Housing and intensification are by far and away the biggest parts of the Unitary Plan being discussed in public. In many ways it feels that we are heading for a real generational divide. Those that strongly support the plan tend to be young (or young at heart) and they see the benefits and opportunities that intensification can provide. On the other side of the debate, those opposing intensification tend to be at other end of the age spectrum. In these types of consultations, those opposing change tend to be more vocal than those supporting it and this has been the case from those attending community meetings on the Unitary Plan. As you can see from a couple of the photos below, only one age group tends to be represented with the vast majority fitting a very specific demographic.

Photo care of Generation Zero
Photo from Generation Zero
Unitary Plan Pakuranga Meeting
Photo Dick Quax posted on his Facebook page from a meeting in Pakuranga

While there will definitely be some high rise intensification in the major metropolitan centres, the vast majority of intensification that will occur throughout the region will happen through lower rise intensification. By that I am referring to infill housing, town houses, terraced houses and low rise apartments up to 4 stories in height. But there are plenty of examples out in the community of exactly the kind of intensification but it is arguably the last point, multi-story apartments that are causing the most fear. So with that in I thought I would show a few examples of where they exist in the community (some are my own photos, some come from Google).

Just out of shot to the left is a single story house
New Lynn – Just out of shot to the left is a single story house
Pt Chev 1
Pt Chevalier
St Heliers
St Heliers
Newmarket – Photo thanks to Craig

Now some of you may recognise these locations but if you don’t, all are retirement villages. Places where possibly a number of the people in the photos above may spend the last years of their lives.

As people age, many don’t want the burden of maintaining a large section and house. Developments like these ones allow for people to stay within their neighbourhood as they progress through life. This will only become more important as especially as more of the baby boomer generation start to move into retirement. But it isn’t necessarily just about staying in the community, often people move to retirement villages for lifestyle purposes. My former neighbours are a good example of this. They liked to travel a lot, often at short notice so decided to move to a village allowing them lock up and leave without having to worry about their house or gardens.

Obviously not everyone will want to move to a retirement village like these ones, but it’s worth reminding our older generations that while they may be happy in their house now, one day they might be thankful that intensification allows them to stay in their communities, close to their friends and family.

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  1. All of the pictures are great examples of how intensification won’t lead to ugly eye-soars if done properly.

    1. Exactly. One thing I want to know is why can the companies that build these villages get the design so much better than those developing for the general market.

      1. Because under the “license to occupy” model they get to “sell” the units multiple times.
        They have a vested financial interest in building something that is both functional and good looking now and in the future,

        Most regular property developers are only interested in the primary sale, they make their money and move on,
        Retirement villages get to clip the ticket each time a unit changes occupant – and hence have an incentive for their stock to be of good quality…

        1. Quite right greenwelly, although to clarify, in the final photo only the building under construction comprises retirement units, the other two in the frame are largely owner-occupied (as is a third one to the left out of frame). And none of these apartments is exactly cheap (probably none under $1m).

          OTOH, the horrible L&Y apartments beside Newmarket Station are just visible in the left background, which rather supports your second point.

        2. In short, long term money rather than short term. Reflects the structural problem with financing property in NZ – developers and owners take a limited view of the timescale that they want to extract value in. Get away from that and you get better buildings.

        3. Random question: I wonder if you could adapt the “right to occupy” model to rent high-quality apartments to general buyers, not just the elderly?

          Set it up so there is a covenant on the apartments that they *cannot* be rented for anything longer than 5-10 years consecutively. When the time’s up, you leave, but for that period, the apartment is *yours* to a very high degree. Tenants have free rein to decorate or modify the interior of the apartment as long as they restore it to the original standard when they leave (on the German model). Tenants “lock in” a period of time when they guarantee they will occupy the apartment – if they can’t do so, they need to sell the remaining time on their right to occupy to another person, who has to legally assume the same rights and responsibilities as the original tenant.

          Thus, tenants get *total* security of tenancy during their right to occupy period (unless they do something outrageously damaging or criminal), the ability to modify their apartment as they see fit, and a higher quality building. In return, building owners get a guarantee that they can get multiple “buyers” over the lifetime of the apartment, who will be probably be more stable occupants than conventional rental tenants (because they’re legally protected allowing them to be so), and thus the ability to build high quality dwellings that will provide stable income and can be profitably upgraded over time to remain valuable assets.

          Thoughts or modifications to the scheme welcome…

        4. Just sign a long lease much like commercial property. Standard residential in NZ is a 1 year lease or month to month. However in Paris (I think) standard is 3+ years. Total security of tenure during that time based on contract.

          The downside is that you are on the hook if you want to leave early. A Landlord would be happy with a 3 year tenancy agreement with a annual CPI adjustment. Would the tenant?

          Maybe we need 1+1+1 where the tenant has an automatic right of renewal but has to agree to the full year in advance?

      2. There are probably a few reasons for this – they are purpose built for the aged would be one . And another is that if they are not attractive and functional the likelihood of financial failure for that particular aged care company would be on the line as there is currently plenty of competition out there . Perhaps as we progress into the feared future of aged outnumbering the working population there will not be such a need to produce attractive villages as the situation will be the opposite of the current one – competition to buy rather than competition to sell .
        The intensification of residential dwellings in the wider Auckland area will be of a more general nature but would be less frightening to the older population of Auckland residents if they were to resemble retirement / aged care villages . However what I think the so-called ‘nimbys’ are afraid of is more along the lines of is cheap crappy infill and high-rise dwellings popping up all over the show leading to the devaluing of their current properties.Also to live in close proximity to neighbours who are noisy and inconsiderate ( in various ways ) can be quite distressing and have an adverse effect on mental health as well .

        Here’s an idea : build lots of these lovely villages on the very outer boundaries of Auckland and encourage the older generation to sell up and live out there … that would free up a whole stock of residences for the newer / younger generation … just saying ( as the teens among us like to end their bold pronouncements)

  2. Those ones in Henderson are very popular. Centrally located, by public transport, bowls club around the corner, gardens, restaurants, real community feel. Far from “slums” for drug uses and prostitutes like the picture quax paints. The residents sure keep the local cafes busy.

  3. I am trying to convince my parents to consider a takapuna apartment rather than their big home as an alternative to going into a resthome (which I know they dont want to do). They just dont understand.

    1. Patrick, The 3rd photo down is Selwyn Village! And of course the bus goes right through that village with the residents own stop and the odd one is know to jump on for a wee jaunt downtown to see if they can reconnect with a prior life.

  4. There are 2 new ones being built by Oceania that I’ve seen advertised all over the internet recently. One is a few minutes walk from Meadowbank station http://www.oceanialiving.co.nz/facilities/rest_homes_retirement_villages_auckland_meadowbank and just opened a few months ago, and another one on View Road, Mt Eden, on the Dominion Road bus route opening in a few months. http://www.oceanialiving.co.nz/facilities/rest_homes_retirement_villages_auckland_mteden
    Both look to be fantastic example of intensification along transit routes.

    1. Part of me thinks ‘why are we building retirement villages near rail stations, the baby boomers have never been interested in rail. Build them in the suburbs and they can continue using their cars’. I guess we just have to do this for them so they may come to appreciate the benefits of rail.

      I was just having a look at Dick Quax’s website. My gosh has he got a crusade about the unitary plan. Every post he is having a go about intensification. Even criticism of 28 year old councillor Michael Goudie who supports the plan and some good old fashioned older generation ‘bullying’ of this younger man which I remember experiencing myself when I got up to speak at a shareholder AGM many years ago.

      1. “the baby boomers have never been interested in rail” – sigh. Here we go again. Do you just generalise as a spare time activity or have you taken a course?
        Maybe I should give up my monthly rail pass of the last 7 years so as not to confuse your myopic brain? The last train I was on (today) was full of people in your stereotyped imagination of grey hairs. Whereas tonight, every car I saw on Queen Street seemed to be full of teenagers.
        Anyway I’ll leave you to your sweepeing generalisations: it save you having to thjnk, I suppose.

        1. Yes, and my apologies because I am generalising but why no investment in the auckland rail network for all those years? Oh and hey, lay off the personal insults. I don’t have a myopic brain. I’m just frustrated at decades of underinvestment.

  5. Not everyone can afford the on going, forever rising, corporate body fees + rates!!

    The Poynton markets itself as being in Takapuna. It is well over 1km from Milford Village. The land formerly belonged to the Hospital & should never been sold as the Hospital has little room for expansion

    1. Interestingly though the Hospital has been expanding through intensification. They have been consolidating their car parking in buildings rather than having it sprawl around the hospital. That freed up land is allowing them to build more getting better overall land use. What’s more is that the car parking is partially helping to pay for it too.

      1. With a $15m bus station just across the road from the Hospital the nearest land on the corner of Shakespeare & Taharoto should be zoned for high rise/apartment-not
        mixed business

        1. My guess is they are trying to make it a destination (work and hospital) rather than the starting point for the journey. With all suburban public transport in the area feeding into this central hub, commercial makes sense.

    2. residents of the retirement village would be some of the hospitals major clients no? makes sense to have those most likely in need of medical attention regularly close to a hospital.

    3. “Not everyone can afford the on going, forever rising, corporate body fees + rates!!”

      Works out cheaper than the ongoing, forever rising, costs of maintaining a whole house and section yourself. Body corporate fees cover maintenance and cleaning of an apartment complex, considering the cost is spread over a large number of people I don’t see how it could be more expensive than a house where you alone are the one covering all the maintenance and repainting costs etc.

      1. Agreed bbc, many people don’t seem to realise what house and section maintenance is actually costing them (especially when they cost in their time), although some don’t do anything until things start falling apart. So body corporate levies are generally good value provided the residents’ committee comprises sensible people. Of course those levies cover only the building exterior plus common areas, and there are additional costs like lifts, but overall usually good value.

        I read somewhere that the average cost of house maintenance is around $3000 pa, which is probably not far from the average body corporate levy.

    4. another legacy of a certain property development group that uses the public works act to acquire “surplus” Crown land for development, they are also the reason that the Constellation P&R is smallish (no bad thing really)

  6. when I looked at the pictures i thought: “wow there are some nice apartments out there, should go have a look” then I read they’re retirement villages and I felt so old.

    1. Don’t worry Gian. Part of the intention of the post was to show that there are some decent looking apartments out there but that they are only serving a very corner section of the market. If we can get some designs like these available to the general pubic then the perception of apartments would likely change rapidly.

  7. Excellent post, and you make an excellent point. The grey brigade wax hysterical about intensified housing equalling slums. Broadway Park ain’t no slum. Neither is Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Manhattan …

  8. Broadway Park could be a template for intensification: a mixture of large-scale apartment blocks, smaller multi-unit blocks, duplex townhouses, and standalone houses on small sections. Narrow streets, connecting footpaths, communal gardens and sports facilities. Car parking is largely out of sight (predominately underground). And note that it has taken nearly 20 years from being a scrub-covered wilderness to get to the point where the last vacant lot is just being built upon.

    1. You’re right Newnewt, I worked on that project in the early 90s from a utility perspective, but the developer, an American, had to jump through a lot of hoops from the council (not from neighbours as there really weren’t any). Although ownership has changed, development of that last site (the retirement apartments) will see the developer finally relinquishing control.

      Oldies will remember when the top end (near Remuera Rd) was Post Office workshops, while the gully held Railway workshops. That was when it took 6 weeks or more to get a phone connected, and the trains were rattle-traps. Good on Prebble and Douglas for sorting that out at least.

      1. ‘Six weeks or more to get a phone connected’. Yawn. It was for the most part bollocks but was readily taken up by right wing dicks for whom it became a sort of mantra. The rail workshops was actually a small depot.

  9. Meanwhile back in the u.k.-:

    Bring back bungalows! Snobs hate them. No one builds them any more. Yet one in three still thinks they’re the best homes of all
    By Harry Mount
    PUBLISHED:02:06, 23 April 2013| UPDATED:09:40, 23 April 2013
    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2313259/Bring-bungalows-Snobs-hate-1-3-thinks-theyre-best-homes-all.html#ixzz2RIObkFMC

    Battery-hen Britain: Britons now live in the smallest homes in western Europe with the average one-bed new-build the same size as a Tube carriage
    • Report says cramped conditions in UK are making people depressed and ill
    • Developers squeeze flats into less space to make more money, RIBA says
    • Average British home has shrunk from 85sq metres to 76sq metres in 30 yrs
    • Homes in Europe are 15% bigger on average and 80% larger in Scandinavia
    • Campaign started to impose minimum planning standards on space and light
    By Martin Robinson
    PUBLISHED:12:05, 23 April 2013| UPDATED:14:44, 23 April 2013
    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2313417/Battery-hen-Britain-Britons-live-smallest-homes-western-Europe.html#ixzz2RIOl9F4p

    1. And another excellent example of why we should never follow the UK in anything to do with urban planning.

      The best example would be following their disastrous privatisation of public transport on the ideological grounds that competition would enhance service and lower operating costs. In fact it did neither of those (especially for rail) while continental Europe overwhelmingly kept PT in public corporations, just one of the reasons why continental Europe PT is so much better.

      We should be following the great examples in Northern Europe. You can see in that second article that Denmark has 80% bigger housing on average than the UK. And that with the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area having around 2/5 of the Danish population and being one of the densest urban areas in Northern Europe. Not to mention 36% of people cycling to work every day and another 33% taking PT.

      Thanks for the excellent illustration of why we shouldnt follow the UK model of intensification or PT.

  10. What happens in a few years when those arguing against intensification in their neighbourhoods want retirement intensified developments? Where will they be built? Uh oh.

  11. Selwyn Village:

    Very nice place this one, and excellent new apartment buildings being planned for the next 10+ years….The new buildings adjacent to existing (single storey) residential are 3 storey height and the centre of the development reaches 6 storeys.
    For what it’s worth, many retirement villages are “non profit” organisations, so maybe slightly less profit-driven or at least they take time to do things right.

  12. I thought exactly the same. My partner and I are looking for a a two bed flat, we’re both 34. I was doing some work in Meadowbank and drove past the Oceania block. I saw the for sale sign outside and actually made a note of the number to follow up when I got back in the office. Gutted to find out they were for retirees only.

  13. Fred there are some good comment about Hong Kong by the people living in Hong Kong and then there are comment from outsiders.

    p18 Myers et al (1996) are among those who conclude that “after a century of debate, it is still in question whether so-called overcrowding is harmful to the people affected, or merely socially distasteful to OUTSIDERS who observe its presence”.

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