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Unitary Plan Recommended Zoning – the maps

The version of the Unitary Plan released last week and recommended by the Independent Hearings Panel (IHP) almost doubled the number of dwellings that they believe can feasibly be built over the next 30 years. By far the biggest change comes from enabling more dwellings within the existing urban area which goes from 84,000 in the version of the plan notified in 2013 up to 270,000 in the IHP version, a massive 221% increase.

Recomended UP - Change in Feasible Capacity

While some of the increase has come about as a result of changes in the rules, most of the change is a result of changing zoning. A presentation b the council on Wednesday highlighted the 270k increase in the existing urban area had mostly been achieved by:

  • Retention of all residential zones and many of the rules
  • Greater spatial application of Terraced Housing and Apartment Buildings (THAB), Mixed Housing Urban (MHU), Mixed Housing Suburban (MHS) across Auckland
  • Location of higher density zones around town centres, along corridors and adjoining open space and schools
  • Adoption of different walkable catchments for higher density zones – from 200-400m to 400-800m
  • Retention of council’s position of no density controls in THAB and MHU
  • Removal of density control from MHS
  • Retention of zone heights
  • In MHU and MHS, up to 4 dwelling units is a permitted activity (5 or more require a resource consent)
  • Minor dwelling units up to 65m² permitted in Large Lot, Rural Coastal Settlement and Single House zones
  • Removal of the relationships between the flood plains and Single House and Mixed House Suburban zones
  • Areas previously subject to the pre-1944 overlay to be zoned similarly to surrounding areas.

In this post I thought I’d take a look at how the zoning has changed in some areas. First up, the colours used between the proposed plan and recommended plan have changed a little, the most important difference being that the MHS zoning is now a stronger colour and easier to differentiate from the Single House Zone

Recomended UP - Zoning - Legend

As a quick reminder, Single House and MHS are both limited to two storeys while MHU is limited to three storeys. Of all the zones where housing is allowed (the residential zones plus the centres and mixed use zones), around 69% of all the area is limited to two storeys and that increases to 88% at three storeys or less. In other words, only 12% of areas where people live can be greater than 3 storeys – a high rise city this will not be.

Isthmus

You can see that with the exception of the inner west and central isthmus (which are also mostly subject to a Special Character Overlay – but that’s another story), there is much less Single House zoning. this has mostly been replaced by MHS but you can also see a lot more THAB in and around Town Centres. There are some decent clusters allowed in the southern Isthmus in Owairaka, Three Kings and Royal Oak which would make great anchors for the proposed light rail lines. There is also more THAB allowed in other areas too, like Panmure where the Herald current favourite complaining couple are located – they should be happy their property is now worth more.

There are other little changes too such as around Morningside Train Station where the zoning has changed from mainly Light Industry to mainly Mixed Use which will allow a lot more people to live next to what will be one best located train stations after the CRL is completed.

The zoning on the isthmus is much better although I still think the IHP could have gone further in some areas.

Recommended

Recommended UP - Zoning - Isthmus

Proposed

Proposed UP - Zoning - Isthmus

North

North Shore

The changes on the North Shore aren’t as pronounced as in other areas and most of the changes are tweaks around the edges.

Recommended UP - Zoning - North compare

Hibiscus Coast

The first thing you can immediately notice is the massive amount of extra Future Urban Zone land west of SH1. On the Whangaparaoa Peninsula there is a couple of small pockets of THAB at the Marina and a little bit in the middle of the peninsula but overall with it being almost exclusively Single House, there is very little new housing allowed which once again raises many questions about just how important an expensive project like Penlink is when there are a lot of other areas growing rapidly and which also need investment. I’m surprised there was’t more MHS in this area.

Recommended UP - Zoning - Hibiscus Coast compare

West

 

The west already had one of the better looking zoning from the proposed plan thanks to the local boards supporting density to a much greater extent that all of the other areas resulting in a high proportion of THAB and MHU. The Recommended plan has extended that further in some areas, such as the Te Atatu Peninsula. The IHP have also recommended zoning for the large Red Hills development area west of Westgate rather than having it as future urban land. We’re certainly going to need that NW Busway.

Recommended UP - Zoning - West compare

East

The main changes in the east appear to be in Pakuranga and up Pakuranga highway, both of which allow for more THAB to be built. All of this just makes AMETI even more important and at the very least, bus lanes up Pakuranga Rd.

Recommended UP - Zoning - East compare

South

There are some areas which see a decent amount of change, one such area is around Mangere Town Centre which outside of the centre itself, goes from MHS and in some cases even Single House to THAB and MHU. There is also more MHU and THAB in and around Otara. Further south there are other patches of upzoning and a few extra additions to the Future Urban Zone

Recommended UP - Zoning - South compare

 

Changes to zoning allows for more houses but that doesn’t mean they’ll all be taken up as not everyone is going to develop their land to the maximum allowed for under the plan and in many cases, the housing that exists today will still exist in 30 years time. That’s why the IHP have focused on having what they say is enough feasible enabled capacity and the changes in that are shown in the heat map below. One of the big differences you can see is in the west were the zoning allows for a lot of development but much of it isn’t considered feasible within the scale of this plan.

Recomended UP - PAUP vs Recomended Feasible Capacity

There’s a lot more detail to go into, even just comparing the differences in the maps. What are the things that you’ve noticed?

 

104 comments to Unitary Plan Recommended Zoning – the maps

  • Alistair Gunn

    My main impression is that it just is not enough. As you say won’t it take decades for the extra capacity to be exploited? We should have gone for 3 to 5 stories everywhere 😎

  • Matthew W

    How does future urban work – will the developer be able to apply for a certain zoning – i.e. MHS or MHU for their site?

  • The thing I noticed last night from the Panel’s recommendations report the potential spread of dwelling typologies across the Local Board areas. 22,000 apartments in Howick and 19,000 in Waitemata (home of the City Centre). This was under the maximum return scenario so how did Howick get more apartment potential than Waitemata despite Waitemata having the CBD with unlimited height as well as the Newmarket Metropolitan Centre.

    Go further south and it had 666 apartments for Otara-Papatoetoe and 12 for Manurewa. Given both areas have the Transform Manukau area in them the numbers do not stack up. There is a 900 terraced housing and apartment development next to the Vodafone events centre. There is also a 500 terraced housing and apartment development also in the works elsewhere in the area. Back into Manukau City Centre with Transform Manukau working its way through I think we can get more that 666 apartments in the area…

  • Matthew

    What is that big pink area above the downtown waterfront? Is it a nod to expanding the port? Or is the alternative to a new bridge? It may be the same colour as the Light Path but I don’t like the look of it.

  • Early Commuter

    The height thing is stupid. I’d rather taller houses on grassy sections/lawns (vertical space saves horizontal) than cramming in thousands of terraces and ripping up grass and trees to do it. Auckland can intensify a lot smarter if it realised that building up is more efficient. I picture by 2200 AD that we could live in an amazing city comprising parks, canals, and lakes, with subterranean and overground apartment towers of 50-60 storeys

    • Peter Nunns

      The minimum landscape area required by the plan varies from 40% of site area (in the SH, MHS, and MHU zones) to 30% of site area (in THAB). By and large, the plan does try to achieve variation in development capacity between zones by varying building heights rather than site coverage.

  • RHarris

    I’ve been looking at the increased intensification out west shown in the maps and thinking about it a bit more (maybe not enough). My thought is that is the vibrancy created from density in suburbia a myth? I’ve lived in same suburb for the past 20 years, slowly watched infill, apartments, townhouses and new subdivisions in the area rapidly increase the number of people living in the area. I’ve seen the streets and schools get more and more congested but at the same time the local shops and mall have gone backwards. For lease signs are everywhere and the shops selection is more limited and there’s a proliferation of $2 shops. The amount of loiters and intimidation has increased, the community centre is dead most of the time and you can go to the movie theatre and have the whole cinema to yourself (which some would say is a benefit).

    So I am left wondering when does the vibrancy kick in? What causes the tipping point for vibrancy? People will ask what does vibrancy mean. I guess it means general “liveliness” in the streets for 12 hours a day, people engaged with the community and better restaurant, entertainment and shop options.

    Has suburbia now just got people trapped in mortgages, cars and work that they have no time and money to enjoy life? Are people just more vapid and indifferent now and don’t care about community? Do suburbs still not have the right mixes of people to create vibrancy? What has gone wrong? What other factors are at play? What does this hold for the future?

    • Well observed. There are population tipping points but also other factors are absolutely key, principally other urban form conditions. Especially the degree to which everyone is still incentivised to be driving past those local shops. So factors like [surprise] the quality of PT services, as these gets people walking locally, and the scale and dominance of drive-up shopping malls. Also is your area at all mixed use? are there any local jobs? That’s the great advantage of living in a Victorian area, not the old shacks, but the absence of exclusionary zoning; there are shops, small commercial, and dwellings all jumbled together, this makes for ideal conditions for small scale service start-ups.

      The other tipping point needed is really more obvious; every little cluster of possible customer focussed vibrancy does need someone to try to start it up; to spot a potential, to be a local that wants a cafe, or whatever, and gets in and gives it a go. Even the hippest places once had nothing; form Grey Lynn to Brooklyn!

      • RHarris

        The main place I’m thinking of is Henderson but it’s applicable to most town centres in West Auckland and perhaps Auckland. It has lot of things that supposedly make good communities, public transport, work, libraries, etc. I think it has great bones. A good compact size. Good walkability. Corbans Art centre, swimming complex, parks, nature and schools close by.

        Yes I could see that certain shops could act as triggers to lift areas. A few places try but there just doesn’t seem to be the customers. I was thinking maybe the west is missing more single people living out here ala the vibrancy of Ponsonby? Are more single dwellings the answer? Is there enough here to draw people out of central Auckland? Places seem to need people with disposable income.

        • Sailor Boy

          I feel like Henderson’s problem is that no one lives in the town centre which can make it feel really dead. People actually living over the shops make it obvious that life continues even if there is no one on the street, makes the street feel safer, and provides much easier walk up catchment.

          • RHarris

            Yes I think this will be part of the solution as long as they are good quality. I look at New Lynn and it has the same issue. It’s still pretty quiet. The restaurant options there have improved slowly though.

        • Matthew W

          Birkenhead has a town centre that went into decline but is now improving with a huge amount of small businesses (mainly hospo) and foot traffic. This will only get better as more apartments get built. One key I think is the town centre is traffic calmed and ped friendly (wide footpaths, lots of ped crossings). There are always a heap of cars rolling through particularly at peak times (e.g. a Saturday) but they are moving at about 10kph.

          • Browns Bay still struggles a little with empty or hard-to-let retail spaces, even though it has what I consider to be one of the best bases for a town centre in Auckland (massively attractive beach and reserve, good hospo options, plenty of parking for the elderly and young families, apartments and townhouses going up all over, good connections via PT/foot/cycle to the surrounding area, and a very audacious town plan from the local board [blanket 30kmh limit for the entire bay, more ped and cycle improvements, various civic improvements]).

            Retail is tough, there’s just no way around it. It requires disposable income and I think a lot of people trying to live in this city just don’t have much of that.

          • RHarris

            Yes Birkenhead is slowly turning around. Browns Bay again another great town centre that just isn’t moving ahead at the pace I thought it would. A lot of new apartments there.

            There is a lot of competition around for the spending dollar. The tipping point is difficult to pinpoint for some of these town centres.

          • Nick R

            Really, I think Browns Bay is moving along very quicky! It was dead as a door nail a few years back, now it is very lively. A lot of new developments opening up along the waterfront and I can’t think of a single shop for lease at the moment.

          • Bruce

            Browns Bay is getting there. One thing it has which pretty much no other part of Auckland has except the CBD is a grid pattern! Makes it so much easier to do things with.
            It also of course has that wonderful thing of 3-5 level mid rise apartments which not many places do. Browns Bay is probably about 2-3 of these apartment blocks away from really thriving.
            It still has vacant retail from sites like the old Farmers building to the old New World but this is changing.
            The Brownzy is going to soon to be replaced by apartments so that will add numbers.

          • Matt P

            Yes another few apartment developments and the BB will really start to get momentum.

          • Nick R

            The old farmers isn’t vacant, it’s being rebuilt into a half dozen smaller tenancies.

          • Bruce

            The old Farmers sat vacant for about 2 years then was renovated into smaller shops most of which then sat vacant for another year. It isn’t hard to get shop space in Browns Bay right now. But as I said it is probably on the verge of being great.

          • Browns Bay has really got some development about to kick off. As noted, The Brownzy (will not be missed), the townhouses two down from Countdown (where the gym is), the old New World; are all closing in on beginning. Bute Rd continues it’s march to be apartment row with the second new one about to be finished; that weird storage place next to Mitre 10 with the furniture store at street level is up for sale (tricky property to develop, it goes up very steeply onto the spur). No doubt there will be more development as UP changes allow more density going up Glencoe Rd (all townhouses allowed up to Nigel Rd ish). There’s also that retirement mini-complex on Beach Rd heading north, just up from the roundabout.

            The town plan advocates for a 3 story parking building with a retail base where the market is currently held. Interesting.

            I’d also give dollars to donuts that the weird 70s retail maze on Inverness will be developed in the next 10 years.

            And Nick, there is still an empty space in the Farmers building. Never been leased. And looks like Franko’s cafe next door has shut. Whether this is some wider retail malaise or just market churn – who knows.

            End of BB report.
            🙂

        • I guess peoples time & money is spent on commuting & paying for housing in these areas still. If not they are loiterers.

    • Call555

      i wonder if the suburbs lack the vibrancy because now days with two income families there are twice the cars heading out to work with the suburbs left dead during the day. In old years gone by the burbs were filled with mums and kids (esp under 5’s) through out the day.

    • Anthony

      Sounds like Avondale since the 3 guys supermarket, banks and PO left. None of those are likely to return.
      Developers have attempted to build apartments on the 3 guys site for years but have stumbled at the economics of providing enough car parking and keeping within height and density controls. Being opposite the school field, the whole town centre is effectively divided in two by vacant land.
      The RSA site is getting a decent sized apartment development, and there have been some terrace houses built just off Gt Sth Rd, so some things are happening.
      Until there is sufficient population I can’t see much more than the plethora of $2 stores that exist now.
      The large reduction from the proposed densities of the surrounding suburb won’t help.

  • Call555

    I’m just looking at the Onehunga area and it seems that the higher density, east of the Mall, corresponds with the designated rail corridor (will it ever be built?), I wonder if these are related?. The west of the Mall is largely non intensive. The housing type either side of the Mall are pretty similar. Not sure of the thinking in Onehunga in general. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

    • RHarris

      One observation I’ve seen is where there are the more expensive homes, the residents complain and want to retain the areas character so it remains single homes. Is that pocket the more expensive part of Onehunga? From memory its quite hilly so probably has views of the harbour.

      The Panuku board want to develop the area so it is surprising to see especially close to the train station and town centre.

      • Call555

        On the west side of the Mall possibly. On the east side my side of Victoria St remains low density and over the road high density, seems pretty arbitrary . I’m not aware of any active or vocal groups around my neighborhood.

        • Gibbo

          All the land to the east of Onehunga Mall is fairly flat and lowish density, though there is a considerable amount of cross lease, so this may slow development a bit. Also the maze of lava tubes and watercourses under the area will be an issue as basements are out. We have two tubes under our house at 4 and 4.5m below, both which have water flowing in them and are used as the main disposal method of rainwater and storm water in the area.

          Kiwi Rail at the moment seams determined to hang onto that land and get full rental returns off it. I get the impression they believe it is of strategic importance for them especially if Ports of Auckland was to move north.

          • Glen

            Out of interest, where exactly does the unused (Avondale-Southdown) rail designation run through Onehunga?

            Is there a simple map that shows where it is? The Unitary Plan mapping system may show it but it’s a bit tricky to operate…

          • Bigted

            Glen if you look at google maps satellite view there appears to be a corridor from the Southdown rail yards in a straight line from the end of the lines by Neilson st, across Captain springs to the current Onehunga line. There is a large parcel of land owned by Kiwirail on both sides of Alfred st on the north side of the crossing then there appears to be a line diagonally up to Galway near Grey st, from there it gets lost but move left to other side of Selwyn st and it appears to pick up again across the top of Onehunga high school, along beside Herd rd and over to the SW motorway (SH20). From there is follows SH20 (that is built on or beside the reserved rail corridor) to the NAL.

            Don’t quote me on this other than the part between the NALand Hillsbough rd, from there I’ve heard it goes around the hills down to Onehunga before crossing the Onehunga line and into Southdown.

          • Bigted – that’s my understanding as well.

          • Nick R

            You can see it on the council GIS viewer (not the unitary plan viewer) one of the layers.

            The alignment basically followed a shallow grade path widing along the hills from Mt Roskill to Southdown. Its pretty useless today: indirect and widning, half built out, not very wide, runs through suburban back yard areas and it has about two dozen level crossings.

            IMHO a viaduct along SH20 and over the Queenstown Rd motorway interchange is a better idea, I’d say much cheaper too if you needed to do 20 odd grade separations (i.e. trench the whole designation).

          • That line on that route will never be built. A new passenger only route hugging SH20 to Onehunga is likely, and now more likely to be Light Rail than an extension of our current system, for which there is no viable running pattern anyway, even if there was any sort of business case.

            A two station branch off the western line to Dom road along the western most end of the designation is the only HR possibility now, but that too is probably more likely to be LR from Dom Rd to Owairaka, rather than HR from the western…. though the pros and cons of those two somewhat competing, somewhat complementary, options is an interesting discussion to have… Which has begun in the CAP study…

    • East of the Mall has access to two train stations. Maybe a simpler transport pattern.

      I’d think that the “flatter” area is likely easier to develop for the 5-6 story terrace houses. I think lagoon area has the potential for high-rise residential development along Beachcroft.

  • Peter Nunns

    One (factual) observation about the “feasible dwellings” calculation: That figure reflects the share of dwellings that could in theory be constructed within the zoning rules that are estimated to be *commercially feasible* to construct based on today’s prices for land, construction, and dwellings. So in that last map, there aren’t many red patches out west or down south because house prices are low in those locations relative to other parts of the city. Obviously, as the market shifts, the map will also change.

    Although this is only a snapshot at a point in time, it’s useful as a reality check on zoning. I.E. if you zone for a whole lot of apartments on the edge of the city where there isn’t demand for them, then the feasibility calculation will tend to filter them out.

    • mfwic

      But I don’t think they have looked at individual sites. If you have a great house in the middle of a site you might not redevelop at all as the loss of the building can be more than the gain from land price. As always the long hanging fruit will go first where there is a derelict building or where the price for the new terraces will be high enough to cover the losses. Presumably they have included an uptake factor to try and account for this.

      • Peter Nunns

        The model was applied on a site-by-site basis, and included 3D modelling of the building envelopes that could be constructed under the UP provisions, data on existing building footprints, and data on the rateable value of existing buildings. So if you had a new, expensive building on a large site, that would result in a higher cost associated with buying and clearing the site.

        • mfwic

          Can you imagine the work they must have done then? That is simply enormous to code every building and link it to the value of improvements and then run it again and make some sense of it in the last few weeks since the Panel decided what they wanted to do.

          • Peter Nunns

            I know the people who built the model. They’ve put in long hours throughout the hearings process.

      • Yes, a fact that escapes the ‘leafy suburb’ hand wringers; my street is now Mixed Housing Urban, but will not change one iota as a result because of the considerable sunk cost in the existing large single homes already in place. Short of a Great Fire of Grey Lynn, and the subsequent wholesale opportunity to start over, the number of additional dwellings around here will not alter substantially, and the same is absolutely certain to be the case in much of the eastern suburbs too…

        Change requires a financial benefit to be likely as well as the plans to allow it.

        • MikeM

          Like you Patrick my house is in a “leafy” street in Mt Eden – it is part of a little enclave that is Mixed House Urban near the Mt Eden Village. We have a quarter acre section 5 minutes from Queens St and our ten year plan might be to develop our property as a “Ockham” style development and retire into one of the units. Its still ten year away though. In the meantime my wife frets that our rates may go up as a consequence of the rezoning.

        • GTP

          If that were really the case why bother with re-zoning at all? Surely any property in the MHU that has not been renovated in say the last 15 years would now be candidate for demolition and replacement with multiple MHU style dwellings.

          As soon as a clever architect comes up with a design that fits into the typical section size in the Grey Lynn/Westmere area and meets the MHU design rules it will be all on.

        • Luckily for them, actually.

          Most sections there are a lot smaller than 600 m². Nevertheless I don’t expect the bulldozers to roll in so they can redo the subdivision with larger lots.

          What an absurd situation over there.

        • Matt P

          Exactly Patrick. That’s one of the key reasons we need a LOT of plan enabled capacity.
          Planning in NZ has been very slow in coming to that realisation. The Aussies have been accounting for that sort of thing in their planning for many years.

  • Bruce

    “Hibiscus Coast
    On the Whangaparaoa Peninsula there is a couple of small pockets of THAB at the Marina and a little bit in the middle of the peninsula but overall with it being almost exclusively Single House, there is very little new housing allowed which once again raises many questions about just how important an expensive project like Penlink is when there are a lot of other areas growing rapidly and which also need investment. I’m surprised there was’t more MHS in this area.”
    Without Penlink you can’t have more there so no point changing the zoning. Only with Penlink can you have more on the peninsula. I would expect that if Penlink goes ahead then there will be further changes to create more MHS areas there.

    • Peter Nunns

      Perhaps NZTA and council need to inform the residents that Penlink will result in the peninsula being rezoned. I suspect that what the people out there want is to have their cake and eat it – i.e. fancy new road but no change in the number of people using it.

      • Bruce

        There are always some NIMBYs Peter, there are also a lot of quite shoddy houses there (originally built as baches that were really only intended on being used in the summer) whose owners would love to bowl and build 3 townhouses etc on the site but can’t because it is only zoned for single house. The other factor is that HBC Hwy is going to be getting even more congested in future with all the other upzoning and new areas etc so for those out on the peninsular it is going to get worse for them even without any upzoning so they might as well have the upzoning if it means Penlink.

      • Nicholas O'Kane

        My view too. We should build Penlink on the condition that either a) A special extra rates levy on residents of the Whangapaoa Peninsuila to help pay for it, plus road tolls; or b) Very significant changes to the unitary plan to allow much more density and homes to be built in Whangaparoa (or some combination of a and b)

        I am also much more supportive of a new road crossing across the Harbour if in return we get massive amounts of upzoning and infill housing right across the North Shore

  • One observation. There is very little density around kingland. There is the commercial strip and eden park. All around them is all pale as on both sides of the station. It should be absolutely perfect for THAB. this is part of my continuing impression that the intensification is piecemeal rather than systematic.

    This is a problem because as discussed here today, upzoning does not mean it will happen. Therefore I would have thought the commission would have wanted maximum opportunities?

    • Bevan

      Agreed. And the transport links that Kingsland has are already pretty good and soon to be stunning post-CRL +/- the LRT through NNR/Sandringham. It has zoning for THAB along the Main Street, but should be THAB in a wider radius.

      • Chris R

        I’m boggling that Sandringham Rd is downzoned to SH near Kingsland station. There’s some decent MHU and THAB near St Luke’s (which is well served by buses, though hopefully with some revision of frequency in the near future) but the area closest to the train station is beige, beige, beige. It doesn’t seem to follow their principle of 800m train station catchments. Are we protecting the pristine, old-world character of the streets around Eden Park?

  • Aaron

    Regarding Redhills – the precinct rules say that no more than 5,400 dwellings can be constructed prior to the NW busway and Westgate station being built. So even more reason for the busway!

  • James

    Looking back at earlier iterations of the Unitary Plan and particularly the consultation the Council did before the plan was notified, a key theme is now absent. That theme is design quality or ‘density done well’. The basic premise being that for intensification to be successful the design quality of new development must be improved. This related to internal design considerations to avoid the ‘shoebox’ apartment scenario as well as external design factors such as how buildings relate to the street and public spaces.

    Previous versions of the Unitary Plan had design standards for areas expecting to see higher density development, including (but not limited to):
    – Minimum apartment size/dimensions
    – Design statements and context analysis
    – Frontage controls (relationship with the street)
    – Sustainable design
    – Subdivision design criteria

    The Hearings Panel have completely removed these provisions from the plan, which begs the question – how will Council ensure density is done well?

    We are left with generic, fluffy and at times contradictory policies about which don’t have any teeth and a design manual that has no rules or statutory weight. Basically a status-quo to the operative plans and in some cases a significant step backward (minimum apartments sizes have been removed from the City Centre provisions despite being in the operative plan)

    I have work for Councils and developers in London, Melbourne, Toronto and Vancouver. Each is pushing for intensification but equally requiring a high standard of design. This results in good development that is attractive to the market and helps sell the idea of intensification to communities who may initially resist it.

    We have a significant win with the number and location of intensification, but I would suggest that it is fundamental error in the Panels recommendation to enable intensification whilst staying silent of design.

    • The problem with design rules is, like all rules that will add cost and in the case of minimum dimensions have the potential to distort a market. I expect ‘density done well’ will happen more and more as people on higher incomes increasingly move into terraced housing and apartments. Everyone wants to live somewhere they are proud of and that includes what it looks like from the outside, but those with more money at their disposal are much more likely to demand this or they will take their money elsewhere.

      • Nick R

        Interesting that people call for rules to ensure quality design for housing, but not for any other essentials. There is not quality rules for food, clothing or vehicles. Basic safety stuff yes, like we have with the building act, but there is nothing to stop you producing poor quality food, clothing and cars.

        I wonder what would happen if we did that, make it only legal to sell high quality food and clothes.

        • Bruce

          Funny you should mention food. When going to any food establishment they have health safety ratings. Perhaps the council could have guidelines as to what apartments *should* have but avoid the red tape etc of compliance by not making it compulsory. However if that apartment doesn’t have various features (soundproofing, minimum size, minimum outdoor area etc etc) then it gets a lower rating. An apartment with a D-Grade rating is unlikely to be as valuable as one with a B-Grade. You would still get some cheaper etc apartments but developers would be trying to avoid a D and possibly a C grade.

          • Nick R

            Sure but the food ratings are about safety, hygiene basically. We have safety controls with building already. But what people are taking about is quality, not safety. I’ve been to many A rated restaurants with terrible food, and there are a lot of homes out there that are perfectly safe but terribly designed and poor quality.

          • Sailor Boy

            Most McDonald’s are a grade us hardly say it’s good quality. Just won’t give you salmonella.

    • I think at least in Auckland the size of the apartment is the least of the problems.

      The problem is more that nobody seems to know how to design them properly, and how to build them properly.

      For example:

      🙁 Power sockets in only one corner of the rooms. Nobody does that in a house, there is no reason to do that in apartments either.

      🙁 In small apartments you have to be smart about storage. Start with actually building a pantry, and putting proper shelves in your wardrobe.

      🙁 Sound insulation. Where I live at least the insulation between apartments is good, but from what I’ve heard, there’s a lot of places out there with the dreaded ‘paper-thin walls’.

      But size?

      🙂 I’m in a 38 m² apartment, and I wouldn’t call that too small for a couple. If other people are happy to live even smaller there’s no reason to outlaw that.

      Also don’t forget the surroundings. Apartments and traffic sewers (think Hobson / Nelson Street) are a poor combination.

      • The question is should the sad faces be regulated against, which adds compliance cost, or should the market be left to sort it out – ie. buyers choose apartments with good power outlets and storage. My preference is for the market to decide.

        • mfwic

          Just remember what the market can’t do. The market didn’t get rid of slavery or put Plimsoll lines on ships or get children out of coal mines. The market did remove the roofs from 3rd class railway carriages in France, force opium onto the Chinese and create the three way trade between Africa, the Americas and Europe that resulted in the worst human trafficking in history.

          • Matthew W

            Sound proofing – agreed this should be regulated (and is). Power outlets, size, storage – these things are easily observable by prospective buyers, so dont see the point in any of those being regulated.

          • Agree, the market often the fails, the most obvious being housing in Auckland becoming increasingly unaffordable on average incomes, I just think things like power plugs and shelves should really be left to the market. The government really should be intervening in the housing market by building more houses, thus tilting the supply/demand balance, lower prices will free up money to be spent on design, while greater supply will force developers to improve quality to get the best price.

          • Sailor Boy

            “The market didn’t get rid of slavery”

            Slavery has victims, who are the victims if people chose to live in smaller apartments?

          • mfwic

            Sailor the victims will be the families that will be squeezed into small flats. If we don’t have standards then that shit will become the norm. The government , when we finally shame them into building, will simply say if it works in auckland then why should they build bigger. I am happy to accept 40sqm might be adequate but what about 30? what about 15? There must be a lower limit we can tolerate our slums becoming. But then hey maybe anything bigger than a car is an improvement.

          • Sailor Boy

            “anything bigger than a car is an improvement”

            This is the most important part of your comment. The alternative to building more housing is homelessness. Every retired couple or student forced to live in a 3 bedroom dwelling because small apartments are outlawed is a house fewer for a family. Cheaper products and increased supply within a geographic area at any demand point drag the whole price curve down, not up as you implied. Allowing smaller apartments makes all homes cheaper and provides a last resort that is obviously worse than an adequately sized home, but obviously better than being homeless. That family in a car is in no way helped by people telling them how to live.

          • Matt P

            What’s worse – families being a bit cramped and being less financially pressured, or less cramped and more financially pressured?
            Value judgement I guess. Both can be stressful.
            It comes back, for me, regardless of planning rules, that in Auckland there should be much greater social housing provision, for ‘working families’ at the lower end of the wage scale. So social housing becomes much more than for those at the very bottom of the heap.
            CGT and stamp duties could be plowed directly into funding more social housing.

          • mfwic

            When people can’t afford anything adequate we have a choice. Either we allow the inadequate or we help out, either directly ourselves or by requiring our leaders to collect money off us as taxes and building. Sailor if you really think there should be no minimum then why not stack shipping containers in your back yard and rent them out for $300 a week each.

          • Sailor Boy

            I have a sleep out under 30 m2 that is for rent. The previous tenants loved it.

            We can choose to help the homeless family, we can also choose to help the single student by showing a smaller apartment they can afford because they don’t want to flat.

          • Matthew W

            Preventing the building of small apartments because we think that they are too small for a minimum acceptable standard for a family misses the point. Allowing development to meet the requirements of the market you will lower the price at all levels.

            When I was in my 20’s in Auckland (i.e. a decade ago), the vast majority of people I knew lived in shared flats in standalone houses with ofter 5+ flatmates. Some of these people liked living like that but many would have been happy living in their own studio or in a small two bed apartment with someone else. Allowing these sorts of people to live in small apartments (for example) will reduce demand in other sectors of the market.

          • Early Commuter

            Agree with mfwic. Why do we have public health regulations or noise regulations? Surely the market will decide, and developers who build unsanitary developments will find no willing consumers for their apartments, right? Whereas those who build sanitary developments will be able to charge more.

          • Sailor Boy

            “Why do we have public health regulations or noise regulations”

            To protect people from negative externalities. Allowing small dwellings protects us from good externalities!

      • Nick R

        “Power sockets in only one corner of the rooms. Nobody does that in a house, there is no reason to do that in apartments either.”
        Well they did, in any house built before the 1980s. I.e. “character” homes like villas and bungalows and old state houses. A lot of these still around.

        “In small apartments you have to be smart about storage. Start with actually building a pantry, and putting proper shelves in your wardrobe.”
        Again, not storage to speak of in original “character homes. No wardrobes at all.

        “Sound insulation. Where I live at least the insulation between apartments is good, but from what I’ve heard, there’s a lot of places out there with the dreaded ‘paper-thin walls’.”
        Ibid.

        I would say that a new apartment is better equipped than a lot of the housing stock.

        • Bigted

          My thoughts exactly Nick, my last house had no insulation at all, small wardrobes, no pantry and one single electric socked per room and it was by the door.

          • D’oh. I guess my upbringing in Europe has spoilt me.

            But the thing is, avoiding those frownies are not that expensive. Skimping on the electrical plan is such a stupid mistake, I was quite surprised to see that in apartments built less than 15 years ago. And does anyone know how much extra cost a bit of soundproofing adds? From what I heard that’s actually not that expensive either.

            “should the sad faces be regulated against” — of course not. Neither should we regulate a minimum size, and especially not something stupidly large like 40 m².

      • Yes, Matthew W, I think it’s the hidden, hard to inspect things that should be regulated, anything else let the market do it’s work.

      • Matt P

        I intensely dislike minimum floor area requirements. It’s nanny state stuff, and we’ve had it shoved down our throats by some Urban design nazis for far too long. Who says my son, at university, is going to be miserable and unhealthy living in a 25 square metre studio?
        I lived in a flat about that size in Japan, I was out working hard or drinking, it was a perfect pad. And affordable because it was so small.
        Also, with highly innovative design – flexible storage and furniture – you can do really clever things with floor area dimensions that would otherwise be considered too small.

        Hurrah for no minimum floor areas in the PAUP!!!!
        Again, with real competition, really unlivable crap should be minimised, áll things being equal.

    • Sailor Boy

      I feel like everyone who brings this up is just concern trolling. Our existing stand alone houses are largely hideous, especially those built in the last decade. Why is no one ever calling for design standards for them?

      • Matt P

        I agree Sailor Boy. There is no automatic correlation between Density and visual quality. There are some godawful low density subdivisions and god awful apartments, but there are also great examples of both.
        There are far too many taste police. I love good design but I think it’s really hard and potentially counter productive to regulate for it. If you have a competitive market in medium density, as the PAUP should enable, then all things being equal that should raise quality. I also think generally speaking kiwis are becoming more design discerning. Perhaps the council could also hold annual design awards for medium /high density schemes at different scales as an incentive.

        • James

          You have fundamental misunderstanding of design process. It is not subjective. In designing a development there are certain measurable, black and white design elements that we know work and those that we know don’t work. This is not about aesthetics, its about form and function.

          The notified and earlier drafts of the UP had some really good stuff, much of which had been successfully implemented in the operative City Centre Plan for the past 5 years, without much resistance from developers.

          I also agree with the comments above, that design is equally important for low density development as well, particularly at the subdivision stage. That is why it is so disappointing to see the subdivision design criteria removed.

          It seems that cost is a big issues here, which is unfortunate and inaccurate.

          I have just designed a 20 unit apartment building in Christchurch. We could have upgraded the insulation and glazing for an additional $700 a unit, which would have resulted in significant energy savings, noise insulation and comfort for the occupants. But our client decided against it because it wasn’t a requirement in the District Plan or the Building Act.

          Are you sure you want to leave these kind of fundamentals to the market?

          • That is sad the $700 improvement wasn’t done. This is where a rating system for eco type measures would be good.

          • Early Commuter

            James I’m intrigued. Can you please point me to the literature that shows which design things “work” or “don’t work” in this wonderfully objective fashion

            You won’t mind if I take a close look at their methodology? I wonder what their n is?

            (considering we can’t be objective about freaking medical science, design, seriously?)

    • Brian

      This is Building Act stuff, not RMA.

    • Realist

      Wow – so many apologists for the slum landlords and developers. 40m2 is not generous and the only reason people are trying to justify these sizes is due to the serious market failures we are seeing in Auckland. I think the majority of people, given the chance, would prefer their money bought more space, not less.

      • Sailor Boy

        “I think the majority of people, given the chance, would prefer their money bought more space, not less”

        That’s why I oppose minima on for area. It means more dwellings can be built reducing the price of all dwellings. Also, I really wanted a tiny studio in 2014 but there weren’t enough to meet the existing demand.

        • Early Commuter

          Sailor, what’s the difference between your statement and “I’d be willing to work for $5, but nobody can offer me that much, and my skills don’t make me worth the $15 minimum”?

      • Nope, I’m not an apologist for slum landlords, I just prefer to get to the root of the problem, rather than just tackle the most visible symptom. If people are being forced into living in places smaller than they want that is a supply problem, the solution is regulations and policies that encourage supply, not random rules that restrict a particular aspect of the problem, that then stop those who genuinely want a small apartment.

      • Nick R

        Do we want generous housing, or affordable housing? I live for years in a place smaller than 40m2 and it was ideal for me at the time, affordable, easy to clean, zero maintenance and located in the right area. I didn’t want a generous house at the time, same way I don’t want a generous car now or a generous smartphone. Some time people don’t want more and I can’t see any reason we should force those people to over consume housing they don’t want.

        • Realist

          So if you had $400k and could buy a studio or a one bedroom apartment, you‘d buy a studio? Even if you didnt need the space personally the smart thing would be to buy the one beddie so you had a bigger market come sale time.

          I really cant see how a minimum standard is somehow penalising people with “more space”

  • Nicholas O'Kane

    Anyone know why the area of red hills has had specific urban zones attached to it, while the rest of the area inside the new RUB not yet built on is just yellow? Also how long before we can start seeing lots of houses being built in Red Hills?

  • Kelvin

    It is not always able to build a multi story higher density in Mixed Housing Urban and THAB, because the shading rules restrict high raising constructions on sections are are narrow or small.

    So to get a higher building, it will need a larger section:

    For example to get a efficient 3 storey building, minimum feasible section width is 20m x 20m, which is 400m2, to have the 45% coverage
    To get a 9 storey building, minimum feasible would be something like 70m x 70m, which is 5000m2 for one building.

    In my opinion to build high buildings, it is very hard.

    • Nick R

      If I’m reading the plan properly then height to boundary rules only apply to boundaries with other properties (except where you have or plan to have a party wall), they don’t apply to the street or access ways, parks and reserves. Actually on access ways it applies to the far size of the access site.

      So on the street side you have a three metre setback, but then can go straight up to the limit. On a corner you can do this on two sides. At my house I can do this on three sides as I’ve got a corner site plus a right of way on a third site. Ironically the one boundary I have to step back on is the north facing side where I;m not going to shade anything.

  • Niall Mc Coll

    Looking at Belmont there is a 16 m apartment zone but about a third of that is the primary school. How does that work? Are school fields still protected from shading? If the north side of Bayswater Ave down to the hammer and sickle had been zoned apartments it would probably be more readily developed. A bigger population in Belmont would mean a better Baywater ferry service and improved cycle links to Akoranga, 10 mins verses 20 min by car.

  • James

    Great South Rd from Greenlane all the way down to Otahuhu and across to the new station at Otahuhu should be a combination of town centre and mixed use within the walking catchment of the following train stations greenlane, ellerslie, penrose, and otahuhu. Penrose station is a missed opportunity for mixed use higher density around station rd and I did submit on this, but it seems the land is just too valuable to keep as light industrial, or heavy industry needs the light industrial buffer zone. It’s a shame because mixed use around penrose could really burst this junction into life. I would happily live in apartment there above one of the commercial premises and I can’t understand why the planners think that is so incompatible with the existing land use pattern in the area?

    • Realist

      A planning prinicple that should have applied Auckland wide is Mixed Use or THAB along all arterial roads. This development pattern would effectively “book end” residential side streets creating enclosure and reducing traffic noise. It would also provide opportunity for shops and work places in walking distance. Very much like our older suburbs which we should be learning from!

      • Completely agree with James and Realist above: both points very strong. But clearly the IHP leaned much more closely to current use than considered possible improved use.

        This is unfortunate particularly in older commercial/industrial areas like Penrose and Onehunga as anyone with an understanding of how cities evolve can see the natural pull towards new industrial zones further south for firms there now. After all Parnell and Freemans Bay used to be this city’s industrial centre of gravity; Ford even had a car plant in Parnell!

        Change is inevitable and this particular change is predictable; I would have preferred the plan to enable it.

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