The Unitary Plan is definitely far from perfect but is a start in setting out how the city will develop in the future. I say a start as we will likely to need to be revisit the plan in a few years time to allow for more development as in the current version much of the city suffered the fate of elected representatives getting nervous and trying to appease the NIMBYs as the local body elections loomed (with the exception of the West Auckland local boards who thankfully went the opposite way). This was a point also made by Patrick Fontein at an event I attended a month ago at Construkt.

One of the biggest issues facing the plan is that it contains lots of technical details that most of the general public are simply not going to be interested enough to read about it. So for most the only experience of the plan has been the largely boiled down sound bites from the likes of Bernard Orsman which amounted to scaremongering that massive apartment buildings were about to sprout out of the ground like grass on berms after a few weeks of uncut spring growth.

So yesterday it was interesting to see Herald have run a poll about the unitary plan however in typical herald fashion they have completely misrepresented the results.

A sizeable section of Aucklanders appear to prefer more urban sprawl to higher buildings, despite Mayor Len Brown’s goal of a compact city.

A Herald-DigiPoll survey of 500 people has found more of them deeming the proposed Unitary Plan rule-book unnecessary than those prepared to give unqualified support to more multi-storey buildings and smaller average section sizes.

Only 18.3 per cent believe the plan is the best way to deal with population growth, and will make Auckland a better place to live.

That compares with 28 per cent who said the plan was unnecessary, and that the Auckland Council should let the city grow outwards instead of allowing more high-rises.

But 23.4 per cent supported the plan in principle while believing some proposed changes were going too far.

And 28.6 per cent were undecided, saying they didn’t know enough to comment

So what this is really telling us is that only 28% of people actually favour sprawl. The rest either support the plan as is, support the ideas behind the plan or are unsure. Also note that the figures given don’t add up to 100%, who knows where the missing 1.7% is. The issue of how the numbers are interpreted is picked up on David Gibbs from Construkt.

Urban designer David Gibbs, director of Auckland architecture and master-planning firm Construkt, said the combination of strong and conditional support for the plan, totalling 41.7 per cent, was “not too bad over a very complex issue” but called on the council to do a better job of explaining what was at stake.

“What people are struggling to understand is we are going through quite a societal shift in which almost 50 per cent of our households are one or two-person households,” he told the Weekend Herald.

“So we’ve got a need for 50 per cent of our housing to be for other than nuclear families.”

Mr Gibbs said the type of accommodation suitable for small households, either apartments or terraced housing, were unlikely to be built on city outskirts, where an Australian study calculated the environmental and economic costs of providing new infrastructure and transport links were two to eight times higher than building inside urban limits.

“I think the people of Auckland aren’t getting their minds out of their own suburban situation by thinking: where are our children going to live, or where in fact am I going to live if I become widowed or when the children move out.”

I think David makes some extremely good points. The plan is about setting Auckland up for the future and the big growth that is happening is in one or two person households and many of those may not want the mythical ¼ acre section and big house. Something Dick Quax seems to think we all want.

But councillor Dick Quax, who opposes the Unitary Plan, said the poll provided more evidence that Mr Brown’s claim that Aucklanders loved the idea of the compact city was “a great exaggeration”.

“As it becomes more clear to people what the compact city actually means, they are deciding that really, they don’t want that.”

I guess someone should tell the developers of all of the apartments and terraced houses coming onto the market that they are going to be building things that people don’t want, despite many apparently selling quite well.

It’s also interesting to compare the discussions about the unitary plan and the extremely restrictive zoning with what is happening in San Francisco as pointed out in this article by The Atlantic Cities.

My friends keep moving to Oakland. Gone from San Francisco for greener pastures and cheaper rents, because it’s just gotten too hard, by which I really mean too expensive. Their move signals that something has gone terribly wrong in this most progressive of American cities.

In some ways, we came by the problem innocently. San Francisco had the good fortune to be one of the very few 19th century industrial cities to successfully make the transition to a new, post-industrial economic base. It wasn’t just bohemians who set up shop here—all kinds of entrepreneurs and creative business people decided to call San Francisco home. As wave after wave of older industrial jobs moved out of town, new types of work were created to replace them.

At the same time, San Francisco was a great place to live. Partly from historical inheritance and partly from the work of activists who chose to make the city the focus of their activism, the city remained a walkable, urban paradise compared to most of America.

A great quality of life and a lot of high-paying professional jobs meant that a lot of people wanted to live here. And they still do.

But the city did not allow its housing supply to keep up with demand. San Francisco was down-zoned (that is, the density of housing or permitted expansion of construction was reduced) to protect the “character” that people loved. It created the most byzantine planning process of any major city in the country. Many outspoken citizens did—and continue to do—everything possible to fight new high-density development or, as they saw it, protecting the city from undesirable change.

Unfortunately, it worked: the city was largely “protected” from change. But in so doing, we put out fire with gasoline. Over the past two decades, San Francisco has produced an average of 1,500 new housing units per year. Compare this with Seattle (another 19th century industrial city that now has a tech economy), which has produced about 3,000 units per year over the same time period (and remember it’s starting from a smaller overall population base). While Seattle decided to embrace infill development as a way to save open space at the edge of its region and put more people in neighborhoods where they could walk, San Francisco decided to push regional population growth somewhere else.

Whatever the merits of this strategy might be in terms of preserving the historic fabric of the city, it very clearly accelerated the rise in housing prices. As more people move to the Bay Area, the demand for housing continues to increase far faster than supply.

This all sounds eerily similar to what is happening, particularly in the city fringe suburbs.

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  1. The front page to intro to this story was hysterical herald at its best: “But in the meantime, Len Brown has other problems. Our polling shows Aucklanders prefer urban sprawl to his vision of more high-rise buildings. A5”. Based on this I was expecting to see a leading question (Would you prefer a city covered in Stalinist apartment blocks or the proper and right kiwi 1/4 acre dream?) but in fact there was a reasonably sensible question and a sensible range of answers (on page A6, but accuracy is clearly not a strong point here).

    Given more people answered ‘I don’t know enough about the plan to comment’ than to any other choice maybe the Herald should run more stories on what the plan actually entails than the nonsense we have had from them to date.

    1. That was the thought that sprung to my mind, we just had an election in which all of these issues were being discussed, we now have a new council which is more or less pretty similar and with similar spread of views as the previous one.

    2. Brown lives on a lifestyle block on the outskirts of the city, outside the MUL and a long way from public transport. I believe Palino lives in an apartment in Mission Bay. I don’t see how electing a man who chooses sprawl while rejecting a man who chooses a compact lifestyle can be interpreted as an endorsement of a compact city.

          1. Most citizens do not vote based on how a candidate ‘chooses’ to live their personal life, but on what they credibly promise to do once elected.

      1. Because the election was on the policies of the candidates, it wasn’t a vote on whether you’d want to live in Mission Bay with Palino or out in a lifestyle block with Brown. As such the choice was between someone pro-PT and pro-compact city, and someone who was opposed to PT, has a deputy opposed to pretty much everything and was opposed to a compact city.

      2. Sorry Obi, but could you please point to the policy in the unitary plan that says absolutely everyone has to live a compact lifestyle and all other housing types will be banned? Cos when I read it I’m pretty sure it had plenty of area zoned for lifestyle blocks and various other forms housing.

        1. Some people are upset that their suburbs are zoned for higher densities. Whether I agree with them or not, enough people in Milford objected to high density that the council were forced to withdraw permission for high density development there. The mayor would have more moral authority to advocate for a compact city if he wasn’t living a semi-rural lifestyle himself. Because at the moment it looks like money and influence buys you plenty of space. Therefore space must be a good thing. Therefore efforts to reduce people’s space must be a bad thing.

          1. To the ignorant observer in Milford perhaps, I’ll give you that. But in reality there is no moral authority to be had because there is no moral judgement nor moral compulsion in the matter. No one is saying “all must live this way”, more like “people want to live different ways so lets let them choose”.

            Lifestyle blocks are consistent with the compact city model, as are suburbs. It’s the same old trap that many detractors fall into, assuming the unitary plan means everyone will be forced into high density living, and existing forms of living will no longer be accessible. That’s quite obviously not the case, as the UP leaves a very large portion of the existing city with the current restrictive zoning, and proposes more edge sprawl with new restrictive zoning (affecting, if anything, lifestyle blocks the most). All it really does is say that people can have some wider options of how they can live in a few relatively contained areas.

            If you want moral highground, then start with the mayor’s desire to be less forceful in regulating how people have to live.

      3. Don Brash lives in an apartment as well, with his wife. Anymore details on Palino’s apartment obi and whether its on the market?

  2. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about compact cities and not enough about the benefits of compact cities. From what I’ve seen the sprawl advocates tend to be nimbys more concerned about themselves or expat people from the uk moaning about the “disaster” compact cities were there. Wish people read more and travelled more before they write the letters in to the hearld etc moaning about compact cities.

    1. Sure and over 40% of Aucklanders were born overseas due to the exodus to Australia and elsewhere. These new arrivals move for lifestyle reasons (definitely not the wages), so why would they want to move across the world to live in soviet style apartments like those on Quay Street? The developments/transport changes to date have hardly been to a Bilbao or Portland etc standard, so some of the fear is justified. The articles play on this – they are tabloid these days after all.

          1. You’re missing the point that a lot of immigration to Auckland is of people who are used to living in lively cities and have no desire to move out into a suburb that is only accessible by car. All the young professionals I know from overseas living in Auckland look specifically for nice apartments in the inner-city areas. So my comment was referring to the incorrect assertion that anyone moving to Auckland wants to live in a freestanding house.

          2. @bbc If you don’t want people to mischaracterise dense housing as soviet style tenements or whatever than you really shouldn’t call the suburbs ‘slums’. Many people prefer the burbs and there are plenty who also like apartments. They are both perfectly legitimate ways to live and I think everyone should respect that.

          3. I agree with you Frank E, I was responding like with like in regards to PMS’ comment about the apartment towers being somehow soviet style.

  3. The San Francisco/Seattle comparison is a bit bogus. San Francisco may be unwise in refusing further density increases, but pretty much every neighbourhood in San Francisco has a higher population density than pretty much every neighbourhood in Seattle.

    Seattle only started to infill about twenty years ago. San Francisco has been dense for over a century.

    1. The example of San Francisco is relevant as while it may currently be more dense, it has made it really difficult to develop and therefore instead of natural intensification, that development is going elsewhere

  4. San Francisco has areas that are probably of international heritage significance and should be preserved. But it also has a heap of ex industrial area close to downtown that could be turned into high rise housing.

  5. I remember reading the AUP on the RMA stating the need for efficient use of land with the least cost of providing infrastructure – I think the RMA states it this specifically.

  6. Yes I read the article yesterday and wondered if you’d do a posting on it Matt because I was also wondering how 28% polled saying “It’s unncessary and the council should let the country grow outwards instead of allowing more high-rise” is a statistic that should infer that “Out better than up for city, say many in poll” is a justified heading for the poll results.

    I find many of Mathew Delearney’s articles articles to be interesting but I don’t think I’d employ him to do analysis for me.

    Still let’s not let poll results get in the way of the Herald’s point of view.

    1. Yes that is what the herald specialise in, while the article may technically be correct, the way it is put together makes it appear at first glance to be saying the majority and that is the issue I have. I do know Mathew a little bit and my feeling is that he is generally ok but it is his editors that are calling the shots. As an example they refuse to let him cover the what is happening with the electric trains despite him wanting too.

      1. They’ve written it in such a way that it’s technically correct, but spun so as to appear that Aucklanders don’t want sprawl. That would appear to be the opposite of what the figures say, to the point of being deliberately unbalanced.

        1. Can I suggest that someone lays a complaint with the editors and then, if unsuccessful, complains to the press council?

          1. Wouldn’t mind having a stab at it if I wasn’t travelling atm. I’ll re-read the story when I have more time – phrases like “unfazed by the findings” and what I would consider the misrepresentation of “many” make it a biased article, but I’m unsure if the press council would find anything worthy of censure. A query to the editor mightn’t go astray, though.

    1. For context, that five-yearly survey is the only time our government collects information about the 750,000 or so disabled New Zealanders. Misleading media about a key aspect is just shabby, to be charitable.

  7. I find the fact that a high density, high public transport availability Auckland means that my teenage children are more likely to survive through that period of their lives when accidents, and especially traffic accidents are the highest cause of death. My teenage children do not drive although they are old enough to get a licence. This is a concious decision on their part to avoid risks and not be directly responsible for burning petrochemicals. Any improvements in public transport are welcomed by my children and I see those improvemetns as increasing my chances of being a grandad.

    In a letter to the Herald today Phillip G. Hayward from Naenae states that:

    “Brown’s whole platform, compact city planning and massive public transport investment, is inherently destructive of a city’s future and riddled with potential for corruption: the only winners are the property investment and finance sectors. These policies deliver unaffordable housing, traffic congestion, economic stagnation, ballooning public and private debt, and social stress due to housing inequality. Low-quality , overcrowded and unhealthy housing becomes a crisis. We only need to look at what similar policies over six decades have done to UK cities. Voters are grossly misinformed.”

    Wow. Do you think he believes any of this? Where does he get facts to base his arguments?

    I note that in the US the states with the more compact cities, lower car mileage and interestingly, democrat majorities, have lower death rates . See:

    I also note that European cities which are more dense, have better public transport and where drivers do lower mileages have lower death rates than the US. See:

    I can’t see where the property investment and finance sectors do any better in a dense city than in a sprawling city and in many respects that have been covered in this blog, the denser city produces results completely opposite to the arguments of Phillip Hayward.

    It is sad that people who seem to believe the sort of arguments of Mr Hayward are in the present Council and are trying to reduce density and have worked to reduce public transport improvements. One such local politician has a son that has a bad tendency to be the driver involved in serious road crashes and the Herald reports him as being in hospital after a crash yesterday If I were that politician I would be working as hard as possible to increase housing density and public transport in order to create a city where my son didn’t have to drive, or drive so much, and therefore I would increase the chances of having grandchildren. Maybe someone needs to explain this to him.

  8. Why don’t all you people that hail density of European cities go live in one? I am not trying to be rude or offensive but it seems unless Auckland is going to turn into a compact city of apartment blocks, terraced housing, bike lanes, and train sets you will never be happy.
    Plenty of Aucklanders seems quite happy to live in or dream of a 1/4 acre section in the suburbs where kids can play cricket on the lawn or even have a pool. I believe if the herald ran a poll. Would you rather live in a 4 bedroom home in a quiet street within half an hours drive of work or a 2 bedroom apartment on level 30 of an ‘affordable’ apartment block half an hour cycle from work, the majority would go for suburbia.
    Remember, you can’t pick and choose which topics of public opinion you accept as representative, on a seperate thread you are hailing a herald poll as proof Aucklanders want PT.
    Carefull of the double standards.

    1. I think you miss the point. The point is creating a balance and people not understanding the consequences of continually sprawl. The clean green image people rave about being destroyed.

      I’m borderline thinking of moving back overseas after coming back here and remembering how dull life is here with people living in cars. Half my friends have left for good and they are all highly skilled. I would rather people stay than chase them out by having a city thinking backwards.

    2. Would you rather live in a 4 bedroom home in a quiet street within half an hours drive of work or a 2 bedroom apartment on level 30 of an ‘affordable’ apartment block half an hour cycle from work, the majority would go for suburbia.

      Jon, what a completely misleading question. It’s like asking “would you prefer a Toyota or a Ferrari?” Of course most people will choose the Ferrari, but the question is pointless. What you could be asking is, “if you had $10k, would you spend it on the best Toyota you could buy for that money or the best Ferrari?”

      The point is that providing everyone with large, standalone houses in inner areas at an affordable price is just impossible as the city grows.

      1. Indeed, it’s a complete straman question. For a start I’m wondering quite where these new suburban areas would be to give a thirty minute drive to work. The current new suburbs are being built at Silverdale, Kumeu and Hingaia. There are very few places you could drive to from there in 30 minutes at peak times, certainly not to where most of Auckland’s jobs are. Secondly I’m wondering where these new 30 story apartment towers are supposed to go, because the unitary plan doesn’t allow them anywhere they can’t already go.

        Perhaps a more appropriate question is: would you rather pay for an $850,000 standalone house that is an hour’s drive from work on a good day ( and no option but to drive everywhere, or $400,000 for a three bedroom terraced house in an established suburb only a few kilometres away from many employment choices where you have the option of driving, catching public transport or cycling.

        I would suggest most would prefer to skip paying a grand a week in mortgage payments for the luxury of spending ten hours a week in traffic, if they had the choice of a good alternative. Thats the point of no longer making terraces, townhouses and low rise apartments illegal in the suburbs, so that people can actually have a choice.

        Pretty funny comment coming from someone who lives in Europe anyway…

    3. What planet are you on? I’ll see if I can answer some of your wild misrepresentations and baffling ad absurdums one by one:

      1) “unless Auckland is going to turn into a compact city of apartment blocks, terraced housing, bike lanes, and train sets you will never be happy.” That’s absurd and not true.

      I want to be able to buy a property I can afford that isn’t west of Tirirangi and/or south of Papakura, and I don’t want to have to drive everywhere. Medium density housing in central-ish Auckland would be great for me, my partner and family-to-be.

      2) “Plenty of Aucklanders seems quite happy to live in or dream of a 1/4 acre section in the suburbs where kids can play cricket on the lawn or even have a pool.” Good on them – some (most) people can’t afford that and would like something affordable that’s close to where they work and play. We can have both.

      3) “Would you rather live in a 4 bedroom home in a quiet street within half an hours drive of work or a 2 bedroom apartment on level 30 of an ‘affordable’ apartment block half an hour cycle from work, the majority would go for suburbia.” Again, that’s absurd.

      Here’s a more accurate reflection: “would you rather live in a poorly-insulated 4-bedroom former state house in Takanini that’s an hour’s drive each way from work, or a new 2-bedroom townhouse in Avondale that’s a 10-minute train ride from work?” Still want the house? Fine, but some people want the townhouse. We can plan for both.

      4) “Remember, you can’t pick and choose which topics of public opinion you accept as representative, on a seperate thread you are hailing a herald poll as proof Aucklanders want PT.”

      The data says 28% of people support more sprawl while 41% support higher density. A clear majority support the plan and anyway, the issue/post is how the data is being represented by the Herald, not whether the data itself is valid.

    4. I live in the suburbs with my family on a section that is fairly big for the area and to be honest, probably bigger than we need. It is nowhere near a quarter of an acre. It is mystery to me why people still think that a quarter acre is a standard section size or indeed, what a majority of people want. Most of the houses I see being built in my area are multi-level on small or smallish sections. Some are even three stories high (shock, horror). The quarter acre section is long gone as far as I can tell, even here in the outer burbs, and so far the sky has not fallen.

  9. You are chasing socialist agenda. The free market that is often quoted here suggests that if you want to live in Auckland and you don’t have a million bucks then you live in the outer suburbs

    1. I don’t have a million bucks and I want to live in the city so I live in an apartment in the city. The free market is responding to this demand by supplying more, and I hope, better quality apartments in the next wave of development. We also need PT to catch up with these trends.

      Some NZers seem to think that because they live a certain way on 1/4 acre sections we all should. Sorry, my friend, I don’t want too.

      Mundungus, I get your argument, although not everyone wants a ferrari, even if they could afford one, and I share the thinking of Hassle, having also made the decision some time ago to use the train more and car less to reduce the possibilty of a vehicle accident. Particularly the way some drive on our roads.

    2. Oh hilarious – let’s completely ignore the fact that most planning regulation limits density. Socialist planners forcing sprawl.

    3. Erm, how is extreme regulation preventing people from developing their property free market? Forcing the population to live in one form of housing is the socialist agenda. If you are not a socialist then you should advocate for deregulation like we do, so that the market can provide the sort of housing people want without government intervention.

      Do you want free market capitalism in the housing market? If so, then let me build an apartment block on my land and sell them to willing buyers. If you want to stop me doing what I want with my land, and selling what I want on the market, then you are a proscriptive socialist.

        1. Completely agreed, everyone must pay the same to live in the same house regardless of how much they earn, socialise costs, privatise profits.

    4. Jon is just opne of a long line of trolls (quite possible the same troll over and over again) who come on and state ridiculous stuff to antagonise the regular readers. You know he is a troll because he produces no evidence and makes the same tired arguments that we have seen so many times on the blog. It does make for some lively discussions but you will all spend your valuable time restating the same case so many times.

      Boycott I say, leave Jon’s ridiculous statements hanging and lets move on to more interesting stuff.

      1. Yes he is Phil Moore who among other things hates the idea of Skypath because some cyclists may ride past the door of his house that lives in for one or two months a year (spending the rest of the time in the UK)

          1. As much as it seems like a good idea can we please refrain from posting those kind of comments? If other neighbours read it, it makes their argument stronger.

  10. I’ve said it before, but the likes of Jon, Philip G Hayward and Dick Quax are keen to see the back of the RMA… but at the very mention of relaxing planning rules to allow “Manhattanisation” or “Vancouverisation”, they’ll invoke it in a flash.

    I suspect it’s less about concern trolling on built heritage or kids getting fat, but more like “there goes the neighbourhood!” and “there goes my cosy money-printer!”

    1. There is nothing wrong with people wanting to protect property values they have invested in. You should remember the socialist dream of taxing (robing) from the rich (middle class) to give to the poor ( often poor is self defined as not having a 60 inch TV) doesn’t work. It just makes everyone poor.

      I have seen cities with density, everyone who can wants out of them. That is why rich Poms have weekend homes in Oxfordshire, rich yanks escape to the Hamptons, and rich Asians buy up NZ.

      No one aspires to live in a terrace house when they could have a 4 bedroom home and swimming pool. It is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. I suspect people’s support of th UP is more about jealousy than anything else. Some people want to live in Milford just for the postcode and to hell with the impact. I would remind all the school teachers and other arm chair socialists that wealth comes from pructivity, not through changes to zoning laws.

      1. “No one aspires to live in a terrace house when they could have a 4 bedroom home and swimming pool.”

        Oh dear. I do, are you suggesting I am not a person Jon, thats not very nice.

        Also, the population of London clearly aren’t that keen to live given how much they pay to live there.

        1. I am suggesting you are not a very bright person if you aspire to a terrace house rather than a 4 bedroom home. Please don’t t take that as an insult, none is intended. It is simply that your aspiration is like wishing for Kiefer Sutherland when you could wish for Kiera Knightly.

          You are wrong about London. People live like rats in the sewer because of the employment demographic in the UK. Pretty much everyone would rather live outside if they could and certainly plenty of people have weekend homes in the Cotswolds, Devon, etc. the most expensive private real estate in the UK is Sandbanks, not the CBD on London. Now would you rather live in suburban Sandbanks or urban Tower Hamlets?

          1. Jon I am writing this from the Barbican, which I very much would, do, prefer to live in than any suburban part of London, along with the thousands of other happy apartment dwellers around me. Your sweeping extrapolation of your own tastes into universality is childish and plainly wrong. People want different things, people can afford different things. That’s all.

            Auckland currently offers a lot of one kind of dwelling, with all the joys and restrictions specific to that typology. The addition of different options is all that people on this site are in favour of. Why you and some others who have plenty of detached houses in sleepy suburbia to choose from should feel so threatened by the thought that a number of other people don’t share your housing values is completely baffling. And the insistence that your views are somehow true for all people (and what? must be legislated for?) is simply bullying.

          2. Patrick, I know the apartments at the Barbican. The are ugly 60/70’s brick buildings overlooking the school used in Pink Floyds ‘another brick in the wall’ video. Hardly a piece of music that conjures up scenes of harmony.
            Those apartments have been renovated and are mostly occupied by young professionals working in the city and due to the convenient location to work, the rent is very expensive. Given there is nothing to do in the city in the weekend and the lack of anything open outside business hours it’s hardly a great place to live when you need to pop to the dairy. Given its proximity to Tower Hamlets and a host of dangerous and truly awful housing I wouldn’t want to live there.
            I have a friend who lives in the UK. He said he would be very happy to show you the differences between an apartment in the hamlets or a terrace house in bermondsey vrs a house in Richmond. He said once you stopped shitting yourself over the drug dealers, prostitutes, and street gangs you would be too scared to go east of Marble Arch.

          3. Indeed and a recent UK quality of life survey did not rate London highly at all, with Bristol and Edinburgh first and second respectively. Seem to be some big demographic changes in London lately – apartments are far from a magic bullet there it appears.


            Auckland needs more varied housing stock for sure, but greater thought is also needed to the global forces at play, as seen in London. Given New Zealand’s “loose” nature, some major issues lie ahead unless policy changes.

          4. @jon “Given there is nothing to do in the city in the weekend and the lack of anything open outside business hours it’s hardly a great place to live when you need to pop to the dairy”. Have you been to London? You know the Barbican is one of the premium performing arts centres in London eh? You’d struggle to find a dairy anywhere near there though. They call them convenience stores.

          5. “Given there is nothing to do in the city in the weekend”

            Theater shows, many parks, quick train ride to the coast, no end of shopping, dozens of museums.

            Also, aspiring to live in a terraced house is more like wanting to be Seth McFarlane rather than Merryl Streep. I can have the best terraced house/comedic voice actor and cartoon producer in the world, or the best stand alone house/older female actor in the world. Both of them are good choices for certain outcomes. Iwant to live in an urban area in a dwelling with far less maintainence time and cost commitments, and I want to see American Dad, Family Guy, and The Cleveland show on TV, so the terraced house, and Seth McFarlane suit me much better. You may prefer a movie like doubt and a large stand alone house on a large section and there is nothing wromng with that, so long as you don’t try and ban my favourite shows from TV and try to make it illegal for the free market to fill my housing desires.

          6. Jon, rather our big fan Phil the Pom, what you ‘know’ are your own opinions. They are not facts. Largely silly prejudices. For example; your hilarious idea that ‘there is nothing to do’; without even leaving the estate I can visit 3 cinemas, concert halls, a library, a fantastic museum, and more…funny, then there’s the whole of central London on my doorstep. Not a single truckstop or Little Chef like you have as neighbours out by the M25, if of course you can be bothered to go out having wasted half your day and energy battling other commuters to get to your dream home in the Tarmac Ocean covering the once beautiful countryside.

            But I have no problem with your opinions, they are entirely your business and no doubt you sincerely believe in them. And it is just as well there are people like you with outdated suburban fear stories about city life as great apartments like these are getting so expensive because so many people want to buy in. No the only problem is that you claim your ignorant panic stories as universal truths that somehow must form the basis of policy. Daft.

  11. Jon

    I have lived in Central London for 6 years. For quite a bit of that I did not own a car, and only did use a car for weekend travel out of the city.

    I returned to New Zealand to be closer to my family. Housing density wasn’t a deciding factor!

    The fact is that the population of Auckland keeps growing. Obviously new houses will be required. If you build at similar densities to the older suburbs the city must grow outwards. Public transport just is not economic at the traditional densities of Auckland with the quarter acre sections designed to allow for a septic tank on each section. With sewers we don’t need the big sections. If you double the density you get twice as many people at each bus stop and it must be obvious to you, Jon, if you fill a bus twice as fast it will collect fares twice as fast and the whole economy of public transport improves.

    You don’t want public transport? How will you get to where you want to go when the price of oil escalates? Since we are past peak oil and the people of China are now buying cars, an explosive growth of oil cost is eventually inevitable. Increasing our city’s density to allow for efficient public transport is one way of staving of a clearly likely economic disaster of an oil based transport system in a world without cheap oil. I definitely won’t be happy in that world, but I will be better off and so will you be Jon, if a sustainable electric train system forms the backbone of a public transport system. We will definitely be worse off in a world after cheap oil if we just keep building outwards.

    OK while the oil is cheap why not just keep on building outward? Well we will cover the best soils in New Zealand for growing potatoes and onions, so the price of vegies will go up. If each resident has to go everywhere by car that means we will have to build more roads. We will have to demolish parts of the centre of the city for those roads. We will have more air pollution. We will have more road accidents and more road deaths We will have a less friendly city. (Don’t believe me? How many people do you talk to when you drive to work? How many do you talk to on public transport? – I know I talked to a lot more strangers in London using the Underground than I have ever talked to driving to work in Auckland!) Our houses will be more expensive because we will need new infrastructure (water, waste-water, stormwater, electricity, gas, telecoms etc.) as well as all those new roads. Jon, if the city’s population is going to increase the density will have to rise if we want to all have a reasonable life-style.

    Demanding a low density city is just really, really stupid.

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