The dying backyard dream

By Wayne Thompson

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Many Auckland suburbs will become home to high-rise apartment blocks with the quarter acre (1000sq m) dream reserved for the privileged few, according to a leading real estate agency.

Kingsland, Ellerslie and Mairangi Bay have been earmarked by Bayleys Real Estate as likely spots for more apartment developments to ease housing pressure for Auckland.

Other suburbs with transport hubs such as Birkenhead, Milford, Browns Bay, Henderson, Te Atatu, Three Kings, Greenlane, Onehunga, Dannemora/Flat Bush and Glen Innes were also likely to see an increase in compact mid-rise apartment block style developments in the next 20 years.

The Auckland Council is seeking views from interest groups on its discussion paper, Auckland Unleashed, until May 31.

These will influence the draft Auckland Plan which will come out for public consultation in September-October. Discussion on where housing investment will make the most difference to the shortfall is a critical issue.

In response to the discussion document, Bayleys' managing director Mike Bayley has picked Kingsland, Ellerslie and Mairangi Bay for intensive land use.

They were well served by schools, shops and social amenities, he said, meaning a minimal investment was needed to support a higher population.

The region is predicted to grow by about 640,000 people in 30 years and 300,000 new dwellings will be needed, according to the Auckland Council paper.

Several housing supply assessment studies suggest a critical shortfall over 20 years but the shortfall figures vary from 12,000 to 90,000.

Based on his firm's research, Mr Bayley said he believed the shortfall to be 50,000 to 60,000.

He said the style and design of new dwellings was already established in the form of high-rise inner city apartment blocks and low-rise terraced units in city fringe suburbs, with lifestyle blocks in the countryside.

However, the task of meeting both the demand for housing and the call to restrain urban sprawl to achieve a compact city would call for a substantial shift in the mindset of the coming generation of citizens.

The next step was to look at what locations were best suited to housing that was going up rather than out.

"More compact mid-rise apartment block style developments around the 140sq m size, for example, would fit well around transportation hubs, such as Birkenhead, Milford, Browns Bay, Henderson, Te Atatu, Three Kings, Greenlane, Onehunga, Dannemora/Flat Bush and Glen Innes.

"These centres have in common their own village-style retail hearts.

"For example, we are seeing the return to local butcher shops, cafes, florists, gourmet foodstores and banks.

"There is a strong return to local community retailing for convenience or recreational shopping."

He said apartments in the centres should not be confused with the one or two-bedroom dwellings of 50sq m to 70sq m in tower blocks built around CBD commercial precincts.

They had a place for first home buyers and for letting to students and young inner-city workers.

"At the other end of the spectrum I think that in the likes of Ponsonby, Mt Eden, Newmarket, Parnell and Takapuna we could well see the evolution of high-end, terraced-style residences - along the lines of 400sq m to 500sq m individual homes over three to four storeys each, or four to five-storey residences split between two homes."

Their number would grow in the short-medium term until suitable sites became too scarce to make such developments commercially viable.

Mr Bayley said people attracted to the traditional "quarter acre section" or larger Victorian-style land holdings with gardens and trees, would still be catered for in the Auckland of the future.

"There will always be buyers for larger homes who want big lawns and mature trees and market forces will dictate that these holdings remain intact.

"Those properties will become increasingly sought after as the population grows and as a consequence they will continue to retain their top-end market values."

Mr Bayley said there was no reason why homes of distinction in the city's leafy suburbs - areas like Titirangi, Remuera, Devonport and the eastern suburbs along the waterfront - would lose their appeal and fall to infill housing.

Property Council urban design panel member John Abel-Pattinson said there could be an even split between "green fields" development in the present countryside and "brown fields" in under-used commercial areas.

In a normal property market, the first type of high-density housing would be terraced houses in town centre areas, evolving into apartments in the medium term. The medium value areas from Onehunga to the CBD, certainly Mt Eden and Ponsonby, would draw townhouse develop-ments.

The Auckland Unleashed paper says new types of housing are needed to give more flexibility for different family types and structures as well as prices.

Suggestions are terraced houses, duplexes (two semi-detached houses that share a party wall), courtyard houses (terraced houses with a courtyard between the main house and a possible annex or granny flat), maisonettes or the "big house" (two or three apartments on top of each other that looks like a single big house), 4-5 storey apartment buildings with a mix of one, two and three bedrooms, possibly including family town houses at ground level and on the first floor.

- NZ Herald

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