On Sunday there was a good panel discussion on Radio NZ talking about density and the Unitary Plan without the usual scaremongering from the likes of Auckland 2040. It’s well worth a listen if you have a spare 20 minutes.

Urban density marks a shift away from a traditional single-storey home on a section, towards multi-storey apartment and townhouse developments. Proponents say increasing urban density is important for a booming city like Auckland, while others argue against this type of housing and its impact on communities. Wallace is joined by RNZ Auckland Correspondent Todd Niall, Auckland’s deputy mayor Penny Hulse, and Bill McKay, senior lecturer at the School of Architecture, Auckland University.

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  1. The concern I had with this discussion was around design guidelines and how they would be enforced. For example talking about certain types of balconies. This sounds expensive arbitrary and illiberal.

  2. I’m so sick of this narrative that intensification is an alien concept. Auckland has been doing most of its growth through intensification for 20-30 years now.

    1. completely agree. But why stop at going back 30 years?

      Auckland has a number of (up to 7 storey) apartment buildings which are 100 years old. The Brooklyn Building on Emily Place and the Westminster Building on Parliament Street are nice examples. Some would argue that this part of Auckland has more character than most others!

      For the likes of Richard Burton to claim that apartments somehow do not fit with Auckland’s character is to ignore it’s built heritage: Apartments are an integral part of Auckland’s housing make-up, and have been for close to 100 years. It’s the same in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane: All of these supposedly new world cities have high density residential development at their centre, and always have.

      Those who oppose density and not just trying to turn back time: They are trying to re-write history to make it fit with their perceptions of how other people should live.

      1. Not to mention all the apartments above old shopping strips like K Rd or Ponsonby Rd… many of them run-down now, and a more modern solution would build more apartment levels above the retail than the 1 or 2 that exist, but still an example of higher-density living going back to Auckland’s very early days.

      2. But Richard Burton and 2040 do contend that apartments are integral to Auckland’s development, as long as the apartments remain zoned solely in central Auckland and away from the suburbs. In this manner they are perhaps hopeful of achieving development like Brisbane, with 90% of new Brisbane’s apartment builds (31,000 during current boom) being in its central city. http://www.interest.co.nz/property/80770/auckland-2040-which-opposed-council-zoning-unitary-plan-sees-no-long-term-housing

  3. People talk about apartment living versus suburban living and he pros and cons.
    I think it would be useful to compare the happiness of the 2 groups.
    For different people. Singles, families. couples.
    Upstairs in a smaller apartment close to more amenities.or away in the suburbs with more the commuting.
    Compare their views and how important that is.
    The costs and benefits.

  4. Just listened – Penny Hulse was great.

    I liked Bill McKay’s point that people his sons’ age actively *want* to live in denser neighbourhoods – we don’t often hear about the amenities of denser neighbourhoods, over and above the benefits of walkability and affordability. More opportunities for socialising and activities, more varied shops and more of them (maybe if a few more people moved in near me, I wouldn’t have to bike 2km to find a vege shop), more money for parks and libraries, a bus every three minutes, LRT…

    1. Yes indeed.

      One thing that I think the youth of today don’t get enough credit for is that they are much better socialised than the previous generation:

      * Crime rates have fallen significantly in the last 20 years
      * Dropout rates are now at a historic low
      * Per-capita alcohol consumption is lower today than it was in the 1980s
      * the share of people using methamphetamine fell by 2/3 between 2003 and 2013.

      What this means, for cities, is that the value of proximity to people will be higher – i.e. you get the benefits of being near others, in terms of social opportunities, and fewer drawbacks from antisocial behaviour. I think young people have figured this out, but their parents, who grew up in a different environment, may not have noticed the change.

  5. For me the issue around apartments is the need to buy the things and then contend with a body corporate grinding for a profit or half-mad co-owners who entertain themselves by making everyone else miserable with their antics – again via the body corporate. Or the risk that you will one day facea bill of tens of thousands for repairs / upgrade at time when you’re on a fixed income…….

    It is all 100% avoidable.

    Here is a link to the apartment development my mother lives in near Ottawa. There are hundreds of apartments in four main buildings with extensive lawns and open areas, a club house, gym and pool and underground parking that joins all the buildings allowing the people who live there move freely within the complex even on the coldest, most awful days in the winter.

    It is 100% rental accommodation.

    http://www.kanatalakesapartments.com/index – the over view.

    Here is a photosphere I shot there a few months ago. It makes it obvious that hundreds of homes can exist on an open, park-like space that is a fraction of the land area that a similar number of detached or even tarraced houses would require. Putting the parking underground frees up the entire space for visual and other amenity. (The last of the four buildings is now complete and opened for rental a few weeks ago).

    https://goo.gl/maps/6pYynErcqD52 (The grounds are empty because it was 35C that day and stinking hot).

  6. Come and live in the city young people and leave the suburbs to the anti-intensification hecklers. It’s a great place with the waterfront, transport hubs and amenities.

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