Auckland's "housing crisis" is not just due to a shortage of housing, but in particular a shortage of housing choices. Providing more well-designed, smaller properties close to public transport and the city would free up existing suburban houses, allow more people to live close to what's important to them and avoid traffic, and result in a more vibrant city.
Our city's demographics are changing and unlike the commonly assumed pursuit of a quarter-acre dream, not every Aucklander is looking for a large house, nor is this practical. By not allowing "density done well" in our inner suburbs, we're all paying more for housing, and Aucklanders are forced to live in houses bigger than they need, further out than they'd rather be.
By opposing growth where the demand is, we're forcing Auckland to continue to sprawl out further into our region's food basket, and we all pay the cost in terms of providing new infrastructure and forcing more cars onto our already jammed motorways.
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Aucklanders adore cities like Melbourne and Vancouver. What can we learn from urban planning in these cities? They provide a range of well designed terraced housing and apartments, close to the centre of the city, serviced by frequent and reliable public transport. This in turn is the stimulus for jobs, services and outstanding hospitality and creative industries.
If we were serious about removing red tape and the need to provide more affordable housing, we'd allow for more development within our existing suburbs, instead of suffocating them. The Unitary Plan already drastically relaxes the metropolitan urban limit, allowing around half of Auckland's future growth to be accommodated as urban sprawl. Despite this massive expansion outwards, the Plan in its current shape continues to impose significant restrictions on where new housing can be provided in town centres.
Intensification does not have to be a battle with heritage. There are many pockets of land in Auckland's town centres and inner suburbs which are underused and offer no heritage value - empty car yards and disused industrial buildings. These 'low hanging fruit' pockets of land should be transformed into vibrant, mixed developments. Pockets of Kingsland, Onehunga, Eden Terrace and the Great North Road ridge line are prime examples.
Auckland is growing and we have an existing shortfall of housing. Providing more housing choices through "density done well" is increasingly what people both young and old desire. Let's roll up our sleeves and discuss the design and quality of new developments in our inner suburbs, rather than whether we need them or not.
• Dr Sudhvir Singh, Generation Zero