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The Unitec Opportunity

Unitec’s submission on the Proposed Unitary Plan outlines a pretty radical change to their Mt Albert campus, downsizing the actual educational campus from 53 hectares to around 10 and developing a major residential and commercial area on the rest of the site. Probably the most extensive coverage so far was in yesterday’s NZ Herald.

Ede explained the background to plans for the 53.5ha site, much of it now park-like open space which the locals love.

He wants 43.5ha to be leased or sold for intensive residential and commercial development and Unitec squeezed down to 10ha. The deal would use the land to generate money to run the institute and allow Unitec to step out of its seismic building noose, which now concerns him.

The concept plan for what’s proposed is below:

NZH0555837228Somewhat unsurprisingly the plan is generating fairly robust debate among the locals – although it’s good to see at least one local board member come out strongly in favour of it:

Martin Skinner said the neighbourhood was already regularly grid-locked mornings and afternoons from the huge influx of Unitec traffic. Yet Unitec had not tackled traffic management or implemented public transport or pedestrian initiatives.

“Residents can no longer park cars in the surrounding streets during the day, and it’s unsafe for children to walk to schools and kindergartens,” he said.

Cathy Casey, an Auckland councillor, said that in the first round of applications for Special Housing Area status in November, Unitec applied to build 800 units on their site.

“It was rejected,” she said…

…But Derek Battersby, of the Whau Local Board, backs it.

“Bring it on,” said the outspoken JP, predicting a big urban revival in the area if Unitec gets the green light.

“The opportunity for Unitec to put land aside for residential housing on their Carrington site is one that should be encouraged and considered as a Special Housing Area.

“It a great opportunity to create something quite special, promoting excellent urban design principles and open space,” he said.

However, Casey said Unitec’s SHA for 800 places was rejected by the council.

But Battersby said the scheme would revitalise a wide area of the isthmus.

“Carrington/ Unitec is within a substantive residential catchment taking in Point Chevalier, Mt Albert and Avondale. It is also close to St Lukes mall, Lynn Mall and public transport nodes,” he said.

A trade analysis study would show a significant opportunity for the local shopping precincts to redevelop into vibrant economic retail areas, yet these places now look unloved, he complained.

“There will be many detractors similarly with Auckland’s Council’s Unitary Plan process,” he said.

At a high level you’d struggle to find too many better opportunities for large scale redevelopment in inner Auckland. Not too far south you have the Mt Albert train station, not too far north you have Pt Chev and all the Great North Road buses which will include those that might eventually form part of a North West busway. In addition under the new public transport network there will be two frequent bus services running along Carrington Road – giving it a level of PT service provision similar to what Dominion Road has now. A large number of additional residents would also support the town centres of Mt Albert and Pt Chev, which feel like they’re just bumbling along a bit in recent years.

With a further tweak to the transport network you could also help a major permeability problem in the inner western part of Auckland plus improve public transport access into Unitec and avoid Great North Road buses from getting stuck in traffic at the Waterview interchange. The idea is a bus/cycle/pedestrian bridge from Great North Road over into the Unitec site – a kind of modern day Grafton Bridge that could surely be built in such a way that avoided any negative effects on the creek below. This would enable Great North Road buses to hook through the Unitec site before returning to Great North Road via Pt Chev. Something like this:

NZH0555837228

It would also hardly be unreasonable for Unitec to pay for the bridge – given the benefit they will gain from the proposal as a whole. Whether private vehicles should be able to use it is a tougher question, with a balance to be found between the permeability gains against the potential for it to be a major through-route. Perhaps something for the comments thread to discuss further. This type of routing would also ensure that we avoid the “Stonefields mistake” of creating a new urban area completely disconnected from its surrounding area and as a result developing in a highly car dependent manner where the only buses that go in have to basically do a “U-turn” and come back out the same way.

Overall the Unitec site seems like a great location for further growth to occur – certainly better than Wesley, Kumeu south, HelensvilleĀ or other silly areas where Special Housing Areas have been approved. The proposal provides a significant amount of open space (see page 170 of here) and with a relatively small intervention we could ensure it’s incredibly well served by public transport travelling to many different parts of Auckland.

62 comments to The Unitec Opportunity

  • Great. It is important that Auckland uses the opportunities that come with growth well. Growth brings pressure but also the chance to reshape significant parts of the city for generations to come. Like the waterfront and like this site.

    The current Unitec site is a tatty and lifeless mess. Done well and this should kick start a new vitality into an area suffering from that ubiquitous Auckland disease; motorway severance, and the then inevitable underinvestment.

  • Lord Maths

    A lifeless mess… covered in life. the biomass that will be destroyed by this development puts the lie to any thought of a “green” auckland.

    • Who cares. Auckland is covered in parks, trees, vegetation and other green spaces. Auckland is full do empty expansive parks. Big deal if the ‘biomass’ of some tatty scrub goes, it’s much better than bulldozing proper bush or farmland for subdivisions, which is the status quo option for housing these people.

      • Sanctuary

        “…Who cares…”

        Actually, quite a lot of people care – something you would have discovered if you hadn’t decided to be a miserably ignorant tosser on the topic instead. Ask the Auckland bee club, or the plot holders in the Sanctuary gardens, or all the people who walk their dogs or run driving schools or appreciate that Unitec campus offers valuable recreational, cultural and environmental values. Rick Ede may say that Unitec doesn’t run a park – well, Unitec isn’t a bloody private land developer either and it got GIVEN the site, which was and is PUBLIC land with public values attached to its use. I am not sure if Unitec has even bothered to investigate any liens and caveats that may exist around ownership of the land should it pass from being a public asset and into private hands.

        Unitec did zero consultation with any of the affected stakeholders before trying to ambush everyone with this proposal. It didn’t talk to residents, AT, the council and the local DHB didn’t even know that the Mason clinic was included in the proposal. Speaking of the Mason clinic, it, the dry cleaning factory and the housing on the opposite side of Carrington road are all included in Unitecs ‘plan” – the funny thing is, Unitec doesn’t own any of that land. How would you feel to open the morning paper and see that some outfit had decided your house was going to be turned into terraced housing?

        Anyone whop uses Carrington road knows that for huge swathes of the day it is horrendously over-capacity. Unitec has offered no solution to this beyond a bit of green-washing in its pretty pictures. I doubt AT will be thrilled, even with the unloading of Carrington road the Waterview connection potentially offers. Unitec is engaged in a land grab here. I have some sympathy for them – it has a whole pile of old heritage hospital building that it isn’t allowed to knock down and it can’t afford to earthquake proof and the government has effectively cut funding for six years in a row now, WTF are they meant to do? But a problem that is the result of government underfunding, and a high dollar (the foreign student cash cow is dying for places like Unitec) should not be solved by appropriating public land for private development without consultation.

        • JimboJones

          I don’t know anything about how Unitec acquired the land; but if they own it they should be allowed to develop it. Claiming all of that land should remain undeveloped because of bad traffic on Carrington road is ridiculous. Supplying housing near Unitec may actually decrease traffic in the local area.

          • Brodie Davis

            Well I guess that depends on if you consider them land owners or stewards. The problem with developing green space is that its gone forever, and higher density development actually needs high quality green space.

          • Lots of green space still on that plan above, only now there will be people to enjoy it, and income to maintain and improve it.

            Good urban green space is not just accidental emptiness. And the more we intensiy within AKL’s existing limits the more we can leave the true wilderness and countryside on the fringes alone and productive or wild.

        • Stu Donovan

          I’m confused. You talk of a “land grab” and “public land”, but is this not Unitec’s land? Notwithstanding the little pieces on the other side of the road you mention.

          I’m also confused about all this talk about “traffic”. In general, residential intensification of this nature will result in less traffic than the alternative, i.e. greenfields development on the urban fringe.

          I’m also confused by all this talk of “no consultation”. From what I understand Unitec has been engaging with the local board on these issues for a while now.

          • Steve D

            Whether you consider the land to now belong to “Unitec” or just to the government in general, it’s public land. And developing it is a good deal for the public, not just financially, but also in that Auckland desperately needs more housing and commercial space.

        • “How would you feel to open the morning paper and see that some outfit had decided your house was going to be turned into terraced housing?”

          Well actually I am in the planning process of doing exactly that, bulldozing my family home to replace it with terraced housing. If some outfit was going to pay us to do it instead I would happily take their money!

  • Could Stonefields have been much different. Looks to me like it’s built in a hole, so would need major ramps or something to have through routes.

    • Ramped roads to the southwest and southeast corners where planned for, if not built.

    • Stonefields could have been profoundly different. Actually connected to PT for a start, especially by bike and walk ways. And master planned for humans and not just cars, and the buildings could, should have been not designed by a QS and a draftsman. AND they could have simply said it you can have any colour so long as it’s not grey!

    • Rharris

      Surprised how few things are in walking distance from stonefields. They’ve finally built some new shops which are good but still are a distance for some residents. They need better walking access to the panmure station. They could also have had a few more smaller parks. Hobsonville point seems better planned.

  • I was wonderign when I ‘d hear some commentary in favour of this type of project. Right from the start it soundec like a good thing haveing more people living int he area to encourage PT, better internet, more demand for local shoping and entertainment, etc…

    • Of course it’s a good thing- if done well. This is a poorly performing public resource and now that the creek has been saved from ruin by m’way, both it’s natural qualities and it’s urban potential value can be unlocked and accessed by more.

      Just have to work to improve its quality at every level, open space, built environment, and movement systems.

      The bus rote proposed above makes a great deal of sense especially as the houses removed for the m’way means the catchment from the tunnel portal north has gone. Directing bus through the new campus looks good. Great care will need to be taken with that bridge, but we’ve had some fantastic new bridges recently and there’s no reason not to believe that this, as a cycling, walking, and bus bridge couldn’t also be beautiful.

      Ignore the sadly confused city haters.

  • Phil Hayward

    Compact city advocacy is based on flawed assumptions. Making people live at double the density does NOT halve the urban area size. This is because housing is only a small proportion of a city’s land. If you double the number of people living in a given area, you need to provide space for double the number of schools and other public facilities, and green space (if you care about this), and roads (if you care about this), and rights of way for infrastructure installation and servicing (if you care about this) and then there is the matter of jobs for those people, and shops and so on.

    There is a good paper somewhere that shows that doubling the density at which people live, tends to reduce average travel distances 7%.

    However, in real life the time people in more compact cities spend travelling to work is greater. This is because congestion is always worse, mode share change never reduces congestion because the mode share increase is never “more than 100% of the added population” (in fact it is always less than 10%), and inflated house prices result in more people being “priced out” into inefficient locations.

    The cost of infrastructure is higher in the long term too because it is so difficult to renew and upgrade infrastructure in built-out areas with minimal provision for access (planners being hell bent on covering every square inch of land with buildings). This is why there is a correlation between density and local taxation burdens, in favour of lower density. No honest studies have ever been done to try and prove the myth to the contrary.

    Compact city planning is all pain for no gain – any quantifiable gains in analysis of data sets (eg in energy consumption) occur due to people being deprived of discretionary income and life choices, by the inflated housing costs, NOT due to inherent efficiency. I believe that even Peter Newman has accepted this reality recently.

    Trashing the Unitec Campus is just part of this madness. Of course the top 1% FIRE sector tycoons are the only beneficiaries.

      • Exactly – just ignore him.

        • Linz

          Is this the same Phil as the other one? I thought he’d been banned.

          • Phil Hayward

            I have become aware that there was another Phil before me who upset the sensibilities of regulars on this site. I have no idea what he said that was so wrong. I must admit that after years of experience of utter strangulation of fair debate by the mainstream media, I have been pleasantly surprised at the reasonableness of the owners of this forum in allowing my contrarian views, which are backed up by evidence. Maybe the “other Phil” was just a contrarian, period and didn’t do the solid backup research that I do – I don’t know.

            However, I would argue that contrarians intuitions are actually correct – anti-sprawl, anti-car urban planning is based on a whole lot of shallow assumptions, myths, and outright falsehoods. I welcome challenges based on actual sets of data regarding actual outcomes of policies – congestion delays, commute times, housing affordability, productivity growth, local tax burdens etc. The problem with all the studies advocating compact cities, is that they are “cross sectional” not time series. There is NO proper studies of time series data that prove that applying compact city policies to a whole lot of cities produces positive results in all or even most of them. I hold that the UK’s cities are the perfect experiment that has run for several decades already, and the outcomes are both woeful and undeniable.

            Compact city advocates need to be called out on the evidence and made to defend the UK’s cities housing unaffordability, congestion delays, long average commute-to-work times, low economic productivity, spatial segregation “by income”, and local fiscal unsustainability. In so far as the data shows positive outcomes for resource consumption, the mechanism for this is deprivation, not efficiency. If Kiwi voters were told the truth, they would not choose this path. It is inimical to the “fair go” culture.

            http://www.channel4.com/news/broken-ladder-generation-rent-microapartmen

            Brendon Harre makes some excellent points here:

            http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/70493/fridays-top-10-brendon-harr%C3%A9-national-vs-labour-housing-affordability-uk-councils-spy-

    • John Polkinghorne

      “Huh?” is right. OK, from the top. This particular post isn’t really about compact city advocacy, it’s about making better use of an underutilised piece of land. Which means a lot of what you’re saying is off topic. But doubling density would come pretty close to halving the urban area size. You don’t need to double the space of schools and other facilities; maybe you build some two-storey instead of one. Fairly logical stuff in a city of 1.5 million. And clearly you’re not going to double the road space either. Not to mention that a fair whack of the people living on the Unitec campus would probably be Unitec students, and having pretty low travel requirements.

      You’re possibly focusing too much on commute times and not enough on the cost of providing the transport infrastructure required, which is often not borne by the users to any great extent. There’s an externality there.

      Your infrastructure argument sounds pretty dubious. If less dense cities cost less to service, then why would councils be advocating for increased density at all? There have been a very large number of studies internationally which have found that the infrastructure costs of denser cities are lower on a per capita basis, which should be fairly self-evident anyway. I understand that the one due out for Auckland in the not too distant future is going to show something similar.

      And “trashing the Unitec Campus”? Really? By putting some buildings on it?

      • Phil Hayward

        Thanks for engaging; I am not surprised some people say “huh”? because what they have been led to believe for years is completely mythological.

        The paper I am referring to is Ian Gordon (1997) “Densities, Urban Form and Travel Behaviour”. The reduction in commute distances from a doubling of the density at which people are forced to live, is 7%.

        Many people support the policy of growth containment because of a whole lot of shallow assumptions, such as that doubling density = halving commute distances. Not so. And it is not rocket science why. It can easily be diagrammed with a whiteboard and markers by someone who knows what they are talking about.

        Another shallow assumption is that you don’t double road space; and a shift of drivers to public transport creates a net benefit, and some of the most ignorant people even think that congestion will FALL……! An awful lot of the general public does think this, I find in conversing with them. The problem is that you have 100% more travelers in the given area, and at least 90% of these will be added road users. PT mode share might well increase, perhaps from under 10% to over it – but congestion will have worsened exponentially. Hence Auckland having 40 minutes or more delay per hour at peak when similar-population US cities 1/3 the density and with 3 times the road space, have a 15 minute delay. if you recalculate the congestion delay as people like Todd Litman want it recalculated, the result would probably be something like 30 minutes in Auckland and 5 minutes in the cities like Indy and Nashville.

        Actually travel distance (let alone time) is almost nothing to do with density, and everything to do with co-location. The ability of an urban land market to sort participants into efficient co-location to each other is the decisive factor. This is why average commute to work times in the USA have been stable for decades. Employment has spread equally rapidly to housing. The reason average commute times are higher in the UK in spite of its outlier high densities, is because of congestion delays and because so many people have far fewer choices of location due to the systemic unaffordability of housing.

        If you imposed a petrol tax on Americans as high as the UK has, I would wager that you would see some pretty impressive efficiency gains through systemic relocation decisions. The UK’s planning system and systemic unaffordability of housing actually prevents even the high petrol taxes from being the positive incentive they should be.

        I think my arguments are self-evident, not “dubious”.

        The costs of the alternative transport systems are an argument against PT, not an argument against cars and roads. As I have said before: PT swallows massive amounts of public money just moving people around. Easily 30 cents per person km on well patronised routes, and over a dollar on many. In contrast, roads once built are there forever and the cost per person km falls forever. Actual official NZ data shows ongoing maintenance costs to be 0.1 cent per person km – that is 0.1 cent, not 0.1 dollar.

        Car users pay their own costs of the vehicle – PT riders don’t. Car users pay their own costs of energy – PT users don’t. And so on right across the costs of each system. Externalities are around a few cents per person km of driving, and these happen to be borne by the same people as what do the driving and benefit from automobility. Non-drivers benefit at least sufficiently from the existence of a road network to justify bearing these externalities along with everyone else. I don’t see anyone wanting to move to North Korea or Cuba because they are car-free paradises.

        It is a VERY good question, why would councils be advocating for increased density if the costs of infrastructure are higher? The reason is simple. They have failed to fund maintenance and renewal of existing infrastructure and need a new revenue stream to do so, or they will face a rates revolt. Development contributions socked to developers doing intensification, is this new revenue source. This is utterly bad faith, given that they claim “LOWER” costs as the justification for forcing development into intensification rather than greenfields in the first place.

        When developers pay contributions for greenfields, it is a lot clearer who is paying for what. The Councils do not like this because they are not getting to double-dip as they are with intensification – rates are supposed to have already paid for ongoing renewal and maintenance of that infrastructure and there is allegedly surplus capacity and cost savings in it…….!!!!

        I look forward to shredding the Auckland Council’s report on infrastructure costs when it is published. “Studies” like it is likely to be, all have VERY predictable breaches of statistical method in them. Like using cross-sectional analysis instead of time series.There is a list already of incompetent work they are responsible for, and I don’t know how much nonsense the public can keep putting up with, they are pretty tolerant so far. One thing I am sure of; a revolt due to harsh reality will come eventually. Maybe then it will be admitted that some contrarians were right all along.

    • Stu Donovan

      Phil, you’re off topic – and in violation of user guidelines 3. c (ii).

      • Phil Hayward

        User Guideline 3 is regarding ad hominem attacks. I don’t see any c) or (ii) under user guideline 3 either. So I don’t get your point.

        I have said many times that what I am opposed to is the UGB and the resultant forced cramming of people inside it, the massive hikes in land prices and rents, the loss of local amenity (it is all very well to “utilise land” but the Auckland Planners calculations incompetently do not even preserve school playing fields) and the unintended consequences. The unintended consequences include that none of the gains alleged from the planning, happen anyway, other than via socially unjust mechanisms such as robbing ordinary people of discretionary income, which robbery is not even captured as useable tax revenue – it is captured by the rentier capitalist class.

        It is sooo ironic that so many people on the Left regard this kind of urban planning as a matter of faith, yet they claim to be opposed to inequality and to capitalism. And there is capitalism and there is capitalism – what they are acting as useful idiots for is the absolutely damnable kind, the kind that straight-out “gouges” without creating any wealth like productive entrepreneurs do.

        My policy platform would be: no UGB; land taxes; shifting the burden of local taxation off buildings (if you want people to build “up”, don’t tax it); road pricing; and other properly targeted infrastructure user pricing. This would actually work towards the desired objectives of reducing resource consumption, only without creating massive economic “rent” – Google “economic rent” if you don’t know what I mean.

        In a city under the system I suggest, you might well get a redevelopment like the above Unitec one, but the decision to do so would be based on pure functional efficiencies, not the capturing of a share of the zero-sum economic rent that is being sucked from out of the pockets of all renters, first home buyers and new business start-ups and expansions, from here to eternity. Redevelopments to higher intensity happen in Houston, you know, and it is everything to do with functional efficiency and nothing to do with grabbing a share of a big land price gouge.

        • Stu Donovan

          sorry lazy joke. I just spouted some numerals/characters. But you are very much off-top, so I encourage you to focus your comments better. Short and sharp is a good motto.

    • john smith

      Phil: ‘[with compact development] there is the matter of jobs for those people, and shops and so on’.

      A city grows because people see more opportunities in the city than wherever they came from or wherever they could move to. Providing property development happens in a free market, and the new residents are volunteers [note 1], developers will bring new dwellings to market, and people will move in, at a rate that reflects the job opportunities and other amenities available.

      In any case, if you think the government has some responsibility to arrange people’s job opportunities, shops etc, the problems involved apply as much to fringe development as to infill development.

      note 1: that’s an important qualification. Hothoused public housing estates with conscripted residents (poor people) will have problems, particularly if they’re in fringe areas with few local jobs and poor transport.

      • Phil Hayward

        But there are dozens of cities in the USA where average commute-to-work times have not only remained stable for decades, but are below first world average, where they have been growing rapidly at low density for decades.

        The only difference in “opportunity” between those moving to one of those cities, or moving into a denser core like the few in New York, Chicago, San Fran, Washington or Philadelphia; is the type of job one gets. Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Charlotte and Raleigh have been the fastest growing cities in percentage terms for the last 20 years; none of the legacy core cities in the USA have grown anywhere near as fast in spite of all the hype about their rebound, which is relative.

        People don’t move to the low density rapid growth cities “in spite of” monster long commutes; they don’t GET monster long commutes anyway. Not by necessity (as is the case when housing is systemically unaffordable). Jobs sprawl roughly matches housing sprawl. In fact all the academic literature that has ever looked at “splatter” development patterns of growth (versus contiguous carpet growth due to strict boundaries) has concluded that they are more efficient because there is so much scope for the infill of the leftover bits to be devoted to very efficient co-uses depending on what is already in the vicinity. In fact agglomeration economies of specialised types are MORE likely to form because there is land to spare, and at affordable prices. It is commonly accepted among urban economists that nothing like Silicon Valley could have evolved without the availability of cheap exurban land.

        Government does NOT need to “plan” jobs-housing balance – it happens anyway. Government involvement has ALWAYS been in the direction of PREVENTING it – and of course it is perfectly justified to keep certain types of urban activity separate from each other for health and safety reasons. But modern day planning has gone way beyond that to actively obstruct the free market process that results in the best jobs-housing balance of all, in most US cities. The most misguided policy prescriptions of all are the “city centre first” planning policies in the UK. Attempting to increase the centralisation of employment as they are, self-evidently will increase both traffic congestion (by focusing travel into radial patterns in and out) and the “pricing out” effect on workers. The more centralised employment is, the steeper the urban land rent curve and the more spatially “sorted” the population is by “ability to pay”. The poor get the fringe ghettoes and the monster commutes, the rich get the Edwardian mansions nice and close to the Head Office.

        Ironically, in the USA where they still have blighted areas in the core cities where the poorest people are mired in the worst poverty and social breakdown, no-one seems to suggest that these people are enjoying a natural advantage of proximity to finance sector Head Office jobs. Unfortunately the jobs they need are mostly out in the suburbs now. It is essential to look at what kind of local economy you have, and what is the scope for being another London. The UK has only one London even though Cargo Cult planners think that planning is the key – if that were remotely true then the UK would have dozens of mini-Londons, which it patently does not. For unexceptional cities like NZ’s (and most other cities of the world) that policy package will reproduce Liverpool, Newcastle, Luton, Birmingham, etc etc – NOT London.

        • Bryce P

          Excellent. You do what you want to do in Wellington and we’ll look after Auckland.

          • Phil Hayward

            I WISH some other city in NZ would position itself as NZ’s willing taker of housing and business premises refugees from Auckland. Like Houston and dozens of other cities do in the US, for refugees from coastal California.

            Paul Cheshire of the LSE told me when he was in NZ a few months ago that he and his colleagues have been trying for a couple of decades to get just ONE UK city to position itself as the UK’s “growth vent” city and have had no luck as yet. Central government continues to pour subsidy money into failing cities and trying to divert growth away from London, but it does not seem to be acceptable to them to simply cancel the urban growth boundary around some of those cities and stand back before they get run down in the stampede……!!!!

            Canterbury might get there one day – Hugh Pavletich is bringing them round……..

          • Phil Hayward

            I meant Canterbury NZ in that last comment.

          • Bryce P

            Good. While he’s concentrating on Chch, he’s not annoying us here in Auckland.

    • Sailor Boy

      @Phil reducing commutes by 7% doesn’t reduce travel by 7%, living at higher density puts amenities closer reducing other travel.

  • Sounds like a great proposal and the perfect place for medium density housing.

    They should do the development from the beginning as a low car development. Have only one road able to be accessed from the exterior of the development and make cycling routes more direct than driving. Try and do something different for once in Auckland instead of building with the expectation that everyone will just drive.

    Look to the masters, the Dutch:
    http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/making-a-1960s-street-grid-fit-for-the-21st-century/

    • Stu Donovan

      yes! And that bus bridge is a really really good idea. Greatly improves PT accessibility to the area.

    • Yes, what a ripe opportunity to properly design so much of an isthmus neighbourhood from the ground up. No excuses for failing to provide a grid of human scale streets with enough filtered permeability, that structurally invite local area walking and cycling and multi-modal trips with bus services.

  • Rharris

    I guess the communities greatest concerns is that it is poorly planned and poorly completed. If designed solely for students they may fear a central train station debacle with its leaky hovel like apartments. Then there’s the strain on local resources in the area. The primary schools are packed to the brim already and Eden-Albert has the one of the least amount of parks out of all the wards.

    Unitec could be turned in to sports fields or chamberlain golf course is the other options. It’s a question of planning thoughtfully what facilities the community will need in the future and not being gung-ho with every proposal.

    • Poor design is always a concern because the last 60 years have subjected us to carelessness in our city at every turn. However the best way to deal with this is not to fight for nothing but for something better. And recent examples, like the MIT campus, have shown that we maybe, just maybe, could be entering a new age of really good life-enhancing development. And that education institutions working with Council CCOs [esp AT] and the community, are well placed to lead this change.

      I just cannot agree with anyone who tries to argue that the current condition of the Unitec site is any kind of ideal, either aesthetically or as a utility; even as open space.

      I do however understand those who have been so disappointed by developments in the past and have come to the fearful and negative position of fighting for nothing to happen anywhere near them.

      This is a poor dialectic though, and will only lead to disappointment as pressure to grow is too strong. A successful outcome for concerned people everywhere is to engage to improve, not just engage to stop.

  • paul

    It’s perplexing that some local politicians appear to have dismissed this proposal out of hand.
    On one hand they push for affordable housing and vital communities yet seem to insist on preserving the status quo.
    The argument that Unitec is under some obligation to provide barren and under utilised open space for the local community doesn’t wash with me.

    • Phil Hayward

      I couldn’t agree more – so far the government, for all its lip service to housing affordability, has price gouged on land holdings it has sold just as badly as any private sector owner. Millions of dollars per hectare – BAH. How is anything affordable going to get built on that? A piece of cardboard propped up on a stick would be unaffordable because of what the land has already cost.

      The irony is that if a city has a low, flat urban land rent curve due to the absence of a UGB, all developments are affordable, whether McMansions or nice walkable communities and “TOD’s”.

      If a city has a land rent curve hiked from the regulatory boundary inwards, nothing will be affordable – and the more amenity-laden a location, the less affordable it will be. Atlanta in the USA is winning awards for successful “smart growth” projects without being noticed by the nurbies around the world – why? Because Atlanta is systemically affordable, the walkable master planned communities and TOD’s actually end up affordable instead of de facto gated communities for wealthy yuppies who can afford a million dollars for a medium size condo.

  • Anthony

    Phyllis St Soccer / Softball fields are currently being redeveloped.
    The SH20 Waterview Connection offroad cycleway will pass through these, likely run through the road marked “slow speed” (on page 170/176) and should connect to the green line marked above, at the intersection to the right of the bridge.
    Rerouting Gt Nth Rd buses through the bike route is hardly going to make a cycle friendly environment.
    Noisy buses will also detract from what should be a reasonably quiet living environment.
    It is only a short walk from anywhere on the Unitec site to buses on either Carrington Rd or Gt Nth Rd.
    I don’t see the point.

    However I would award points for demolishing the BP on Gt Nth Rd.

  • I hope this doesn’t go too off-topic…

    I have to wonder what’s going to happen to the course offerings and overall facilities at Unitec. Yeah, there’s a lot of green space in there, but downsizing a campus by over 80% must inevitably reduce Unitec’s floor space. What’s going to happen with all that?

    • John Polkinghorne

      It doesn’t have to – currently, they’re in a lot of dilapidated low-rise buildings, which don’t reflect modern educational environments, and therefore probably don’t make very efficient use of their floor space. WIth a more compact and focused footprint, they can build up a few storeys, redesign their floor space in line with their current (and future) requirements, and will no doubt aim to create more buzz on campus while they’re at it.

  • justintohugs

    Maybe the housing/commercial space currently planned could be higher density and keep closer to the edges leaving more space for a Carrington Common type park. Surely this would please everyone.

    • Eaxctly, as with the whole city, the more up you go the less out you need to go and the more green space can be preserved. So maybe do 6-8 storeys rather than 4 storeys.

      • 4 is a pretty human scale to build to, particularly if you ring garden squares with your apartments to provide sheltered green space.

        It’s also feasible to go elevator less ( cheaper corp body fees etc ) , if you’re able to make two storey “houses” for family living, up top.

        There’s nothing inherently bad about taller buildings, in the right locations, so long as all aspects are considered, natural light, running costs ( I think the elevator at my 4 storey block in London, is the biggest expense we have… ) , ease of access to street level, and the outside world, blocking views.. etc.

        If we could get 4 storeys, across the shore, it would make all sorts of PT feasible. A Greenbelt of undeveloped land, is also of somewhat limited use, in your immediate, inner city locale. You really do want a garden city, just don’t attach to garden to quarter acre plots, with a single house.

  • Greg N

    Hmm, Unitec is about as far from the nearest train station (Mt Albert) at its closest as most/all of Stonefields is from GI station and we all think Stonefields is a crock of sh*t PT wise, so why would Unitec be any better where it is?
    What makes Unitec so much better and Stonefields site not? It will have buses running though it?

    So got a better idea, how about Unitec sell the site off for complete redevelopment with a proper master plan.

    Then they buy the old Tamaki Campus from Auckland Uni “as-is” – which is already working as a tertiary institute and has newer permanent material buildings on the site, not shitty old low-rise designs about the size Unitec want to end up with, close to PT and has parks across the road and room to be redeveloped. And further more, is about 20 minutes down the line – on the same train line – as MIT is, so great opportunity to partner with MIT to ensure their respective offerings complement not compete and students can easily attend courses at either.

    Then do a proper planned developement on the old Unitec site from the get-go to maximise the money – e.g. a Stonefields done absolutely well and then have two good outcomes.

    Then once CRL is built, AT can run western trains out on the Eastern line to allow all those students who would use the train/RTN to get to Unitec to still do so, wherever in Auckland they live.

  • Stu Donovan

    good buses from that location into the city and south to New Lynn. Trains can’ (and shouldn’t) be expected to do everything.

    • Greg N

      Except RTN is built around dedicated Rights of Way – and right now that means trains and the buslanes like AT itself suffer from a lack of joining up.
      When AT gets around to putting in fulltime Bus lanes out that way, then sure its then a suitable suit for intensive development.

      And running buses through the site is only as good as the bus lanes existing either side of the site and from what I see there aren’t any more bus lanes planned on either GNR/Carrington Road or Blockhouse bay roads – the very roads this plan would be expected to disgorge its PT users and buses in from/out onto.

      So if Trains can’t do everything why is AT betting the farm on them with the new network?

  • Sailor Boy

    Seems like a good plan, dense, with lots of green space, and PT routed through.

  • KB

    I am part of this community, my house I on the street adjoining and locals have only recently (last week) started to engage in trying to ensure that this development is something quality and great for Unitec, residents, and future residents and students. Yes, we have our concerns. And considering that Unitec has formulated this entire plan without once speaking to any of its neighbours doesn’t get the whole process off to a great start. We all found out last week by way of the media, not the best way to treat your neighbours or start of a relationship of community conversation, involvement and support. Incidentally, I like the idea of the bus bridge lane, great idea. :-)

  • Charles

    Carrington Road capacity is truly a problem for massively increased density here. Particularly during Unitec terms. The bus bridge isn’t really on unless that’s fixed. There is through traffic that may be reduced by the tunnel, but a lot of it is local. Carrington will have to be four laned (or 1+bus each way), and I don’t quite get how it works with Pt Chev shops either.

    I guess that’s just details but good planning ought to have at least some of the details thought through from the beginning. And having it go public by a semi-leak makes the Unitec administrators look a bit dumb too.

  • In some respects, I wonder if the lack of joined up thinking, between cross city transit time, and development of land is the major problem.

    i.e. If council were to draw a grid, of how transit corridors, might work, to enable people to commute from defined points on the city compass, and then we planned all future development, of housing, park, commercial and other space around that grid. We would then be working towards, something which functions, long term.

    It may be that the best use, of the Unitec site, is an intensive housing development, but as with what looks like the done deal on QE II square, being sold off to precinct, I’m not convinced it’s being done to a plan, which is well understood, by everyone concerned, or that transit will continue to be a case, of patchwork remediation.

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