Follow us on Twitter

Orakei Point development given approval

The long running battle to develop land at Orakei Point has finally come to an end with the plan change enabling the development finally operative. Bob Dey reports:

Plan change 260 for Orakei Point – now Orakei Bay Village – won its final approval to be made operative on Tuesday, completing an often acrimonious regulatory journey that began in 2006.

The plan change was originally sought from Auckland City Council by Tony Gapes (Redwood Group Ltd) to develop 5.9ha around the Orakei railway station, at the foot of Remuera, for an upmarket community of up to 1600 people.

Well placed Remuera locals fought the proposal and, in 2009, then-mayor John Banks took the masterplan to a community meeting, then made it a council-sponsored plan change. The plan change rezones 4.7ha to a site-specific mixed-use zone and the remaining 1.2ha to open space 2, enabling a masterplanned “seaside village”. Provisions were structured so the site would be developed as a comprehensive whole – except that, when it was publicly notified in January 2010, Mr Gapes didn’t control the whole site.

The new Auckland Council approved the plan change with conditions in April 2011, but 3 appellants took it to the Environment Court. The council’s Auckland development committee approved the plan change on Tuesday after the court resolved the appeals.

I’ve long thought that the site was ideal for development as it is fairly close to town with excellent amenities including of course an existing train station which will only become more and more useful and frequent with electrification and then the CRL. As part of the development, the railway lines and station will be capped. I’m sure Auckland Transport will work with the developers to make the station something special and unique. There is also to be space for a third track through the development.

Orakei Point - May 2013

In the report to the councils development committee it says.

The overall intention of the plan change is that a development lid be placed over the railway corridor at Orakei Point, and the covered area be utilised for roads, plazas, commercial and residential use with open space and walkways around the periphery. Key features of the notified plan change were:

  • provision of up to 84,000m2 gross floor area of mixed use development, comprising 64,000m2 of residential (about 700 apartments), a maximum of 10,000m2 each for retail and office activities, and a maximum of 1,750 parking spaces
  • maximum building heights, public open space areas, and special tree protection areas
  • assessment criteria particularly focused on high quality urban design, connections with public transport, open space and sustainability
  • a comprehensive package of development controls to limit the overall height and bulk of the built form to within defined envelopes, and to ensure specific features on the Master Plan are achieved
  • a staging table to secure certain public amenities and infrastructure prior to development of each precinct
  • four overlay plans applying development controls i.e. maximum heights, site intensity and staging, veranda cover, and traffic and pedestrian links, to the land.

Following on from the appeals and environment court action there have been some changes to the original decision by the council. They include:

  • a revised masterplan, with smaller buildings, a secondary road network added to the main link road, larger shared spaces and plazas, and increased veranda cover along key pedestrian connections
  • amended order of staging of the development precincts, bring forward a new railway station building and plaza in the first stage of development. These changes do not trigger the need for additional traffic and road improvements
  • a requirement to vest an esplanade reserve with a minimum depth of 20m in Council Item 10 Auckland Development Committee 11 March 2014
  • reverse sensitivity covenants, and new internal noise standards for buildings to mitigate the adverse effects of rail noise
  • greater protection for trees within the special tree protection areas by way of resource consent for works which will result in removal of more than 5% of the canopy of any tree, or the removal of three or more trees, or the significant adverse effects on three or more trees.

The developers have already been selling apartments and terraced houses based on the environment court decision, here are some of their marketing images of what the developments will look like.

More apartments added to our Development Tracker

Some new additions to our development tracker.

City: Nicolas St Apartments – 60 Apartments

Another addition to the Hobson/Nelson cluster of apartments. This one seems to be on a site that has entrances from both Hobson St and Nicolas St. The development has two towers in it.

Nicolas St Apatments

While it’s called Nicolas St, this image is of the development from Hobson St.

City: Summit on Symonds – 45 apartments

What appears to be a conversion and extension of the existing building on the corner of K Rd and Symonds St. Like The Xanadu, this one appears to be targeting baby boomers. In the image below it also suggests that a separate building (the green one) will be built) as part of this.

Summit on Symonds

Mt Eden: Mt Eden Fiore – 120 apartments

This appears to be proposed for the large empty site currently used as a carpark on the Northern side of Enfield St next to the Horse & Trap

Fiore Mt Eden

Parnell: 28 York St – 12 Apartments

12 very expensive but also very large apartments in Parnell.

28 York St

More details on the Elliott Tower

Since it was announced just under two weeks ago there has been a lot of interest in the  proposal to build a massive tower on the empty site that is bounded by Elliott St, Victoria St and Albert St yet there has been very few details released about the building. The tower had previously been consented back in 2007 but the new owner of the site wanted to make some changes. Reader Steve D lodged an OIA request for the new resource consent documents that has just been approved. Those documents provide quite a bit of interesting information, some new images of the building, some good aspects to the building and some not so good ones.

Here are a few new images of what it will look like, there are more in this document.

NDG Centre 1

NDG Centre 2

NDG Centre 3

NDG Centre 4

The good news is that the building will have direct access to the Aotea CRL station and like I suggested in this post, it will be diagonally across the site which will be needed because of the annoying slip lane beside Albert St. It also looks like the building will be accessed off the proposed exit into the Victoria St Linear Park.

NDG Centre CRL LinkIt’s been reported that there will be 300 carparks in the building in six basement levels. that carpark will be accessed from the slip lane off Albert St and gets through the building to the basement on that white box on the right hand side of the image above. What’s more is that number of carparks is actually less than what  was originally consented when the tower proposal which was 481.

The biggest concern is that like the other hotels on Albert St, there will be a large Porte Cochere. When combined with the entrance to the slip lane it’s potentially going to make things quite challenging for pedestrians walking along Albert St. It appears that the plan is to retain the existing footpath on Albert St while also having one through the Porte Cochere. In the image below you can see this and the entrance to the slip lane and carpark.

NDG Centre Porte Cochere

Steve D has also been looking through some of the info and pulled out a couple of interesting/concerning bits like that to minimise the impact of trucks on city streets for the 30 months of construction, it’s expected that most will access the site via the Elliott St shared space. In my opinion this is insane. The current city centre plans call for reducing the width of Victoria St with a linear park. Why not get started on narrowing it down and use the space intended on it for trucks. The linear park could then be constructed at the same time/as the building is nearing completion.

There will also be space for bikes in the carpark along with changing rooms/showers although it appears it will likely be residents only.

This building is definitely going to change the area considerably.

Vancouver and Transit Oriented Development

When it comes to intensification one of the things we have long supported is the idea that it’s critically important that density is done well. It’s no use just building high density on its own and it’s the access to local amenities that will determine just how liveable a place is. As the amenities in an area increase it helps to make development much more viable and transport is one of the most important in that regard. Build a motorway through an area and it’s not going to be very conducive to residential development, build a rapid transit line and you can get quite the opposite.  Vancouver is one of the best examples of this and this video from last year shows the impact over 30 years that the initial Skytrain line has had on the area it passes through.

In 2009 Vancouver built the Canada Line which is another line on their Skytrain network. This article from The Atlantic Cities is about some of the impacts that have occurred along the route.

But the light rail line is also becoming a model for spurring environmentally responsible growth around stations, where people will ride transit more and drive less. The Canada Line has sparked a development boom unlike anything in the region’s history.

The most striking transformation is happening in Richmond, a suburb south of Vancouver. Richmond was a bedroom community for decades. Since the late 1990s, it’s turned into the region’s primary settling point for Chinese immigrants. However, Richmond has still retained the look of a North American suburb, with a highway-like main street pocked with large malls and parking lots on either side.

Now, Richmond is the southern terminus of the Canada Line, with easy transit access to both Vancouver and the international airport. The train runs on an elevated track above the main street, No. 3 Road. Since the rail line opened in 2009, clusters of mid-rise apartment towers have gone up around stations. More are in the works. By 2040, Richmond expects to see 30,000 more people living around the line in its city center, and all the parking lots covered with buildings.

It would be interesting to hear how the local retailers near train stations are doing. But it’s not just Richmond benefiting from the Canada Line:

Vancouver is also seeing a development boom around the Canada Line. Near one station, a 1950s era indoor shopping mall called Oakridge is being redeveloped with 13 new apartment and office towers and more retail space. Oakridge is owned by a subsidiary of the Quebec credit union that is one of the main investors in the Canada Line project.

Elsewhere on the line, Vancouver currently has 12 projects approved, 13 applications underway, and 10 more inquiries. If everything gets built, that will add another 4,100 housing units to Cambie Street, whose previous life was as a sleepy row of single-family homes.

“The province and the city made a significant transit investment and now what we’re seeing is that people are greatly attracted to it,” says Brian Jackson, Vancouver’s general manager of planning. “It’s been a magnet for new development.”

Vancouver got to its planning work a bit later than Richmond did. A Cambie Corridor plan was not finalized until 2011. But even before that happened, land values along the line soared and properties started trading hands.

The city’s major developers say they have one priority when they look at project sites these days – access to transit. “It used to be about location, location, location,” says the city’s most influential real estate marketer, Bob Rennie. “Now it’s transit, transit, transit.”

One of those is this development I talked about a few months agoClearly the Skytrain has been immensely successful on many fronts in reshaping the city.

Over the next few years I think we’re going to increasingly see similar activity along parts of our rail network – although not likely as high and we won’t truly see any major change on the western line until the CRL is built dramatically reducing travel times to the CBD and elsewhere. The only thing that will hold this back is going to be the Unitary Plan however I suspect we will likely be on to a second version by then which will hopefully address some of these issues. Morningside is a good example of where there could be substantial changes if the zoning allowed for it.

On the issue of development Kent has kindly created this map which shows the location of the apartments in our development tracker and also shows how they would relate to the Congestion Free Network which would further open up large areas to vastly improved transport options.

Appetite for development growing

It seems there’s been a flurry of news about intensification and development over the last week or so. We’ve had Len Brown trying to kick start progress on the CRL at the same time as Precinct Properties redevelop the Downtown Shopping Centre, we’ve had the news that resource consent has been issued for a massive tower to go up on the long empty site that bounds Elliot St, Victoria St and Albert St and that will be right next to the proposed Aotea Station.

Now we’ve had news that the long fought over plans to build apartments on top of the Milford Shopping Centre. The Herald reports:

Milford Shopping Centre’s development boss has welcomed an Environment Court decision allowing apartment towers to rise around the property on Auckland’s North Shore up to 12 levels high.

Campbell Barbour, New Zealand Retail Property Group general manager, said he was still reviewing the decision but said he was satisfied with it. “It signals there’s an understanding that the site is appropriate for the buildings and for intensification so it’s a long way from where this all started – that it was not appropriate,” he said.

“It creates an opportunity for the development of apartment living on the Milford site which can reflect the superb locational attributes,” he said, adding that it also supported the view that good, taller buildings would help resolve the city’s housing supply crisis.

Auckland Council officials said the company had not got as much height as it had wanted but a good compromise had been reached.

The decision on the scheme allows the towers on land now used for carparking at the shopping hub.

I’ve always liked the general idea behind the proposed Milford development as it not only makes better use of the large area the mall covers but putting more people in to the area is bound to help other local amenities more viable and the area more liveable for others. The reduction in height from what the developers were initially wanting from ~17 storeys to 12 storeys doesn’t seem too bad and it sounds like the developer is ok with it so it is likely to go ahead. From memory the plan was only for the buildings in the middle to be high with others closer to the edge of the site lower.

This is one of the images the developers were showing on the website from before this announcement so the height obviously will need to come down by a few levels.

Milford Stage 3

Also in the Herald yesterday was this article about how the councils caving to a few very vocal scaremongers is going to have some potentially big impacts on the ability to build more affordable housing.

Community housing providers say the latest draft planning rules would make affordable housing impossible in 85 per cent of Auckland.

Auckland Community Housing Network chairman Peter Jeffries says Auckland councillors dealt “a disastrous blow” to young couples seeking their first house by caving in to an intense campaign by existing homeowners against high-density housing in almost all suburban areas.

The current proposed Unitary Plan, approved a month before last October’s council elections, imposes a minimum of at least 200sq m of land per dwelling in all except 15 per cent of the Auckland urban area – the 5 per cent zoned for terraced housing and apartments, and 10 per cent in a three-storey “mixed housing urban” zone around suburban centres and main transport routes.

Mr Jeffries said that at current Auckland land values of around $1000 a sq m, home-buyers anywhere else would face land costs of at least $200,000 plus building costs of up to $160,000 for a one-bedroom unit or $200,000 for two bedrooms.

“Affordability is thrown out the window,” he said.

Mr Jeffries’ Community of Refuge Trust recently built eight one-bedroom flats in two new two-storey houses on a 1000sq m site next to the commercial area in Otahuhu.

That worked out at 125sq m of land per dwelling including pocket gardens and a shared barbecue area. It cost only $240,000 a dwelling including the land, enabling the units to rent at only $250 a week.

The example used shows quite well the impact on house prices that intensification can have. Sure it isn’t the mythical quarter acre section but then not everyone wants that and what’s more not everyone has the time or money to be able to maintain a section that size. Further not everyone wants to have to spend huge amounts of money on transport from far flung suburbs.

This is one of the key reasons it’s so important to put a submission in for the Unitary Plan and the deadline being next Friday (I need to get on to mine).

Lastly there also been news that Precinct Properties are also the front runner to build the Innovation Precinct at Wynyard Quarter.

Listed landlord Precinct Properties has just announced a big lift in bottom-line profit and that it is in exclusive negotiations to develop an exclusive part of Auckland’s waterfront.

Precinct has just announced that it made $39.5 million net profit after tax in the six months to December 31, up 67 per cent on the previous $23.6 million.

But Scott Pritchard, Precinct chief executive, also said the company was now in talks to work on one of the country’s largest urban regeneration projects on 1.1ha of land where about 46,000 sq m of floors space could be developed.

Precinct’s involvement in the Wynyard Quarter had not previously been disclosed but Pritchard said the company was working with Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) which has plans for a multi-building “innovation precinct”.

Precinct could become the development partner for the commercial offices within the quarter’s Innovation Precinct, he said.

The innovation precinct is just one part of a massive redevelopment Waterfront Auckland are currently working on with a neighbouring section also under negotiation that will include a number of apartments. They’re also working on a new hotel for the area.

Wynard Innovation Precinct map

Here’s some images of what the development could end up looking like (and if it does it would be a very very neat place).

Wynyard Central

Wynyard Central 2

Wynyard Central 3

Wynyard Central 4

Aotea Station & the Elliott Street tower

On Wednesday it was announced that consent had been granted to build  a $350 million, 209 metre skyscraper on the empty site at the corner of Victoria, Albert and Elliott streets. This site is location right up against Aotea Station on the City Rail Link, which will be dug out underneath Albert Street in the block between Wellesley and Victoria Streets.

The map below shows the site’s location in relation to Aotea Station:

aotea-station-entranceWe’ve said previously, including in our submission on the CRL’s designation application, that a pedestrian entrance to Aotea Station through this site is an absolute no-brainer – especially an entrance that lined up with where Darby Street meets Elliott Street so there’s a ‘line of sight’ level way of accessing Aotea Station from Queen Street. Whether it can go straight from Darby into the station or whether it needs to be on some sort of angle probably depends on whether the stupid slip lane on Albert Street is retained or not. But different options for some pedestrian connection through the site could work like what’s shown below:

aotea-linkThe obvious way to provide the link (whether it’s the blue option or the red one) is through some sort of retail arcade at ground level. This is a “win win” situation as it provides a high quality connection between Queen Street and Aotea Station that is flat (rather than people having to trek up Victoria Street) while also creating a huge amount of foot traffic for a successful retail area for the building owner.

A risk that may arise from any delay to the construction of CRL is the possibility that we may lose this opportunity. As Auckland Transport haven’t designated for access to the station across this site, we are reliant upon the goodwill of the developer to provide the connection (although obviously it’s to their advantage due to the foot traffic). But would they build a major retail arcade without the far end of it linking with Auckland’s busiest train station? There may also be helpful synergies of building both the tower and the station at the same time – in terms of underground services, traffic disruption as well as how the two might link together at the Albert Street boundary.

Compared to the dependency of Precinct’s development on the timing of  the CRL this is a fairly minor issue. However there do appear to be some important links between the new skyscraper and Aotea Station – particularly in relation to getting the pedestrian links right. Furthermore, I’m pretty sure the developer of the site wouldn’t exactly want a giant construction site right next to their recently opened hotel during the first few years after it’s completed.

Massive CBD tower announced

One of the reasons Lens suggestion of a $250 million kick start to the CRL is so interesting is that there are a heap of large private sector projects underway along the cut and cover portion of the route and it there is likely to be a lot of value working in with them as they are being built rather than waiting till they finish construction only to dig up the road in front of them for a few more years.

Today Len Brown has announced one of the biggest of these projects with the news that the Elliott Tower has gained resource consent approval from the council (the previous plan for the site had consent however the new owners have made a few alterations). I had heard that this project had been going on quietly in the background so it’s nice to finally be out in the public..

Plans for New Zealand’s tallest skyscaper, to rise in the heart of Auckland, have been unveiled today.

A $350 million 52-level 209m skyscraper has been announced for a CBD site left vacant since the 1980s when Chase Corporation demolished the Royal International Hotel.

Chinese developer New Development Group is to build the tower, known now as NDG Auckland Centre, on the site of a carpark and bungy jump bounded by Elliot St, Albert St and Victoria St.

Auckland Council has granted resource consent for the giant which will only be dwarfed by the 328m Sky Tower. A building consent is still pending.

And here is the image the herald have. If anyone has a higher quality image of what it will look like then please let me know.

Elliot Tower

This adds to a big list of developments that are being lined up in the CBD and particularly along or very close to the CRL route.

“It’s also an example of the major commercial opportunities created by the City Rail Link project. To date the private sector has confirmed more than a billion dollars of new investments along the proposed route, including Precinct Properties’ downtown retail and office development ($300m+) the NZ International Convention Centre ($400m+) and Elliott Towers ($350m+),” he said.

To add to that there are also two or three apartment towers planned along Albert St including this one and a few more on the same block.

When you think about all of the projects planned, spending $250 million to get infrastructure in place to work in with those buildings at the same time appears a pretty good idea. You also have to wonder if Len has been holding this announcement up his sleeve in case his initial suggestion got turned down (which it did). This will definitely add pressure to the government to support the kick start idea.

A Short History of the Highrise

A really neat series of videos from the New York Times on the history of high rise apartments. It also includes some neat interactive features to explore some of the segments in more detail. Click through to watch it.

Histroy of High Rise

Next batch of SHAs to be confirmed

A few months ago the first Special Housing Areas (SHAs) were announced. The SHA’s are the result of the Housing Accord between the government and the council where for specially selected areas the Unitary Plan rules come in to effect straight away and which the council will have a fast tracked consenting process. The first batch of SHAs was notable due to being almost all Greenfield developments, some of which were outside of the existing urban limits (which gets replaced with the more flexible Rural Urban Boundary in the Unitary Plan). In particular two of the biggest SHAs were at Huapai where land for 2,000 dwellings had been included and at Wesley College north of Pukekohe where 1,000 dwellings are to go in.

Later today the second batch of SHAs will be announced however we have the details already. The makeup of them is quite different to that of the first batch with many of them well within the existing urban area while the Greenfield developments are ones that have generally been signalled for a long time so not particularly a surprise or concern. I don’t know just yet how many dwellings are planned for each site but I will update that once they have been announced.

Belmont, Pukekohe, 720+ homes – 90 hectares

This is a pretty big development at around 19 hectares larger than what is proposed at Huapai so potentially could hold many thousands of dwellings. The land is a mix of Mixed Housing Suburban and Future Urban

Belmont SHA

Clinker Place and Thom Street, New Lynn, 780+ homes – 13.7 hectares

This is quite a decent sized brownfields redevelopment and should hopefully be quite popular being within easy walking distance of New Lynn. The land is zoned a mix of Metropolitan Centre and Terraced Housing and Apartment Buildings so we could quite a few apartments here – although the SHA legalisation only applies if the developer buildings with a maximum height of 6 storeys so we won’t be seeing towers like the nearby Merchant Quarter. The one thing that did surprise me about this one is the land to the south of Margan Ave that has been included, is that Housing NZ land?

Clinker Place and Thom Street SHA

George Terrace, Onehunga, 50+ homes – 2.4 hectares

Another brownfields SHA with the land this time being used for commercial purposes. The zoning here is Mixed Use which is the same as all of the commercial land to the west of Onehunga Mall. I imagine this development will be the first of many in the area to be redeveloped.

George Terrace, Onehunga SHA

Hingaia, 2500+ homes – 478 hectares

This is by far the biggest SHA to date (Wesley College is 277.7 hectares) so is likely to end up home to thousands and thousands of dwellings. The land is zoned Future Urban however I believe this development has been talked about for some time.

Hingara SHA

Khyber Pass, Newmarket, 50+ homes – 0.4 hectares

This SHA is perhaps one of the most interesting due to its proximity to both the central city and neighbours to a train station. Of course just a few hundred metres down the road from here will also be Auckland University’s new Newmarket campus. The zoning here is partially Mixed use and partially THAB.

Khyber Pass SHA

Lake Pupuke Drive, Takapuna, 70+ homes – 0.7 hectares

Another redevelopment site, the zoning here is all THAB.

Lake Pupuke Drive SHA

Northern Tamaki, 1800+ homes – 204 hectares

This massive SHA will almost certainly be to allow Housing NZ to speed up their plans to redevelop much of their land in the area. There is a mix of zoning in this SHA.

Northern Tamaki SHA

Royal Road, Massey, 108+ homes – 10.3 hectares

This SHA is next to the McWhirter Block SHA which was approved in the first round and which covers the rest of the green land to the south of Westgate. This area is zoned Mixed Housing Urban.

Royal Rd SHA

Scott Point, Sunderland Precinct, Hobsonville and surrounds, 2592+ Homes – 283 hectares

Another SHA that isn’t a surprise. It is Greenfield development however if the quality of the dwellings holds up to that of the existing dwellings (and I see no reason why it wouldn’t) then this will be quite a good development for the city.

Scott Point, Sunderland Precinct SHA

Silverdale, 876 homes – 91.0 hectares

Another development that has been a long time in planning so no surprises here.

Silverdale SHA

Trent Street, Avondale, 29 homes – 0.9 hectares

I’ve always been surprised by the size of this site. It is zoned for THAB

Trent St SHA

p.s. Auckland Council, might pay to updated your GIS viewer as the Avondale station symbol  is in the wrong place

All up this batch of SHAs seems a lot better than the original ones with a much more balanced mix of brownfield and Greenfield developments – even if the Greenfield SHAs take up most of the area. Hopefully in the next batch all of the SHAs will be more urban ones.

Note: I’ll update this post later once more information is available.

Update: Have updated the post as per the press release from Housing Minister Nick Smith.

Apartment building on the rise

I’ve talked before about how it feels like the city is about to burst back to life with construction activity with so many apartment buildings being proposed all over the place.  A few weeks ago we launched a page to keep track of them all but most are still only in a proposal stage and not actually under construction. But some are and what is probably the first new tower to be built since the GFC is now well under way at New Lynn. Here are a couple of shots of it under construction. The rust covered building it is being built on top of is a multi -storey carpark that is being managed by Auckland Transport. The train station is on the other side of the building.

New Lynn Apartment construction 1

New Lynn Apartment construction 2

This is really going to transform New Lynn as it rises. However interestingly it appears the developers are now selling a second stage that will use the rest of the space above the carpark for what appear to be a series of town houses.

Merchant Quarter Stage 2

I must say it seems really odd having town houses perched up in the air above a carpark. Hopefully though both parts of the development will fill up as from walking around New Lynn the one thing the place really needs is some people. A lot of money has been put into improving public space for pedestrians but at the moment it’s so empty just doesn’t work For example there are two shared spaces but due to the lack of people, cars are using them as rat runs and racing down them doing 60km/h despite tens of millions having been spent to build a new roads to bypass the town centre.

In the CBD another recent development to add to the list is the Fiore II. It is being built above the Wong Doo building on the corner of Hobson St and Cook St as shown below (with the Fiore I building behind it).

Fiore II location

Wong Doo building next to the traffic sewer of Hobson St

However due to the heritage status of the Wong Doo building, it can’t be demolished and so the developer is basically building over the top of it in a way I think look hideous with big square boxes dominating over the historic building.

Fiore II design

Perhaps it’s just a really bad image of what is proposed and the finished product will look better – but then it is on the their website.