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Ensuring “quality” intensification in the Unitary Plan

While media reports on the Unitary Plan are perhaps finally starting to be a little more balanced in terms of telling both sides of the story (particularly pointing out that some people quite like the idea of intensification) there’s still a whole heap of scaremongering going about. In a previous post Patrick highlighted that the Unitary Plan might not actually be as much change from the ‘status quo’ as people think – because existing planning documents actually provide for a pretty much amount of development potential. In this post I’m going to look at what the Unitary Plan does to ensure development is of a good quality – particularly development through intensification.

First stop is to look at the zones proposed in the Unitary Plan – a wide variety of them are shown in the image below:

A key for the residential and business zones is included below to make more sense out of the map above:residential-business-zonesSince people seem to get obsessed with height limits let’s look at the non-industrial zones and sort them into two camps – those that provide for development up to two levels and those that provide for development over two levels:

Up to two levels:

  • Single House Zone
  • Mixed Housing Zone

Over two levels:

  • Centres (neighbourhood, local, town and metropolitan) zones
  • Mixed Use Zone
  • Terraced House and Apartment Building Zone

Keep in mind that neighbourhood centres can only go to three levels, local centres and most town centres to four levels. Most of the Terraced House and Apartment Building and Mixed Use Zone can also only go up to four levels.

Working our way from lowest intensity to highest intensity, it’s probably fair to say that the Single House zone is probably not going to scare too many horses at its 1:500 square metre density limit and there’s relatively little in terms of required urban design controls beyond the normal height-to-boundary and site coverage rules. The Mixed Housing Zone has an interesting approach to ensuring quality outcomes in this zone (which only allows developments of up to two levels as a reminder). Effectively it’s almost two zones in one depending on the size and shape of the site you have:

  • If your site is under 1200 square metres or narrower than 20 m across then you can do one dwelling per 300 square metres as a permitted activity as long as you comply with fairly typical planning controls. This effectively means that you can do a little bit of intensification (most current plans have their standard residential zone at a density of around one dwelling per 400 square metres) without having to go through too strenuous a process.
  • If your site is over 1200 square metres and wide enough then the aforementioned density limits don’t apply. However, for any development of four or more units you need to get a resource consent from the start of the process just to develop. That consent application will be assessed against a pretty wide variety of matters to ensure it’s good quality.

The assessment criteria for a larger development in the Mixed Housing zone include a pretty wide variety of matters. Click on the link for the diagrams.

4. Development design
Responding to neighbourhood character in the Mixed Housing zone
a. Dwellings should be designed and located to respect and complement the amenity of the surrounding neighbourhood.
b. The alignment, form and location of dwellings should avoid contrasting significantly with the established urban pattern of development in the zone. Methods to achieve this may include:
i. modulating or separating buildings into smaller groups of buildings as illustrated below in Figure 7 below.
 ii. transitioning the form and placement of dwellings as illustrated in Figure 8 below.\

Responding to historic heritage and historic character
d. Development adjoining or across a road from an identified historic character area should be designed and located to respect rather than replicate the prevailing character of the area. Notwithstanding this, new and contemporary interpretations in form and detail may be used.
 e. Development adjoining or across a road from scheduled historic heritage places should be designed and located to respect rather than replicate the key historic heritage design and location elements of that building. Notwithstanding this, new and contemporary designs may be used.

Topography and site orientation
f. The topography, size and proportions of the site should be suitable to accommodate the housing type proposed. In particular, additional infill or multi-unit development on steep land or narrow sites is strongly discouraged unless sites are carefully designed to optimise on-site amenity values and complement the surrounding neighbourhood landform.
 g. Building platforms, outdoor living spaces, car parking areas and driveways should be located and designed to respond to the natural landform and site orientation in an integrated manner.

Earthworks and retaining
h. Earthworks should be minimised and retaining avoided where possible. However, where retaining or earthworks are required they should be incorporated as a positive landscape or site feature by:
i. integrating retaining as part of the building design
ii. stepping and landscaping earthworks or retaining over 1m in height, to avoid dominance or overshadowing effects
 iii. ensuring all earthworks or retaining visible to the public, including neighbours, is attractively designed and incorporates modulation, landscaping and quality materials to provide visual interest

Natural features and landscaping
i. The site layout should be designed to integrate and retain significant natural features including trees, streams, views and ecological areas.
j. Site landscaping should be located and designed to:
i. assist with blending new developments with the surrounding streetscape and/or any adjacent public open space
ii. allow the planting of large trees of at least 15m in height/8m-diameter root zone/and canopy zone clear of structures and impermeable surfaces at maturity
iii. enhance energy efficiency and stormwater management, including shading and swale systems
 iv. enhance site amenity and improve privacy between dwellings.

Variation in building form
k. Development should be designed to avoid long unrelieved building mass and excessive bulk and scale. Building mass should be broken up into visually distinct building forms by the use of physical separation, variations in building height and building materials.
l. Blank walls should be avoided on all building frontages to streets, accessways and public open spaces. Side or rear walls should be designed to provide interest in the facade including modulation, relief or surface detailing.
m. Quality, durable and easily maintained materials should be used on the façade of dwellings, particularly at street level.
n. Plant, exhaust, intake units and other mechanical and electrical equipment located on the roof of a building should be integrated into the overall design and be contained in as few structures as possible.
o. For larger scale developments:
i. the mechanical repetition of unit types should be avoided
ii. balconies should be designed as an integral part of the building and a predominance of cantilevered balconies should be avoided
 iii. internal access to apartments is encouraged.

Dwelling orientation
p. Dwellings should be located, proportioned and orientated within a site to maximise the amenity of future residents by:
i. clearly defining communal, semi-private and private areas within the development
ii. maximising passive solar access while balancing the need for dwellings to front the street
 iii. Providing for natural cross ventilation by window openings facing different directions.

Dwelling mix
q. Developments of 10 or more dwellings should provide a range of dwelling sizes and types, including dwellings with different numbers of bedrooms.

And that’s just in relation to the development’s design! There are further detailed assessment criteria which relate to how development interfaces with the public realm, about the design and location of parking and then further detail on dwelling design:

7. Dwelling design
Internal layout of dwellings
a. Dwellings should be designed to provide a good standard of internal amenity by providing adequate circulation space around standard sized household furniture. The ADM illustrates possible ways of achieving this.

Outdoor living space
b. Private outdoor living space should balance the need to achieve the following, in order of priority:
i. be located to maximise sunlight access
ii. be sheltered from the prevailing wind
iii. be located to take advantage of any views or outlook from or within the site.

Communal outdoor living space
c. Any communal open spaces should be designed to:
i. provide an attractive, functional and high quality outdoor environment
ii. be conveniently accessible to all residents
iii. maximise winter sunlight access.
d. Additionally, communal open space at ground or lower levels should:
i. be designed to be overlooked by the principal living rooms and balconies of dwellings to enhance safety
ii. locate within the site to form a focus of the development.
e. The size of the communal outdoor living space should be adequate for the number of people the development is designed to accommodate.
f. Appropriate management and maintenance systems should be provided for communal outdoor living space dependent on the scale of development and the extent of communal access to ensure it is available for all residents of the development.

Remember that any development beyond the basic 1 unit per 300 square metres will be assessed against all these criteria in the Mixed Housing Zone.

Stepping up to the Terraced Housing and Apartment Building (THAB) zone, all the same criteria apply as per above, with the addition of the following:

Responding to neighbourhood character in the Terraced Housing and Apartment Buildings zone
c. Dwellings should be designed to complement the planned future form and character of the surrounding neighbourhood.

Any development (yes ANY development) in the THAB zone needs a resource consent and will be assessed against these criteria. The chance of “crap” apartments getting through such a detailed list of criteria seems absolutely minuscule.

For the centres zones and the Mixed Use zone, the situation is relatively similar to the THAB zone in that ANY development needs a resource consent and will be assessed against a pretty lengthy list of criteria - including the following in relation to design, layout, parking etc:

6. Development design
a. The design of buildings should contribute to the local streetscape and sense of place by responding to the planned future form and character of the surrounding area and significant natural landforms and landscape features.
b. Buildings should be designed to avoid long, unrelieved frontages and excessive bulk and scale when viewed from streets and public open spaces. Building mass should be visually broken up into distinct elements to reflect a human scale and the typical pattern of development in the area. Techniques include the use of recesses, variation in building height and roof form, horizontal and vertical rhythms and facade modulation and articulation.
c. Buildings should be designed to differentiate ground, middle and upper levels.
d. Blank walls should be avoided on all levels of building frontages to streets and public open spaces. Side or rear walls should be used as an opportunity to introduce creative architectural solutions that provide interest in the façade including modulation, relief or surface detailing.
e. Buildings should provide a variety of architectural detail at ground and middle levels including maximising the use of entrances, and windows and balconies overlooking the streets and public open spaces.
f. Roof profiles should be designed as part of the overall building form and contribute to the architectural quality of the skyline as viewed from both ground level and the surrounding area. This includes integrating plant, exhaust and intake units and other mechanical and electrical equipment into the overall rooftop design.
g. In the Metropolitan Centre zone, the silhouette of the building as viewed from distant locations should positively contribute to the centre’s skyline.
h. Where the proposed development is an extension or alteration to an existing building, it should be designed with consideration to the architecture to the original building.
i. Buildings on corner sites should consider the relationship to other buildings and open spaces on opposite and adjacent corner sites and make a positive contribution to the architectural quality of the street.
j. Colour variation and landscaping, without the use of other design techniques, should not be used to mitigate a lack of building articulation or design quality.
k. Ground floor glazing should fully integrate with the design of upper levels.
l. Buildings should use quality, durable and easily maintained materials and finishes on the facade, particularly at street level.
m. Servicing elements should be avoided on building facades unless integrated into the facade design.
n. Where provided, signage should be designed as an integrated part of the building facade.
o. For residential development:
i. the unrelieved repetition of unit types should be avoided
ii. balconies should be designed as an integral part of the building. A predominance of cantilevered balconies should be avoided
iii. apartments above ground floor should be accessed from internal corridors or entrance ways. External walkways / breezeways should generally be avoided.
p. Buildings should not use reflective materials that would adversely affect safety, pedestrian amenity or the amenity of surrounding properties.

7. Building interface with the public realm
a. Buildings should have clearly defined public fronts that address the street and public open spaces to positively contribute to the public realm and pedestrian safety.
b. Pedestrian entrances should be located on the street frontage and be clearly identifiable and conveniently accessible from the street.
c. Separate pedestrian entrances should be provided for residential uses within mixed use buildings.
d. Activities that engage and activate streets and public open spaces are encouraged at ground and first floor levels.
e. Internal space at all levels within buildings should be designed to maximise outlook onto street and public open spaces.
f. Through-site links are supported where they integrate with the existing or planned public realm and pedestrian network. They should be:
i. publicly accessible and attractive
ii. be design to provide a high level of pedestrian safety.

8. Design of car parking, access and servicing
a. Car parking should be located in order of preference, underground, to the rear of the building or separated from the street frontage by uses that activate the street.
b. Surface car parking should be softened with landscaping, including tree planting. As a guide, one tree should be planted every sixth car parking bay.
c. Ventilation and fumes from car parking structures or other uses should not be vented into the adjacent pedestrian environment at ground level.
d. Vehicle crossings and access ways should prioritise pedestrian movement and in particular be:
i. designed to reduce vehicle speed and be visually attractive
ii. clearly separated from pedestrian access.
e. The design of pedestrian routes between car parking areas, building entrances/lobbies and the street should be accessible by people of all ages and physical abilities and provide a high level of pedestrian safety.
f. In greenfield locations and large redevelopment sites, service lanes should be provided within urban blocks to allow access to the rear of buildings and to minimise gaps in the streetscape.
g. Where ramps are necessary they should be minimal in length and integrated into the design of the building.
h. For commercial activities, suitable provision should be made for on-site rubbish storage and sorting of recyclable materials that:
i. is a sufficient size to accommodate the rubbish generated by the proposed activity
ii. is accessible for rubbish collection. Kerbside collection is generally not appropriate.
iii. for new buildings, is located within the building
iv. for alterations or additions to existing buildings where it is not possible to locate the storage area within the building, is located in an area not visible from the street or public open spaces.
i. The development must be able to be adequately served by wastewater and transport infrastructure.

9. Internal layout and on-site amenities for dwellings, visitor accommodation and boarding houses
a. Dwellings should be located, proportioned and orientated within a site to maximise the amenity of future residents by:
i. clearly defining communal, semi-communal and private areas within a development
ii. maximising passive solar access while balancing the need for buildings to front the street
iii. providing for natural cross-ventilation by window openings facing different directions.
b. Dwellings should be designed to provide a good standard of internal amenity by providing adequate circulation space around standard sized household furniture. The Auckland Design Manual illustrates possible ways of achieving this.
c. Adequate storage space for larger items such as bikes, gardening and cleaning equipment, should be provided either within each dwelling or within the building containing the dwellings.
d. Common areas within buildings containing dwellings, visitor accommodation and boarding houses should be designed to be accessible by people of all ages and physical abilities, in particular, by providing corridors and circulation spaces of sufficient dimension to allow ease of movement and minimising stairs where possible. For dwellings in particular, common areas within the building and the dwelling itself should allow for standard household furniture to be easily moved in and out. Refer to the Auckland Design Manual.
e. Visitor accommodation and boarding houses should be designed to achieve a reasonable standard of internal amenity. Consideration will be given to:
i. any specific internal design elements that facilitate the more efficient use of internal space
ii. the relationship of windows or balconies to principal living rooms
iii. the provision of larger indoor or outdoor living spaces whether communal or exclusive to the unit, especially in units that are not self-contained.

Perhaps to summarise all this, it seems that the Unitary Plan is something of a “double edged sword” when it comes to intensification. It potentially allows a lot of growth and intensification, but it seems to set a really high bar in terms of requirements for a proposal to be consented while also requiring an unusually high proportion of developments to go through the consenting process. Generally I think this is an excellent approach: to say to developers that there’s a lot of potential here but to unlock that potential you’re going to need to build some great stuff.

53 comments to Ensuring “quality” intensification in the Unitary Plan

  • Rharris

    I think there are some great things in the plan. The council is trying to prevent neighbourhoods being butchered by mismatching house heights as much as possible while allowing intensification. Also visual aspects of neighbourhoods are protected from being turned in to rows of soulless garage doors and nothing else.

    I’m glad they got rid of 65m2 minor dwelling as they aided the butchering of neighbourhoods. Still not sure why there is a height restriction of 2 levels and not 3 levels around train stations in the mixed zones. Good to give developers the option.

    • Two levels is a bare minimum: Not intensification. Weirdly the rabid opposition to the UP has made supporting it seem important or even a bit daring, but to feel that is to mischaracterise the plan; it is often disappointingly unambitious. This especially seems to to occur in areas of existing detached dwellings, there has clearly been some decision that almost all of these areas, no matter how dreary, how poor quality the existing stock is, how poor the land use is, this existing pattern must be enshrined.

      And has been observed here before this is especially disappointing when around existing Transit nodes.

      But we can all support the move to care more about the qualities of new structures than only controlling heights, setbacks, and on insisting on place ruining quantities of car parking being provided.

  • Adam W

    The one thing that is missing is the basics of a good quality healthy home.
    The one thing the Unitry Plan needs more than anything else is to encourge houses which are cheaper to run, warmer and are not damp – so I think all houses should be focred to have a 6 star Homestar rating.
    Currenlty a house built to NZ building code only gets a Homestar rating of 4 out 10 which is just not good enough.
    The unitry plan actaully states that any residential dwelling where 5 or more consents are sought at once need to have a Homestar rating of 6 stars, so Auckland Council is aware of Homestar but is being very timid with it.
    So yes this would put the cost of a new house up by say 10%, but with mass buying power this would cause a drop in prices quickly and is much cheaper in the long run.
    http://homestar.org.nz/

    • obi

      “So yes this would put the cost of a new house up by say 10%, but with mass buying power this would cause a drop in prices quickly and is much cheaper in the long run.”

      I don’t know what an average home costs, but say it is $600k. An extra 10% is $60k. If the money were in the bank it would earn around $3k per annum. That is more than I spend on electricity in total. Even if this allowed me to exist without electricity it wouldn’t be financially viable.

      • Adam W

        I have seen a recent GJ Gardner 3 bedroom new house quoted at less than $230,000 so no where near the $600,000 mark. Don’t forget a $600,000 house in Hobsonville Pt, or Karaka, etc includes the cost of the land as well, and that would not change.
        And its not just about the cost of power, its energy and water supply for Auckland as we head towards 2 million people, plus healthier homes with less people getting sick.
        And importantly these costs would come quickly once bulk buying and purchasing power comes into play.

      • Adam W

        Also I forgot to mention; I don’t understand why people are willing and accept spending $10,000 on a new kitchen or bathroom but don’t want to spend the same money for energy generation to reduce there energy bills or a water tank to reduce there water bills.
        A fancy kitchen in a cold drafty house does not make a good home to bring up your kids.

  • SDW

    I agree that it is a positive step promoting far better design outcomes than mindlessly focusing on a couple of development controls at present (e.g. does it really matter that a building infringes a height control by 0.2m?). These controls should significantly improve the quality of our built environment although it seems a particularly onerous list, surely some simplification is possible?

  • Joshr

    Mixed zone is going to be very costly for developers. If you look at any typical house within this zone and its position on the porperty basically it will need removal or demolition. To tap into 300sqm lots will see the council collecting large amounts in contribtutions and resource consents (and not just 1 consent, most likely 3 or 4). The problem for me is what about values? – Do these areas which now allow for smaller lots get re-valued? – bye bye affordable housing since everyone can subdivide. Welcome to Avondale $800k for a 3 bedroom on 900sqm.. Basically once the plan is legally binding proerty values will change overnight! – Is this crazy or am I just stupid!

  • Joshr

    So you force everyone out of the area who cant avoid the rates. Great plan!

    • harminder

      Why would subdivision mean “bye bye affordable housing”? Subdivision will increase the supply of housing, which should lower prices, everything else staying the same. So , if I can’t afford “$800k for a 3 bedroom on 900sqm”, I should be able to buy something cheaper- maybe a 100sqm apartment or 200sqm townhouse.

    • Steve D

      Valuations for rates are based on the current use of the site, some very generic formulas for floor area, number of rooms etc. and a broad average of land value in the surrounding area. So rateable values probably won’t be affected much by which new zone they are going to be in, but their property will sell for higher over RV than it would before.

      But even if it did mean rates going up, I’d be fine with that. Refusing to redevelop your property means forcing out all of the people who would have been able to live there, and now can’t. To me that’s just as nasty as requiring people who live in a desirable area to pay a little bit more towards all the expensive public services they receive.

      Bear in mind that at the moment the cost of those services are disproportionately paid for by businesses (who are taxed at a higher percentage) and people in denser developments (who are cheaper to serve, but still pay the same rate).

  • Could someone please translate -

    ” Dwellings should be designed to complement the planned future form and character of the surrounding
    neighbourhood” into English?

    Is this a time travel reference?

    • SDW

      It is a poor criteria and struggled with it as well, may have to add a please explain on my submission (along with a few others). My interpretation would be that, for example, if you had two 800m2 properties side-by-side within the terraced/ apartment zone a development to amalgamate the sites and create a McMansion would be frowned upon as it compromises the vision that the area will feature a variety of medium-density dwellings. Any other ideas?

  • Joshr

    How is that affordable when you could buy a 3bedroom today for $550k but after the plan its $800k?.. So your saying the same family who owns should then move into a 200 sqm townhouse after they get forced out with rates.. It’s just a big bloody joke!

    • Steve D

      That’s not how rates work. They are allocated between properties in proportion to their value, but the total amount depends on what the council intends to spend. If everyone’s property value doubles, then the rating percentage is halved, and everyone is paying the same dollar amount.

      That family’s rates will only go up if their house is revalued at a higher level, but a large number of other people’s houses don’t. Which is equally possible now, in fact, since property prices tend to stagnate in less desirable areas, and go up dramatically in more desirable ones. The more properties that are zoned to allow development, the less any one person will be affected.

  • Joshr the problem your example family is suffering from is insufficient income to live in high value areas. Altering City planning to try to fix this is not only the wrong tool but also won’t work.

    • Steve D

      I have some sympathy for people who’ve lived in an area for many decades, who bought there when it was a dive, and have seen it get more and more expensive over time, but want to keep living there rather than cash up. But you are right that city planning won’t fix it, and the more we do to prevent development in the name of compassion for existing residents, the harder it is to actually solve the problem, by building more homes.

      But in the specific case of Joshr’s family who bought in Avondale for $550k, of course they were expecting the value to shoot up. You can’t complain when it does exactly what you wanted.

      • Also, and this is so relevant to the Milford case, redeveloping some low density properties to a higher attached typology in an established ‘hood not only offers new people dwellings but also enables existing owners to downsize, capitalise on area’s up scaling while not having to leave their current ‘burb.

  • snow flake

    I don’t see those guidelines as being any use at all. They all say “should” and so you can quite happily get away with doing none of them.

    • Not how it works; don’t meet enough shoulds and you don’t get consent. Some flexibility however which means that individual site characteristics can be taken into account; way better than a list of regs. Get the difference?

      It does depend on quality of planners approving or not applications however. Best hopes for high quality, subtle and intelligent Council staff!

    • snow flake

      Are you sure about that Patrick? Like is it actually written somewhere you need to comply with 95% of shoulds? I’ve worth with a number of developers in the past and all of them pretty much focus on doing as little as possible whilst trying to prevent an image of quality.

      • Yes it very deliberately isn’t a bunch ‘you must comply’ regs. That is not the way to get the best outcome. I know this can confuse some who don’t operate well with uncertainty, but it is the best way to achieve such a nebulous outcome as ‘a better city’. It requires ‘open system’ thinking rather than closed. Good planning is an art more than a science. There is, and there isn’t a formula. These guidelines are for the planners and those building something as a list of the ingredients that help to make for a better outcome for all, but are also neither sufficient nor all necessary; it’s trickier than that. Tricky but better than trying to force blanket rules onto every site and every project. Of course there are firm rules as well, especially around fire, weather tightness, structure etc. But for good urban design outcomes that method doesn’t work. And it certainly doesn’t promote creative and inventive design solutions.

        • snow flake

          Patrick. Although I get what you are trying to say I’m afraid that is not how the real world works. Sadly when it comes to making money and meeting budgets ethics are often the first thing to go.

          Now unless you can actually point me to a requirement that says you needs 95% of shoulds or similar I can’t see these guidelines doing anything to stop developers doing what they want to do.

          Also you really need to grow out of the cheap shots claiming people get confused in such cases. From my understanding your 50 or 60 years old and should be well past that phase.

          • Not making any cheap shots, no-value judgement involved. Nothing I’ve said above is aimed at you or anyone else just trying to explain the model. And it is true that some people work better with closed systems [say maths] and other thrive in open systems [say poetry], and that at the extremes either of these polarities looks confusing to those more at home in the other. Neither is better than the other in absolute terms but each can be more appropriate to the task at hand. Certainly you want more mathy types working in closed systems [which is not to say that maths isn't also a creative discipline] and visa-versa.

            Urban Design is somewhere in between. It is not Engineering: It is not the Visual Arts. So wholly proscriptive control by authorities doesn’t lead to the best built environments, but then nor does open slather. In the real world.

          • snow flake

            In a more ideal process you would have most things as being requirements and then having them open for departures,.

            I do quite a bit of approval work myself and I can honestly tell you it’s hard getting the minimum requirements sometimes. But that’s where you need someone honest to approve the reductions to ensure you get a good result.

    • snow flake

      Sorry, present an image of quality.

  • Joshr

    I just cannot believe property pre plan costs $$$ and then post plan it’s $$$$$$. I understand Auckland needs development but re-zoning almost an entire city sounds like a very nutty thing to do. Oh well, council will be in the money with all the development contributions, roughly $40-$50k per new site.. WOW!!

    • Steve D

      Property costs will go down – or more realistically, not rise as fast as they would have otherwise. The cost of buildings will continue to go up, as it has for decades, and the cost of land per square metre will continue to go up, but now you won’t be required to buy as much land.

      If only the council were rezoning the whole city. Only the mixed use zone, metro/town/local centre zones and the Terraced House & Apartment residential zone will see any dramatic change, which is a fairly small fraction of the city.

    • About 7% of the area of Auckland is being upzoned, hardly rezoning the entire city!

      Great about those developer contributions, that means more and better parks, squares, public transport, more swimming pools and rec centres, and maybe even lower rates across the board.

  • Joshr

    Nick, so all the colors on the GIS viewer showing a change of zoning is 7%.. What map are you looking at?… And yes fantastic about the contributions, the developer pays more and of course the end user who purchases the property, what a Great technique endorsing affordablility. I can’t wait to see the proeprty listings after the plan is in effect, can you imagine people wanting to cash out? – sounds like a BUST is on the cards. Now that’s how you get affordable housing haha.

    • You’ve clearly made up your mind Joshr but I don’t see what your evidence is? Also Nick is right the upscaling is allowable on only a tiny proportion of Auckland, and much of that in places it actually involves lower height limits etc than are currently allowable. Mostly the UP just enshrines what’s there now. But it does use colours to show that. As well as simplifies the many existing rule books down to one set, is pretty mild and boringly sensible.

      • GTP

        What’s your definition of upzonng and the source for that 7% figure? You must be excluding the mixed housing zone changes of density surely?

        • Nick R

          Yes, I’m not counting mixed housing as upzoning. Mixed housing is what we already have over most of Auckland more or less. I.e it allows for maximum two story tall, separate house dwellings, setbacks from the street and boundaries, minimum 300m2 land area per house, with no more than 50% site coverage with the rest as lawn/yard or gardens.

    • Rharris

      If the developer doesn’t pay it will be the ratepayer or renter. Someone pays in the end for any development no matter where.

    • Nick R

      Joshr, you do realise we already have zoning right? Most of it is a carry over. All the stuff white and pale tan (single housing and mixed housing), the light and dark purple industrial areas, the CBD and metropolitan centers, is what we have in those places already. The real upzoning is the bright yellow terraced house and apartment zone, and yes that only accounts for about 7% of the urban area of Auckland.

  • joshr

    Nick, the mixed housing zone is where my main concern is. And if your saying lot sizes of 300sqm (mixed housing) in areas like Avondale is not upzoning then we clearly disagree. The focus point for me is affordability, how is upzoning areas allowing for lot sizes greater than 300sqm making housing cheaper? – Of course once you get building then prices may come down, but remba 900sqm is now allowed 3 sites. You can’t tell me that the owner will be happy to sell at $550k after this change.. It’s my opinion that within the mixed housing zone prices will go up and for a family wanting a backyard on 900sqm your now having to pay $800k after the UP takes effect.. Commonsense should prevail here Nick!

    • Steve D

      Remember nearly half the city will still be in a single house or large lot zone, with no subdivision allowed. Everyone there will have a 900sqm-ish lot whether they like it or not. This includes large areas of Avondale and the surrounding suburbs (especially New Windsor).

      But ultimately, when it comes to real estate you have a tradeoff between size, location and price. If you can’t afford a big place in the inner suburbs, there’s nothing city planning can do to change that. You’re going to have to accept reality and buy a smaller place, buy farther out, get richer, or rent.

    • Let’s assume you are right.

      So what is your solution to Auckland’s housing shortage? How will we allow more people to live in the areas they want to live in?

      If your answer is just to sprawl outwards a la Houston (and I have no idea if that is what you advocate), then there will just be a rise in value in other land in a different place on the outskirts as rural land becomes urban. That place will be far from other places and will cost the people more to live there.

      What you are suggesting may happen but that is part of the growing pains of a city and has happened all over the world. Easy to just criticise and offer no alternatives.

  • Joshr

    Fair enough Goosoid, I am merely pointing out the problems associated with mass upzoning but hardly have the solutions all in one hat. The problem is the UP is about to make owners with subdivision rights a whole bunch of money, saying that it will make housing affordable is a joke. Property within the mixed housing zone (and every other new zone for that matter) will cost more, it’s inevitable.
    The solution may lie in sprawl but certainly this cant be the only answer. To open up 1/2 the city to 300sqm is a radical approach with major implications that have not been thought through. In fact, I will go as far as saying it could cause a huge property bust as property listings overtake demand! – but hey, maybe this is what the councils wants. Open it all up and watch it come rolling back down. Of course this is not their plan, they are hoping that the mass re-valuation of the city and upzoning will spur development in infrastructure and construction. Creating more jobs! and more revenue for local operations.. All I say is goodluck. The plan has been done wrong and if National doesnt keep in eye on it the property market may take a huge dip. Which would say goodbye to a lot of council projects and future revenue.

    • Steve D

      So, you’re worried about house prices going up and house prices going down?

    • But you must have some alternatives because you say that the UP “has been done wrong”. So you must have an alternative that is “right”? Otherwise you are just being obstructive without offering anything. From your comment it appears you think the National party has all the answers so what is it offering as an alternative?

      The concept of 300sqm may be radical for you but to people in most places in the world 300sqm is considered more than adequate for a residence in a city with 1.5-2.5m people. You can fit a good two story house on that and have a small outdoor area as well. Luxury in most big cities in the world.

      Why is Auckland so different? If you dont like a big city like Auckland then there are plenty of nice small cities in NZ which are a long, long way from needing this kind of intensification.

    • 300m2, with setback requirements, access etc. Maybe starting from scratch you could get a subdivision with 300m2 lots, but you won’t be able to subdivide most existing places into 300m2. There is a whole series of controls in there, not just the headline ones scaring everyone.

      Joshr, you seem to be forgetting about the largest zone of single housing, where subdividing properties becomes impossible. So if mixed use puts prices up by allowing more subdividing, single housing must bring it down by forbidding subdividing, right?

      • GTP

        In terms of affordability the UP might (at least initially) have an undesired effect
        - property in mixed housing zone rises because of the possibility to sub-divide
        - property in the single housing zone rises because people are prepared to pay a premium to live in an area with less intensification

  • Joshr

    I’m not sure what you mean Nick but GTP has concluded correctly.. Pressure on single housing sites intensifies as people wanting out of the mixed zone are willing to pay a premium for 900sqm.

    Goosoid, I am merely pointing out what/how the UP may play out once given legal effect. I never started this debate with the intention of solving the problem but rather to acknowledge some fundamental flaws with the current version. Of course I’m an advocate of sprawl where correct planning and transport would offer far greater benefits. Those that believe our city should be more like London must remember that we are a small nation where valuation and currency (NZD) play a vital role in production. You hurry a plan together then thinkinbeg for instant effect without g about every single angle you could wake a sleeping giant i.e. NZD back to 0.45. Gas up, food up, everything up!! BUST!!! – If you care to know places like China (1% funding rates) aren’t chasing the houses in NZ, they are chasing the currency appreciation, borrow in China and make gains on NZD going up. If foreigners run out the country on a dropping currency, say goodbye to GDP.

    • Sailor Boy

      But this will be an incredibly slow process, not the catastrophic collapse you are implying. Single housing will only get more expensive(if it does) as the intensification actually occurs over the next 30 years.

      Also, history proves you wrong as upscaled areas have increasing land values. Lower density areas hav lower land values per square metre but more land and generally more expensive houses.

    • The intention is not to make Auckland like London – that is a ridiculous straw man argument as we dont have 11m people. However, if we are lucky we may end up with a city similar to other cities with 1.5-2.5m people like Vienna, Munich, Copenhagen or Prague (where I have lived and I love it) though we probably dont need to go to quite the levels of intensification those cities have. Still their urban character and amenities are excellent and they are such a pleasure to get around.

      So which cities would you likle to see Auckland emulate? Houston? http://www.houstontomorrow.org/livability/story/quality-of-life-declining-in-houston/

  • ELH

    I live on a half section on a site with 2 houses on it. It has been zoned mixed housing. As the section is already subdivided would the interest from developers be less than that of a house on a full section in the mixed housing zone?

    • Steve D

      There has never been such a thing as a standard size section, and many have been subdivided over and over again. So saying “half section” doesn’t really tell us anything. Developers are only going to be concerned about the actual size in square metres, and the layout and other specifics of the site.

  • Peter Jones

    In established coastal housing and particularly those properties currently designated as Rear Site should remain with a 3Meter distance to boundry setback. To force a 1Metre setback in these areas encourages huge homes to be built right to neighbours existing living areas

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