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NIMBYs strike in Onehunga

NIMBYs make me so mad sometimes with the latest example comes from Onehunga. In a bid to get better use out of the extensive amount of land that they own, Housing NZ entered into a partnership with Saltburn Ltd to redevelop a handful of sites they have in Onehunga.

The land is owned by Housing New Zealand and comprises three large sections with houses which will be demolished.

The original plan was to replace them with 26 units of varying sizes, a third of which would be privately sold and the rest used as state and social housing.

The plan is the first of its kind for the country and Housing New Zealand spokeswoman Marie Winfield says it is a model for how the 69,000 properties the corporation owns throughout New Zealand – 32,000 of which are in Auckland – could be redeveloped to provide better state housing and help ease the housing crisis.

Onehugna Yates and Maria Development

The sites in question are to the right of the image, I’m not sure which of the three houses are the ones going though.

I quite like the idea, removing three houses but replacing them with 26 apartments clearly provides a lot more dwellings which is exactly what we need. The idea of selling 1/3rd of them is also good as having private owners can be useful in helping to keep the place well maintained as well as helping to pay for the development. We also get more social/state housing out of the deal so it seems great all round. That is until the NIMBY neighbours step in.

Their complaints included inadequate provision of car parking, out of character construction materials and concerns over a three storey apartment block.

They were not opposed to the principle of mixed tenure housing but wanted the development to be “lower, lesser, safe for children and in harmony with the architecture here”.

Following a series of meetings plans have now been redrawn.

Saltburn has reduced the number of units from 26 to 21, and increased parking spaces from 17 to 29.

The three storey apartment is also off the table, replaced by terraced housing.

Saltburn is run by husband and wife James and Johanna Klein who say they have taken those concerns on board.

“The original plan wasn’t that well received by neighbours,” Mr Klein says.

“As a result we have had three meetings and come up with a revised plan.

“There will now be 13 terraced houses and eight community housing units, down from 10.”

Residents had also opposed the use of brick cladding, saying it was out of character with the two streets’ 1860s cottages.

To address that the new properties closest to the streets will instead be clad with weatherboards.

So less dwellings get built, 5 might not seem like much but if the same thing over dozens of similar developments will quickly add up. Of course it is never enough for the existing locals though.

“It’s a marked improvement,” he says. “But we still think it’s an over-development of the site.

“We’ve suggested they take two more units out to create more car parks . . . we’re saying they need 35 car parks straight away.

“We’re hoping we can continue working with them to achieve a solution,” Mr Dorn says.

One result of the change of plans is that the houses to be sold to the public will now be more expensive.

So the locals are trying to force the developers to build almost 2 carparks for every single dwelling, further encouraging residents to drive, yet they also talk about wanting it to be safer for their kids. Removing even more dwellings and increasing carparking is something that would only serve to further push up the cost of the remaining units that are sold to the general public.

65 comments to NIMBYs strike in Onehunga

  • “…wanted the development to be ‘lower, lesser, safe for children…’” … ““We’ve suggested they take two more units out to create more car parks”.

    These two things you want are mutually exclusive, Mr Klein.

  • Bryce P

    1) There are already new terrace houses very near by.
    2) Rebuild the roads so that all on street parking is formalised (kerb build outs etc). Maria St already has one side yellow lined.
    3) Would love to see the actual plan.
    4) It doesn’t need 35 car parks. People will either buy them / rent them, with less parking, or they wont. It’s the developers risk.

  • conan

    The leading cause of death for children is motor vehicle accidents. Inviting more cars into the neighbourhood is not making it safe for children. page 23

  • 29 carparks for 21 apartments! I cannot handle the crazy.

  • Bryce P

    Great post Matt but I just have a concern about the increasing use of the NIMBY phrase. After all, if I were to object to a motorway being designated next to my house I would be a NIMBY. Yes? No? Would I have grounds for that objection? If I use the recent opinions from ATB (Karaka bridge excepted – although technically the Weymouth residents would be NIMBY’s) then I should not oppose this motorway as it is required for development and Auckland must move forward. What If I objected to a rail line as opposed to an arterial (which I cannot foresee happening btw)? That isn’t a NIMBY as such, just a differing point of view.
    Perhaps we should be looking at each of these contested developments in the context of how they sit in their surroundings and potential impacts on people – yes people. While the people who will eventually move into these places are important (as is the impact of higher density housing for Auckland), we cannot, in my view, forget about the people who already live there.
    In this instance, have the local residents been shown how car parking leads to busy streets or the accident data from LTSA? Or how the development could actually enhance their street? Find examples from other, similar, developments. Show data. As for the design and style, perhaps other examples could have been found? I see they have changes the facia’s to weatherboard. Compromise is good and can come from both sides, if approached correctly.
    Being called a NIMBY would most likely steel my resolve in a situation like this rather than placate me.

    • Sailor Boy

      NIMBY refers to blanket rfusal to allow change. I think it is entirely apt in this case.

      • Mr Anderson

        NIMBYs or BANANAs (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anybody).

      • Nimby refers to people who ‘agree with the concept in principle’ but only if it is in someone else’s backyard.

        If you object to a motorway in your backyard you are not (necessarily) a nimby. If you object to a motorway in your backyard, but think one should be built somewhere else instead, then yes you are a nimby.

      • I didn’t read anywhere on this post where the residents were opposed to all change or wanted the development somewhere else.

        • Bryce P

          I only make these points because once upon a time, I was young and brash and wanted everything done my way by pushing people. Over the years, which has included a lot of time in a volunteer activity, I have mellowed and now spend energy on guiding people through change. This is less stressful on me and gets better results. Part of this process includes painting a picture on where to go and why. This is the approach AC and the developers need to be adopting if they really want to change peoples perceptions of ‘high density’ in a hurry. The rubbish developments from the 90′s and even today, which outnumber the good quality developments, are embedded in peoples minds (people always remember bad weather compared to good weather) so this perception needs to be overcome. Compromise, in the short term, will go a long way to getting the process under way. Of course, every now and again the ‘big stick’ approach is needed to get the stragglers into line :-).

        • Dan

          I can’t see the nimby element either. I agree that what they’ve ended up with sounds worse than the original but you could just say it was a local consultative process. Crying nimby whenever a local complains is just name-calling.

        • I agree, this isn’t really a case of nimbyism, more like they don’t think that scale of development (or dangerously low level of parking) should be done at all.

  • Anthony

    I’d guess these developments might have similar architecture.
    Assuming all properties connected to the ends of the streets, 1347+542+550+852+675=3966m2. Assuming denser density from the unitary plan, 3966m2/300m2 = minimum 13 titles. I would have thought negotiating this to 26 is a bit of stretch. The 8m height restriction pretty much prevents 3 story construction, without neighbor signoff.

  • jonno1

    Unreasonable objections are, well, unreasonable, however these streets (Maria and Yates) are really little more than lanes, so maybe the residents’ concerns have some reasonable basis. And squeezing even 21 units onto the combined site seems a stretch.

    Brownfield developments in former industrial areas like Clinker Place, New Lynn, are a better bet, although I realise that in this instance HNZ is trying to extract value and provide more housing units, which is a laudable objective. Three storeys (now two) isn’t very high though!

    Bryce P: Yates St is yellow-lined too. Providing extra street parking could be tricky although maybe the footpath on one side could be sacrificed.

  • SteveC

    21 units is still a substantial increase and a step in the right direction, maybe the next similar development might reach the desired level of development when these are shown to be successful,

    sometimes accepting a minor setback in one battle is the best way to win the war in the long term

  • Dave

    Unfortunately such is the constrained vision of most New Zealanders when it comes to cars, carparks and roads. “Of course you need more!. Goes without saying.” (Goes without thinking). This is the mentality of Key, Joyce and Brownlee. And this same mentality in your average member of the public simply emboldens the likes of Key, Joyce and Brownlee to perpetuate such policies. They KNOW they are right. “These policies heva been right since cars first appeared, and since the car is here to stay, these policies with continue to be right, forever. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a Tree-Hugging BANANA. Such people stand in the way of progress and must be quickly swept out of the way (particularly if they are advocating money-wasting, pie-in-the-sky rail developments).
    Oh, and don’t pay too much attention to what is happening in other countries with transport policies of restricting cars, carparking and roads, and investment in rail. That is not appropriate here. We simply do not have the population to justify fewer cars, carparks and roads. . . . ”

    NIMBY-ism? No! More like ZOMBIE-ism. I don’t know what it will take to jolt kiwis out of this rut of non-thinking.

  • John Smith

    The concern about car parks is presumably: people’s second cars may spill onto the street where – we park our second car.

    The bottom line is: the street outside your house is not your property and you do not have reserved use of it. When you bought your house no-one made you any promises about future demand for parking in the area, and you have no right to expect a lucky break to continue forever.

    I concede that this is not an easy line to sell to NIMBYs. Perhaps compromise with a few visitor parking spaces on the development site, which would be used more efficiently than spaces alloacted per unit. If the streets are narrow you would of course also have to control the situation eg with parking on one side only.

  • I suppose it makes me a NIMBY (took me a bit to figure it out – the first use of an acronym in posts might usefully be accompanied by the spelt-out version) to say that I view with a certain anxiety the building of denser housing near us, whether apartments of units.

    The reason has nothing to do with parking. It has to do with the fact that the people who live in them are often more transient – and noisy. Some years back this happened two houses away from us (in Pukekohe). Now the young man, who, then, lived there with two flatmates, has a woman and a five-year-old child, and is much quieter. During the first two years they moved in, we had to call the police twice about roaring and verging-on-violent parties.


    • Stu Donovan

      And we all know that the best way to manage “transient” folk is to make it really hard for them to settle down.

      • Starnius

        Hi John

        My experience, living in an apartment building atm, and having my girlfriend live in a detached house, is that apartment / unit dwellers are quieter than house dwellers on average – houses invite the existence of large groups of flatmates & parties, much more than smaller individual dwelling do. Of course one’s neighbours are individuals, not averages, so your experience may vary. But I don’t see how intensification at this level creates an issue the way you describe…

      • Well, I wouldn’t know, but I can say that I do not see that I should have to manage them – and ‘settling down’ is not, in my experience, what they do.

        We live on a corner. Diagonally from us a quarter-acre section turned into an apartment building some years ago. It is not a problem for us – but a friend who lives in one says it is pretty awful. Again, police have been out more than once. We hear the racket from over there are times, but it is far enough away not to be a major problem.

        Intensification per se surely does not create this sort of problem. Intensification is often a way of lowering costs. Lowering costs attracts people with less money. And it is hard to do deny that, on average, people with less money have – again, on average – less compunction about making noise.


        • Stu Donovan

          John, you are correct that “:intensification per se does not create this sort of problem”. The only question to consider is where low-income households, who you consider are more likely to generate noise, will live.

          And your comments seem to imply that you would prefer if low-income people lived somewhere different from you. If such an attitude is generalised across high-income households, who subsequently band together and implement planning policies, such as height limits and minimum parking requirements, which prevent more affordable housing from being developed then you will tend to get a city segregated by income.

          Over time that will lead to what people have historically known as “ghettoes”. More specifically, ingrained social issues and a whole raft of barriers to mobility. So on balance, I’d suggest it’s better if high income households, such as you and me, allowed intensification in our neighbourhoods, even if it means a bit of noise, parties, and cars parking on streets.

          The alternative (of pushing low income housholds elsewhere), while superficially appealing, seems likely to lead to much worse socio-economic issues.

          • I absolutely agree! Your analysis is correct. And if and when some higher-density housing is proposed next-door, I am not going to be campaigning against it – particularly not on hypocritical grounds that have to do with parking or something when, in fact, I dread the noise.

            But I will be glad if it doesn’t happen! The ‘bit of noise’ is a lot worse a problem than the word ‘bit’ can make it sound. Every Friday and Saturday night, if I wake up at 1AM or something (and I generally do, being a light sleeper), I can hear, faintly through the walls, the roar from a few hundred metres away. It is, thankfully, several hundred metres away and doesn’t affect me. I pity the people who live nearby.

            The only satisfactory solution is a cultural change that makes incivility something that people in general find intolerable – and make it clear to the uncivil. The fact that, at present, when riding on the ‘bus (I take a ‘bus from Pukekohe to Auckland to work each day), although there are signs on the ‘bus declaring eating, drinking, music, and smoking not acceptable on the ‘bus, there is no sign that any of these restrictions is paid attention to – except one: smoking. On the very rare (half a dozen times in my thirty years of ‘bus-riding from Pukekohe) occasion when sometime tries to light up, there is instant reaction – from the driver and from passengers. Yet when I first started riding the ‘buses (in the early 1970s, when I lived in Mt Eden), smoking on the ‘bus was the norm. Social pressure is far more powerful than anything else.

            That is definitely more than a matter of transport.


    • Of course the rental market in NZ is still based around short term tenancies in, often, sub par property so it stands to reason that quick turn over happens. We do need to look towards Europe with long term, fixed rents (or very gradual increases) but the focus on short term capital gains in the property market keeps this from happening.

  • jonno1

    Could someone please clarify what is meant here about the number of carparks, ie does it refer to on-site external visitor parking only, or does it include undercover parking within the units? If external only, how many are additionally available under cover, or if total, what is the breakdown? Any discussion on the merits of parking spaces is meaningless without these data.

    • Dan

      Why is it meaningless? Carparks cost money and space whether they are covered, uncovered or indoors.

      • jonno1

        I assume you’re joking, but to clarify, it’s meaningless unless it covers all carparks, not just some. But thank you for your explanation of the rules below. Using your formula, for 21 small units the current requirement is 21 designated + (21×0.2 visitor) = 25.2, with 29 proposed. However the earlier proposal (17 parks in total for 29 units) doesn’t compute.

        George D’s comment about cost vs value is absolutely correct; that’s what the market is all about. I agree with various commenters who have suggested that there should be no minimums or maximums, just let the market decide. Of course, someone has to take the risk of deviating from the current norm. I guess the trade-off is more habitable (and saleable) space vs selling them at all. For HNZ property it’s even trickier as the occupants will (should) be transient, not permanent.

    • Dan

      Under current council rules, you usually need to provide at least one and at most 2 carparks per small unit. For larger units (>150m2), you need 2 parks. In addition, you need 0.2 visitor parks on-site. These all need to be provided on the property, exactly how is negotiable.

      • George D

        And these are very high numbers by international standards. Most places in the world parking is something that comes as a bonus, and you pay for it as you value it (since it means foregone use of the land for housing and other things). There is some hope that these numbers will be reduced, but the chance to have them abolished so that people can choose for themselves, looks increasingly like mere hope.

      • Stu Donovan

        Yes, and the current and proposed council rules are an indefensible and hugely expensive regulatory intervention designed to increase the supply of parking simply so AC/AT does not have to get off it’s ass and manage the demand for on-street parking.

  • Peter

    I think it’s a bit unfair to call the locals NIMBYs in this case. These little lanes have very little on street parking. 26 units is probably too many for the particular site.

    Can we see what the proposed houses will look like from somebody somewhere??

    • Starnius

      Peter, not sure why the aspects of the lanes should be a problem? If there is no parking, there is no parking, and people will either have to park further away and walk, or chose other methods of transport. Unless you are actually saying that your future neighbour will block your driveway, I don’t see the issue. Its part of a city growing up that parking gets more scarce.

      • jonno1

        I actually laughed out loud at your comment Starnius, thanks for making my day! Of course that particular location is unsuitable for intensification, but it’s already owned by HNZ so I guess they feel obliged to develop it. And of course the lanes will get blocked up with poorly parked cars – but you know that, don’t you? A more serious issue than mere inconvenience is access by emergency vehicles (which is probably why the yellow lines are there now). The only way that location would work would be by buying up all properties on both lanes and starting again.

        • Sailor Boy

          Ah Jonno, so many errors.
          If there are no carparks then people who want 2 cars won’t live there, its quite simple.
          Also, these are LANES this means that emergency vehicles will only access them in order to get to them.

          • jonno1

            Oh dear Sailor Boy, you do realise, don’t you, that the majority of these units will be state rentals? Think about the demographics for a minute. But I do admire your youthful optimism.

            Sorry, your last sentence is incomprehensible. Hint: emergency vehicles need clear access in case of emergency. My narrow private road has yellow lines on one side for just that reason, and because it’s private we’ve been able to establish some simple parking rules too (such as no long-term parking, it’s primarily for visitors).

            Of course it’s not unknown for fire engines to simply plough through badly-parked cars. Ambulances are unlikely to do that though.

  • The NIMBY tag is thrown often and quickly on this Blog.

    Can’t understand why all the urbanists on here are just looking for opponents instead of allies. Doesn’t seem efficient to me..

    • Stu Donovan

      this may seem harsh but people who use minimum parking requirements, building height limits, and floor/area ratios to argue against developments are not “urbanists” in my book. They are the very antithesis of urbanist; more akin to a kind of rural provincialism, which likes to think of cities as “big towns” that need to be controlled and managed lest the “apartment dwellers” take over. Such thinking still seems to abound in Auckland, unfortunately.

      From what I can tell, many suburbanites (not just on Onehunga but also Milford) are abusing well-meaning but ill-considered planning rules to advance their own personal causes. Whether they are NIMBYs or not is in my mind immaterial; they are definitely self-centred because such actions almost always disadvantage a whole swathe of (typically young households) that need more compact, and hence affordable, accommodation.

      To say we’re all “urbanists” misses some quite large differences: Some of us love Auckland because we enjoy the diversity and dynamism that a major city has to offer; others love Auckland because they hanker for what it was like 50 years ago, i.e. a big town of largely single level dwellings. While we all love Auckland, there are stark differences between what we like about it, which leads to quite different opinions on how it needs to develop going forward.

      • Cheers Stu, good to know.

        There’s an interesting article by Jeff Speck on the Architecture magazine site where he talks about the different groups of people who hate “urbanists”.

        One of the groups is “The Mods”.-
        “The Mods include anyone who cannot brook the traditional building styles found in many New Urbanist developments. While most New Urbanists feel that buildings have an obligation to communicate the spirit of their place, most Mods feel that buildings must communicate the spirit of their time, and that revivalism is a lie. Never mind that some of their favorite buildings are Greek revival (Roman) or Roman revival (Renaissance); we must not repeat this once-acceptable act of bringing tradition into the present.”

  • Dom

    I think you will find neighbours weren’t opposed to development per se, they objected to an intimidating THREE level building with cheap cladding. Now that it has been taken down to 2 levels and altered the cladding to be sympathetic to the surrounding people are a lot happier. How many of these people in this comments page live in an apartment in town. probably not many.

    • Stu Donovan

      Can’t speak for the other attributes, but three storeys is perfectly fine in most European cities. Why not here?

      • David O

        Must agree with this – I don’t really see how 3 storeys can be considered ‘intimidating’. If built right next to the property line, then perhaps, but I imagine that the height to boundary regulations mitigate this effect? Hard to judge without a picture of the actual plan.

        • David O

          Especially so when you look at the picture and see that many of the existing properties are already two storeys – surely three isn’t such a big deal as all that in this case?

      • The house next door to my mums is three stories.

      • Bryce P

        I think 3 stories is the ‘sweet spot’ in terrace house / apartment design. 4 often, depending on terrain, seems too high but 2 is usually a waste of a piece of land unless it is needed to sit between existing properties that are unlikely to be redeveloped any time soon.

  • Robert

    Look CARS have not been replaced yet with a 10 minute gap public transport pickup 24/7 in this city. I don’t see this happening till we get at least another million in this city which Len is banking his unity plan on. We probably need 5 million to make our public transport work properly I know I’ve been to China and it does work with millions. We have been down on this plan mainly because its an area like Ponsonby with one way streets. No parking for residents yet alone new comers in apartments. We are not anti the development. We do accept the quarter acre section is long gone, we have to go up. The NEW Unity plan has 8 story buildings for Onehunga. To be frank our current District plan looks great compared to whats being planned for the future. This site has some of the oldest cottages in Auckland but sadly Onehunga has been neglected and abused for years, poor second cousin to the East side of town!!!!

    • conan

      Any chance you can repost this comment in some understandable format? And define exactly who ‘we’ are?

    • Lots of cities in the world have excellent PT systems with a smaller population than Auckland. It is only that we need to reprioritise our spending.

      As with the people in Milford have been challenged with, where would you put 1m more people in Auckland? Onehunga has an excellent transport link that will become much more frequent once electric trains arrive in 2016 and even better post-CRL.

      Why does such a development have to be a disaster? Hve you ever lived in medium density housing as has been proposed? I have and I much prefer it to the sterile auto-dependent area Onehunga is now.

      Where do you think the new generation of young families should buy houses? Or should they all just keep going to Australia?

  • Kevin

    RE THE SALTBURN/HOUSING CORP SCHEME FOR ONEHUNGA: As the new owner of one of the affected properties I want it known that I do not accept any part of this scheme in principal or otherwise. I do not want it in my neighbourhood. It is totally contrary to the ambiance of the neighbourhood.
    The proposers of this scheme do not give a dam about us; they only see dollar signs dressed in a pretense about
    caring for the community. If these people love it so much they should take the development to their own backyard.

  • Kevin

    Bryce, is that the best you have: name calling?
    I don’t see you volunteering to have this plonked in your street.

    Where are some facts and figures from you….ahh I get it you don’t have
    any so you resort to name calling…..

    • I don’t know about Bryce, but I’m campaigning to ensure the Terraced House and Apartments Buildings zone does go in on my street. I guess I’m a YIMBY!

      • Bryce P

        I can imagine terrace houses down my street but at this point in time, for the local area where I am, I think the goal should be to develop the area around the town centre first. Of course, if you take car parking requirements out, you could easily develop 2 story terrace houses with some very good density and utilise the on street parking that is available. Of course, it would be quite easy these days to develop 3 storey terrace houses that are no higher than old 2 storey Villas so height doesn’t necessarily have to be an issue.

    • Bryce P

      Actually Kevin, if you read further up the page you will find that I will defend residents rights to have a say on how a development proceeds. That is, to me, an essential part of creating or keeping a community. Your post however indicates that you refuse to accept any kind of development to take place. That is exactly what a NIMBY is. Not someone who wants to have a say on how a development looks or heights or parking.
      As for how things affect me? I would happily build a pair of terrace houses on the front of my property if planning laws would permit it. I am also for development of the local area but am keeping a very close eye on where the boundaries are in relation to the local town centre etc. I’m happy to accept 4 stories but not 10. As for the HNZ development, I think they pushed the envelope a bit much but also some of the arguments against it are very poor. Develop yes, but we need some balance.

      • Bryce P

        And what more, there are already buildings in the photo at the top of the page that would be 8 or 9m to the top of the gables so height has not been an issue in the past for local residents.

  • Peter

    Housing nZ’s past efforts. Around Auckland have been hit and miss, eg 123 church st otahuhu is ugly, some parts of GI near the shopping centre are passable while others aren’t so aesthetically pleasing. So if I were a resident I’d be weary. It’s comes down to good design in the end.

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