it is. Will say car dependent when there is a train station or bus close by.

      • TimR

        Walkscore is pretty good in my experience, backed up by some academic research that showed some pretty good correlations between data-based and experiential walkability. It is let down by missing listings of some amenities, but that’s OK – you can submit stuff to add to their database.

        If its returning a ‘car dependent’ score for locations next to a train station, then it’s highlighting the very issue Matt is pointing to: transport becomes less valuable when it takes you somewhere which lacks other, arguably more important, everyday facilities.

  • TheBigWheel

    Something along these lines: supermarkets within a 1 mile walk.

  • Bob

    Considering the number of schools we have in TAT South, the condition of TAT Rd for pedestrians and cyclists is very dangerous. In fact the whole traffic layout which means streets do not run paralell with Tat Rd having footpaths metres from the traffic and two terrible roundabouts mean that Auckland Transport have a lot of work to do. Are they capable of coming up with a safe solution- don’t count on it!

  • TheBigWheel

    Thanks for that suggestion.. works quite well if you want to look at one place at a time. I agree the ratings aren’t always right, though the general idea is a good one. A map would show the bigger picture, and woudl be easier to correct (if only in your mind) if you had better / more up-to-date information.

  • Mr Plod

    Good work, Matt.
    I would have thought shops by the Sturges Rd train station would be a great idea. Coffee for the morning commuter and meal kits in the evening.

    That aside, I grew up in Howick in the ’70s and remember the little groups of shops that went in with each new subdivision. A dairy, a butcher, a stationer (where teenage boys tried to steal copies of Playboy) and a hairdresser. The one in particular I remember at the bottom of Juliette Ave from GoogelView looks to still have the dairy, a surgery, pharmacy, cake company & dog groomers. (Teenage boys now go on-line for their salacious treats, I imagine). So it has lasted quite well. The more general problem with these every 3mile groups of shops in other 70s’ south Auckland subdivisions is that at least one of the shops is now a liquor store and their clientelle is making the area less appealing to other shoppers. eg Ferguson Rd in Otara where there is a liquor store, dairy, laundromat & takeaways. Rotorua’s 70′s suburbs have the same problem. I’m sure once car usage gets even more expensive and less desirable these suburban shopping enclaves will be rediscovered and especially if they can capture commuters should thrive again.

    • Robert

      It’s almost like the holy trinity of shops for sucking in the poor and keeping them there…….liquor, lotto and the local tab. Chuck in some fast food joints and your on the way to destroying that community. The proprietors aren’t too concerned as long as they line their pockets.

      Would be great to see the community block of shops revitallised. Albany another area where they are all too far apart.

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