Plans for houses at the centre of the next series of TV3 renovation show The Block NZ are being hailed as a welcome answer to our crowded cities.
Four character houses have been chopped, changed and relocated to set a near-even competition for the contestants, who will fit out and furnish the houses in a bid for spot prizes and the biggest auction price.
Two large sections in Belmont, on Auckland's North Shore, were subdivided and an ex-state house demolished to make way for the houses.
Local board member Jan O'Connor said production company Eyeworks should be commended for providing "family homes" on decent sections rather than the intensified living the Auckland Council's draft Unitary Plan encouraged. The controversial plan recommends multi-storey housing for many suburbs.
"It is absolutely marvellous that they have made room for another house and section without resorting to tiny sections that are anti-family," O'Connor said.
Early on Tuesday, a villa and a bungalow were relocated to the rear of the two sites on the corner of Eversleigh and Lake Rds. Underground parking, extra levels, loft rooms and extensive decking will be added to some of the four houses.
Despite the anticipated disruption from construction and filming, locals were pleased to see character homes on the site. One, Pamela Evans, had been worried about what would happen to the large site on the corner of busy Lake Rd.
"It could have been a multi-storey development, so it is fantastic to see lovely character homes," Evans said.
"There is a lot of work going on there and it is noisy and dusty but it is exciting as well."
Producers had told residents that filming would start mid-July and had welcomed feedback or any concerns.
Producer Julie Christie will still direct the show despite resigning as chief executive of Eyeworks last year.
It is believed the firm paid well over the CV of $1.72 million for the land and two original houses.
An original bungalow on the corner site has been stripped and moved forward on the section. Files at Auckland Council show a 41sq m excavation under the bungalow for an underground carpark.
Other expensive additions planned for the other houses include garages with loft bedrooms, ensuites, walk-in wardrobes and studies.
Area historian David Verran said it was good to see character homes brought "into the 21st century" by extending and adding rooms.
"If the houses from the last series of The Block are anything to go by, these houses will be fantastic at the end of the show."