We’ve all heard about the housing problems that exist in Auckland (and other parts of NZ). While everyone might have different views on how to do it, at least everyone at least agrees that it is important we build a lot more homes. If there is one upside to the housing problems it is that is starting to kick some developers back into action after the hibernation period brought about by the GFC.
We have previously talked about a number of apartment developments that have been popping up including:
City Fringe: Urba – Apartment building replacing a low rise office
New Lynn: Merchant Quarter Condominiums – 10 levels of apartments being proposed above a new car parking building and medical clinic development right next to the train station
Manukau: M Central – The conversion of an existing office building (ex IRD) to apartments and retail
City: Sugartree – A series of apartment buildings being developed around Cook and Nelson St.
City: 132 Vincent St – Another office conversion
Grey Lynn: The Isaac – A lower rise development (four stories) that is already well under construction.
In the last few days we have been hearing about a couple more developments getting closer to construction and both of them have been through some fairly lengthy battles to get this far.
The first one is perhaps one of the most well-known developments, Orakei Point. This has surely got to be one of the smartest options we have for development in the city. It is a sizeable chunk of land in a fairly desirable location and what’s more it even has a train station on site. Even with the crappy old trains we have at the moment, rail is the fastest way to get to town even in the off peak which is something that not many locations can boast. The company behind the development is obviously confident that they will be able to get through the last of the issues before the environment court as they are now expecting the first town houses to start construction early next year.
Seven years after the process began, controversial plans to create an urban village in Orakei are going ahead despite continued opposition from residents.
Auckland Council approved the rezoning of Orakei Pt peninsula to a mixture of site-specific, mixed use and open space in 2011.
Extensive delays occurred when Ports of Auckland, Kings Plant Barn, KiwiRail and the developers appealed parts of the ruling (East & Bays Courier, April 27, 2012).
There is still a case before the Environment Court.
So while there could still be changes to some aspects of the development plan, the first 40 townhouses are now for sale and will be built in the first quarter of next year.
But just how much development is planned?
The 4.6-hectare development which covers 228-246 Orakei Rd is divided into two projects, the higher-end apartments in the gated community known as Orakei Point and the rebranded Orakei Bay Village below.
It will consist of 100 townhouses and 400 apartments, along with car parking facilities and retail and office space.
The Orakei Train Station sits in the middle of the proposed village but noise will be minimised by building over the top of the railway.
Mr Knight says the project picks up on the need for intensification in Auckland and should appeal to a mix of people.
The price of apartments will range from around $750,000 to $3 million and the mid-range townhouses will be between $1.3 and $1.9m.
Average densities in the surrounding area are about 2.5 people per household. Assuming the same kind of occupancy happens with these dwellings, it equates to over 1000 people that would be living right next to the train station. Of course the prices mentioned certainly aren’t cheap but if that is what the developers can sell these places for then I don’t think we can object too much. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Park n Ride that exists on site, personally I’m not a fan of having it so I won’t be sad to see it go. I also hope that the developers work with Auckland Transport to really make the station interesting and unique – Munich does this very well.
Of course not everyone is happy
Warren Tuohey was the chairman of the former Orakei residents society which opposed aspects of the development.
“That has always been a nice drive with views of the sea and we were very keen to ensure that it didn’t become obscured by high-rise buildings.”
May I suggest that when driving the best option would be to watch the road rather than the scenery, it’s much safer for everyone involved. But seriously, did they really object to the development partly on the grounds that they wanted things to look nicer while they were driving?
Orakei Local Board chairwoman Desley Simpson shares his concern.
“The good news is the development is of a reasonable standard and priced well so it will fit in with the existing Orakei ward.
“The developer is working within his brief but it concerns me that this will create more delays for commuters who are moving through that section of Orakei Rd.”
I wonder if Desley has let slip the real reason that the majority of the objections to the Unitary Plan are coming from areas with higher valued property. Many of the people in these suburbs see their neighbourhood as status symbols. They believe that higher densities will reduce the exclusivity of their area and in turn make them feel less special. I also note she doesn’t seem to show any concern for the commuters who use the train and who will likely be subject to a lengthy period of disruptions from the construction work.
The second development is way out west in Swanson. I have long thought it was odd that there was not much development on the southern side of the train station however as I now found out, that is because the local community have been fighting against it for 13 years.
A rural village in West Auckland is set for a boost of 330 new homes which were first planned 13 years ago but became caught in a battle between the developer, a residents’ environmental group and local authorities.
Auckland Council has approved a change to the Waitakere District Plan to allow intensified residential development around the Swanson Railway Station.
This follows a successful Environment Court mediation of appeals on a council commissioners’ decision last June on the so-called Penihana North plan change.
The area is fairly well defined in the current Google maps image being the orchard area with the rows of trees in the map below.
And here is some more information about what is happening.
“It’s a nice little village and it will essentially have a doubling of the population,” said a resident of 40 years, Paul Robinson, who has been concerned for a decade on how the land is developed.
Swanson’s role in Auckland’s growth was sealed in 2009, when the former Waitakere District Council accepted an area of 22.5ha for urban development. In 2010, the former Auckland Regional Council moved the metropolitan urban limit to include farm land in Penihana North.
The developer of 90 per cent of the land is Neil Construction. Its chief executive, Grant Brebner, said work could start this year on a mixture of medium- and lower-density lots spread over five years.
The area nearest to the station and railway line was zoned for medium density where the minimum requirement was one dwelling per 350sq m.
He said the lower-density zoning to the south of a through-road between Christian Rd and O’Neills Rd required lots of at least 600sq m, apart from a small area next to the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area which required 1200sq m sites.
“The whole plan change area will produce about 320 to 330 dwellings but this could rise with the addition of more town houses close to the railway station.
“We will ensure a reasonable quality of development going in there.”
Mr Brebner said it had taken 13 years to get the land zoned for residential, despite it having rail and road transport and water and sewerage services.
“It’s illustrative of how things have got to change or Auckland’s housing crisis will get a lot worse.”
Out this way, the house occupancies tend to be a little higher with the surrounding areas averaging about 3 people per dwelling. That means that once again it looks like we will be adding more than 1000 people right next to an existing train station. Mr Robinsons views in this article also seem much more moderate than his previous complaints about it. Back in 2010 he suggested that such a development would become and urban getto.
“[A high amount of houses] will turn the area into an urban ghetto. Swanson is a rural area, and the infrastructure can’t handle that many houses.”
Over 28 years, Mr Robinson has watched development creep across the village. He’s in the Preserve the Swanson Foothills Society – locals arguing the land should be divided into sections triple the proposed size, with an outer buffer zone.
Lastly, I first picked up that this development was happening late last week by reading through the Auckland Transport board report. It contained one other good bit of information about the development.
Neil Construction Limited has undertaken an agreement with Auckland Transport to cost share the construction of a proposed 700m off road cycleway adjacent to the western rail corridor. The cycleway will connect Swanson Rail Station to the new Penihana North residential development. Construction of the cycleway is planned for 2014.
I firmly believe that adding cycleways alongside our rail corridors is a very good thing. Assuming that the development provides good connections to it, it should make it very easy for residents to access the station. It should also benefit some of the existing locals who live along O’Neills Rd by making it easier for them to access the station as it would cut over 1km off the current route.
I’m looking forward to seeing both of these developments get underway.