Last week we moved a step closer to finally gaining walking and cycling access over the harbour bridge with the councils transport committee giving it’s support to the Skypath proposal. There are still a number of official hurdles to jump through before there is any talk of actually building it, but no good project gets the go ahead that easily. As sure as night follows day, there are always bound to be a number of NIMBYs that have something to complain about. Some NIMBYs are just so opposed to any change that I am surprised they manage to change their underwear every day without getting into an argument with themselves. Sure enough the NIMBYs have started to raise their heads on this project.

In this story yesterday groups on both sides of the bridge have piped up.

Tony Skelton of the St Mary’s Bay Association spoke to the committee about concerns around the proposed entry and exits and questioned proposed patronage and profit numbers.

”Without those numbers then how on earth can you consider this?” he asked.

The project is being privately funded and the numbers have been independently checked by Ernst & Young. So what business is it of a local residents association to oppose the project? Clearly the members of the association do not see the value in the project, likely because they personally don’t intend on using it so believe it will be underutilised.

That contrasts quite highly with the stance of the well known NIMBY group – the Northcote Residents Association. This group has a history of NIMBYism having stopped the initial proposal to have a busway station that serves their area. The arguments these people come up with can really be quite comical. In this case:

Northcote Residents Association chairwoman Carol Brown said SkyPath users driving to the bridge will clog up residential streets. She said it should be connected to the Shoal Bay pathway.

Right … So it will be so successful that people will drive from all over the North Shore, park in their streets, then get out their bikes and ride to town? Give me a break. Everyone I talk to from the Shore tells me that the problem is never the bridge itself, but actually getting close to it. By the time you get close to Northcote point in your car, you might as well carry on all the way to town. The majority of cyclists that will use the bridge will get there by … cycling. If local parking does become a problem then perhaps they could get Auckland Transport to implement a special parking zone, like they are currently trialling across the water in St Marys Bay. These people can really be frustrating at times.

On the subject of NIMBYs, it seems the Milford ones have won in their battle to stop intensification around the shopping mall.

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  1. The St Marys Bay Ass. are very comical. At their AGM last year Andy or someone from skypath came and talked and Tony Skelton rubbished the idea and suggested- wait for it- that barges be moored under the harbour bridge. A cyclist rides on to the barge which takes them across the harbour, not just to Northcote but anywhere they like. If there’s no barge there, they just call one up. I guess the cyclists have to pay for this genius efficient idea.

    They’re the same group who pushed for sound proof motorway barriers that aren’t and Resident parking (which the majority of respondents opposed).

      1. Your welcome Bryce 😛 😀 – Just facilitating the debate here

        Ooooo reminds me Sky Path have released an enhanced presentation (as I put it) as a pdf file on what they were trying to convey at the Transport Committee meeting last week

        1. The bottom link takes you to that presentation (I think it’s the same one that’s on your page. My phone was not playing nice with Scribd)

  2. The Milford project and the residents opposition has been misrepresented – again. The apartments around the carpark have been consented and are not what the locals were unhappy about. It was the height of the towers that were being argued against. There was a phrase that popped up here a while ago that comes to mind QIMB (quality in my backyard).

    1. Exactly Bryce. I’m part of a neighbourhood group that is all about QIMBY.

      And believe me- we’d rather support quality, appropriate projects than campaign against bad ones. Way more enjoyable!

        1. Matt- do some research. The site is Res 7a which means 35% coverage. These people are looking for 100% coverage.

          That alone should disqualify it. It fails 10 of the 16 tests. It is a piss take straw man proposal. Again- do your research. Our group supports Skypath and the CRL among other things.

          Go get angry about smokers or something

          1. Most of Amsterdam has 100% site coverage and it’s bloody wonderful. That development looks fantastic compared to most of the crap on Ponsonby Road. Geoff why does your group not go get angry about big box retail, for example, rather than pleasant 3 storey developments close to the city centre. Your group is an example of one of the things that is holding Auckland back, IMO.

          2. P.s. And if you’re going to rely on Auckland’s existing planning policies to define “quality” then you’ve lost the argument from the outset. Our planning policies are abysmal, absolutely abysmal.

            P.P.s Apologies if I have offended any of you who may be planners, but your profession has almost as much to answer for as transport engineers. Minimum parking requirements?!? Honestly darling.

            P.P.P.s Apologies if I have offended anyone who is an engineer, but honestly, our profession has cocked up big-time and the quicker we acknowledge that and move on the better.

          3. Glad you mentioned Amsterdam. There is an example i wish we would follow. How many 16 level apartment blocks there?

          4. Great that you see Amsterdam as a model. Here are some images of apartment blocks in Amsterdam:





            So you and your group wont be opposing any proposed apartment blocks like these ones from Amsterdam? Most apartment blocks there are 4 or 5 stories high with no back yards.

            Also of course, you will be throwing your weight behind Amsterdam style grade separated cycle lanes, narrowing of roads and 30km/h speed limits in residential streets, juts like Amsterdam?

            I for one would love Auckland to become like Amsterdam but I am afraid that change like that would not suit your group.

          5. Bryce P: “Glad you mentioned Amsterdam. There is an example i wish we would follow. How many 16 level apartment blocks there?”

            You’re kidding, right? Amsterdam is surrounded on most sides by large apartment blocks.

          6. Goosoid, I’m not part of any group, other than CAA (so yes I would love to see Dutch style cycle infrastructure) and a local R&R assoc (west Auckland). Yes, I see Amsterdam as a great example. If we can keep some heritage areas, that the locals there obviously like and value, great. Otherwise, much of Auckland could, and should, be looking at places like Amsterdam and Assen as good examples of high intensity development. I have already, on this blog, pointed to a couple of very fine examples right here in Auckland. 12 x 3 storey apartments, or whatever you want to call them, on a 2,000 sq/m. That fits the ‘high density’ bracket – right?

          7. So to summarise, you love cities that are high density and think apartments are a good idea just not in the area you live in? Um, isnt that a NIMBY?

          8. How do you come to that conclusion? I don’t live in Milford (I thought the fact I’m on a West Auckland R&R assoc would have pointed to that :-)) and I personally think towers can work in the right place including Milford (which could have had a better reception if the developers had taken a reduced height proposal back to council). What I do have an issue with is the belief that anyone who raises objections to a development is a NIMBY. None of these cases like the Milford example need be so extreme on either side (developer won’t adapt plans / residents oppose all development) but a less combative, more collaborative, approach would be better for all involved.

          9. The developer probably couldn’t make it profitable without a certain level of units. Generally with property development you only actually make money off the last 10%. The first 90% cover all the costs and materials and construction. With building over a mall site there would be much higher costs of construction than an empty site, so the number of units to break even will be higher.

            Effectively the major cost goes into the first level, while the profits only come from the last levels. Or in other words an eight story building costs almost as much to build as a twelve story one, but only gets 2/3 the return.

            If you go and say just knock off four floors, it goes from a project that makes a nice profit allowing all the staff to keep being paid and a good return to shareholders for their capital, to a huge loss than bankrupts a company. Naturally they won’t undertake the latter, if it is an option between reduced high and huge loss or full height and acceptable profit they can only push for the full height option. If they didn’t come back to the council with a reduced height proposal it’s probably because they were already building it as low as they could manage without going broke.

      1. Big assumption that apartments can never be quality. This looks like almost the perfect location for a bit of height to me, so I can’t agree with you Q-NIMBYS.
        You don’t have to live in them, they will never shade you, why cant you live and let live? A secure one level apartment directly above the mall with great views would be perfect for some people- especially locals looking to downsize from their big house but wanting to stay in the hood. But somehow you can’t live with that….?

        1. No they won’t shade me but on the other hand, unless I’m mistaken, you also are not a Milford resident. The locals voted. The outer apartments can be built and the towers cannot – at this time. In the future the area will have changed somewhat and the decision does not preclude another attempt. Why not concentrate in Takapuna where there is already a tower and your plan for a direct PT connection? Makes a lot more sense to me.

          1. Bryce- What you’re describing is community led decision making, yes- these apartments, not these towers.

            Another word for it is democracy. AC would rather have nuclear waste dumps in the Domain than community led ideas…

          2. Ah but Bryce it’s not that simple. Density is a prisoners’ dilemma – generally accepted to be desirable but “not in my back yard”. The so-called “towers” were 7 storeys were they not? That’s medium density in most parts of the world. Until Auckland shakes itself of these NIMBYs it will always be a boring city with “unaffordable” housing for anyone who is not 40+.

          3. Now Bryce it is absolutely true I’m not a Milford resident, but I am the resident of an old suburb that has apartment buildings and is getting more and therefore am perfectly placed to help fearfull people see that the experience is without all the dreadful outcomes that they seem to imagine. And that these additional residents in dwellings most suited to support walkable and local amenity lead to considerable improvement and sustainability of local quality of life.

            Anyway all you are creating is an anti-change charter with this preferential treatment for the already-in: priority to the most selfish people with the highest level of entitlement and the most narrow and visionless idea of what comprises neighbourhood quality.

          4. Why is it that you are labelling me as anti-change just because i believe residents should be able to have some say over how their suburbs develop? Why is it all or nothing? Not agreeing with what the developers want to build on one site suddenly makes me ‘anti-development’? I would like to see some mixed retail / residential development in my local town centre (4 storey or so) but if a developer suggests a 10 storey building, and I argue against it, you would be happy to label me as part of the ‘anti change’ movement.

    2. The only reason the Milford Blue Rinse Association wasn’t complaining about the townhouses wrapped around the mall is because they were fully within the planning regulations and didn’t need a consent in the first place. If they could have stopped them too I’m sure they would have had a moan.

      I happened across an information/scaremongering booth they set up in the street one day, and they were very quick to tell me how bad all these new dwellings would be and how the traffic would be terrible and how the wrong sort of people would move to Milford. After a while of their yabbering I said well actually I’d quite like to live in Milford myself, no I don’t have a car, and yes I would like a more compact apartment because I don’t really need a lawn and probably can’t afford anything else. After a few minutes discussion the old matron barking at me accused me of making up lies to infuriate her!

      Sorry to get a bit emotive there, but they were NIMBYs pure and simple, didn’t want anything to change ever. So much for community democracy, those of us who don’t own land in Milford already don’t get a say on the neighbourhood? I may have rented there for three years, but I’m not allowed an opinion on the sorts of apartments I might buy there because I haven’t bought it yet?

      Only the retirees with one foot in the grave get to decide what the community will look like after they shuffle off. Another word for that is gerontocracy, rule by grumpy old people that just want the world to go away.

      1. I happen to know someone who made lives in Milford (and has done for 20 odd years) who would be quite unhappy to be called part of the blue rinse brigade. He also had questions about traffic that the developers (and council) did not answer with any great satisfaction. He is very comfortable with the apartments around the mall. Everyone has a story. If you want to live in an apartment, with no car and a sea view, buy an apartment in the Sentinal in Takapuna. It’s surrounded by great food places, cafes, shops, very close to PT and also a nice beach.

          1. “This five star luxury apartment is northfacing and appointed to a high level with timber flooring, tiled bathrooms, granite bench top and floor to ceiling Santa Fe Monsoon shutters. The crisp clean interior decor creates a point of difference from other apartments. This 80m apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and two car parking spaces as well as a good lock up storage area. The open plan living space flows to balcony to sit on for fresh air.”

            You think young people like Nic and I can afford to spend $600k+ on a luxury apartment?!? Jeepers you and Geoff are out of touch …

            P.s. Sounds like your mate is a NIMBY too.

          2. The Milford apartments were also to be aimed at the luxury market. If you thought you would pick up a $300k apartment with a sea view then I’m not the one out of touch. One of the towers was to be 16 floors from memory (doing this on a phone so cannot be bothered checking). I am not against development but even the council had asked the developers to consider 40m as opposed to 60 +m but the developers wouldn’t agree (not that I can find anyway). Perhaps if the developers had been open to height amendments the project would have been able to proceed? All major change requires compromise, something a few on each side of the argument are unwilling to accept.

          3. The Circle Tower is not a good example Nick. With a land area, not including the driveway from the road, the land area is 4614 sq/m and it holds just 12 apartments.

        1. Bryce P – At $649,000 it would appear (if sold) there is strong demand for this type of property. So you are happy to deny others that because you dont might have to look at a tower once in a while?

          1. Swan, it doesn’t bother me either way but my interest lies in residents not loosing the ability to have a say on how their area develops. After all the next logical step is for the government to dictate to AC that Auckland must develop in a certain way. AC must also have a say in how Auckland develops. Same argument, different scale. I still think Takapuna is a much better site for more towers – at this time.

          2. When people have these conversations I think they need to keep in mind a few realities regarding the current housing market in Auckland. We currently have some of the most unnafordable housing in the world. People want to live and own their own property here, but cant. People are sacrificing huge swathes of their income and putting themselves at risk financially to get a foot on the housing ladder. Bear that in mind when you decide that a few extra towers in Takapuna will do just fine.

            Of course the apartments in Milford would have come with a similar price tag. Housing affordability in Auckland would not be affected by the Milford desicion on its own. But with housing affordability in Auckland, it is death by a thousand cuts. A few more Takapuna high rises wont change this, we need large scale liberalisation of development. But cats like you and Geoff have got your cream, so you dont care right?

          3. “But cats like you and Geoff have got your cream, so you dont care right?”
            Really? I live in a unfinished house (and have done for 4 years) that still needs a bucket load of work – yes hard work, as well as a regular job. We paid $400k for it during the GFC. It’s our 2nd house. The first was a little cottage in Panmure. I’m now 42 and have worked damn hard to get where I am.

        2. That’s the very definition of NIMBY: just fine as long as you go somewhere else.

          The Milford Nimbys must be very glad the Takapuna Nimbys weren’t quite so vocal ten years ago, good thing there are a couple of buildings in the next community along they can shove everyone over too.

          1. Nic, I think it’s time you just accepted that unless you can afford to own two cars and a balcony (essential for sipping GNT and mojitos) then you just ain’t got what it takes to live in Milford. I’m sick of you povos wanting to live close to me … why don’t you go live in, I don’t know, Glenfield or something? That’s what you deserve.

        3. As Stu mentioned in one of his posts (can’t remember which one at the moment), the more places we don’t allow intensification to happen, the more the remaining locations have to have intensive developments. That means pockets with very tall towers surrounded by low density compared to a bit of a happy medium.

  3. Some people just complain, no matter what. They should be happy. Its most likely going to increase their house prices due to the proximity to the walkway.

    The harbour bridge would never have been built in the first place if people like that had their way.

    1. House price increases are not a good thing. It is a big downside of improving a neighbourhood, in my (admittedly minority) opinion.

      1. Disagree. House price increases due to neighbourhood improvements capture the capitalised value of what society is willing to pay to live close to amenities. That in turn tells you a lot about what people value, and what they are prepared to pay for it. People pay more to live close to parks, for example, because it means they can go for a run more often and saves them having to pay for a gym membership.

        1. I understand why house prices go up. But I’m saying it is not necessarily a good thing. I live a neighbourhood which has very high amenity value and has become very expensive over the last few years. It means that rich people move in and none of my friends can afford it.

        2. Which is another good reason to have a capital gains tax, especially on unimproved value – most of the increase in property value isn’t from anything the owner has done, but windfall benefits from government planning decisions – building parks and schools nearby, and not building coal-fired power plants or speedways.

  4. ”So what business is it of a local residents association to oppose the project?”

    To be fair everybody has the right to oppose a project. Regardless of how illogical you think they’re reasoning is.

    Lastly, is there any reason why it shouldn’t be linked to the ‘Shoal Bay pathway’. I don’t really know the area but it sounds like a reasonable request.

    1. I like the idea of joining to the Shoal Bay pathway too — it would make an excellent wlk from St Mary’s bay all hte way to Birkenhead. Cool.

    2. If it ran up the Shoal Bay pathway only, then it would not link very well to Northcote, Birkenhead and Hillcrest which are arguably the most prime catchment for the path. I agree it should link to it as well as to Northcote Point, but I dont think this is what the NRA (heh) are suggesting.

      1. Yeah I agree (that can’t happen oftern ;-), connecting to both is good but I suspect the residents are saying only to connect to the pathway and not the community.

  5. “So it will be so successful that people will drive from all over the North Shore, park in their streets, then get out their bikes and ride to town?”

    That sounds a bit silly, but won’t pedestrians also be able to use the bridge? I can imagine that people would drive to one end or the other and walk over just to say they’d done it and for the views. It isn’t like Sydney where one end is easily accessible from the CBD and the other is an easy walk to North Sydney.

    1. You could easily walk over and catch a Northcote Point ferry back, or vice versa. I could see that becoming a popular activity among tourists and locals alike.

      1. Agreed. But you still have to get to the southern end. It’s over 2km to walk from Britomart, to pick an arbitrary point in the CBD. And it’s a walk with a motorway on one side… not quite the walk through the Rocks that you get in Sydney.

        I think the bridge will receive users from three groups:

        1. Commuters, regular or occasional. I suspect all these will be cyclists, because I can’t imagine anyone walking.
        2. Tourists. Walking for views and “experience”. Parking is not an issue because most don’t have cars. How will they get from the CBD to the bridge? If there isn’t an obvious way then that’ll keep numbers down.
        3. Aucklanders. Walking for views and experience. I’m guessing most will arrive by car and park at one end or the other. Apart from opening day, I can’t imagine there would be enough of these to create a parking problem. The NIMBYs should just suck it up.

        1. Waterfront Auckland is building a proper walkway and cycle path along the waterfront through St Mary’s Bay and Westhaven which will help.

          1. Probably get a few commuter runners e.g. I know a couple of guys that would use it for that purpose currently they often run from about Albany to Devonport then catch the ferry across.
          2. Could be one of those things that tour groups get delivered to. Could also be great place to go with a hired bike.
          3. Most locals who do drive would likely go to Westhaven or Curran St and park there.

          Also if the thing is a success then the council gets a share of the profits which is good.

          1. “Could also be great place to go with a hired bike.”

            That might be an idea for the bridge operator and bike hire places. Thrown in a discount return bridge ticket and a map with every half day or full day bike hire?

        2. If it took off maybe the City LInk could be extended down to meet at Westhaven end providing a PT route for those who want to just walk it and to also collect/deliver walking commuters. Though I guess if you wanted to bus to walk from the walkable catchment of the North Shore you’ve probably already got some options.

          1. Obi- great idea. Did it in San Fran, hire pickup near Fishermans wharf, over the bridge, Sausalito, Tiburon, ferry back. Fantastic ride, very popular. Needs a proper loop back to Devonport…

  6. We have a bunchy of NIMBYs in Redcliffs who have just stopped a great coastal pathway from going between their houses and the edge of the water.
    All they have to do is threaten the council with legal action and the councillors cave in. Who are these people and what are they doing pedalling a bogus concept that they own the view and the foreshore below their houses which is Queens Chain land.

  7. A quick clarification for Bryce. There are no apartments around the mall these are townhouses and the only reason they were consented is that the NIMBY’s could not do anything to stop them. Matt is quite right to say they were against these as well I also remember the “information booth”.

    The opposition appeared in the most part to be driven by older residents fearful of change. If they really want to live in a “seaside village” as some of them described it then they should move to an actual seaside village like Pauanui maybe. It is people like this who hold this city back.

    1. Call them what you want (the definition of apartment is pretty broad and a townhouse to me is a double sided stand alone house. Terrace house is probably a more accurate description if you’re being picky) but the residents that I know there were not opposed to them. Remember, the developers are not doing this to move the city forward but to make money, which in itself is not bad, but lets not pretend that they are proposing it out of the goodness of their hearts. Forcing the commercial consideration of developers above that of residents would create a bad precedent. Developments need to be right for the place and the time. In 10 years the demographic of Milford could be very different and towers may then be deemed appropriate. I also argue that the reasoning behind towers has less to do with intensification but the intensification is a by product of being able to sell the apartment for a greater dollar value due to the view of people who will live there.

      1. And that is the sad thing. In ten years most of the Milford residents will be in assisted living or downsized (to where I don’t know, not Milford obviously), the Unitary Plan will have liberalised the constraints across all of Auckland’s centres, and the apartments will be built anyway.

  8. Stu- “That development looks fantastic compared to most of the crap on Ponsonby Road.”  You’ll have to explain with examples. Most of Ponsonby Rd is Victorian and Edwardian buildings that look as good now as they did when they were built. I guess the “crap” you’re talking about is the Ironbank cast off attached to Allendale House or the 5 year old townhouses near the top of O’Neill Street which are leaking like sieves and covered in plastic at present?

    “Geoff why does your group not go get angry about big box retail, for example, rather than pleasant 3 storey developments close to the city centre.” We do. That’s why there’s no big box in the Hood, traditional shops are the way we like to do things. That should make you happy no?

    “Your group is an example of one of the things that is holding Auckland back, IMO” The extreme end of the Urbanist spectrum is going to have to get along with other stakeholders, especially those representing the community or this whole Unitary Plan process is NOT going to go the way you want it. IMO…

    1. Geoff your taste for all things olde worlde is just that; personal taste, and is charming and delightful. But when you insist on forcing it on everyone by dressing it up as local democracy you stray into delusional mendacity.

      1. When it’s shared by the majority of the locals it’s more than just personal taste Patrick. How many times do we have to hoe this same row?

        Personally I wonder why more architects don’t make an effort to design something that complements its surroundings rather than creating ego memorials to themselves? Maybe someone will try it. It could catch on…

        1. Well architects have a responsibility to their clients [as well as the street], so that’s a lazy accusation, but perhaps the short answer is that they [and their clients] have spotted that it isn’t 1895 anymore and that different constraints and opportunities now shape the built environment. Not unreasonably.

          And no I most certainly don’t like everything new, and do like much that is old, but I recognise that my own taste is not what matters here.

  9. Is this the same St Mary’s Bay Association that argued against Wynyard Quarter buildings of more than six stories in order to protect their CBD views?

  10. Q: If you owned (not rent) an apartment with a view and a developer puts in plans to build another tower next to yours in turn blocking the view and morning sun, how would you feel?

    1. Yes, Bryce, the half a dozen houses that might have been shaded for parts of the day by the Milford development had a point. They could have been compensated if we had a different type of legal setup. As for the other 99% of detractors that didn’t want to have to sit in their living rooms just knowing an apartment building existed in their suburb (not village), I have nothing but contempt.

  11. Oddly noted that Sky-Path have released a new PDF as of Tuesday they plan to use or intend to use in the Strategy and Finance Committee in May and they have also asked for rather extensive feedback to enter dialogue with Auckland ratepayers and help “prepare” for the May presentation but not a squeak here…

  12. The answer to NIMBies is if residents associations and developers fail to come to an agreement an automatic bylaw is enacted that allows the council to place on street campervan/caravan parking for people who want to live on the street. Failing further negotiations another law will allow car wreckers to store car wrecks on peoples front lawns for a period of 3 months.

    This should quickly enhance the need prope negotiation.

  13. Surely this is the point: Good design in the right locations.

    Energy should be spent working on ways to lead to better buildings not just insist that they happen somewhere else, or fantatise that low density Victorian building can go on. And there are models, especially from melbourne and sydney for getting better architectural and urban design outcomes from new buildings that also meet owners and users needs.

    1. Energy should be spent working on ways to lead to better buildings not just insist that they happen somewhere else, or fantatise that low density Victorian building can go on.

      Exactly what we’ve been saying…

          1. No. They should work in with the environment. In terms of materials, form, mass, bulk, set backs- all that architecty stuff. Nowhere have I said “must be Victorian”. I think you’re just arguing for practice now

  14. Sustainable mud brick huts for everyone!

    I liked George D’s comment: “I like it =quality. I don’t like it = poor quality.” Its so true. some people like to live in mud brick homes and most don’t but we don’t have a right to tell people where or how they should live nor decide what is qualified as quality because it is mostly subjective.

    1. Come on Doloras- there are still loads of brown faces round here. You wanna see white bread try the Valley of Death or anywhere near east side…

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