While many communities are fighting against the idea of intensification of their areas, I’m doing the opposite as I want my area to intensify. I don’t fear the change and perhaps more importantly can see the benefits it can bring. Part of this post is a based off one I wrote about 6 months ago but with the current debate going on, I thought it might be worth revisiting once again.
I live out west, not far from Sturges Rd and one of the key reasons my wife and I decided to live where we do was due to its proximity to the train station. My neighbourhood is fairly new in the context of Auckland, only having been developed 10-15 years ago from farmland. Aside from the proximity to the train station there are also a number of other amenities very close to me. With less than a 5 minute walk I can reach a large park (good for walking the dogs), a primary school and kindergarten (if my wife and I ever have kids), a community centre and there is even a church for those that want it (not sure which denomination). The one major thing missing is some retail, specifically a dairy (a café would be nice too).
At the moment the nearest place I can go to get a bottle of milk or a loaf of bread is the shops on the corner of Sturges Rd and Palomino Drive. That’s roughly 1,500 metres away (not to mention its uphill too) meaning any attempt to use anything other than a car is going to take a decent chunk of time out of my day. The map below shows this, my house is somewhere in the blue circle with the two road routes to get there shown as red lines.
Next to the school and community centre could be a perfect place for a set of shops that would benefit the entire neighbourhood but there are likely two major issues. Firstly the existing density of housing means there is probably not enough people to support a business. More importantly the proposed Unitary plan makes it almost impossible increase the density by locking the suburb in amber and preventing anything but the status quo. The image below shows the proposed zoning in the Unitary plan with the vast majority being part of the single house zone which has a maximum of one house per section with a minimum section of per 500m².
Now I’m not suggesting that by changing the zoning it is automatically going to make some shops appear, or that they will suddenly become economically viable but why not at least allow it to happen if someone wants to do it. I want my local area to become more vibrant and liveable. I’m also aware that the only real way that it can happen is if more people are able to live in the area. That can only happen by creating enough density to justify commercial developments and that is why I want intensification. Perhaps it’s being a bit selfish but I think it is doing so in a positive way that will not only benefit me but many others. Bring on intensification I say and please don’t lock my suburb in amber.
On this same topic, there is a great article in the North Shore times today featuring our friend Sudhvir Singh.
Resistance to “modest intensification” in places like Milford will ruin Auckland, a climate change campaigner says.
Sudhvir Singh says most people speaking out against multi-storey apartments in Milford are older property owners and retirees.
“I’d love to offer a counter to this perspective, as a representative of the generation who will be inheriting the city we plan today,” Dr Singh says.
“I grew up watching our Torbay community unite over opposing sprawl into Long Bay and Okura,” he says.
“Opposing modest intensification in places like Milford and Glenfield will only drive this type of ugly, expensive, environmentally damaging sprawl as we need to accommodate one million additional Aucklanders over the next 30 years.”
Dr Singh is a spokesman for Generation Zero, a group he describes as campaigners on climate change and “inter-generational justice”.
Apartments near town centres offer youth the chance to live inner city rather than be “exiled” to the urban fringes in areas like Rodney, he says.
Lastly while looking at these maps it also highlights some really odd decisions by the planners. For example why are the sections closest to the train station (red circle) only the mixed housing zone and not the terraced house and apartment zone? Same again for the houses on the northern side of the station, especially seeing that there are some large sections that would be ideal for more intensive development. This area could also be an ideal location for some shops, especially with the number of people already living in the area and the number that pass through the train station each day.