Auckland NIMBYs refused

Written By: - Date published: 9:18 am, February 14th, 2017 - 12 comments
Categories: Economy, housing, im/migration, Social issues - Tags: ,

This morning, Politik reported on their email feed (I can’t see it on their site) that :-

GREEN LIGHT FOR HOUSING IN AUCKLAND
A series of court challenges to the Auckland Council’s Independent Hearings’ Panel Review of the Auckland Unitary Plan were denied yesterday by High Court Judge Christian Whata. The decision opens up more of the city for intensive housing development. That will include inner city so-called “character” suburbs where older villas may be removed from new more intensive housing.

Now that is encouraging. Other reporting from Simon Collins at the NZ Herald reports on the decision and the response from those disappointed. As the judgement makes quite clear, the protagonists who did the challenges had the information and the hearing that they were seeking already (apart from two minor glitches). There is no reason to hold up the intensification of the inner city suburbs.

As one of the rarity of a native Aucklander 1 still living in Auckland I think that this is a eminently sensible decision at several levels.

Firstly while the idea of expanding the boundaries of Auckland to accommodate new suburbs clearly have been this government’s first and still frequently its only response, it is simply not feasible because of the massive infrastructure costs. New suburbs mean that new roads, sewerage, water, power, communications and public transport systems have to be paid for before residents move in.

Just as clearly, the government who are responsible for the massive net migration that has been flooding the city in recent years, were not willing to pay for it. Nor are existing ratepayers either directly or by incurring upfront debt to do so. The Auckland City Council is already sitting close to their boundaries to borrow.

In most cases, intensification of inner suburbs is a whole lot better solution. Most of the infrastructure is already there 3 and it is usually easier to enhance than to put in kilometres of connecting pipes and pumps. Putting money into public transport is easier when the areas are local and already have users.

Secondly even as a long time 2 preservationist of Auckland’s heritage – I have to say WTF? Preserving vast swathes and whole suburbs, which appears to be the intention of groups like the Character Coalition, simply makes no sense. The point of having a city is far more prosaic than trying to live in some kind of museum. The most sensible place to do that is where people would like to live. And if the price of land wasn’t so high in central Auckland, then that is where many would want to live.

If we as a city wish to retain representative samples of our past, then we should concentrate on how to preserve those rather than trying to deny the changes to our ever changing city as internal and external migration increases its population by something like 50 thousand people per year.

Thirdly, increasingly what they want to live in is apartments and townhouses. Sure if you are raising kids then a lawn is great way to get the little horrors 4 from squealing in the house. However for the increasing numbers of the childless, either by choice or by divorce or empty nest syndrome, lawns and houses are simply a pain. We’re working a lot, and don’t have time to maintain them. That is especially the case with old villas.

Besides you can put a hell of lot of low-rise apartments on quite small bits of land. And if we could move the people who would like to rent or owned smaller accommodation with fewer bedrooms, and stop them from blocking up 3 and 4 bedroom housing, then we have a massive over-supply of that type of housing stock for the horrors.

The 51 square metre inner city apartment with its 3m stud that I have had for nearly two decades now has 60 one bedroom dwellings in a three story building. It is in the ground area that used to be a demolition building parts lot.  Even though it is in the near central city, the rates are minimal because it doesn’t have a lot of land area per apartment.

When I was on my own, I used to rattle around in it. When my partner moved in, it got and has remained slightly cramped. We’d move to get a bit more room, but there really isn’t anywhere to move to because there is a shortage of good apartments in Auckland. Most appear to have been built for the vertically challenged who like living paying for lists or living next to  rail lines or motorways.

We need to build more that aren’t in old light industrial areas.

 


  1. Born at National Womans, grew up in the Ponsonby slum, and moved to Sandringham when I was 5 for the better schools.
  2. Back in 1974-5 the family project was to help restore the Alberton house on the slopes of Mt Albert. And we did quite a lot with various similar projects for the Historic Places Trust over the decades.
  3. Not to mention that the refurbishment during the separation of the waste and storm water systems in recent decades across many inner suburbs has already done much of the more heavy work.
  4. As a professional uncle and great-uncle, and being able to borrow rather than suffer, I refer to everyone under the age of about 16 as ‘horrible’. I find it is pretty accurate description as I help their parents to deal with the interesting vicissitudes of their children growing.

12 comments on “Auckland NIMBYs refused”

  1. Carolyn_nth 1

    I often think how the campaigners for no change to the inner suburbs, seem to think their ownership of property makes them tangata whenua of the land, or maybe manu whenua.

    They are but the latest occupants of land that has seen continuing changes to the “heritage” structures going back centuries. Basically they want the whole area to continue to contain only colonial type structures.

  2. Ad 2

    LPrent you’ll take my white picket fence Out Of My Cold Dead Hand – the cold dead hand of The Market.

    • lprent 2.1

      Keep your picket fence. 😈 Just don’t expect me to maintain it.

      Basically this is a living city. Don’t stop your neighbors from getting the accommodation that better suits the needs of our cities current and future demographics

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    Sure if you are raising kids then a lawn is great way to get the little horrors 4 from squealing in the house.

    I happen to think that a local park is a better option but I think that that park needs to be more than just grass field. It needs to be large and have stuff for both adults and children.

    It needs to be a place where everyone can socialise.

    • lprent 3.1

      Within my limited view, the council has been doing a pretty good job with that recently. I was at Rocket park in Mt Albert a few weekends ago, damn near perfect multi-use.

      Just up the road from my place we have Western Park where I have been known to hang out with a coffee amongst the debris of Auckland past (cornices of old buildings trying to look like sculptures) which gets a lot of use pretty much all the way down the gully when the sun is out. It is also perfect for wearing small batteries out. Get them to walk down and then back up 🙂

      One of the things that disturbs me with the current debate is that not knocking over villas doesn’t diminish the demand. It just pushes a demand to knock over the open parks and put up housing instead. I’m unsure if that is the case on Point England. I must find some time to find out.

  4. greywarshark 4

    I find it very pleasant and good for the grandkids for them to go in and out from the house and play on the lawn with their swings, practise on their bikes, or just run around or help Daddy or Mummy or play with a ball or the dog. All enclosed in 2m fences and with some privacy from the road.

    Myself, I live with hardly any privacy though i have a grassy back yard, but having a green space near the house and just a low hum of noise from neighbours and nearby roads keeps close proximity but low-stress living in the city. I wouldn’t want to have to go to a park to look for a green space and a look at the sky and sun. Having to take children to the park so they can have a suitable surface to play should be a treat extra to having space at home. Park visits require organisation and parental observation.

    Even if I was in an apartment I would want to be able to open doors onto a balcony strong enough to have tubs of soil and vegs, flowers, strawberries, a mandarin tree. And there are so many eyes in apartment blocks all around one, if planning can reduce being overlooked in whatever piece of ground available for relaxation that would be good. I would like windows to be made in part frames, bottom in obscure glass of some sort, top ordinary. That gives plenty of light but privacy to the room, from facing and higher apartments, and those enjoying ground level space don’t have the feeling of being overlooked, like in a zoo.

  5. adam 5

    I’m glad to see the the medium density housing people have finally won. The misdirection from the Villa-brigade has dragged on for almost 20 years, it really has been disheartening.

    Personally I’d like to see more community gardens in association with this. There is a good network of community gardens across Auckland, as is. And people should be encouraged to play in the dirt. It also means good use of land for both food and housing.

    I remember reading a Massey University report on medium density housing, a type of housing which offered all sorts of befits we don’t normally think about, like security and connectedness. I’d have to say since moving into a block of connected flats, it’s been great.

    I look forward to the day when that is a the new normal.

  6. saveNZ 6

    Wish they would do this in Wellington as their ‘test city’ – I don’t think politicians policy would last long if the bureaucrats had to live through their market global ideology themselves.

    The politicians can mow their own berms, pay for their own rubbish in many places,while paying thousands in rates which go up as house prices go up, but services go down, spend hours in traffic caused by constant roadworks and “improvements” that take decades but do little as it’s filled up immediately, as well as 5000 new cars on per week by new arrivals into the country – meanwhile the rail sits empty in parts or the dimwits design people to change to buses half way through and wonder why that doesn’t seem to work.

    Clean energy or sustainability obviously never factors in the brave new Natz + LEFTIE- NIMBY-BULLY, city – not with solar or with sustainable water in houses, let alone transport. Who can plan for that!!!! We need houses and fast – but don’t blame immigration – we need more of that apparently – because identity politics and all reports out of the Natz tells us that.

    Developments being repaired for years due to poor construction and design that bankrupt the owners, take out more dwellings in the city that can’t be used for years and take out more construction staff to ‘repair’ them. Then still talk about more deregulation of the building industry, as the concrete, plumbing materials etc are constantly being recalled and redone due to faulty products.

    The dimwits selling the ‘dream’ talk about building consents as if they were houses ready to live in.

    Many of the building consents are actually to demolish existing housing while creating new ones that are more expensive and can’t be paid for out of most local wages.

    We are creating bigger houses with more parking that knock out their neighbours views and light and create large McMansion ghettos around the city with limited garden place but 4 media rooms and 5 bathrooms and saunas and gyms that will be lived in by a couple with zero to 1 child in many cases or actually not lived in and just ‘gold bricks’ investments.

    Apartments that are too expensive for many to live in, even if the banks would lend to first home buyers on them – (which they won’t in many cases) and eye watering Body Corp fees that keep going up.

    Auckland is becoming more like Los Angeles meets Bangkok in their planning vision and design.

    I just wish those who support it, were a) forced to live in Auckland and in a further out suburb so can experience what many workers face each morning, b) were actually home owners paying rates and not whiners who know little about property and construction, thinking that trickle down will bring them a house or rental with the neoliberal fairy dust c) mortgage yourself to the hilt to get into a house and then have some one with too much money and little sense, buy next door and build a concrete 7 bedroom bunker with 5 years of construction ahead and turn your house into a damp dark blip on the new landscape while being engulfed in the shadows of the bunker while also making your house unsellable so you can’t move away. d) you also arrive home to find the council has approved your duplex to be demolished on one side but there seems to be zero contingency of how to close up the house, how odd the house now looks or even let you know they will going to do it.

    Thanks Natz and the lefties that share this lovely vision and really believe the market and deregulation and taking away people’s rights in their city and community will lead to Utopia.

    I very much doubt it, because countries that have beautiful cities and denser housing, do the opposite!

  7. Andrea 7

    Isn’t Auckland the place with dodgy electricity supply, dubious sewage systems, antiquated public transport, and degraded footpaths?

    “New suburbs mean that new roads, sewerage, water, power, communications and public transport systems have to be paid for before residents move in.”

    And infill housing in older suburbs means precisely the same thing – except there will be totally ticked neigbours enduring dirt, noise, inconvenience for weeks – plus the shadow of doubt as to when all the new stuff will fail as usual.

    The hilarious pictures of footings and foundations on new Auckland buildings – not touching the ground and with fist-size holes. The dire warnings about no-swim, don’t wade beaches.

    Celebrate in-fill all you like – and fix up the shortfalls in services, too. The rest of NZ is quite fed-up with the little Auckland ash flakes.

    For the record – I was born at Greenlane Hospital. Auckland. Meh.

    • lprent 7.1

      It sounds like you last looked at Auckland in the 1990s

      Power supply got fixed after 1997. Since 1998 I have had exactly 1 unexpected power outage and two maintenance outages.

      The problem isn’t the sewerage systems. It is with a few remaining 100+ year old storm water systems that aren’t separated from the sewerage systems. These were well underway to being fully fixed when some dickheads in the NAct government decided that Auckland needed a super shitty government. So the separation projects were stopped to allow for the supershitty project to be funded.

      The infill housing in inner suburbs has already happened. It was pretty well finished in the early 2000s. What we are talking about is putting in lots of low rise and a few high rise apartment blocks. Most of them are currently going into retail and redundant light industrial areas. But some areas around inner Auckland have had a wholesale shift to apartments and townhouses.

      Generally the council is pretty good at regulating all sites for neighbor nuisance. Frankly there is more of a nuisance from overnight road works done to minimize traffic disruption.

      Provided that we don’t have National being idiots and ‘deregulating’ the inspection systems again as they did in the 1990s then most of the buildings being done are reasonably sound. Does it ever occur to you that the pictures you are seeing come from council inspectors? And why they are publishing them. It isn’t for your obvious titillation.

      The real issue with new buildings isn’t that the building is up to standard, it is the types of accommodation apartments being orientated towards young people flatting or to people wanting mansions. In other word targeted towards investors rather than places for people to live in. That is a consequence of the housing shortages.

      Of course Auckland is still repairing the leaky and inadequately inspected houses from the 1990s and the early 2000s. It doesn’t help with ramping up housing production.

      The rest of NZ is quite fed-up with the little Auckland ash flakes.

      And Auckland is pretty pissed off with having to fight to retain even quite small proportions of the vehicle taxes we pay, so that we can build long overdue public transport and transport infrastructure.

      • greywarshark 7.1.1

        lprent
        I like your answer to that little rant. And it is something all of us outside Auckland probably feel occasionally, and even some in Auckland.

        As you say things are changing, and the explanation of them stopping while the pollies play with ideas, programs and policies because they like to strut that stuff
        and stick their chests out, men or women, is the truth.

        So all practical thinkers in awkward Auckland and every other bit of NZ, do what you to influence your local level government but also at the central government level, give them a hard spin till they fall off. Like the children’s playground do-it-yourself run and push whirligig. Hold on tight yourself and get them spinning right out of your patch.

  8. Visubversa 8

    The Auckland 1960 (sorry 2040) are not the villa brigade. They are old and white and St Heliers or Mairangi Bay. They still inhabit the 4 bedroom brick house on 700m2 of dirt that they built in 1975, or the one they inherited from their parents. They think that everybody should live they way they did, in a white bread, middle class “Leave it to Beaver” world with Dad at work and Mum at home baking cakes. They post the occasional Facebook meme about how the world has gone to pot since you stopped being able to beat your kids. It is a ‘stop the world” last ditch attempt, and I am glad it failed.

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