Let’s start with a quick pop quiz: you’ve got an existing town centre that you want to improve, making it more vibrant and successful. Do you

A) Encourage more people to live locally who will use the town centre

B) Encourage more people to live locally who will use the town centre

C) Encourage more people to live locally who will use the town centre

D) Oppose people living nearby and worry about the cars trying to drive through and past your town centre being ever so slightly hindered.

If you answered A, B or C then correct, have a gold star, but it seems far too often our local boards reach for option D. The latest such example was a few days ago out west were the Waitakere Ranges Local Board have appeared opposing housing in Glen Eden.

Ten-storey towers of mostly one-bedroom flats have been proposed for suburban west Auckland, prompting local fears they will turn into slums.

Developers have applied for non-notifiable resource consent to build blocks of apartments in the centre of Glen Eden, adjacent to the railway tracks and cemetery.

Smaller dwellings and apartments have been touted by many as the future for Auckland and as one solution to the city’s housing crisis.

If given the go-ahead, the apartment blocks would house 168 one- or two-bedroom units and townhouses along with carparking, retail space and some outdoor space for residents.

The Waitakere Ranges Local Board said it was a radical proposal.

The plan for twin ten-storey towers raised many concerns especially as the height would be more than what was allowed for in the Unitary Plan, the board said.

“With most apartments being one bedroom the development will favour young residents. We would prefer to see some three-bedroom apartments and a greater mix of apartment sizes so that all stages of life are covered and a more mixed population live in the area.”

Let’s just think about some of this for a second

Firstly the proposal is right next to a train station and the town centre. That’s pretty much perfect and if anything the local board should be celebrating that. Furthermore it sounds like the closest neighbours are the residents of the cemetery. For some reason I hardly think they’re going to complain about a 10-storey apartment building nearby.

One of the oddest comments is the local board trying to get more three-bedroom apartments. If this were a brand new area or even perhaps the city I might agree that would be good – not that it should be regulated for. But this isn’t the city and is surrounded by many dwellings have 3 or more bedrooms. In fact I took a look at some of the numbers from Stats NZ and as of the last census in the areas in and around Glen Eden there were 10,881 dwellings for which they have details on bedrooms. Below is the number of dwellings by the number of bedrooms they have.

One Bedroom7717%
Two Bedrooms206719%
Three Bedrooms572453%
Four Bedrooms174916%
Five+ Bedrooms5705%

As you can see almost three-quarters of dwellings in area have three or more bedrooms. That is quite different to the population distribution where 48% of dwellings house only one or two residents while 68% have three or less. The graph below shows the number dwellings based on the number of usual residents and the number of bedrooms. The biggest single group is for two people to be living in a three bedroom home.

GE Residents and Bedrooms

There are of course many factors that go into housing choice and it’s not for us, or anyone, to say how people should live but what this does suggest is that if there’s an imbalance in housing in the area it’s not from a lack of 3 bedroom dwellings but from not enough smaller ones. Furthermore the suggestion that small dwellings are only suitable for young people is utterly divorced from reality. Many older people enjoy the opportunity to live in smaller dwellings where they have less maintenance to deal with and can remain close to friends, family and the communities they’ve lived much of their lives in.

Then of course there is the almost stock standard response we’ve come to expect from so many in housing discussions.

In its submissions to the council, the Waitakere Ranges Local Board voiced concerns on potential traffic generated by Glen Eden’s proposed towers in an already heavily congested intersection.

The developer has requested its application not be made public, to which the board has objected.

Some west Auckland residents are worried about the proposal, saying there is already too much demand for parking in the area and that one-bedroom flats next to a railway line would inevitably turn into slums.

All of this brings us to the point that if we want local board to stop trying to oppose developments with spurious arguments, we probably need some better people on them. Today nominations have opened for local body elections later this year so if you or someone you know have been thinking of standing, why not give it a go.

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  1. I never get this, surely the board realises that developments out the back of Kumeu will generate more traffic than in a town center?

    1. Also pretty sure majority of those who will live here will do because of the public transport available. Its less than a minute WALK to the TRAIN station which will get you to the CBD without congestion. No driving needed.

    2. They are generalising from their own habits. A well meant but reality defying failure to serve all the community especially the community of future residents [a very important group in a growing city]. Change is hard for many people to grasp till it happens and fear is the easiest emotion to tap.

      Perhaps if the LB budget was in proportion to the rating take in their ward they might understand more directly how new development and new residents benefit the existing community. As it is they focus on the prospect of more traffic, ignoring not only that these are Transit focussed residents, with way lower driving impacts than new ex-urban ones in detached houses, but also that this is the only way to improve a very tatty and low value town centre for everyone.

      You would hope that all levels of government was smarter and better informed than this….

    3. I’m always surprised by how many people don’t realise this. I think it’s a combination of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and the persistent myth of the discrete urban village model – they convince themselves that all the people who move into the developments out back of Kumeu will stay there, or drive Somewhere Else that they don’t have to think about.

    4. The board aren’t opposing the development from what I understand. They just want the best outcome for the community by querying a few factors about the building. From the limited information available about this development it has a few things that can be improved.

      My preference would be for a building under 8 stories with a mix of approx. 40% one bedroom, 40% 2 bedroom, 20% 3 bedroom. Mixed developments work better from a social perspective. The boards major concern would be getting design factors right so people want to live there and the place isn’t a scar for the community in years to come. I applaud their concern on trying to get things right for their community. They are the ones that live there.

      1. “The [developer’s] major concern would be getting design factors right so people want to live there”

        “Mixed developments work better from a social perspective. [citation needed]” this may be true for massive developments, but as this post demonstrates, adding one bed place only actually improves the mix.

      2. So exactly based on what are your plans to remove two stories from the building and dictate the exact mix of unit sizes based on? Why not just reduce it by one story and have 50% 1 bedroom and 50% 2 bedroom?

        Have you considered how this will affect the economics of the project or to you just think it is “free” ?

        At least the developers are putting their own money into the project, they are building stuff they think will sell and make a profit.

    5. It seems there was a key fact left out of this debate. The 3 x ten story towers are to be 100% social housing.
      So it’s a large scale high rise mass housing projects not apartments with some affordable housing. We already have social housing precinct (which is quite nice and well maintained) as the bottom flank of our shops which is ok. And now it will be by far the larges piece of architecture framing the top of our shops as well. Just doesn’t seem like a fair balance. This is not mixed with any other types of housing or community residents. We also house the licensing trust owned pokies (although the funding from them has so far primarily goes to Titirangi’s Lopdell Trust for arts not back to GE village ) and the Winz. There is no recreation centre (it’s an old building that council’s won’t name on it’s website and doesn’t maintain and there are no programmes) and GE is in the deprived category for council owned open space around the shops (further showing the lack of investment). It’s not named for panuku upgrades. It had no town development budget. So I don’t think we had the full story. Theres a few issues and a definite lack of balance.

      1. Apologies. Correction. It is not to be 100% social housing. We were told that by an elected member. But apparently now one other is saying that is not the case. Clearly some communication problems in Auckland Council and to the community about what’s being built. Please delet my comments admin.

  2. Local Boards and Council needs a revamp. There need to be a minimum quota of 40% representative 30 years old or younger. Sorry but the older generation are not in grasp with the current reality and they are stuck in the nostalgia of the past. The future of the area should be shaped by those who will mostly going to be affected and whose benefits and consequences will be heavily felt by the younger generation.

    1. Then get involved, do the hard yards and get elected. That’s how our democratic process works. As for 1 bedroom vs any other sizes the prices will initially be such that only those financial and serious will get in. So the immediate prospect of slums is low. But if the construction materials and maintenance are shoddy who knows what will happen in the future. Anyone’s guess long term.

    2. Younger people may not have the requisite skills and experience, unfortunately.

      You want people who are (a) educated (b) motivated (c) experienced. Youngsters may have (b) but how many 18 year olds know the first thing about policymaking?

      1. How many of the cranky old coots cluttering up community boards now know the first thing about policymaking? Going by the evidence we have, hardly any of them do.

        1. I think they’d be cranks whether they were young or old. I think in this case age is not the causative factor, it’s being an idiot. It just so happens that older people have the spare time for their idiocy to be applied.

        2. I’m not young enough to know everything. (Oscar Wilde).
          Unfortunately advancing years have taught me that I don’t know everything.

          1. If only our councillors’ and local board members’ advancing years had taught them the same.

      2. You end up with completely awful local board members like Jan O’Connor who thinks it’s 1954 and refuses to engage in any meaningful discussion about the future of Auckland. It is shameful that people like her continue to drain ratepayer funds when they are so poorly informed.

        1. But you know, just like a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day, Ricardo is absolutely right in this case. Many of these people are nutters, and act as a huge barrier to progress and people being able to live enjoyable, safe and affordable lives in this city. But they got elected by a fair democratic process. If clued-up, intelligent, socially responsible people aren’t prepared to stand, or people don’t vote for them, then this is what we get.

    3. I’m not sure what I think of quotas, but I do agree that there needs to be a mechanism to raise youth participation in local government, including at election times. Young people will live with the consequences the longest, and bear the highest costs from policies that restrain housing development or transport choices.

      As far as capability goes – I would argue that young people have an advantage over old people in governance. They might be less experienced, but they also tend to be more curious and interested in learning about new ways of looking at issues. People have a bad tendency to let their thinking become calcified as they age. If we are governed largely by middle-aged or elderly people, policy will often end up fighting yesterday’s wars.

      1. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I am smarter now at age 38 than I was at 8, 18, or 28.
        Again, that’s just me. Formal education, workplace experience, and just general cultural exposure.
        Remember what a horrible knowitall you were as a first year Peter? (I’m assuming that all firstyears are the same of course)

  3. While I agree with the poster (development is wise), there may be option e) – encourage the *existing number of people who live nearby to better utilise the town centre*

    As an Avondale resident, if everyone used Avondale TC instead of New Lynn (which I am also guilty of) then the TC would be awesome without there needing to be extra residents.

  4. this is such a great post Matt, in so many ways.

    I particularly like the analysis of number of bedrooms per dwelling versus number of inhabitants.

    I struggle to understand why the local board is opposing development adjacent to the existing town centre and train station, especially when Auckland is in the midst of a housing crisis.

      1. It is a great graph. I assume (my prejudices lead me to guess) that the utilisation of bedrooms would decrease in the wealthier suburbs and increase in the less well off. Herne Bay and other communities who are against changes to the Unitary plan aimed at increasing density, not only have low occupancy of existing dwellings they oppose construction of new dwellings whose configuration more closely matches the actual occupancy and utilisation.

        The problem is that existing residents don’t see new dwellings as more closely matching the needs of the community, they see them as catering to outsiders and therefore need to be stopped.

        1. Existing residents prioritise their interests over future ones. Council is meant to balance those in its decisions but unfortunately only the former group get to vote.

          Seeing the same graph for a suburb like Otara would sure be interesting.

        2. Many people use their houses for multiple purposes. Typically all rooms that aren’t living, kitchen, and bath are defined as bedrooms (unless it doesn’t meet the legal definition of a bathroom, eg no windows). Given how small the bedrooms are in many new developments it would be difficult to use your bedroom for multiple purposes, and also many don’t want to do that. So some people are using there additional bedrooms for personal activities or to run small businesses; in my opinion this is perfectly reasonable. If they aren’t using their house for multiple purposes then they would need to rent an additional space somewhere for these other activities, this would be cost prohibitive for many.

  5. Their worries are people who live there are homeless people sponsored by work and income, and mental ill, anti social, or all of above.

    Young people will likely to live closer to city as there are plenty of one bedroom in city cbd and city fringe.

      1. Maybe not now, but one day the council will start to kick the homeless out of the street. Which forces the government to pay for their accommodation.

        Labour party is essential talking about that.

    1. “Young people will likely to live closer to city as there are plenty of one bedroom in city cbd and city fringe.”

      The fact that lots of young people are living 5-10 per house, and 2-3 per ONE BEDROOM APARTMENT to save on costs belies the “there are plenty” argument, as well as the implied “its cheap” argument. Lots of young people would love to afford – and, you know, maybe even OWN – their own apartment on a train line (plus, this train line will be much closer to the city with the CRL – Glen Eden is hardly Kumeu under such circumstances.

    2. ‘Young people will likely to live closer to city…’

      Kelvin this is EXACTLY the point; the CRL makes Glen Eden close enough to the city to be attractive, while of course being far enough away to be affordable. Transport Infrastructure investment is land-use planning.

      The fact that Glen Eden has attracted the attention of developers is vindication of the planning that the CRL represents. regeneration of old burbs like Glen eden is exactly what investment in the Rapid Transit Network can stimulate.

      Good work AC and AT.

  6. HNZ has a number of apartments on lease. These are usually the hard to sell ones, small, south facing, damp, etc. Most of the people they move into them are no trouble at all, but the perception remains, and gets added to the prejudice that different housing typologies will result in “different” types of people.

    1. You make a good point about apartments: because the quality of the dwellings inside them can vary significantly, they can *naturally* house people at a range of different price points. For example, south-facing apartments on the first floor can easily sell for half the price as similarly-sized north-facing apartments on the sixth floor. The first apartment isn’t as nice, but it can still be an affordable home in a convenient location.

      By contrast, getting affordable housing sprinkled around in standalone-house subdivisions is a lot harder, because the product is more homogenous. You actually have to go out of your way to make some of the houses smaller or lower-quality, which often creates a visible stigma around them.

  7. I speak to people about the need for apartments to be built near train stations.
    Many strongly oppose the idea.
    They seem happy to extend cities ever outwards over farmland.
    Auckland could have a population of 2, 3, or more, million in the existing boundaries but I think building single story houses a way out in the new suburbs will not be viable.

    1. Jim if those people say ‘cos traffic’ they are just flat wrong. All data shows that the further out; the more you drive. This is unavoidable, unchanging fact. And that increased driving is everywhere, including the old parts of town. Anyone trying to enlist ‘additional traffic’ in their spatial argument has to be urging for exactly these kinds of Transit oriented dense dwellings and no more sprawl. If they are not they make no sense and are simply fooling themselves.

  8. I think this might have something to do with the demographic who actually vote for local boards. I know overall turnout in local elections is a disappointing ~40 %, I wonder how many of these actually bother ticking anything more than mayor and councillors, I know I don’t normally get to choosing local board or DHB members as I generally know nothing about them. I suspect turnout could be as low as 10-15 % for local board voting, although I’ve got no stats to back that up.

  9. I always thought my local board was the same; full of fossilised chumps. But the proposed town plan for Browns Bay is actually chock full of improvements for pedestrians and cyclists, and they’re fully embracing the (admittedly not 10 stories) apartment/townhouse zeitgeist. They’re actually proposing to turn the entire flat of the bay into a 30km/hr zone. My mind was blown – in a good way.

  10. I fear that the new unity plan to be released soon will also not support apartments to be built around train stations or a anywhere

    1. Why? That isn’t the case in the last public version, I agree it could be even less restrictive of density, but given that the Independent Hearings Panel is charged with making sure the UP can support likely population growth I’d be very surprised if isn’t better than the last public version. Very surprised. That eruption of NIMBYism at the last Council meeting is unlikely to have influenced the cooler heads of the judiciary: They are used to the behaviour of the mob; even an over-entitled and geriatric one.

      1. If you don’t believe that the councillors will downvote the panels recommendation and doom us to a huge era of sprawl then you are far more optimistic than me.

        1. Council doesn’t have much power from here. Enormous political and procedural pressure to pass the recommended plan, they are then welcome to litigate details, but it is largely out of their hands now. They had their hissy fit. Enough already, thankfully.

          And remember there’s no planning barrier to sprawl anyway, that’s a long just been a convenient scapegoat. The barriers to sprawl are infrastructural and market, the barrier to growing in and up are regulatory. The UP changes the later more than it can influence the former. It just levels the playing field between up and out a little. Then the market will speak. We will see where and how people want to live given real choices between various options.

  11. Why would anybody want to stand so that they can be abused for being too old/young/white/Asian/Polynesian/entrenched/liberal etc etc etc

  12. None of this will matter soon. Once the council rejects the unitary plan and the government remove their zoning powers, market forces will prevail.

  13. Greetings

    I am a member of the local board. This particular project was the subject to some rather intense discussion. And as usual the press release does not go into the detail of what our submission contained.

    The submission included this:

    “The Board has discussed this application. Generally we are supportive of urban renewal and intensification particularly close to transport nodes such as the Glen Eden Railway station as long as the development is of good quality.”

    We did express concern at the height. We have previously supported six story limits in Glen Eden.

    The concerns about congestion are because the proposed development is right next to an at level crossing that is leads onto a T intersection on West Coast Road. The area is already congested in the morning and I felt duty bound to point out this particular aspect.

    As for the apartments about 90% of the proposed apartments are one bedroom. We thought that a more varied mix of apartments would be more appropriate for the area.

    Other comments that we made included:

    1. The development presents a potential benefit for the Glen Eden area but West Coast Road is busy and presents a barrier. For urban development considerations some thought needs to be given to redesigning this area.

    2. The effect on Waikumete Cemetery needed to be considered.

    3. Thought needs to be given to a walkway cycle way linking Sunnyvale.

    4. Sports fields are already heavily overutilised and further provision needs to be made.

    5. We urged that the application be notified.

    1. Thanks for bringing some much needed balance to this post Greg. The commenters of this blog can get carried away at times without knowing full details.

      I find the points very considered. People who know this intersection know that it needs work to make it more work better.

    2. What concerns did you have with the height specifically?

      Congestion should not be a reason to stop or change a development. We currently have an unpriced road network so congestion is virtually inevitable. Road pricing will internalise the externality and then it will have no policy relevance whatsoever.

    3. Thanks for fleshing that out Greg, more information is always an improvement. Not sure about your issues:

      1. Yes; the road through the centre needs calming. Do it. The addition of new dwellings in the area is your best argument with AT to achieve this.
      2. ?What effects? People living near cemeteries is good; perhaps abuses there will reduce with more oversight of it.
      3. Walking and cycling need much improvement through the whole region, this is relevant to the proposed development?
      4. Sure, but this is a reason to oppose housing?
      5. As ever; delay and cost added, which may be enough to kill it.

      I agree in a perfect world we’ed have a city of a consistent 6-8 stories, like Barcelona, but because of the determination to instead retain a city of mainly one story, this forces the few sites that are allowed to go up to be higher for the city to develop an average density approaching efficiency and affordability. This is observable in the central city and city fringe areas that are converting from commercial use. By all means zone a very big area for six stories or whatever you feel is the magic number, but understand that the smaller that area is the higher that limit will have to be. By choosing to defend oceans of single detached housing we are also choosing towers elsewhere. Or limitless sprawl.

      A please see above about traffic; this location and form of development generates the fewest car movements per new resident as possible. Again use this to get gains out of AT. Though I know this is hard.

      1. Additionally, I also wonder why the LB isn’t more enthusiastic about the simple good of more local residents for the local businesses, more people on the street generally adding to community and security. Furthermore the one way to get the the PT service to a place improved [including investment in things like level crossing upgrades] is for there to be more demand, more users, and a higher rates base. I’m fond of GE and know it fairly well, and can only think an injection of new, and especially new younger people, to be a very good thing for current residents, their businesses, property values and their jobs.

        1. Additionally, I also wonder why the LB isn’t more enthusiastic about the simple good of more local residents for the local businesses, more people on the street generally adding to community and security.

          We are. It was part of our submission. Glen Eden needs a major make over and intensification can achieve this,

          We are actually spending precious capital transport project money on pedestrianising a nearby road and the rest of our fund has been spent on a walkway in Henderson Valley and is being spent on advancing walkway/cycleways from Oratia to the railway station in Sunnyvale.

          And I have to disagree with you about the virtue of having applications notified. To my way of thinking far too few applications are notified. Give local communities a chance to understand what is being proposed and a say in how it can be improved.

          And just to reemphasise the local board is NOT opposing intensification in the way that the Eastern Suburbs did. We are happy for this to occur for the all the reasons this post alludes to. But it needs to be done properly.

          1. ‘And just to reemphasise the local board is NOT opposing intensification in the way that the Eastern Suburbs did. We are happy for this to occur for the all the reasons this post alludes to. But it needs to be done properly.’

            Good on you Greg, good to hear.

      2. This road doesn’t need “calming” at all. This just goes to show how out of touch you are with Auckland urban issues.

        This road is an essential link for many communities which are poorly served or not served at all by public transport. And before you respond in typically myopic fashion no it’s not a choice for people to live there. They can’t live anywhere else because people in ivory towers like yourself decided to stick a ring around Auckland which led directly to the current housing madness we see.

        The better solution is to move the town center into the side street that runs parallel with West Coast Road. That’s already happening to an extent but needs to be encouraged further. We can have both a flowing road fee of obstruction, a rail link and a bus stop in Glen Eden Center but it won’t happen if we let the likes of Patrick Reynolds decide the outcomes for Glen Eden.

        1. This road doesn’t need “calming” at all. This just goes to show how out of touch you are with Auckland urban issues.

          This road is an essential link for many communities which are poorly served or not served at all by public transport.

          Have to disagree with you there Matthew. The Glen Eden Railway station provides really good PT and once the City Rail Link is built it will provide outstanding PT.

          People just need to get out of their cars and trust the service. I do it more and more. Most of my trips downtown are by train and even to Henderson I am catching the train more and more often.

          The road is destroying the businesses on West Coast Road. The businesses behind do much better. Believe me my business is situated in the middle and I have been there for 27 years.

          Intensification is fine. You should visit Tokyo to see what is possible.

          1. Glen Eden is a great area. It’s a shame more people don’t pay attention to it.

            Trying to improve this intersection all costs money and funds are always limited to make these changes. I think this is wise for the local board to bring these issues to the attention of people.

            I understand an option has been discussed in the past to close this Glenview road off to traffic to improve the town centre and allow shops along this edge.

          2. The Glenview level crossing isn’t an easy problem to fix. I’ve thought about this a bit and the only workable solutions it seems to me are taking the road under the rail line on an angle slightly further west to make a cross intersection opposite Glendale Rd, which would link it up to the bypass on the southern side, and enable the Glenview crossing to be closed and the main st through the shops substantially calmed. Though it would result in a fairly unattractive subway, and some building loss. Or using Waikemete Rd and building a bridge over the line to connect opposite Swan Hill Dr…. although that makes for more of a detour and an awkward intersection with Glenview by the Fire Station…

            There has to be a road crossing as there isn’t a nearby alternative for the separation of the community by the rail line. Anyway we hear that all the level crossings are being looked at at the moment so no doubt there are some solutions for this floating round.

            Greg, you may well have seen the options for this one? Opportunity for some good improvement for the strip if the funding can be found….

          3. Your Waikumete-to-Swan Hill idea is a pretty good one I haven’t heard before. Would probably want to be accompanied by a footbridge or underpass at the old level crossing. My pick would be to drop the rail level by up to 2 metres through the whole zone from West Coast Rd overbridge to Singer Park, which would allow for a not-so-tall bridge of Glenview Rd over the tracks,curving down through that car park to West Coast Road.

          4. Hi Patrick

            I understand that Glen Eden is well down the list of at grade intersections that will be dealt with and you are right the current configuration will be difficult to change.

            Tunnelling under Glenview Road itself is one option but it would be expensive and disruptive. I suspect your proposal for Glendale may be the best option.

          1. This post is clearly a personal attack and is in violation of the terms and conditions of this board.

            Where are the moderators? MIA when it suits.

          2. Pointing out the obvious is not a personal attack. You launched into the posters and were subsequently contradicted on point by a local board member (and 27yr resident, as it turns out). I was just pointing out that delicious irony after you referred to everyone else as “out of touch”.

            A personal attack would be the repeated accusation that Len Brown has stopped greenfield development, as per your later post, below. An accusation that was again, called out as – to put it politely – garbage.

            We are all entitled to opinions, even you, but don’t cry victim when someone denounces yours with fact or a superior knowledge of the situation and someone points that out, given how frequent it is happening.

    4. In regarding to additional traffic generated, your board could utilize this as a business case to get more funding from AT to improve the infrastructure.

    5. I see someone else has asked this down the page but that you haven’t answered, why do you peer a shorter development? What advantages do you consider that it offers?

    6. Hi Greg

      Thanks for stopping by to discuss – really glad to hear from a local board member on the issue.

      I think you’ve got a good point about the local road environment. That’s definitely in need of a fix. On the whole, I’d expect designing a people-friendly street to raise the quality of development in the area.

      However, I don’t think you need to worry as much about what happens inside the building. This is (as far as I know) the first reasonably-sized apartment block in the area, so the developers are probably testing the market a bit, and focusing on a product (1 bedroom apartments) that they can sell more easily. If it succeeds, I’d expect future buildings to provide a greater mix of apartment types.

      The same thing happened in the city centre – the first apartment blocks to be built in the late 90s/early 2000s were smaller, cheaper units catering to the student market. Then the market matured and now we’re seeing higher-quality stuff along with the student flats.

      As a first step, this building might not be totally ideal. It’s definitely worth thinking about how you can work with the developer to make some targeted improvements. But a time-consuming or uncertain review process might be worse than doing nothing at all. If notification dissuades them from developing, then other people with better designs will probably steer clear of Glen Eden in the future!

  14. I’d like to see developments of this nature (density near rail) more intensively linked to and driving improvements in the local rail infrastructure. In this Glen Eden case, an integrated plan to move towards grade separating the level crossing and improving the walking/cycling channels between the relevant local nodes – thus nullifying some of those stated concerns and making the whole proposition the best it can be for the future.

  15. Well said Greg Presland, all good comments summerising the Local Board response.
    This development could be a model environmental, sustainable, community focused accommodation block which will bring economic benefit to Glen Eden.
    The developer should come to Glen Eden and display the projected plans so we can all see it and understand how these buildings will fit in and enhance our community.
    We need to understand the transport mitigation plan, will there be green space and a play area and a community space for older people.
    In answer to those complaining about the age of Board members, there is no reason why young people can not stand for election, most importantly they should vote

  16. Let’s have a think about this

    Our mayor and his jolly council artificially put a ring around Auckland despite having no mandate whatsoever to do so. They then sit and wait as house prices inevitably go skyward as they have in every single city that has adopted the compact model. Aided by their mates in New Zealand media which is predominantly left wing, they manage to shift the blame to the government. Then comes the insanity as the privileged few try to impose their will against the majority.

    I don’t know what the good residents of Glen Eden have done to have this proposal imposed on them. This sort of development in not in keeping with the development of the Glen Eden community. What will end up happening is what has happened in New Lynn and the Glen Eden residents won’t be fooled. New Lynn has been turned into a total disaster by this sort of development. You can get into New Lynn, you can’t get out of New Lynn and you can’t get through New Lynn. Furthermore the housing developments have become little more than slums which is exactly what will happen should Glen Eden continue with this proposal.

    Perhaps next time the privileged few cycle along on their multi-million dollar cycle lane you might want to turn your mind to building a city for everyone. It’s convenient to build slums in the suburbs and move the troublemakers there so your privileged lives are free of trouble but it doesn’t work for other citizens of Auckland.

    This city is in desperate need of leadership. Someone who will build a city not for themselves and their mates but someone who will build a city for all Aucklanders.

    1. “I don’t know what the good residents of Glen Eden have done to have this proposal imposed on them. This sort of development in not in keeping with the development of the Glen Eden community.” What does that even mean, and why is it appropriate to build only just like what already exists?

      1. I was more interested in the “ring around the city” comment. Obviously no plans for greenfield development then.

        Oh. Hang on……ignorance is bliss after all……

    2. Erm Matthew, the council is removing the ring around the city and opening up for major expansion. I can’t fathom how you think that Len Brown or this council has done anything but release the old urban growth boundary.

      Secondly, New Lynn is awsome. If find it just fine to get to and through, better than most places actually which is why I moved here. I wish my little neighborhood had even more traffic calming and I can see why you’d want the same for Glen Eden. Quite frankly if you want to drive through GE or New Lynn that is up to you, but don’t expect that my community is happy to let you move our town centers or community facilities so that you can drive faster through the middle of it. If you just want to use my neighborhood as an arterial through route frankly you can piss off, go move your own main street out of the way and drive up and down the leftovers to your hearts content.

  17. My opinion is that there is a shortage of 3-4 bed apartments, as this is what I’m looking to buy. I’d like to see a higher proportion of these within the mix of 1-2 bed. Perhaps building layouts are more difficult or maybe there is more money to be made from more smaller apartments. Proximity to rail is ideal

    1. Developers want to make money, they know that they can sell 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. As ‘common knowledge’ states that New Zealanders don’t want to live in apartments if they need more space, developers aren’t prepared to risk building them. Personally I’m with you Anthony, I would like to see some larger apartments. It will take a developer that is prepared to quite a risk before they start, and then suddenly they’ll become common (hopefully).

  18. Interesting Peter Nunns 2:09pm uses “sixth floor” as benchmark and Scott G 2:55 pm is not embracing “10 stories” also RHarris 3:39pm suggesting “8 stories” as being preference.
    There is something happen above the 8 floor that is not attractive. Then again maybe attractive floor level density peaks at the fourth floor.
    Here is link which shows when measuring by willingness to pay, 90% of buyers will choose floors One to three before ground or top floor.

    1. The reason why top floor isn’t so popular in London is that a lot of them don’t have an elevator so you are having to climb 3-5 floors. Also the top floors are often converted attics/lofts… These don’t suit everyone and do have some negatives. Personally I enjoyed living in one for over a year as part of my time in London. Where places are elevator serviced the top floor (penthouse) is often the prime choice as you tend to get better views, less noise (since you don’t have anyone above you) and further from the street below.

      1. Yes, exactly right Bruce. In buildings without lifts, the lower floors will be more valuable; and vice versa.

        On Peter H’s comments: I chose the sixth floor as that was the highest level on the (small number of) buildings that I recently analysed. I can say, with reasonable confidence, that apartment prices tend to rise at least up to the sixth storey, in Auckland. Beyond that point, I do not have data!

        Good paper references btw.

    2. My thoughts are that suburban developments shouldn’t be built over 8 stories. I think suburban apartment developments don’t have the robustness of central city apartment developments especially in lower socioeconomic area. To me over 8 stories in suburbia is like city sprawl but vertical sprawl. In the same way city sprawl can make areas on the city fringe vulnerable to lifelessness, economic and social instability, suburban apartment complexes that are too high can be susceptible to the same things.

      The height restrictions are aimed at trying create buildings on a human scale. It’s much more pleasant to walk and live around buildings under 8 stories. It also aids to the socialness of complexes, making interactions appear more manageable. Mixed apartment sizes in a complex also aids to this socialness. This is all trying to design buildings that are attractive and robust for now and in the future.

      1. Can you give any examples of 8 and 10 storey buildings? I don’t think I could tell the difference between at 8 and 10 storey building without counting them up.

      2. I think if they are located next to a RTN then there should be no height limit unless there is a specific good reason not to.

    3. There are a couple more aspects to height, one being that wind levels can be uncomfortable on the balcony at higher levels, eg 10, although this can be mitigated with good design. Another is that up to about level 3 there remains a sense of connection to the ground (gardens, lawns etc) which is progressively lost at higher levels. Finally, as one advances in years the thought of 10 flights of stairs should the lift fail (or indeed in a fire alarm situation) is rather daunting!

      1. “that wind levels can be uncomfortable on the balcony at higher levels”

        So? one can observe the wind on a balcony by inspection, this doesn’t need any regulation.

        1. Who mentioned regulation? My apartment building has 11 levels, and my apartment is on the third (ie floor 2). That just happens to suit me – incidentally the same level as the upper level of my townhouse. Many of my neighbours are happy with higher levels. What’s the problem with that?

  19. Eight storeys is properly a good trigger point to have a human scale check. Ten storeys more a tipping point where the risk of noticeable poor outcomes becomes much harder to hide.
    This report which is based on willingness to pay http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10901-010-9203-8#Equ5
    It makes the statement “there was a greater premium for shorter buildings than for taller ones” & Fig.2 shows the change at about the 8th floor.

    1. “there was a greater premium for shorter buildings than for taller ones” suggests that this won’t be the most effective way of creating affordable housing.

      1. The social costs could well be greater. I don’t want to see the scenario where the housing crisis is used as an excuse to build crappy apartments that could be detrimental in the future.

        1. The social costs of a roof over people’s heads, heating and plumbing, in a location that provides access to employment? I don’t want people to make up vague reasons to stop people doing things with their property.

  20. I guess the more bedrooms the more carparks that will be required which will not help the road congestion. Perhaps then, better more one and two bedrooms. But as stated it is being built within existing amenities so should attract residents looking for travel options as well as cars, e.g. rail. Should be good for local businesses who sell products in demand.

    By all means let people have a say but not to the point where development gets bogged down for months and years, particularly by Nimbyism which is a big issue for increasing housing supply in Auckland. I like the idea of maybe up to eight stories. Makes the living seem more communal.

    1. Well a sure fire way to have the worst of all outcomes is to mandate parking with housing projects, especially denser dwellings adjacent to decent Transit. Rapid Transit no less, a train every 10 mins each way.

      If nothing else we are spending $2.5b to make the service even better; it would be frankly absurd to then only provide housing for the auto-dependent on the RTN after that decision.

      To force carparking on this or other developments on the RTN would not be a compromise but a spectacular stupidity.

      Numbers of bedrooms? Let the market decide; who are we now; Soviet planners?

  21. As someone who is moving to Glen Eden in 2 weeks I think this is a great idea.
    I don’t yet know the area, but from what I could see town centre looks OK but importantly has lots of potential & I am moving into Glen Eden because I suspect it will really flourish in the near future.
    And a whole lot of new people right next to the town centre will be absolutely fantastic.
    I hope the local board take consideration for people like me who are wanting a town centre that is vibrant and full of life.
    Through I do tend to think that just 1 bed-room apartments is limiting and developments with a range of options tend to have more life to them e.g. from a house perspective because I’m not familiar with apartment – Stonefields compared to Hobsonville.
    And please no mandatory car parks!

    1. Wise move! I have been urging anyone asking about where to look in AKL to go for anywhere within reach of Western Line stations, cos you’re getting a major boost in access and value cos of the CRL. Beat the rush.

      Glen Eden has good bones too.

    2. Thanks Adam and welcome out west. I live nearby and I have worked in Glen Eden for 27 years and it is a wonderful community. And I agree that the development would be good for businesses. Local business owners realise this.

      I have thought for years that the railway station represents Glen Eden’s future. As more and more people catch the train they will realise that living in close proximity to the railway station is a virtue.

  22. Someone asked for impacts on Waikumete Cemetery. Waikumete is a schedule A heritage site. What needs looking at is a 10 storey building right on the boundary of the oldest part and the impact that would have visually. This is where the wildflower sanctuary, Chapel of Faith in the Oaks and Sextons House are. There needs to be an assessment of how it would look if you are in the cemetery. Also, 10 stories is very high and out of keeping with the character of the whole area. The PAUP sets 6 stories for Glen Eden Township. This application is under the old district plan rules of WCC which had no height limit, but no one had applied to go that high. Apart from CBD and larger town centres eg Manukau, Newmarket, no small town centres allow 10 stories. What I’d like to see for Glen Eden and the rest of the region is good quality urban design, master planning, not this adhocery that results from letting the market decide within very loose planning rules. New Lynn is a good example of proper planning, but it is unusual in Auckland.

    1. “Also, 10 stories is very high and out of keeping with the character of the whole area”

      If you build more of them then it won’t be. The first old bungalow built in Glen Eden was out of character with the whole area too.

      1. The ‘out of character’ argument suggests the current character is ideal, perfect, and arrived at by some process that selected it. This is in no way the case. It is like most built places on the planet exactly the result of ‘adhocracy’. Cities are almost always built incrementally by chancers and dreamers, trying simply to live. We, the citizens, rely on them to provide us our dwellings and our city, for better or worse.

        We certainly can all wish for a Haussmann, or Cerdá, with the economic and political power and aesthetic drive to build us a utopia, but remember we are just as likely to get a Robert Moses [cf: Steven Joyce and RoNS]. And certainly the district plan is not a set of rules from the top of the mount to bring us this utopia, nor does it actually build anything at all.

        Furthermore this idea of a necropolis being somehow diminished by a place for the living being nearby is frankly weird; If the dead can’t have neighbours who on earth can? Again this is simply to claim that nothing is better than something, and is just an anti-city, and anti-people, a misunderstanding of where Auckland is at now in its development story. There are huge numbers of truly great urban cemeteries all over the world to refute this: eg Perè Lachaise in Paris, still a peaceful place for reflection but surrounded by life [and once set in the fields].

        In all of Auckland, and especially at its fringes, ‘out of character’ is a nonsense argument, a charter for stasis and decline.

        1. We also must remember that both Haussmann’s Paris and Cerdà’s Barcelona were built by changing what was previously there; by the very process of changing the existing character. There is literally no other way of building a city.

          I like Glen Eden, but to claim it is perfect is absurd; they even build new buildings in Paris somehow.

          Another favourite is the Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires:


          1. Oh yes let’s talk cemetery green spaces. Assistens Cemetery in Copenhagen is a beautiful cemetery, greenspace and thoroughfare. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assistens_Cemetery_%28Copenhagen%29?wprov=sfla1

            I haven’t looked at the GE plans at all yet but a concern of mine is how these developments open onto neighbouring greenspaces. Examples of where it is done poorly: Myers park and Grafton cemetery. The apartments there put up a dead solid wall to the parks, shutting off that area completely. Opportunity there for a foyer/courtyard/deck facing into the park which would be of benefit to tenants and bring some life to the green space. Cemetery as Living space how cool is that.

    2. As a Local Board member making these decisions I think it’s disingenuous for you to hide behind pseudonyms.

      There is no one suggesting building on the cemetery or replacing existing buildings. If we can’t even build something within sight of historic buildings then the only solution is endless sprawl. Is that what you’re advocating?

      As you mention (and something I forgot to add it to the post), the existing district plan is allows for unlimited height and that’s what this is being applied for under. Bringing the Unitary Plan into it is a moot point until it has been approved and we don’t yet know what the IHP will recommend.

      1. Its Sandra Coney. This is her default wordpress account name and her details are in her gravitar account.

    3. A township? Which Glen Eden is this, presumably not the suburb that is part of a continuous urban metropolitan area of 1.5 million people?

    4. Hi bestforthewest

      My grandparents (and a few other miscellaneous relatives) are buried in Waikumete.

      I’m happy for more buildings to go up in the vicinity of their graves. I believe my grandparents would feel the same – they were pragmatists who wanted the best thing for the living. Housing is one of the main unmet needs in Auckland today, and I can’t imagine them arguing that it should go unmet to avoid casting shadows on a cemetery.

      Heritage is, for me, about connection to the *people* who used to live here, including but not limited to my ancestors. Please don’t use it as a reason to oppose housing, as I don’t think that’s in keeping with their views and values.

    5. Fine. Lets cut down a bunch of trees in the Waitakeres to house people instead. Sandra Coney. Never build in the Waitakeres because it ruins them. Where is her house? Yip, nestled into Piha. No trees were removed of course. ROFL.

    6. “There needs to be an assessment of how it would look”.

      Significantly safer is how it would look. Just imagine all of those people looking out of their window to enjoy that heritage every day.

    7. There are plenty of tall buildings in London right next to cemeteries a lot older than this one!
      I’m pretty sure the dead won’t mind…
      Also if it is the oldest part then relatives of the dead are likely to be grandchildren/great grandchildren etc rather than immediate offspring.

  23. I have a suggestion for those that don’t want more intensification: Move out of Auckland into the regions where there is a ton of space. You can get more than a quarter acre for your money. Oh but you want the benefits of a city as well? Tough. Make a choice! Auckland is growing and is moving away from a quarter acre town.

    1. That’s ridiculous. It’s entirely consistent to enjoy a city of x inhabitants and y character but not want that city to be any bigger. Nobody wants Auckland to be a village, but nobody wants Auckland to be any bigger. Auckland isn’t as good now as it was 10 or 20 years ago.

      1. Non sequitur. Just because you don’t want the city to be any bigger, doesn’t mean you have any right to impose that view on others by preventing people from using their private property as they see fit.

      2. I want Auckland to be bigger. It’s far better than it was ten years ago and far far better than twenty years ago. Back then it was shit.

  24. I have seen many living places in my life. Good and bad.
    Houses facing in the wrong direction, not getting any sun, with no views, near a noisy motorway, on the wrong side of a hill, far away from amenities.
    In one of my houses I added an extra upper room and was well rewarded.
    Apartments are very desirable and are not slums

  25. Dear Local Boards [all], please read this:


    ‘Increasing urban density is the only policy that ensures that both current and prospective home owners can win.’

    ‘And to be frank, the time for gripes over traffic and loss of character neighbourhoods is over. Next time you are stuck in rush hour gridlock, just be thankful that you have a home to get to, and that you won’t be spending the night in your car. Auckland desperately needs more housing.’

    And for a measured view on urban density and its complications, this is good, from Aus: https://theconversation.com/urban-density-matters-but-what-does-it-mean-58977

  26. This is not an argument for or against an apartment building. I lived in an apartment building for 14 years and it was great. What the Local Board wants is good quality, well designed, socially responsible apartment buildings. Is that so radical? And of course Glen Eden town centre is not perfect as it is; the LB has been working for and is embarking on improvements. We’ve really struggled to get budget from Council. Yes, GE could do with more people shopping in and using the town centre. Great. But I don’t know why people think there should not be debate about the style and appearance of new developments. I want good developments, not developments which just pack people in. People have asked about the cemetery. The concern is that within the oldest heritage parts of the cemetery, the building will be looming above you. Whereas now, by its nature, a cemetery is low and flat and you can only see the sky. Where you can see the city in some high parts of the cemetery, it is distant. I make no apologies for talking about heritage. It happens to be important and is a critical part of Glen Eden. Yes, the cemetery could provide good open space for apartment dwellers. Yes, people already use it for walking and jogging and taking their dogs. We encourage that. I suggest some of these bloggers should actually go and look at where we are talking about.

    1. Yes of course, this is indeed a discussion about quality. But the last 50 years of trying to achieve quality by enforcing sprawl and low density have clearly failed.

      I have not seen the proposed scheme; it may very well be very poorly designed, or it may be glorious, but design quality wasn’t the issue raised by the LB, but a whole lot of height and density controls.

      Please please please can we have a focus on quality, which needs to start with an end to conflating density and building height with poor quality.

      Slums can be horizontal or vertical; and so can palaces.

    2. “People have asked about the cemetery. The concern is that within the oldest heritage parts of the cemetery, the building will be looming above you. Whereas now, by its nature, a cemetery is low and flat and you can only see the sky. Where you can see the city in some high parts of the cemetery, it is distant.”

      Why is that a concern though? I understand it is what you are worried about but not why.

      1. Broken down all that is saying is that something will change. There is no argument in there that that change is bad, except the absurd hint that this building will somehow block out the entire sky, merely the assumption that any change is bad simply because it means it will be different from what there is now.

        This is the issue at the heart of these kind debates. There is a vocal group that believes this a priori. All change is bad. And this is the idea that runs like a river through the LB expressed views on this project.

        Cities are change, and right now Auckland is going through another intense period of change everywhere. We are past debate whether there should be change, can we please now focus on making the inevitable change as good as possible?

        In my view the first step in that process is to accept big change is coming and it always contains the possibility of bringing more good than loss. Growth periods, like now, are the best chance for improvement in any part of the city. Working with the forces of change is the best hope to bend them into positive shape.

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