Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

High-rise in Auckland's suburbs

Multi-storey apartment blocks, a million more people ... council reveals the plan that will dramatically reshape our city

A land area of 49 per cent of Auckland will be zoned for "mixed housing" that includes town houses, terraced dwellings and small-scale apartment buildings. Photo / Thinkstock
A land area of 49 per cent of Auckland will be zoned for "mixed housing" that includes town houses, terraced dwellings and small-scale apartment buildings. Photo / Thinkstock

Aucklanders are being asked to adapt to a new way of life that includes having more high-rise and small-size apartments to cope with squeezing another one million residents into the city.

A new planning rulebook sets out to balance the traditional suburban lifestyle with more intense building, a growing population, changing housing patterns and a desire to preserve rural and coastal environments.

"This is a document for defining the future of our city," said Mayor Len Brown at yesterday's launch of the unitary plan, which replaces the existing 14 district and regional plans.

Under the plan, 44 per cent of urban Auckland will remain largely unchanged - 35 per cent for single houses and 9 per cent in "large lots" on the fringes.

The other 56 per cent - from Orewa in the north to Pukekohe in the south and most suburbs in between - is earmarked for "intensification", under which building density will be increased to accommodate more people.

A land area of 49 per cent will be zoned for "mixed housing" that includes town houses, terraced dwellings and small-scale apartment buildings.

This zone will be restricted to two-storey buildings.

The remaining 7 per cent will be for terraced housing and apartment blocks up to four storeys next to local and town centres and six storeys next to metro centres.

A hierarchy of height restrictions is planned within the centres.

Buildings in central Auckland will have no height restriction, and metro centres such as Takapuna, Henderson and Botany will have an 18-storey limit.

In another 37 town centres, the limit will be eight, six or four storeys, and in local centres, such as Kingsland, it will be three or four storeys.

To prevent a canyon effect, any buildings of four storeys or more will have to be set back from the street.

A design manual is being prepared to ensure new buildings are of high quality.

The city council is seeking public opinion on the changes. Its website gives details on how to make submissions, either online or through "events" to be held around the city.

If the plan is accepted, it would take effect in three years.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, who is overseeing the new rulebook, is putting her money where her mouth is - she says she plans to sell her Swanson home and move into an apartment in New Lynn.

At yesterday's launch at Wynyard Quarter, she held up her 1-year old grandson, Jack, to deliver a message: "It's our kids and our kids' kids that we need to plan for."

Other city councillors, notably Dick Quax, George Wood and Wayne Walker, have opposed intensification.

Several northern communities, including Milford, Browns Bay andOrewa, oppose "walls" of apartments along their beachfronts, and Pakuranga residents are upset over plans for the Tamaki Estuary area.

In a passionate speech at yesterday's launch, Mayor Brown attacked the Government for threatening to intervene in the supply of land and housing in Auckland.

"If the Government wants to make more land available to Aucklanders more quickly, then they need to allow the unitary plan to take effect on notification."

Aucklanders wanted a modern, compact city, the mayor said, not unconstrained urban sprawl that would turn the Super City into another Los Angeles.

A Government report on land availability, issued this week, highlights a growing demand for a variety of housing driven by an increase in the number of child-free couples and single people and a reduction in the number of families.

Environment Minister Amy Adams, who this week threatened Auckland with a Crown agency to free up more land for housing, said giving the plan legal effect straight away would not allow Aucklanders a full and impartial review.

What's planned:

18 storeys:
Albany, Botany, Henderson, Manukau, New Lynn, Newmarket, Papakura, Sylvia Park, Takapuna, Westgate/Massey

8 storeys:
Avondale, Flat Bush, Glen Innes, Milford, Newton/Upper Symonds St, Northcote, Manurewa, Onehunga, Pakuranga, Panmure, Royal Oak, Silverdale
Three Kings

6 storeys:
Browns Bay, Glen Eden, Glenfield, Highbury, Highland Park, Orewa, Otahuhu, Papatoetoe

4 storeys:
Devonport, Ponsonby, Sunnynook, Ellerslie, Pt Chevalier, Takanini, Hunters Corner, Pukekohe, Te Atatu, Mangere, Remuera, Warkworth, Mt Albert, Stoddard Rd, Whangaparaoa, Otara, Parnell

- NZ Herald

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