Plans for an eco-village in Whangārei, the first of its kind in the provinces and just the fourth in New Zealand, have taken "a giant step forward" after winning council permission.

Whangārei District Council has just granted a resource consent to the Ahi Wai Eco Neighbourhood, making it New Zealand's first regional urban co-housing site, according to project founder Shaun Davison.

Davidson said earth and infrastructure work will begin shortly on the 8000 sqm site in the Regent, with the first titles ready for sale by midyear.

Building of the 17 new dwellings, ranging from single-bedroom studios above garages to terraced houses, is expected to begin next year.

Supporters of Ahi Wai Eco Neighbourhood celebrate resource consent, from left Mick Gillard, Dianne Gatwood, Helen Kepper, Carmel Henry, Shaun Davison, Levi Gillard, Verena Pschorn, and Joanna Davison
Supporters of Ahi Wai Eco Neighbourhood celebrate resource consent, from left Mick Gillard, Dianne Gatwood, Helen Kepper, Carmel Henry, Shaun Davison, Levi Gillard, Verena Pschorn, and Joanna Davison

"After years of planning, Whangārei's eco-neighbourhood has taken a giant leap forward with the granting of a resource consent," says Davison.

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A village green and a community house - complete with a kitchen, dining area, extra accommodation, laundry, library, and even a nearby swimming pool - will form a central hub to the project, he said.

The houses will face the communal area but also have courtyards at the back for privacy.

Each one will be built with high levels of energy efficiency, he says.

"We want places that look and feel good but, at the same time, are modest in size. We want to encourage simplicity," Davison said.

Residents can work with the eco-village's architect to build a house that meets their needs, he said.

"We're looking forward to offering a way of living that is sustainable, not only in the sense of the materials we that we build with but also in terms of living with our neighbours and being supportive," Davison said.

With the site just a 10-minute stroll from the city centre, and right next to the shared Kamo pathway, "we expect walking and cycling to be the norm - that's healthy for individuals and better for the environment".

Solar power and electric vehicles are part of the vision but, in the meantime, the focus will be clearly on "getting the ball rolling".

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While urban co-housing is fairly common in Europe, with more than 600 examples in Denmark, New Zealand only boasts three, including Earthsong In Auckland and High Street Co-housing in Dunedin.

If interested the Ahi Wai Eco Neighbourhood project, visit econeighbourhood.co.nz