Apartments and office sites at a new Ponsonby development are being sold on a fee-simple basis, the same as most stand-alone houses, not under more restrictive unit or cross-lease titles.

Brady Nixon, development manager for Progressive Enterprises' planned Vinegar Lane, said this was one of the reasons half the project was pre-sold before marketing was launched last weekend.

Fee-simple titles were cleaner, easier and more attractive to buyers than other types, he said of the project yet to receive resource consent for the units where a big Countdown supermarket will also be built.

"There is a greater chance of achieving a quality, compact city if developments are on fee-simple titled property," Nixon said.


"It is easier to fund in terms of getting a mortgage and the scale of development is reduced to small sites for single dwellings, which means the developers become sole traders, small builders or people developing their own homes.

"These are the people who typically develop most of our cities' homes and buildings."

The Ponsonby site will be densely developed but Nixon said residential intensification in Auckland generally had a poor reputation, much of it done badly because quality was eroded by development size and unit titling.

"The key to quality is diversity," Nixon said. "The key to diversity is ensuring that one developer does not deliver every building within a development."

Fee-simple titles were the most popular form of ownership in New Zealand, giving people the autonomy to build their own structures and make extensions or changes without needing title alterations or neighbours' consent, as is the case with unit and cross-lease titles, Nixon said.

Thirty fee-simple titles are for sale at Vinegar Lane off Ponsonby Rd, and architects have been commissioned to design prototype buildings.

Ludo Campbell-Reid, environmental strategy and policy department manager at Auckland Council, said the Ponsonby project could demonstrate a sign of a big shift in thinking on urban development.

Blank facades, overly large parking areas and inactive, unfriendly building exteriors dominate many parts of Auckland's retail areas, Campbell-Reid said. "Basically they have not been that well integrated into the local townscape."

A new and somewhat radical type of thinking was behind the Ponsonby project, he said.

"The Vinegar Lane proposal led by Brady [Nixon] and his team is a challenging project that seeks a paradigm shift in traditional big-box models by incorporating best practice urban design with the supermarket as the anchor, but wrapped or sleeved with active ground floor uses and fee simple medium-intensive housing above," Campbell-Reid said.

"We are very excited by this type of private-sector innovation ... To deliver the Auckland Plan, everyone will need to think outside of the box."

* Chris Kelly, Architecture Workshop, Wellington.
* Andrew Patterson, Pattersons.
* Pete Bossley, Bossley Architects.
* Athfield Architects.
* Chris Tate, Chris Tate Architecture.
* John Sofo, ASC.
* Chris Meikle, Woodham Meikle Zhan.
* Dave Irwin, Isthmus.
Source: Progressive Enterprises