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.

Sturges Area - 2012 - 1

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.

Unitary Plan Sturges

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.

Unitary Plan Sturges Station

Share this


  1. Glad to hear that there are others out there who are actively saying that they want positive intensification! The Waitemata meeting yesterday was unfortunately dominated by one woman who seemed to be against everything in the UP, and who really undermined the whole atmosphere with her comments.

    However, what I got from the meeting, which I thought should have been VERY emphasised in the presentations, was that most of the new zoning decisions are based on the previous zoning data but with some new rules regarding how that data is translated into zones. This makes sense, as the people putting together the UP will not have had a chance to actually visit every part of Auckland. For instance, there was one lady who was very upset that part of her street was in the terraced/apartment zone, despite the rest being heritage (single house), and the street being a narrow cul-de-sac. Obviously some properties in the street had always had a different zoning, but this may not have been noticed in the previous District Plan. But because they were within a certain radius of a centre, they’d been ‘caught’ in the terraced/apartment zone, and so stood out – and scared the residents, which is understandable.

    From the image above, it does seem strange that the houses near the station are a lower intensification. At first I thought that it was because they had already been ‘intensified’. They are already all semi-detached or town-houses. But there similar ones in the terraced/apartment zone. So I’d say it has to do with how they are zoned at the moment.

    The council staff at the meeting were very open to suggestions that particular areas might need to be re-assessed. I’d say it’s worth putting in a submission or some feedback about this area, including that it needs more of the terraced/apartment zoning, and perhaps some mixed use zoning to allow shops. It’s so handy to be able to pop into the local shops on your walk from the train station to home, I’m sure that the shops would become well used very quickly.

    1. I was at the Waitemata meeting too, and had the ill fortune of getting snared in a conversation with the same lady. As a result of that encounter, I’m now certain that some people illegitimately use concerns about “heritage” as a cover for their own xenophobia.

      This lady quite politely invited us to see the plan-behind-the-Plan: allegedly a social-engineering scheme to replace her ethnic culture with that of mainland China (really) — because where else will a million new Aucklanders come from? The risk of “those people” turning this city into Bangkok was too serious for her, or something like that.

      At some point, either she could explain no more, or I lost my patience for nonsense, so we left it at that. I’ve long been aware of political dog-whistles and euphemisms for othering, but to confront the raw stuff in public discourse at a civic meeting was a novel experience.

      Now I will definitely be attending, submitting and voting as often as I can in favour of intensification and the new compact, well-designed, and yes, even international Auckland city. While I can’t wholly endorse a draft — given the preliminary mistakes, and that in some places I think it doesn’t go far enough (speaking as a Grafton resident), or in others perhaps too far — I do still share the vision. And as a relatively young person, I’m glad to see Gen Z and Sudhvir Singh speak out too.

      1. I was already annoyed by her complete dismissal of apartments, as it seemed she was just completely anti-intensity. But taking your comment into account, I think that she probably doesn’t like her idea of who will inhabit the apartments. I am really pissed off that someone is using such an important part of our city’s future to further such agendas. I wish I had stood up and interrupted when she went off on her rant.

        But I am also really glad that her recruiting attempts backfired. Yay for another assertive, positive, pro-intensification Aucklander 😀

  2. But I was impressed by the Parnell table. They said that they were keen to keep their community interesting and busy. One of the best comments was that they were used to Parnell having many different uses (residential, commercial, retail, etc) and so they didn’t have a problem with that. In fact, it enhanced Parnell. But it also meant that they were really on board with the idea of using the consultation process to improve the possibilities for their area, rather than unnecessarily panicking that the UP was going to result in developers suddenly ripping up character suburbs.

    1. That’s good to hear. I also liked the federated farmers response which was effectively, we know it’s not perfect but we are happy to continue to work with the council behind the scenes rather than object to the plan outright

      1. Yes, I think the people who work with the council on this are likely to get the best outcome. Those who flatly oppose it may ‘win’ on some issues now, but it will probably result in a less Auckland-friendly UP in the long run. And I know that many people have had bad experiences with the council previously, but based on what was discussed last night I genuinely think that the council is trying to make things better. The only concern would be whether those enforcing the new regulations will do so in accordance with the new proposed goals/mindests, or just continue with the status quo.

    2. Parnell is the example that needs to be held up to Milford, st Heliers communities. Heritage and density, mixed use, PT at turn up and go frequencies, great natural amenity on the doorstep, apartments and houses, everything from 1 to 6 storeys. Urban slum, nightmare neighbourhood? Is that why the PM has a place there?

        1. I am aware of that…! My point is that for the residents of Milford there is very little to fear about intensification in their own neighbourhood – if it is done well, as the Auckland Plan suggests. Intensification in Parnell = diversity, choice, high value homes, traditional and modern. Oh, and a single lane road serving it all with regular PT and a high amenity street environment, as I have heard Milfordites suggest is a key reason their ‘village’ can’t possibly take much more development.

  3. Have a look at the single house zoning next to the Sunnynook Busway Station. Someone told me that this plan was drawn up by Planning Grads.

    1. The arguments, for and against, in Milford and St Helliers are making for news but the lack of focus along the PT routes is nuts. This is exactly where the plan should be starting! It makes for cheaper transport infrastructure for a start.

        1. Yep, and they have to share congested roads with other vehicles unless there is some secret AT plan to implement a bunch of bus priority routes. Shall I rephrase and say ‘quality PT’?

          1. I would call a frequent bus 1.5km along bus lanes to a busway station quality PT.

            Not so sure on St Heliers though.

          2. Well my immediate question is does it currently need the outbound lane? Are buses unduly delayed in the evening or do they move quickly? In many places there is the need for the inbound lane for the morning but not the outbound lane for the evening, being that the evening peak is more spread out and less intense. Even the northern busway out of Fanshawe St doesn’t have a outbound lane and does (relatively) well without it.

            It’s been a good six years since I lived in Milford and caught the 863 express home along Shakespeare Rd, but I can’t recall it being clogged.How does it fare these days? If the buses aren’t delayed by traffic then yes, that sound like perfect quality to me.

            My second question is, would it be at all hard to put in the outbound bus lane if it was needed? Seems very simple to turn the eastbound parking into a clearway with T3 to match the westbound one.

            As for some secret plan to implement a bunch of bus priority routes, we’ll there is a not so secret section of the RPTP that says new bus priority will be implemented as and when needed.

          3. ‘As and when needed’. Which is another way of saying, ‘when we are doing a road up’ if current projects are anything to go by. Te Atatu Rd (sth) isn’t getting any bus lanes during the multi million dollar upgrade. Sorry to be a sceptic about this, and it’s not aimed at you by any means Nick, but I’m yet to be convinced that AT are placing as high a priority on PT as they say.

      1. There are no apartments within cooee distance of Constellation Station i.e. on Sunset Rd & there is in reality just one main road in and out of Milford-Shakespeare Rd. No high rises planned at the Smales Farm end of that road which could house Nth Shore Hospital staff plus being across the road from the Busway. This is a plan put together by Planning grads from Papakura it seems…… the voice of the youth.

        1. The young planners I have met are hard-working professionals, and many have had good overseas experience – some returning here especiallly to take part in developing this plan. It’s not helpful to snipe at them I feel – stick to the substance; don’t shoot the messengers.

          1. I agree! And I didn’t know that some had returned from overseas. Great to hear as it implies both experience and genuine interest in making a good plan.
            Kate, this is a draft plan, and not every area will have been looked at in detail. What has been presented is a new way of defining zones, based on the existing data and some specified areas of intensification. If you think more areas should be included (either specific places or general ones such as all Nth Busway stations), then send in your feedback. I certainly don’t think that it puts enough emphasis on areas around train and bus stations, and so I will give feedback accordingly. But overall I think the people involved have had a huge job and done well.

          2. I am not saying these planners have been overseas but someone has to carry the can for the complete lack of intensiveness around major transport hubs!! Sunnynook with single home zoning right around the station. Little intensiveness in Dominion Rd, Gt North Rd Pasadena etc yet well away from frequent PT in beach side Milford 6 storey apartments. Why should we lay people, older, & wiser, be having to spend our time-unpaid for-straightening out the most diabolical plan ever released on an unsuspecting public in the history of Australasia???

          3. Ok, so they got it wrong in some parts. I am in agreement with you on that. And I have already said that I’ll be submitting about the transport hub issue. Yes, it should have been looked at more carefully. But it’s more than we’ve had before so I think we should work with what we’ve been provided and strive to make it even better.

            I must say though that it’s not the most diabolical plan ever. It is no worse than the previous plans, and often better than them. Sure, it incorporates them all so a) it is big and it can be difficult to understand all the aspects, and b) there are areas that will not yet be zoned appropriately, due to the previous zoning. This new plan has been put together based on the data already held by the council. Some of that data may be wrong or in need of reassessment. Also, some of the suggested new ways of interpreting this data may need changing. But that doesn’t mean that the plan should just be dismissed. There are many good things about it.

            Also, we are not ‘an unsuspecting public’.. or at least we shouldn’t be. There has been a lot of information and publicity (although more is always good). I am very grateful for this round of consultation to help improve the draft. So instead of complaining, let’s take action and submit feedback. You ask why we should be spending our unpaid time on this? Well, I think it’s because we want to improve our city, and help to build a plan for Auckland to grow in a sustainable and an enjoyable way. Because we care about having a city that we and future generations can live and work in comfortably, even when petrol prices go up. Because we love Auckland’s amazing location and we want to make the most of it. These are just a few reasons, I can think of many more.

            Finally, I talked to some of the planners and other council staff at a consultation meeting. And yes I had immediate feedback about some points (both about the plan and about the presentation and information available). I have heaps of ideas and I am happy to be involved, but I know my limitations. I don’t know how to plan a whole city. I am NOT an expert, and I am happy to see what the experts say. I don’t think I’m wiser than them just because some decisions were made that I don’t agree with. I do think that I can add value to the process through my feedback, and that’s what I’m going to do.

            And I suggest everyone else out there does the same. If we want intensification at transport hubs (I think we can all agree with this proposition), then lets all make submissions to that effect. Let’s all be involved in improving Auckland. Let’s stop arguing over who’s to blame and start taking ownership of our city’s future.

          1. Smales Farm is all privately owned & the car parks are part & parcel of the building leases. Employment should be concentrated i.e. Smales Farm, Takapuna – not be allowed to stretch all along the main arterials such as Taharoto Rd as this plan does and doing away with valuable housing stock. There are at least 7 or 8 schools within a 3 km radius in this area & yet few family homes..

          2. Why should employment be concentrated? Concentrated employment leads to us requiring arterials.

  4. “Lastly while looking at these maps it also highlights some really odd decisions by the planners.”

    You know what to do Matt and as Penny Pirrit says: Put in your feed back 😉 😀

  5. I agree. I am all for intensification in my area. Intensification brings in more people which supports more infristructure and hopefully will support retail shops other than the $2 mart.

    Ironically not in my specific neighbourhood (away from the main road/shopping area and backing onto a forest reserve) but I wont begrudge it if thats what has to happen – if it does, hopefully the bus frequency will increase.

  6. Indeed there is a patch of mixed housing (not single) in amongst the Terraced House and Apartment Block zoning at Sunnynook, . I wonder if it is something to do with the stream through there, perhaps they need more permeable area in the flood plain.

  7. Some very good points here, which beg the question: just what are the objectives when it comes to urban planning? Do our planners and politicians really know what they are doing, or are they failing to grasp some beasic realities about what makes a place “livable” (or not).

    However in suggesting that there is a population-density “threshhold” for the justification of local shopping, one factor needs to be borne in mind: This is that many such facilities used to exist when population densitites were considerably lower than now, but have since closed. The change which has driven this is not de-intensification, but the growth of car-based shopping and the subsequent car-centric development of retail which has re-inforced the trend. So there are two separate mechanisms at work: population density and car-dependency. On a macro level they are very much interdependent, but a change in either can affect the fortunes of local suburban shopping. Better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, better public transport, or another hike in fuel prices could all help the case for the corner-shop, without first requiring intensification.

    Unfortunately the highly car-focussed and public-transport-indifferent polcies of our present government are sending all the wrong signals about this. There is little place for walkable-shopping in the world of Gerry Brownlee or Nick Smith.

    1. One thing to bear in mind Dave is that back in the days of a dairy and a vege shop on every corner houshold demographics were a lot different. You used to have an average of four or so people per household, instead of around two today.

      So while the building density appeared low, the population density was actually quite high. These days housholds have far fewer people in them, so one response is to build a greater density of smaller dwellings in the same area.

      Of course the shift from walking and transit to car use had a huge effect, but we can just look at the structures without considering their occupancy and use.

      1. important point Nick, it takes more than just intensification , it needs all those other activities that make for liveability, shops, cafes, transport services, it’s about building a neighbourhood, not just an accretion of apartments

        see Flat Bush for a classic example of how NOT to do it

  8. I was thinking about this earlier today (could even write up a quick guest post?) and, I gotta say, I also want to see intensification. Maybe most of us young’uns do, maybe we don’t, I’m not quite sure and this blog and its comments may not necessarily be a representative sample. But I for one am all for it.

    And it occurred to me that, for those of us who are for it, we can’t just stick to this blog, which to some extent is preaching to the converted. We need to go where the NIMBYs are and try to put forward our point of view. We need to go analog to some extent. We should all submit on the AUP, but more than that, we should hit talkback radio, letters to the editor, places that are tradiitonally the domain of older and more conservative folks. Because our views are not really coming across there.

    So I’m going to write up a letter to the Herald for starters, and also, God give me strength, I’m going to try to call a talkback station and survive on hold for however long I need to wait (hopefully not listening to the station at the same time) before I can get my views on there. Does anyone know what would be the best talkback show/ host/ time/ whatever to call in to? Presumably they usually are talking about a set topic at a particular time so I would have to call at a time when this would be not completely off-topic for the show.

      1. Aaargghhh rereading my comment it looks like I was saying I’d do a guest post about “why I support intensification”, whereas I actually meant I’d do one pretty much saying what I said in the rest of the comment, i.e. that we need to take this to the streets as it were (as Patrick did wonderfully at the Greens policy launch last weekend)… but perhaps I shall try to do both!

        And thank you Dr Singh, I met a couple of Generation Zero peeps down in Wellington a few months ago and I think you guys are doing great things 🙂 keep up the good work!

  9. I’m sick of the constant referral to Milford and those towers. Yes, the locals opposed the development proposal and yes, they have issues with 8 storey buildings as well. Yes, they have the mall but I suspect the pushing through of the mall by developers and council over the objections of locals has set the scene for today. That’s a lot of land that could have been mixed use retail / residential at 4 stories.
    In reality Milford could be a NZ version of Manly, without the buildings higher than 8 stories.Takapuna, on the other hand, can cope with a lot more high rise towers and you will find your nightlife and vibrancy for those who seek it. We do not need a Gold Coast stretching along the whole of the Eastern Bays. Why have GenZero not suggested expanding Smales Farm into a compact, high rise community. (In fact the Draft UP appears, to me anyway, to lack focus on PT corridors). After all, it’s right on a busway stop, a 5 minute bike ride to the beach and a 5 minute bike ride to Takapuna. Oh, because of the view. The price of a sea view close to Auckland has been expensive for a very long time and the act of building high rises will not alleviate this – check out the prices for Sentinal apartments with a view. Developers, even if they can, will not build more of these until they can be reasonably assured of premium prices for the apartments. That’s life. Get over it. This occurs pretty much everywhere. It’s not people being selfish, it’s just a fact. The people living in Milford would have paid a premium on their places in order to be there in the first place.

    As for overseas prices near the sea, here’s the first example I came across for Manly (appropriately enough). In reality Milford could be a NZ version of Manly (without the buildings higher than 8 stories). Look at that town centre. Much better than that horrid Milford mall.


    What GenZero need to do is to focus on the whole of Auckland, not just a couple of communities. In a few years the oldies will be gone and you can purchase their properties and probably build whatever you want.

    Now, as for my community, I have already suggested that AT buy the properties near the proposed bus interchange and redevelop them into terrace housing for those who want to live near the bus interchange and motorway. Also, I have no issue with the area around the Te Atatu town centre being 3 and 4 storey mixed use. I want to see lanes and a grid street setup. The issue with intensifying the whole Peninsula is simple – just about every car has to go through the town centre and I’ve already heard calls for traffic lights to get the pedestrians across the road safely (what about a 30km/h zone? “It’s too slow” they say. Jeepers.).

    1. At the end of the day the plan can be changed over time to reflect usage and demographics. If, in 20 years, todays youngsters feel the need to tear down the houses and replace them with 20 storey buildings then there is nothing stopping plan changes at that time. Now, focus on the other 95% of Auckland that can be changed and will make a much bigger impact on eventual accommodation needs.

      1. We are focussed on all of Auckland with our Unitary Plan work, not just selected communities. We are running workshops and discussing local stories around the region and our submission will focus on the plan as a whole.

        Developing on the Smales Farm carparks would be a great idea and is something I tried to bring up.

        What you are reading here is an article in a local newspaper, hence the discussion of Milford and Glenfield, and the reminder of the old sprawl discussions in Long Bay and Okura. Our entry point to the issue was to focus initially on what the newspaper wanted to focus on – Milford.

        1. Fair enough Sudhvir. It’s just getting a bit boring (this blog bought the subject up not so long ago as well) in the same way that it’s boring reading what the likes of the scaremongering tactics used by the likes of Quax and Brewer as well.

    2. I just noticed they’ve included Peninsula Intermediate School as ‘terrace housing and apartments’ :-). Better include that in my submission.

    3. Who wants to live in smales when you can live next to the beach. Attracting people to existing town centres ands king them more vibrant is going to be a lot easier than starting from scratch

      1. And they can live at the beach – there are houses there now, along with Mairangi Bay, Takapuna etc. Also, what you view as vibrant is another persons dislike. There are going to be 2m+ people here. They are not all going to want the same things. I’m just offering up ideas to house them not give everyone a beachside dwelling.

        1. A house in Mairangi or Takapuna by the beach will cost you two million plus. Redevelop those same sites into four or five places and you’ll get one for half a million.

          1. And I’ve already said that I think Takapuna will make a fantastic city centre. And if the prices of the sentinel apartments are anything to go by, your 1/2 million figure is already off unless you are thinking of a small 2 bed apartment. I know of a 4 bed terrace house, in a group of 12 (on 2,000 sq/m) that sold last year for $1m. I was dismayed to see the waste of prime Takapuna real estate by ‘The Block’ where 4 single houses were plopped onto individual sections. Milford has already seen quite a few sections split up, to varying degrees, for terrace houses (with no degree of NIMBY’ism) and infill. Hopefully the mall developer is pushing ahead with the terrace houses around the mall.

          2. Not one person in favour of 6 storey high apartments addresses the thorny question of on-going corporate body fees. This is why the old Franchi & Ion units which Milford is full of, are so popular with the retired – no fees & importantly LEAK proofed.

          3. Isn’t that selfish (a comment that has been aimed at the Milford and St Helliers locals recently) as well? ‘I want a cheaper property near the beach so I’m happy to force your town to change in order to do so.’

          4. High rise apartments are expensive to build actually, apart from the obvious structural stuff they have additional fire regulations, issues with lifts and multiple stairwells etc. The only way to get cheap housing of of them is to increase the scale of the building and the number of units, a la Hobson and Nelson St ‘shoeboxes’ (although not necessarily quite so poorly executed as those). The Sentinel is both inherently expensive and done to a very luxurious standard, not a good example for cheap housing but probably more reflective of what we could get in the core of the Metropolitan Centres.

            I’m much more interested in what happens in the Terraced House and Apartment Building zone that rings the Metro Centres and Town Centres. Things like taking a single dwelling and replacing it with four two storied terraced houses (no body corp there Kate) or a small block of six three bedroom places that are only three stories high. There are many sites where a small block would look basically like a large house or mansion. Low height means no need for elevators, no expensive basement excavations for parking, no additional fire risks to design for etc.

            That’s where the cheaper housing will come from, terraces and low rise flats. Luckily that’s what the vast majority of the planned zoning is intended to do.

          5. Agree 100% Nick. I too think the biggest increase in density is going to be of the same kind of development. A lot of these do have a body corp kind of set up but due to the reduced maintenance, no lifts etc, the cost of this fee is very much reduced and does go a long way to making sure the your investment is well looked after and will keep the entire development up to the same standard therefore (hopefully) ensuring long term investment value is kept.

          6. “A house in Mairangi or Takapuna by the beach will cost you two million plus. Redevelop those same sites into four or five places and you’ll get one for half a million.”

            wow! what market are you referring to to get such a low price? factor in consenting, construction and location location location and you’d be lucky to see one for under a mil

          7. Nick- Gotta take issues with your Maths here. Chopping a 2 mill plus place into 4 or 5 is not going to result in 500k apartments. That only covers the land.. Think north of 750 when a structure is there. It’s like The Isaac building on Surrey Cres- it’s not being held up as a model of affordable housing as a two bedder is 635k…

          8. Geoff, Steve. Sorry I’m probably reflecting on my own situation here with regard to my own North Shore family home so should explain myself better. What I’m thinking about is where you have an incumbent property owner who wants to develop their site, say a mortgage free baby boomer sitting on a wealth of land that they’d rather not sell because they like living there. People like that can ‘double down’ on their land, rebuild it with four or five (ok maybe six or seven) more compact apartments or terraces, keep one themselves, sell the rest for half a mill or so each, pay for the redevelopment costs and bank the difference. In some cases you could simply modify a large house with another level and divide it up, or even just split one structure into three flats.

            So I’m thinking where the land is already owned by the residents who want to liberate some of the capital tied up in it, without selling up and moving out entirely (that would give them no gain, selling a two million dollar property only to have to spend another two million to buy back into the same area). Especially on the North Shore there are a huge amount of older folk living in large family homes that are well beyond their needs but also comprises most of their capital.

            So yes, from the buyers perspective a single house that costs $2 mill today could easily have four or five units costing half a million each within a few years. There seems to be a lot of focus on big developers coming in and buying up sites and assembling them to build apartment blocks, but personally I expect the lions share of change will come from existing homeowners redeveloping individual plots.

          9. Nick, re your post about older people redeveloping large sites, and being able to stay ‘in their own place’ effectively while getting rid of the problem they have of managing the big garden & house. All good, but who will support them – or their children – through this process? I wonder whether Grey Power and other organisations should be briefed on how this option would work? Or that planners/architects could pitch advertising that way. Large scale – for many people – entrepreneurship like this would be pretty unexplored territory for many people.

          10. Helga, there are already construction companies who specialise in this. They enter into a contract where they take your house and ‘borrow’ your land, demolish, rebuild two houses in it’s place and give you one and some cash. It’s totally hands off for the property owners, however the model is only so good when you are limited turning one into two. Not a hell of a lot left once you’ve paid to demolish and build two new houses in place.

            Once you can turn two into four or six I’m sure there will be plenty of companies offering to do it. Hell I might even get into that business myself, seems like a win win for the developer, the homeowner and housing affordability in general!

      2. There may well be keen golfers or netballers who would like to live at Smales. Or perhaps Smales Farm workers or teachers at Takapuna Intermediate. Not everyone has a few spare million to buy near the beach and for some, it is not that big a deal. They might prefer Smiths Bush as an outdoor destination.

  10. As for your example Matt, I’m astounded at the lack of development closer to the rail station. It really is puzzling.

    1. A quick glance at Google Maps shows terrace house developments alongside Sydney rail stations (not to mention groups of shops).

  11. Not only young people are looking forward to more intensification. There are plenty of grotty and noisy bits on Dominion & Sandringham Roads which would be much nicer as sound-insulated modern apartments for me to go to when I am sick of my garden and don’t need so much space any more – but stay in my familiar area. We’d love places with an element of community, but not a retirement village!

      1. Why shouldn’t we be looking at rezoning some of the industrial land to better reflect the modern use of the rail network (less sidings etc)? I mean, if an industrial building is get ragged a developer might decide to level it and create a block of apartments or can that easily be done after the fact?

        1. Not sure if that’s really a random area, it’s a whole couple of blocks between the motorway and the prison. Probably an appropriate area for light industry. Everything west of Nugent St is mixed use, and if someone wanted to put in a block of apartment on the light industrial side they’d just need to go in for a plan change (which currently happens all the time).

  12. I am no longer “young” and to a certain extent I can understand the objections by some to further intensification. Once you reach a certain amount of years, history starts to repeat and you remember the mistakes of the past. I am old enough to remember the last lot of enthusiasm for intensification and some of the god awful results. BUT that is why we need to focus on quality. I have absolutely no problem with good quality developments that enhance the community they are in (ie are well built (not necessarily luxurious) close to facilities and transport and don’t look hideous – OK that last one is probably in the eye of the beholder). I have absolutely no problem with well built high rises in town centres. It just seems logical and great for the health of our local communities. As a “mum”, obviously I am at a point in my life when walking distance to schools is most important but when/if the kids ever leave home, I would be quite happy to live in an apartment/ terraced house closer to the town centre. I hope there will be excelent developments for me (and my children) to consider. So yes, I want intensification in my neighbourhood too. Done well, it shouldn’t be feared.

  13. I bought my house very close to Middlemore station 5 years ago as it provided excellent rail transport to my, then, work in the city. Only a 5 min walk to a dairy, take-away and vege store. 3 min walk to the Middlemore A & E if I ever need it – thankfully not yet! And I got a full sized section with the house which means I can help intensification later on. Also a very large park about 8 minutes walk away.. same to a golf club if I ever take that up again.

    Downside currently – apart from Kings college, the schools are average (at the moment).
    Upside – However, as the Mangere East side of Middlemore (my side) is low cost – solid 1950´s houses on full sections (now) for around $390 – $425K it is incredibly affordable. While living in my house (currently rented while I reside in Switzerland) for 4 years I noticed more and more middle class people buy houses in my neighbourhood and established some very good neighbourly friendships. Some even came over to help me paint my house one summer!

    Intensification or not? Yes, I would like to see more intensification in my area. It would do well with a cafe (apart from the Middlemore hospital one – which I tended not to visit). Probably needs one more park or reserve though so that needs to be pushed for with more people living in the area.

    Other bonuses of the area: It is faster to use the train to Sylvia Park at any time than to drive! Rail to Manukau, City, Newmarket, Onehunga (via change at
    Penrose) and Pukekohe.

    Final bonus: as soon as the electric trains roll on the Southern line I expect to see the housing prices rise in my neighbourhood which will mean another step change in the make up of the area.

    Advice: If you want to live close to a well serviced rail network and own your own house – check out the Mangere East side of Middlemore and Papatoetoe quickly.

  14. Have enjoyed reading this blog and the replies. I’m definitely for more intensification. I currently live in Te Atatu South (close to the motorway) but having lived in Auckland most of my life (40 yrs) I have also lived in Pt Chev, Mt Albert, Sandringham and Balmoral. Having 5 kids ultimately has pushed us out west. We’re content where we are but I do often yearn for the offerings that come within easy distance of the more central suburbs. Good cafes, restaurants, retail shops. The other thing is that all my kids school in central Auckland. .one catches a bus to Remuera

  15. Continuing on..basically I would love to one day see a West Auckland where I didn’t feel like I was ‘missing out’. Like anything intensification will have it’s down sides. . But progress always does.

    1. Well said Agnes. The big name schools according to Metro are lacking in the West. And we have bused our kids to fancier areas, enhancing their areas and further impoverishing ours. I also miss the boutique shopping and their isn’t a restaurant district. Mind you it’s getting better. Hooray online shopping. I can enjoy my Waitakere Lifestyle, laid back vibe, fresh air, trains, room for the kids and dog, trees and have nice things delivered to my door. My local primary school is awesome and the kids are from good families with good values. And there are a few pockets of restaurant greatness, Artisan, The Refreshment Room, Humbug Cafe. And Kohu Rd. Intensification could bring more amenities. But we need good intensification. It’s all about the quality of the build and design.

  16. I attended an Auckland Council power point presentation of the Unitary Plan at the Mairangi Arts Centre last night and the basis of the plan was well explained by Council planner Warren ? – and with great patience. I don,t believe the plan is too radical as far as East Coast Bays is concerned but was a little dismayed by the belligerence displayed by some of my fellow ‘gray heads’ who give opinions before they have done their homework.
    The anti-townhouse or apartment feeling has obviously been engendered in part by the unreasonable Milford Mall owning developer who wanted permission for 18 storeys (Plan Change 34) rather than the 6 (I think) that he was entitled to under the existing regime. He was excessively greedy rather than smart and was rightly turned down by the Commissioners. And I understand he has not yet paid the costs due to the Council as required. If so, this effectively means that at the moment he is being subsidised by Auckland ratepayers! All in all,this episode has done the UP consultation process no favours.
    However the point I really wanted to make was that last nights meeting illustrated the need for a good Chairman to clearly set out at the beginning, the order the meeting will take and the rules of procedure he will follow.
    Regretfully the Chairman last night did not do too well in this regard.

  17. No we do not need this intensification anywhere because we do not need the extra population anywhere because we do not need the environmental impacts of this intensification.

    It is not just dairy farmers who are putting pressure on the environment, it is unchecked population growth in urban areas.

    1. What’s your plan then PD? Mass sterilisation? One child policy? Death camps?

      Not planing for a likely outcome won’t make it go away. It will just make it unplanned for and therefore almost certainly worse than it could otherwise have been.

      If a bigger city isn’t to your taste you should consider moving to a smaller place rather than attacking attempts to have a say in our future.

        1. Why is there a need for rapid population growth in Australia and New Zealand? It is much higher than the rest of the OECD as noted in this article:


          It is also leading to unsustainable development and placing real pressure on infrastructure, as seen to an extent in Auckland. We seem to have a very short term view of immigration, that it is good to keep house prices high and wages low.

          Some developed countries have immigration maxima – it allows for planning to be better coordinated for example and might actually allow for the retention of the existing population, due to employees not easily replaced being from mostly low wage economies.

          1. The vast majority of the projected population increase is coming from natural growth (more births than deaths) as Auckland has a young population. International immigration is only playing a small part.

          2. Quote from a CityScope briefing paper (April 2008) for the RCAG:

            “Between 2001 and 2006 gains from international migration accounted for two thirds of Auckland’s growth…..The high projection suggests that Auckland’s population could grow by 53% from 2006 to 2031, to reach 2,097,500 people. Some 56% of growth would come from natural increase (expected births less deaths) and a lesser, but still substantial share (44%) from net migration”

            40% of Aucklands current population is estimated to have been born overseas, i.e. a controllable factor.

            What is your definition of a small part? 44% from overseas seems a lot to me!

          3. Local migration is only a small part – overseas immigration will make up the bulk, two thirds between 2001 and 2006 for example – often they move to one part of the country and then relocate to Auckland anyway! The SNZ data tends to show NZ born folk moving away or to the “outskirts” at least. Paces like Hamilton, Tauranga etc also have a lot of ex Auckland folk.

    1. Another thing I heard that was interestingly radical in Singapore apartments is that they put ethnicity caps on some buildings to stop ethnic ghettos developing.

  18. I always think- ‘would I be happy living here?’, and in regards to Smales Farm- no i would probably not. It’s a no-man’s land, isolated by the massive Taharoto Road, the Northern Motorway and Northcote Interchange. Until Taharoto becomes a boulevard or the golf course is redeveloped into a high-density, mixed use community to become a destination in itself- directly connected with a pedestrian bridge to smales farm- I would not be prepared to live there. Sure its okay during working hours but overnight it’s just a desolate landscape of empty office buildings, a school, bus station and acres of concrete car park.

    Milford, on the other hand has it all. It has the raw ingredients of liveability- the beach, the lake, the town centre, sea views, the northern busway nearby, and a sense of place. I would be very happy living there, but unless intensification occurs to accomodate the housing demand it will not be affordable for the majority of people.

    1. I cannot believe that there are people replying to this blog that would like to redevelop the Takapuna Golf Course!!!!! The pox on you!!! It is the lungs for the motorway – the next development would then be Smiths Bush. Trees there already dying due to the car fumes. There are no “great parks” on the Shore. Just pocket parks – and most of those are threatened. I understand that the Local Board in Birkenhead are trying to sell some – probably for more high rise development..

  19. As a resident of Takapuna I very much welcome the (greater) intensification proposed for the suburb. The development of our restaurant scene is no doubt a reflection of the population growth that has already occured. Most of all I hope that better public transport will happen.Getting from anywhere in the suburb to the Akoranga interchange is a mission. The poorly planned Fred Thomas Drive is a huge impediment at peak times.
    But what of Milford? I can’t understand why 6 storey development will supposedly destroy the Milford town cntre. Unlike Takapuna, Shakespeare Road provides very direct access to Smales Farm and the public transport that this offers. Intensification around the town centre will undoubtedly lead to services from the town centre being more frequent.
    Let me assure Milfordians that the towers in Takapuna have not destroyed life as most people know it. The Sentinel, Spencer on Byron etc do not detract from the quality of life and in the case of the latter brings considerable money into local businesses.
    I am yet to hear a coherent argument from the people of Milford why up to six storeys is too much. Bryce seems to suggest that its not necessary because it can all happen in Takapuna, or if not, at Smales Farm. The residents society seem to be saying that the magic number is four and therefore it can’t be six. Its difficult to argue against that logic.
    I do support Bryce that there should be greater development at Smales. And as a place to live? For many it may be attractive with the existing cafes, restaurants and bars; and the city, Milford and Takapuna are about 10 minutes by bus.

    1. Takapuna is fantastic and I love visiting friends there and wandering around. As for Milford, I think the combination of the mall being pushed through by developers and council at the time and then the current proposal, which the developer is still looking to appeal, of the 16 storey tower (above street level) and the up to 8 storey towers. Personally, I think the locals could do themselves a favour and propose a max of 8 storey towers on the mall with 4 storey along the town centre and 3 storey apartment / terrace houses over the rest of the suburb. As for pricing on the towers, this little tidbit from the developer:



      At this point we can give no indication as to price guide on the apartments we propose to construct at Milford but suffice to say that given the quality of the location and the overall design parameters being imposed on us by the community and Council they will be considerably in excess of the $400k range you allude to above.

      Whilst i don’t disagree with your comment about “what Auckland needs” Milford has never been a “first home” buyers location.”

      Oh, and seven, yes seven, levels of parking. Hardly the compact, PT friendly Auckland we are looking for.

  20. I’m not sure density is nessasarily too low in your area, but perhaps car culture has meant that no matter how close a dairy is the people are more likely to drive to a supermarket. I live in balmoral, which is not very car centric. Most people here catch the bus often and walk to local amenities even though there’s plenty of parking around and the area mainly fits the single house requirement of your area. I can think of 6 dairies within about 800 metres of our house, and they are all doing ok because when we need one or two grocery items, taking the car to the supermarket doesn’t occur to us. That is why I think increasing density may not nessasarily the most direct way, not a silver bullet to achieve the outcome your hoping for

  21. Now I have one quick question here. If you are pro intensification and all about pro PT and vibrant urban spaces. Why did you chose to buy a house miles out in the sprawling auto department suburbs?

    There are plenty of places in Auckland that have the intensified development you are looking for so why didn’t you choose one of them?

    1. I wondered how long that would take to come up. While I have not problem in living in an apartment, and was happily doing so until we moved, my wife wanted to move out. We both wanted to live near to a train station however so this location was somewhere that we could afford.

    2. Hmm, other than the train station the place doesn’t seem all that you. I wasn’t suggesting that you would be in an apartment but there are plenty of houses and town houses located both near train station and shops. You have GI for example.

  22. When my children flew the nest I moved to a more intensified area. What do I miss? The sound of children playing in their back & front yards. There are none here. How many of us were brought up in apartments in NZ?
    Immigrants brought there children here after the war to enjoy the open space. And we all talk about the cafe culture – ($15-$20 per day?) then say “We want affordable housing”!!!!!!! My heart bleeds for the 1st time home buyer- it was a struggle for all of us.. .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *