Yesterday the government announced a fast track consenting process for a bunch of projects. I’ll talk about that in a separate post but one of the projects that it will be used for is Phase 1 of the Unitec development.

The government announced back in early 2018 that it was going to take over and develop the Unitec site with 2,500-4,000 homes (possibly up to 8,000 people) but there has been no information about it since then. Looking to see if there was any new information about it and I found that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) yesterday also quietly released the Unitec Plan and Strategic Framework.

The site is less than 6km from the city centre and is being developed in partnership with Mana Whenua. HUD saying it’s possibly the “single largest contiguous ‘brownfields’ development in NZ“. It is also going to have very good transport connections – it’s on the doorstep to the Northwest and Waterview cycleways which provides links towards the Southwest and soon New Lynn. It also is only a short distance to the Mt Albert and Baldwin Ave train stations, and when built will be even closer a rapid transit line on the Northwest.

Here are the key metrics for the development

The site development starts with 26.5 hectares of land which are the core-landholdings, with an additional 9.3 hectares under negotiation.

The base plan is fully compliant with the Auckland Unitary Plan. It delivers:

  • 11.3 hectares (41%) of open space (including road reserves)
  • 12.3 ha of developable land
  • ~ 2,500 – 3,000 dwellings across nine Precincts (individual neighbourhoods)
  • building heights of between 2 stories in the South rising to 8 stories in the centre and North
  • density of between 94 and 113 dwellings per hectare gross or 204 per hectare net
  • a ratio of 0.95 carparks to each dwelling

The overall project is estimated to take 10 – 15 years to complete.

Here are the key moves they say are guiding the development and they sound pretty good.


  • Enrich the new communities with tangible connections to the past including through retention of key buildings, trees and fragments of the site’s history.
  • Refurbish the Carrington Hospital building for community / commercial activities and create a new public open space reinvigorated with native planting as its distinctive setting.
  • Retain the Carrington Hospital, Pump House, Stables and associated Courtyard building as distinctive place-based accents / markers within the new community.
  • Create strong statement entrances into the site: Waharoa, including installing prominent site markers between Carrington Hospital and its northern frontage to Pt Chevalier and the Northwestern Motorway – to create a landmark to define the new community.
  • Plant common gardens with edible produce for residents and the community.


  • Create a generous provision of interconnected, prominent open space setting with the amenity necessary to support the new community and its residential neighbours.
  • Build on the natural assets of the site, including opening up and daylighting the Wairaka Stream.
  • Enhance a significant green corridor linking Carrington Road to Te Auaunga with multiple East / West connections.
  • Celebrate water in the landscape – reinforce the Wairaka and Te Auaunga waterways, and incorporate design that makes the stormwater capture, conveyance, treatment and re-use visible.
  • Improve existing recreation areas for informal sport, and build new places for family kick-a-ball and games, imaginative play, multi-age, accessible playgrounds, and for residents to gather, cook and eat.
  • Enhance the site’s bio-diversity and grow seasonally responsive habitat / plantings. Preserve significant trees.
  • Protect features that will provide continuity during the transition of the site into an urban village.


  • Strengthen / enhance and establish new, predominantly pedestrian and cycleway connections to the site from the surrounding open space, neighbourhoods and town centres.
  • Significantly improve the nature and quality of the pedestrian and cycle linkages, for example through a new overbridge or dedicated pathway to Pt Chevalier, reinforcing the new identity of the site.
  • Create a fine grain of internal site connections to establish a predominance of pedestrian and car alternative modes, including walking and running tracks, routes for bicycles and alternative lowspeed modes across site.
  • Support improved public transport including Carrington Road busway, new (north and south bound) bus stops and connections to mass transit mobility networks.
  • Retain and improve the site’s four current access points, including by reconfiguring the ‘Gate 1’ entrance.
  • Retain separation between car traffic from the South, and the site and Unitec campus.


  • Build sustainable infrastructure: collect, reuse, recycle; solar generation; energy efficient buildings, energy and water harvesting / storing / redistribution.
  • Implement a strategy that reduces the impact of cars and carparking over time, including carparking buildings that can be re-purposed for commercial and / or residential use, shared parking with Unitec, charging stations for e-vehicles, pool cars.
  • Promote carbon neutrality.
  • Consider a new primary school.
  • Collaborate with Unitec for continued learning, skill development, shared knowledge and learning laboratories.
  • Use the synergy between the construction to create training and skill development opportunities.
  • Trial, evaluate and champion new technologies.


  • Development that fits with the landform / topography.
  • Areas that are able to be independently staged while cohesive as a whole.
  • Individual neighbourhoods with distinct scale, intensity and identity.
  • Commercially viable and feasible.
  • Scope to match development to market cycles. Mixed housing (public, affordable and market).

The development will be built in stages with the provisional staging below:

  • Southern
  • Carrington Road along the road frontage and east of Taylor’s
  • Northern and North-Western Precincts
  • Internal stages of Northern and Carrington Road Precincts
  • Te Auaunga North and South Precincts

And here’s the high level information on the precincts.

Southern Precinct

  • Complementary to existing residential neighbourhood.
  • Low to medium density, 2 to 5 storeys (50 to 80 dwellings per hectare).
  • A suburban transition, with finely grained streets and pedestrian connections.
  • Small blocks and lower density at the boundary grading to medium density.
  • Transport connections controlled – no access to Campus

Carrington Rd Precinct

  • Medium-high intensity (120 to 150 dwellings per hectare).
  • 4 to 12 stories, starting at 4 to 8 and increasing East to West with falling topography.
  • Varied frontages along Carrington Road on East (mid-heights).
  • Stepped down westwards toward the central lower basin and open space corridor.
  • East / West open space connections from Carrington Road to the central open space and Te Auaunga.
  • Pedestrian prioritised central North / South street.
  • Mixed use residential and commercial / retail adjacent to vibrant activity centre in the South, scaled to support the local community.

The image appears to be of the internal part of the Carrington Precinct which happens at a later stage of the development

Northern Precinct

  • Medium intensity (100 dwellings per hectare).
  • Varied typology and scale of footprint creating diversity and choice (options for development and living).
  • 3 to 6 storeys.
  • Shared courtyards.
  • Significant trees preserved.
  • Buffer to Mason Clinic.
  • Connect to Carrington Hospital Precinct.
Wairaka Stream and parkland open space looking toward Western side of Carrington Rd Precinct

North Western Precinct

  • High intensity (but small building footprints).
  • Landmark residential towers with outlook to the central city and harbour.
  • Māori architectural references / identity.
  • 8 – 10 storeys located and scaled in respect of views to Tūpuna Maunga.
  • Site development relative to trees and Carrington Hospital context.
  • Buffer at lower levels to Mason Clinic

Carrington Hospital Precinct

  • Adaptive re-use of Carrington Hospital, such as shared offices with flexible tenancies creative technologies, common spaces and public access.
  • Set within public open space parkland.
  • Improve cycle and pedestrian linkages, including an enhanced connection to Pt Chevalier.

It would certainly be good if the NW cycleway could link up better with the crossing just south of Sutherland Rd and I’m interesting to hear about this new overbridge to connect to Pt Chev.

Te Auaunga North and South Precincts

  • Medium density, 4 – 6 storey buildings (100 dwellings per hectare).
  • Architecture signals a sustainable, environmentally progressive urban community.
  • Heights that respect and respond to the Volcanic Viewshaft and predominance of the Tūpuna Maunga.
  • Community gardens and a strong connection to water.
  • Connected both to Te Auaunga and the central parkland.

The plans are looking good but it still feels that even with the fast-tracked consenting process that we could be some time off construction actually starting. But then again, depending on what happens with the economy, this could be getting ready at just the right time to keep the vertical building industry busy.

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  1. Quick question: How many total homes?
    Also interesting to see how many will be Kiwibuild. I’m looking forward this election to Labour outlining how it will get kiwibuild back on schedule. So far Kiwibuild is way way behind target

    1. I think they will try and mention Kiwibuild and light rail as little as possible during the campaign. No point dwelling on their failures when they are popular anyway.

    2. Better question is how many home can be accommodated by the existing sewage system?
      I believe there is no capacity available for at least 6 years, until the central interceptor is completed and the local area connected.

      1. There’s been so little focus on reducing the stormwater entering the combined sewers. Town centre upgrades that remove trees and that don’t install rain gardens, for example.

        And consents for low rise car-focused developments that cover all the site but a tiny pocket of garden, and which should instead have gone to 4 storeys but left a large area of green area to absorb stormwater. With all this newly covered land, the combined sewers get overloaded and our beaches cop the overflow.

        Similarly, Council fails to adopt the approach of using household rainwater tanks to feed the toilets, washing machines and hot water cylinders. This system provides capacity in the tanks between storm events, even in mid winter, allowing for far less sewage overflow.

        The system is broken, because it’s not that there aren’t experts in Council who understand this, it’s that no-one is allowing the right decisions to be made.

  2. After all that has been gone through, this plan doesn’t mention or show the Mahi Whenua food forest and community gardens. There must be a mistake – I’ll try to find out.

    1. See below mention re “community gardens”

      • Medium density, 4 – 6 storey buildings (100 dwellings per hectare).
      • Architecture signals a sustainable, environmentally progressive urban
      • Heights that respect and respond to the Volcanic Viewshaft and
      predominance of the Tūpuna Maunga.
      • Community gardens and a strong connection to water.
      • Connected both to Te Auaunga and the central parkland.

      1. Yeah I saw that. But then they show development over the one that is supposed to be protected.

        “The sale and purchase agreement between Unitec and the Government has resulted in the retaining of the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua as an entity with a safe future.”

        Here’s info about the history:
        And about the permaculture at the site:

        It must just be a mistake, with the information not having been passed on.

        1. Yes but that’s the base layer, whereas the new buildings, roads or paths, and the oval things (water storage? buildings?) are overlaid on top of that… and they are on the food forest and garden.

        2. In my experience, masterplans, unless they are part of a formal RMA process, are really just baseline studies for further thinking. But understand your concern.

          The ovals must be buildings. Water tanks that size and number as visible in the first image at the top of the article would be big enough to serve the whole western isthmus!

        3. I had the same thought and was looking for where Sanctuary Mana Whenua Community gardens are on the diagram and map. If buildings aren’t actually on top of the site, they appear to be really close. Mention of Community garden is not reassuring – they could be talking about a complete new (and new concept) garden for the new housing community, not the existing (and protected) gardens.

        4. Apparently the maps aren’t to survey and we can’t expect accurate locations on it for anything.

          I’ll hold my tongue for now.

  3. Google maps says Unitec is a 22 minute walk to Baldwin Station and 15 minutes to Mt Albert. Half the site is even further.

      1. I think Google measures to the middle of the site. So it is 1.8km to Baldwin and 1.2km to Mt Albert. If you were producing propaganda you might measure to the gate of a large site.

        1. It’s only 500m to the gate. 700m gets you to the quad of the main southern cluster of buildings.

          Anyway, two frequent bus routes running along the Carrington Rd frontage can shuttle anyone who doesn’t care to walk.

    1. That’s how far away my nearest train stations are and I walked to/from them everyday when I worked in the CBD. It’s close enough to be useful and a lot better proximity than most Auckland houses.

      A real estate agent would describe that as “two train stations right on your doorstep!!!”

      1. You would really want a rapid transit line to run directly through such a dense development like this. 10 – 15 mins might be fine for the daily commute but it’s not going to get people to hop on the train for other trips.

        1. Did you miss the centre-running bus lanes on Carrington Road in the artist impression? Carrington Rd is maybe 200-300m away from all parts of the area. And Carrington Road Upgrade is in the 10 year plan as funded (of course who knows what the impacts of the current budget crisis are, but it was going to be in the second half of the decade anyway).

        2. Currently Carrington Rd has the Outer Link and the 66 to connect people to the trains if they’re not so mobile or if they’re carrying a load. This means it’s currently 8 to 10 buses per hour each direction.

          I don’t know about achieving a rapid transit route through there, but the bus to train connection at Mt Albert needs to be improved. Also, to improve upon the reliability and speed of the buses, the area should have had modal filters (for buses, active modes and oversized vehicles) at the time they put in Waterview, and the area should have become a Low Traffic Neighbourhood. This could still happen now, and if there’s going to be a downturn in economic activity, the earlier they do it the better.

          Instead, they’re showing Carrington Rd widened, for bus lanes and a two-way cycleway. This is another way to improve the bus reliability.
          It’s the conventional way, but it’s the sort of thing we need to stop if we don’t want our rates to rise and traffic volumes to increase everywhere. It’ll create more overland stormwater flow, will require bigger intersections at its ends, which are unsafe for people walking and cycling, therefore it’ll prevent modeshift and induce traffic. It’s basically just more infrastructure for us to maintain.

        3. No didn’t miss them, I was talking about access to rapid transit, not some cross town bus routes.

          By Auckland standards this is a good development in terms of access to public transport but it shows how poor Auckland’s standards have been. A development like this really should be somewhere where you can fall out of you apartment into a rapid transit station.

        4. “A development like this really should be somewhere where you can fall out of you apartment into a rapid transit station.”

          You can sort of achieve this by building a light rail / busway station at Pt Chev. Of course you’d need light rail / busway first. Sigh.

        5. It would certainly be closer, although still on the narrow edge of the development.

          To clarify I fully support this development, however I’m just imagining myself signing up for an apartment with a 15 min walk to the train station. I currently live in a stand alone house with a 15 walk, I’d want to be a lot closer to justify living in an apartment. Of course I may well not be the target market!

        6. An advantage I see here is that you can roll out of your apartment into public space for actual humans. It may sound stupid but I have never seen this in Auckland before. And it is in fact the main reason why I would currently never move into an apartment in Auckland.

          Regarding transport, the thing that would make or break it is access to surrounding areas by bicycle. You don’t normally hop on a bus for daily errands because riding a bicycle is almost always much faster and more flexible.

          8 to 10 buses per hour always sounds nice, but the mix between a 12 minute headway on OUT and the 15 minute headway of the 66 results in a very uneven running pattern with the odd 12 minute gap. So it will not reliably be faster than walking.

        7. (Correction: I have actually seen this in Wynyard Quarter, but for an apartment over there, if you have to ask you cannot afford it)

        8. The outer link may be scheduled for every 15 minutes but it is more accurate to be 4 times per hour with spacing anything from 10 seconds to 30 minutes.
          Maybe a good candidate for the “AT Uber”.

        9. It’ll improve once it’s no longer a loop, which makes the usual bus bunching problems become extreme. Then we need steady improvements in bus priority and probably a shift from timetables to bus headway planning.

        10. You could also improve bus reliability, by, gasp, adding bus lanes on Carrington Road – planned – and at intersections. Reliability is all about buses not getting caught up in the rush hour traffic (and about less loops, true).

          As for cycleways, well, you got the Northwestern west and east, Waterview / Avondale-New-Lynn-SH20 routes to the south (all there already, which is pretty great for Auckland conditions), and if AT ever do anything, protected cycle lanes on Carrington Road and Pt Chevalier Road (some time in the 21st Century).

        11. More… bigger… wider… or… live within our means, our footprint, by shifting space and resources around. It’s kinda kinder on our kinder.

          Attending in a serial way to pinch points in the network by widening roads is what we’ve been doing for decades. Doing so for bus priority is just the latest way to build roads and charge it to the public transport tab. It’s how to slowly sink the city under traffic and set ourselves up for a network we can’t maintain.

          Whereas planning within our available footprint by restricting traffic and reallocation is how to allow a proper city to emerge, minimise maintenance costs, and leave more money and land for future opportunities…

  4. This plan looks great. Conceptually similar to Hobsonville Point but with far superior public transport and active mode links due to its location.

    However we can’t afford to wait 10-15 years for this development to complete before copying the concept elsewhere in the isthmus. This needs to be the first of several being built in parallel. There are lots of smaller (10-30% of the size) sites around Auckland that would benefit from similar treatment.

    1. There are indeed several going on already, many of which are already consented and/ or under construction and being led by Kainga Ora. The stretch of the isthmus running east/west between Pt Chev and Onehunga is planned to get some serious growth over the next 10 to 15 years.

      1. Mangere looks quite exciting. Although I think they should start with the enormous car park around the town centre. Excellent opportunity for regeneration there.

        1. Isn’t that car park private land? [Correction, I just checked property records and it IS Council land – interesting. There may still be long term leases for the car parks for the mall use, but it points at some opportunities…]

        2. I was meaning Mangere, not Mangere Bridge. This is what is happening:

          And this is the bit that I think needs development first:,174.7981124,498m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x374b4130a2cc52fb!8m2!3d-36.9697222!4d174.7997222

          Actually when you hover over “Mangere Central” in the map on the home page of the development, it says, “Coming Soon” so I’m looking forward to seeing whether they tackle the big problem or not.

        3. If you read the [Mangere Development/How will the community benefit?] page it basically says there will be new houses (duh) and new footpaths on the affected roads and an improved park. Pretty much the bare minimum.
          None of the good stuff that should be associated with higher density development like town centres, walking, cycling, PT, high streets, schools, etc.
          I guess maybe they will get light rail in Mangere one day (unless Twyford’s new scheme bypasses it altogether which wouldn’t surprise).

      2. The Kainga Ora developments are good but they’re working within existing property boundaries. They’re not building low traffic neighbourhoods by prioritising active modes and PT, removing on street parking and narrowing roads. They’re not aspiring to Transit Oriented Development or high density.

        Now this isn’t Kainga Ora’s fault; they don’t have the authority to make the changes in transport networks that should go hand-in-hand with changes to land use. They also don’t have access to land in the best locations for things like TOD.

      3. “The stretch of the isthmus running east/west between Pt Chev and Onehunga is planned to get some serious growth over the next 10 to 15 years.”: yeah growth in houses but doesn’t seem to be any improvements to infrastructure planned. Here in Mt Roskill South we are getting 10,000 new homes but I haven’t seen any plans to update our disgraceful town centres (unless you include Mt Roskill town centre which is miles from any development) or new PT (our frequent buses will no doubt be replaced will less frequent buses to get us to the “local” light rail station which looks like it will be much further away than we voted for). They could build something really good, but I think they are aiming for a low cost slum.
        Meanwhile all the areas opposed to any form of development seem to be getting 100% of council funding (probably including all of the development contributions from elsewhere).

        1. What do you think, then, of the reply to my question at one of the emergency budget webinars. The reply specifically mentions Mt Roskill infrastructure.

          The question was:
          Paragraph 45 indicates a belief on the part of the Chief Economist that new pipes and roads enable house-building activity. These projects run counter to Council’s compact city strategy. Housing can be enabled through upgrading existing infrastructure instead, which is cheaper, climate-appropriate, and leaves money for actually investing in housing. Why has the Chief Economist shown a bias towards greenfields development, and what is he basing this on?

          The response was:
          We’ve had a question about the emphasis of our investment. Our chief economist is saying that it is, I repeat earlier that investing in pipes and roads to enable housing growth is an important stimulus for the economy in Auckland. And an important part of getting people working. Keeping them working. So there are a lot of flow through benefits from these sorts of investments. But the question is concerned that that’s got too much emphasis on supporting greenfields. So the council’s unitary plan provides for both target for a compact city and it provides for growth within our current limits, but also in some of the greenfields areas. Our investments are to support growth in both areas and not universally greenfields. There’s a big emphasis on upgrading and installing new pipes and roads, in public transport systems to facilitate intensification within the city’s boundaries. And you can certainly see this happening in Mount Roskill, for example.

        2. Sorry but pipes don’t do it for me Heidi 😉 I kind of figured they were a given in any new development! (I guess a real slum might not have any pipes…).
          I can see plenty of new houses going up (they are OK but pretty average really compared to say Hobsonville) and I’m by no means opposed to the new houses (they are a lot better than what was there and some extra density would be great). But I can’t see any evidence or plans for new (non pipe) infrastructure / parks / town centres / PT / etc (let me know if you are aware of anything!)
          They do however seem to have nice new footpaths and town centres up the road in no-development-allowed Mt Eden! I guess the louder you complain the more you get…

  5. Is there a more up to date Masterplan available? The one shown is pre-Waterview Tunnel works so the adjacent Waterview neighbourhood to the west is now quite different.
    It would be good to see what is now being proposed instead of a plan that must be well over 5 years old!

  6. Unitec might be a fair hike from the nearest rail stations but will be much closer to the North Western light rail which will presumably have a station in or adjacent to the Point Chevalier town centre.
    One notable change is that the Taylor’s laundry buildings and chimneys are not shown on their drawings – having a big industrial hole in the middle of a residential development always looked a bit suss.

    1. it is extremely unlikely that the North Western Light Rail line will ever proceed, especially as NZ First is blocking the project, and Phil Twyford is incapable of making the decision to return the project to the NZTA and AT.

      A better solution would be a bus hub inside the residential development, bring buses into the centre of the new community. You can see a ( windswept ) example of this at the Massey University Campus at Albany

  7. I’ve asked several people why this went silent for the best part of 2-3 years, and haven’t had an answer. Weird and fishy sounding.
    This should be being built by now…

  8. It looks a bit sterile, to be honest.
    I thought that trend of having lots of glass on the exterior of blocks of apartments/flats as though they’re office buildings went out of favour 5 years ago when the reality of how filthy they get (and how poor their thermal insulation is) couldn’t be ignored? I shudder to think how it’s going to look when it isn’t new anymore.

    And I hope they’ve considered how those blocks are going to be oriented with respect to the sun and possible wind…

    1. Unfortunately many of the renderings look like a modern North American ‘Project’ or a low rise version of a Hong Kong Public Housing Estate. I’m not a fan.

      New Zealand needs to get density right and this does not appear to be it. Point blocks with ‘green space’ around look bucolic in renderings but in effect on south facing areas will be dark, foreboding, and unattractive. This is exactly the problem that Jane Jacobs railed about 60 years ago and we have not learned the lesson.

      Build urban districts, with shop houses, hutongs or a mini version of a Barcelona Superblock with pedestrian streets, and buzz with people on the streets at all hours. Yes build parks but make them focal points with buildings around them – don’t place the buildings in the parks.

      And the renderings? What’s with that one with glowing windows in the daytime? See this recent presentation by American Kate Wagner (15 June 2020) on the follies of designers and gullibility of civic authorities – see here –

      from 27:50 for the Perils of Rendering…. but the rest is great too. (with a shoutout to a certain Christchurch building)

      As a master plan Unitec is a start – but let’s hope that this does not become a failed ‘project’ and in turn become the set for a New Zealand version of ‘The Wire’.

    2. No it hasn’t gone out of fashion. Architects are still trying to make houses that look like offices, offices that look like factories and factories that look like farm buildings. Someone will go the next step soon and make a house that looks like a factory and skip the middle stage.

  9. A new road connect to Great North Road would be great for access to west like waterview and Avondale.

    The cycleway from the Oakley bridge via Great North road should be better integrated and connected.

    There should be a cycleway connection to the railway cycleway (to New Lynn Avondale)

    1. I’d be much happier with an active mode bridge, why do we need more roads, when what we want is more connectivity.

      Walking or cycling places should be the default.

    2. “There should be a cycleway connection to the railway cycleway (to New Lynn Avondale)”

      That was built and opened 2 years ago. Waterview Shared Path. The New Lynn Avondale Path is an extension thereof.

      1. Yes goes right through it albeit more on the west side.

        The older GA post Matt links to mentions a bus only bridge could go through the site somehow to improve transit. Not sure this would work with the layout shown (though guess actual layout designed yet?). In any case walking etc access to the existing routes I’m sure will be greatly improved on what is there now.

        1. The bus bridge was a proposal by Unitec that was first (?) raised during the Waterview motorway consenting. It might have some benefits, but was opposed among other reasons because of the impact it was felt by many locals on Te Auaunga (Oakley Creek) with a much more massive structure needed than what was finally built (the walk/cycle bridge).

  10. Question . Are these all going to be privately owned or are they going to be a mixture of state owned i.e pensioner units and private apartments .

    1. It’ll be a mix of public, affordable (Kiwibuild) and market homes.

      A lot of Kainga Ora-led developments seem to have roughly a 1:1:1 split between the three types. So I’d imagine similar here.

      1. Yep, last line on page 3 of the document: “Scope to match development to market cycles. Mixed housing (public, affordable and market).”

        1. Also on the website:

          in the FAQ states:
          “What types of homes will there be?
          The site is suitable for a range of market, KiwiBuild and affordable homes, long-term rentals, progressive home ownership housing, public housing including with community housing providers, across a mix of terraces, walk-ups and apartments.”

  11. I’m trying to decide what those buildings look most like. 1970s era soviet communist housing, or Ports of Auckland shipping container stacks?

    And unlike my $79,000 3bdm house on quarter-acre section, each small stacked box will most likely be the usual $300,000-$800,000 con job!


    1. If you don’t like it, fine. It’s not intended for you.

      And good luck finding a “$79,000 3bdm house on quarter-acre section” house anywhere in Auckland, let alone in the Inner Isthmus. That price was decades ago in a different city from the one we have, and even inflation alone would undermine much of your argument.

    2. “my $79,000 3bdm house on quarter-acre section”
      Where’s that? In Te Kawhata or Helensville or something?

    3. Thanks again Geoff for your completely irrelevant post about your $79,000 house in the @ss end of nowhere. Do you continually remind readers in every other post in the hope that someone else might join you so you are not so lonely? If you are so anti Auckland its baffling you continually post on a website about said place.

      Renderings are just renderings, are we really judging an a whole new unbuilt community based on some probably outdated 3d models?

      1. “Renderings are just renderings, are we really judging an a whole new unbuilt community based on some probably outdated 3d models?”

        Which were done quickly because its just a concept.

        Of course if the government had spend hundreds of thousands actually *designing* the buildings at this early stage, we’d have people like the Herald attacking them for wasting our taxpayer money.

        Building design gets done for when consents for the actual buildings gets done. With this fast-tracked one presumes this will *start* now or soonish. To expect it to be done already before things are confirmed is ridiculous. It WOULD be wasted money. But with some people you can never win.

        1. Damian, there’s truth to what you say. What I’m concerned about is time slipping away. Years are passing. Are you privy to the timeline? As I understand it there were concept drawings that would’ve been released last April … I’m not sure why these have now been released which seem to have the same problem as the ones not released then. Any idea of what’s happened in the intervening 14 months?

        2. I don’t agree that because they “…were done quickly because its just a concept” is an acceptable excuse for astoundingly stupid design, and misleading renderings. (such sunset bright window images should be banned from any design submission)

          At the earliest stages when evaluating the worth of any development a bulk and density scheme is normally developed. Otherwise how can a developer understand the costs and likely return, and the infrastructure required. An Outline Scheme Design we call them in Hong Kong.

          At Outline Scheme Design stage the density and mix of building topologies will be evident. In this presentation these have been shown – including the decisions to limit the edges abutting the existing residential areas to low rise single family homes. What is clear in both the unrealistic renderings, and the bird’s eye view, is that there is an intention to build point blocks surrounded with greenery. If there is no intention to use such topologies why use them in a “concept”.

          Those in charge of this development should be called on this failure even at the most preliminary stages of the design.

  12. I’m confused, are we disregarding the proof of what good density can look like from the terraces and the main roads of Hobsonville Pt for a reason?

    1. No, we’re learning from the proof of what good density can look like from the apartments of Wynyard Quarter. Terraces are great for outer suburbs, or gentle intensification of less dense inner suburbs, but they are inappropriate far a large redevelopment location this central.

    1. Baiscaly they are designed by a committee that will never live in them and the landscaping looks like it was done by the same idiots that designed the new LQS outside Britomart . And the only time they will visit is the day of opening and then never to return .

  13. So – have you ever worked, been a patient, or studied on this land? Ever been in Building 1 – which will remain? Check the last picture, drawn to make Building 1 look pink and friendly-looking. See the courtyard where there are cafe chairs and tables? Currently, there is a large pentagram cut into the concrete in that exact place. No one knows when it was done – a long time ago. I’m not afraid of the devil, but there is no way in hell I would ever reside on the footprint of these buildings. Honour the history. Acknowledge it. Do not obscure it. Because it has been proven for over 100 years, that there is no way to clear it.

  14. Thank you Matt for the development details. I have picked on one phrase: It will be close to a rapid transit line on the northwest, when built.

    That rapid transit line has to be “heavy” rail, no argument. We have discussed at length on this forum what has been so wrong with Auckland, and the answer is that no more heavy rail was built once the existing lines were built, nearly 100 years ago! I said that in 1985 when the North Shore was being developed. The then National Roads Board said, “Rubbish, rubbish, rail is old fashioned, roads are the transport of the future.” I said they were going against all the accepted knowledge of how to build new towns, and they would regret it in the future.

    We now have our roads, and the congestion is now unbearable. I note that now AT is about to recommence its programme, it want to build more roads!

    We have to start investing in heavy rail before it becomes impossible. I have had a lifetime of experience in this subject. I started work out of university in UK on the electrification of the North West railway line from Rugby to Crewe, in 1962 and I gained a lot of experience in building railways.

    My Urban Planning part of my engineering course stated that the first part of any new town development is to plan the railway line through it, establish stations and freight facilities, and the connections to the nearest railways outside the area.

    Then, as the town is built, the railway can bring all the materials, and the town grows from there. All this was rubbished by our Roads Board at the time.

    But I was right. There have been new towns built in UK, according to the principles laid down in my course, starting with Welwyn Garden City, prewar, and postwar, Bracknell in Berkshire, and many others. Recently, towns have been built around old railway lines, the tracks relaid, and the railway opened again. As I write, volunteers are laying five miles of track from Leek to a new housing estate being built around the old rail line from Macclesfield. I can give you more details of that project, and other examples.

    Back to our new development in Auckland. We need a rail junction at Kingsland, and the new track follows SH16, around the edge of the golf course, to Pt Chevalier, where a new station has to be built. Follow SH16 across the south side of the harbour; the bridge design for this already exists, the overhead portion of the track from Brisbane Airport to the city, their bridge is 8.6km long. Continue to Massey where a new junction is built. One line goes straight on to Kumeu. This will allow fast trains to run from Huapai and Kumeu, via Massey and Kingsland right into CBD via the new rail link. It will also provide a fast service to Helensville.

    The junction at Massey enables the line to go north to Hobsonville, across to Greenhithe, then Constellation, Rosedale and Albany.

    The North Shore will at last have a “heavy” rail connection. Fast trains will be able to get from Albany to CBD in 30 minutes. The railway will be designed for this. It cannot be done with “light” rail. This can be seen in Manchester, UK today. Fast trains from Picaddilly travel to Manchester Airport at twice the speed of the new light rail Metro system which serves many of the south Manchester suburbs. I know the areas, I used to live there.

    The rail to Albany can then be expanded north to Silverdale, Orewa, Puhoi, Warkworth, and to a connection to the existing rail near Wellsford.

    This is the system Auckland has to have, and it will not cost $10 billion, the cost of the pie in the sky “high speed” light rail system talked about. Trains can easily run at 160km/hr on properly designed rails. Light rail generally runs at a maximum of 70 or 80km/hr. Look at the Queensland Railway from Brisbane Airport to the border with New South Wales. I travel on that to visit a friend in Robina, – about our distance to Warkworth. It takes about 70 minutes. Otherwise get off at Helensvale, and transfer to the Surfers light rail system. That system takes 45 minutes to travel 15km. It will be fine as a feeder service to railway stations in Auckland, but no use to serve Massey or Hobsonville, or Kumeu.

    There is a total mental blockage against anything to do with heavy rail in Auckland. Yet it is the only way Auckland will ever start to ease its road congestion. It goes against all accepted practices world wide, not to add to our rail network. With rail to Albany, we will be able to run a train carrying 1000 passengers every, say, six minutes. That is 10,000 passengers per hour. With similar trains from Huapai we will get another 10,000 passengers per hour into the CBD. There is 20,000 passengers per hour, and 20,000 cars off the roads. This is not achievable with light rail. Some will jump up in protest, but I am not aware the Manchester Metro light rail system carries 20,000 passengers per hour. The trains travel at the speed of the London Underground units, not 160km/hr.

    And I have to take this opportunity to press again for a “heavy” rail link to Auckland Airport. This is totally deadlocked for some reason, and has been as far back as I can remember. It is the cheapest solution. I know the costs from UK. Manchester Airport has the exact solution we need. The station cost $72 million in our money today, four platforms. It will complement the heavy rail to Albany. Passengers from North Shore will be able to get to the airport in less than an hour. The numbers will be back to pre covid levels by the time the station is built.

    I have experience in these matters, and I have railway building colleagues in UK. I can add many anecdotes to support what I have said. We have to build more “heavy” rail in Auckland, otherwise the gridlock we have now will be ten times worse in 2040, the year when the workforce will have increased to 400,000 per day. Will no-one listen! This is an election year. Let us all vote for those who will listen, and act. I am willing to join any action group who are prepared to make a combined presentation to the powers that be. Alan Spinks.

    1. “That rapid transit line has to be “heavy” rail, no argument.”

      Except for the fact there isn’t space to put in a rail corridor or junctions at surface level in places like Massey or Hobsonville, so you are likely talking many billions of dollars, probably in the hundreds, to tunnel heavy rail on that scale for marginal benefits over what light rail could achieve for a fraction of the cost. We simply do not have that kind of money to throw at a massively over-engineered solution just so the North Shore can get a heavy rail solution it doesn’t have the industry to justify.

    2. Alan, appreciate you worked on rail many years ago so have experience with it…however, can you highlight any examples of new Rapid Transit lines which are heavy rail? Which Cities are currently rolling out brand new Heavy Rail lines for Urban Rapid Transit?

      You say ‘no argument’ but I’m quite certain there will be plenty of argument as Buttwizard quickly highlighted.

      1. The most outstanding example of heavy rail rapid transport in UK is the new Crossrail project in London. The major parts of it, the tunnels, might be beyond what we need in Auckland, but consider the surface parts of it. In particular, the heavy rail connection to Heathrow Airport has been an outstanding success. Buses to the West Coast Main Line never took more than a few passengers each trip for over 60 years. Now a train service to the same Main Line takes 45,000 passengers per day, and growing. It is expected the numbers will rise to 90,000 per day when the whole line opens to Farringdon in 2022.

        I used the bus from Heathrow airport most times I visited from NZ. Last time 2004. The bus was still slow. i waited for it to start at the airport, sometimes 15 minutes. Then it trundled slowly to Yiewsley for trains to Paddington, Staines, Reading etc, taking 20 minute to do 3 miles. No wonder no-one used the buses.

        Next, the Undergound from Uxbridge was extended to the airport in the 1980s. This was faster than the bus, but it still took about one hour to reach Paddington. Today we would call this high speed light rail. It is very good for short distances in the city, but not for long runs outside the city.

        Now the “rapid transport” Crossrail connection to the airport can do the journey to the Main Line in less than 5 minutes, and all the way to Paddington in 20 minutes. It should reach Farringdon in the city centre in 30 minutes. This is what we need in Auckland. I am getting a lot of flack from people who think it is beyond our resources, but i know the prices of equipment. What I do not know is how people in this country will tackle the job.

        Kiwirail is saying it needs to bring people in to upgrade our Northern Rail lines. I was in Ministry of Works when we built the Kaimai Tunnel. We also lowered the track in the tunnels between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki to allow bigger containers to go through, and also to allow improvements to the electrification. I could find people who know those things even though we are getting on for 80. We need to train people to build railways. They provide the backbone of all our infrastructure.

        Back to trains in UK. Many previously closed railway lines have been reopened, electrified, and now provide a rapid transport commuter service. Some are still privately owned. The East Chinnor to Oxford railway is one such. For years they argued for a rail connection to the main line near Oxford, and Network Rail showed no interest. Now the connection is made and they can run a fast diesel multiple unit for commuters, much faster than the local bus service.

        Every new line that is now opened, and electrified, in the UK, provides a rapid tranzit commuter service.

        Manchester has a fast rail service to the Airport, and it has had to be doubled in size in 2019 to cope with the passenger numbers. They have also built a high speed light rail system known as the Metro. These trains are modern versions of London Underground. They are fast, but with frequent stops the overall service is much like London Underground. That system has one platform at Manchester Airport Station. There are no plans to double up on that.

        “Heavy” trains are designed to run at high speeds, typically over 160km/hr on commuter services, but over 300km/hr or 400km/hr long distance.. Metro systems are designed for frequent stops, so they rarely get above 80km/hr. The carriages are designed for the speed expected of them in each system. Modern 400km/hr bogies are outstanding in engineering design. The springing and damping are precise. The wheel tread must never lose contact with the rail.

        So what do we expect of “high speed” light rail in this country? To me that means the Manchester Metro system, or the London Underground. If we want “rapid tranzit,” we have to have “heavy” rail. The carriages and bogies are designed for high speeds, over 160km/hr.

        My argument is, if we have to build a high level rail flyover over Massey, it might as well be heavy rail, rather than light rail. It will not cost any more. The biggest cost is earthquake strengthening. The weight of the trains makes little difference. So we should go for 160km/hr or 200km/hr trains from Albany, not 80km/hr light rail trains. We have to get cars off the Harbour Bridge, and only heavy rail will do that. People will not get out of their cars for anything slower.

        I have costed the clean air we had during lockdown. If it could be maintained for 12 months we could save $1 billion in sickness benefits and medical costs, per year. Reduce the harbour bridge traffic by 20%, and we could theoretically save $200 million in sickness benefits and medical costs, per year. That alone will contribute each year to the costs of getting rail to Albany.

        1. “Some are still privately owned. The East Chinnor to Oxford railway is one such. For years they argued for a rail connection to the main line near Oxford, and Network Rail showed no interest. Now the connection is made and they can run a fast diesel multiple unit for commuters, much faster than the local bus service.”

          Alan thanks for idea’s , and with that above the GVR possibly with the help of AT could possibly run a commuter service linking Glenbrook and Waiuku to either Papakura or Pukekohe , or even Dury when that is completed .

        2. ‘So we should go for 160km/hr or 200km/hr trains from Albany, not 80km/hr light rail trains.’

          No we shouldn’t. The gaps between stations on a line to Albany would not be big enough to allow trains to get anywhere near these speeds, it would be a massive waste of money building track to handle them.

        3. “Light rail generally runs at a maximum of 70 or 80km/hr.”

          “Metro systems are designed for frequent stops, so they rarely get above 80km/hr.”

          So, by your own admission, light rail is a suitable substitute for metro heavy rail.

          They can both carry a similar number of people, at the same speed, in about the same amount of space. So the only significant difference is cost. Here light rail wins because it can be cheaply integrated into the road corridor.

          If a completely grade separated public transport line is to be built (either overhead or underground) then there probably isn’t much cost difference between light rail and heavy rail. But whether we should spend so much money on brand new grade separated lines is a separate argument to the vehicles that run on them.

        4. I love your enthusiasm and aspirations, Alan. But 160km on a North Shore line? Does it have any stops at all?

          Would your proposal not be better for regional rail between Tauranga and Auckland?

        5. Furthermore to dismissing the idea of 160km/h train to Albany:
          Albany isn’t even 20km from the Auckland CBD. So, assuming no stops in between and a short acceleration interval; such a train would get between the two centres in about 8 minutes.

          I’m pretty sure that 80-90 km/h maximum speed light rail, stopping at all the busway stops, could do it in less than 30 minutes. And I’m sure that that would be a more than acceptable transit time for commuters.

    3. Astounding that this chap can talk about ‘total mental blockage’ and ‘has to be “heavy” rail, no argument’ In the same breath.

      I though we were beyond fundamentalist ideologues ranting the sequel to war and peace on these blogs?

      1. Just the latest to turn up and push for HR, without having done the reading.

        Like the airport, its LRT or BRT. Take your pick, but it will never be HR.

        No need to keep flogging the same old constrained network and the most expensive option.

      2. Reply to David L. There is no reason why you could not run a commuter service to Papakura or Pukekohe. The problem is Kiwirail. they own the track and the running rights. In UK, Network Rail owns all the tracks, and looks after all the maintenance, but does not run trains. All the trains are run by private companies like Virgin Trains, and an individual private owner can apply to run a steam special, for example. That is difficult in NZ as you will well know.

        We have the Regional Council in Wellington running the passenger trains, and similarly Auckland Transport runs the Auckland passenger trains. Kiwirail has been forced into those arrangements because passenger services were needed, but it is very difficult for another organization to gain a passenger franchise. Dunedin is looking at that now. I have tried to get a solar powered train to run from Hastings to Napier, as at Byron Bay, north NSW, Australia. Kiwirail does not want to know, and the Regional Council thinks it would be better to buy more buses. A solar powered train would be a tourist attraction. Buses never will be.

        The problem in Auckland is too much negative thinking, so nothing ever gets going. I have said we have to work on expanding the range of services from the City Rail Link. That is being built at last, so let us add to it. A rail line to Massey and Kumeu is the first step. A light rail link will cost no less. The cost of laying rails is the same. And where is the light rail system going to go in the CBD? It will have to go overhead, so we will be duplicating the underground CRL. Adding to the CRL is the cheapest solution. When that has reached its full capacity, then we start building a duplicate system in light rail all over the CBD. The whole system will have to be overhead or underground. “High speed” light rail units cannot share roads with cars or trucks. Light rail that does share roads can be seen at Surfers Paradise. I urge everyone interested to visit it, and enjoy a holiday as well. That system built all over Auckland CBD will work, but its speed is limited to that of traffic, say 15km/hr. The same as bringing back the trams, probably not a bad idea.

        The CRL can have trains every 4 minutes on both tracks. The latest version of the system I designed in 1965 is an upgrade to allow trains every 2.5 minutes at 200km/hr. The trains virtually talk to each other, and if one slows down, the others slow down as well. Signals are hardly necessary. If the train sees a red light it will stop. So the driver is hardly necessary either. The data between trains goes over the overhead wires. I am not aware of this being used on any light rail system.

        1. “I have said we have to work on expanding the range of services from the City Rail Link.”

          One of the key benefits of the City Rail Link, is that it will allow an increase in train frequency across the entire rail network. Many feeder and high frequency buses then connect passengers to the trains at existing stations, including Mt Eden, New Lynn, Britomart etc. Instead of thinking of one limited mode, as a “silver bullet” for Auckland, ie expensive heavy rail. Instead we should continue to develop the current integrated and connected network of various modes, ie bus, light rail, heavy rail, cycle paths, “Street Cars”, high volume bendy buses, ferries and bus lanes. This project is already underway: See:

        2. Jezza the run/service I was talking about was from the Waiuku and Glenbrook area which will have a large number of workers going in both directions and with services on the weekends it could also help the GVR and their finances . Myself and a number friends I know would lie to do day trips out that way as we don’t have a car to use in Auckland , and we don’t want to pay a 3 figure sum to Sealink

    4. Sometimes I bother reading the long comments and sometimes they’re worth it, but Alan gee wizz I just read yours and they are not worth it.

      One of the first blog posts I read here was about how to choose the right mode for the corridor, you seem to be ignoring all that research.

    5. it is extremely unlikely that the North Western Light Rail line will ever proceed, especially as NZ First is blocking the project, and Phil Twyford is incapable of making the decision to return the project to the NZTA and AT.

      A better solution would be a bus hub inside the residential development, bringing buses into the centre of the new community. You can see a ( windswept ) example of this at the Massey University Campus at Albany

    6. “The North Shore will at last have a “heavy” rail connection”

      The current Northern Busway has been built so it can be converted into a Light Rail or Street Car system. This will connect to the CBD from the old “toll booth plaza” via two “tubes” under the harbour. The planning has already been completed. The double decker buses from the Northern Busway will then be moved to key arterial routes around Auckland

    7. “And I have to take this opportunity to press again for a “heavy” rail link to Auckland Airport. This is totally deadlocked for some reason’

      The Airport and AT have studied this “idea” and rejected it for several reasons:

      1. Cost
      2. Access on the Airport Precinct
      3. Only a small % of visits to the Airport start or end in the CBD, most regular trips are by airport workers who live in the West or South East of Auckland
      4. The airport can already be reached from the CBD by the 24/7 SkyBus service
      5. The current Onehunga AT Metro train line is low frequency
      6. The new Puhinui Station will connect to the Airport every few minutes by the new AirportLink buses. These will be electric buses or high capacity bendy “bus-trams”
      7. New frequent bus services to the airport precinct are already planned. They will run from Botany and New Lynn Station; See:
      8. Longer term plans include Light Rail from Mt Roskill, Mangere and Botany. See;

      Information about these projects is available online.

      1. Also, HR between Onehunga and the airport costs twice as much, for about half the stations (maybe what you meant at #2). More money, less catchment.

        And given network constraints, HR frequencies could only be every 30mins.

        How is this still a thing…

  15. Hi David, I have replied more fully, but the text has got buried in the main correspondence following your original letter. Briefly, Kiwirail is not as accommodating as Network Rail in UK. Network Rail does not run any trains. the running rights are given to train running companies like Virgin Trains. Kiwirail wants the tracks to itself, but it does not want to run passenger trains. So Regional Councils and AT have managed to get running rights for passenger trains. It is hard for others to get listened to. I suggest you keep working at your proposal. Would anyone locally in the Council be interested, and help press your case?

    1. Thanks for taking the time to write Alan. I appreciate your bold vision and I agree it is exactly what we need for the long-term development of Auckland and NZ. If the jaundiced attitudes of some towards heavy rail today had been around in generations past, many cities of the world which benefit tremendously from their excellent HR systems now would not be doing so. There is of course a need for street-running of LRT but this alone will not take Auckland forward to where it needs to be. We desperately need more heavy rail as well.

        1. The Tube (London Underground) is very much heavy rail Sailor Boy. EMU’s running on exclusive rights-of-way throughout, both in tunnel and on the surface.

  16. It would be wonderful if the Unitec development can use a model of low-traffic neighbourhoods. When residential streets have zero through-traffic, they can become super public places. Think what you can achieve with well-connected open spaces, plenty of trees, good public transport and relatively high densities.

    I went on a study tour to Vauban and Rieselfeld in Germany back in 2010 – both neighbourhoods had streets and lanes that were alive and safe , due to the lack of traffic. Unitec has the benefit of a place promotion agency, good existing connections and the ability to plan for the long term. How can we ensure that this is a place that people will want to visit to learn about best practice?

    Good article here:

  17. Can you let me know what will happen to the large beautiful trees in front on the historical building near the community garden and forest?
    There are a lot of very large trees in the area and it would be shame to have these removed.
    Also will the community garden and fruit forest remain?

    1. Caroline, it would be nice if we could know these details. They are critical. It’s always worth writing to find out, if you can spare the time.

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