Council pushes for high-rise living

19:09, Sep 25 2011
NEW LIFESTYLE: High-rise apartments are being touted to prevent urban sprawl.

Apartment living or quarter acre dream? The Auckland Council is advocating the high-rise lifestyle to put an end to the city's urban sprawl.

Auckland faces population growth of up to a million people over the next 30 years, on top of the 1.3 million people already living here. And to cope with that, the council believes the city has to build up, not out.

At the last census, just 10,000 people lived in high-rise buildings, but that is predicted to grow to more than 80,000 by 2040. At the same time, the plan anticipates the number of detached homes in the city will drop to 60.5 per cent compared to 76 per cent in 2006.

Mayor Len Brown launched the draft Auckland Plan last week, which outlines how the city can become the world's most liveable by 2040.

Priorities include continued development of the waterfront, and improving Auckland's public transport - particularly the creation of a city rail link.

On the housing front, the draft document says Auckland's growth means the city's housing will intensify. It points out that already some of Auckland's most sought-after housing is in high density areas like Ponsonby and Freemans Bay.


But it's not a move all believe will be popular. Professor Jennifer Dixon of Auckland University's planning department says many of the city's high rise apartments, built during the 1990s, have been tarnished by leaky home syndrome.

In an article on the university website this month she said the image of apartment blocks and "cheek-by-jowl" housing does not match New Zealand's long-held dream for a quarter-acre paradise.

However, the Auckland Plan points out higher density homes reduce infrastructure costs, travel times and costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and the impact on the city's rural and natural environment.

To achieve a compact city the draft plan proposes a "Rural Urban Boundary" (RUB), which limits the area in which development can take place.

The plan proposes 75 per cent of all development over the next 30 will take place within the RUB. And the implication is that over time Auckland will have to build up rather than out.

The new boundary would replace the current Metropolitan Urban Limit which the plan says is subject to "incremental change and uncertainty".

Earlier this month a report by CityScope Consultants suggested how higher density housing could be made more appealing to New Zealanders.

It said internationally populations resist higher density housing even when local governments establish policies in favour of a compact city.

To counter this, the report - commissioned by the Centre for Housing Research - recommends factors such as privacy, large connected garages, open plan living, light and sun should be considered in the design of higher density dwellings.

Improving the neighbourhood can be done through a mix of housing styles, shared leisure facilities, parks and playgrounds for children, on and off-street parking and cul de sac layouts to foster a sense of community.

The proposed RUB includes Browns Bay, Henderson and Papakura but excludes the Waitakere Ranges, most of Rodney and most of Franklin.

Exceptions to the RUB include proposed "satellite" town centres in Wellsford, Warkworth, Helensville, Kumeu, Pukekohe and Waiuku.

Eight areas have been prioritised for growth over the next three years including the city centre and waterfront, Hobsonville, New Lynn, Onehunga, Tamaki, Takapuna, Warkworth and Pukekohe.

The draft Auckland Plan is open to public submissions until October 25.

It can be accessed online or in hard copy at any Auckland public library.

Auckland Now