Property market proposal from PCNZ for high-quality, high-density housing in Auckland
Story by Trends Publishing
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High-quality, purpose-built homes will create employment and improve social cohesion in Auckland – Connal Townsend, PCNZ CEO
The vision for Auckland to be the world's most liveable city is a shared one. No-one wants this more than our own industry, because if we can achieve this, everybody wins.
But how do we do it? Let's start with housing, our biggest challenge to date. There are not enough houses in Auckland, and existing ones are far too expensive. By 2031, Auckland will be home to two million people, 38% of New Zealand's population.
Rules, regulations and delays are adding to costs, which are inevitably passed on to the homeowner. We cannot allow this to continue to happen. And there are ways to stop it.
Density and intensification have become taboo words to some but they needn't be. Bringing people together in quality, purpose-built communities will create employment and achieve social cohesion in our melting pot city of high cultural diversity. Communal gardens and parks will provide for families' deeply loved open spaces and grass patches for children and pets.
Brent Toderian, Vancouver city's chief planner, has led the charge to combat nimbyism (not in my backyard) with qimby-ism (quality in my backyard) in his home city for several years. Aptly, he says, the ‘D-Word' is a controversial subject, no matter which big city you are in. It is deeply unpopular with the public and politicians alike because it has so often been done so poorly in the past.
It is true though, dense areas that offer quality housing, social amenities and desirable neighbourhoods have the power to make or break cities. Quality intensification will reduce the divide between the haves and have-nots and reduce the growing divide between different social groups.
So in a way, the angst of nimbys is understandable, but it's important not to let it foster fear mongering. We are going to have to house our growing population, and at the moment the cost of housing is back breaking. We have been rated as one of the 10 least affordable housing markets in the 11th annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. We were rated as the ninth least affordable major city in the world.
Good communication essential
So why don't we adopt a more collaborative focus? City authorities, the development sector and local communities must engage with each other to address concerns around urban design, privacy and access to nature.
We need open dialogue and transparency, so the benefits can be embraced. "Good" density must consider physical and social infrastructure and other necessary services, and we need to tell people, using effective communication, of clear strategies, policies and rules. Successful intensification should encourage quality urban design practices that will instil public confidence, rather than frustration and concern.
The Auckland Plan has recognised that for Auckland to retain and attract skilled young people, achieving dense residential and business developments is unquestionable, as home ownership and employment are key drawcards for moving here.
Density that enables improved liveability, community structure and sustainability will decrease land consumption with less impact on the natural environment. Well-considered urban design will ensure Auckland retains its visual appeal, and that development complements the natural features of the isthmus. Business will flourish, leading to thriving centres that offer jobs, goods and services.
Well-designed intensification means more accessibility to local amenities for all pockets of society. It will help lower the costs of infrastructure and allow for greater use of existing assets. It will decrease travel time and encourage walking and increase use of public transport.
Good quality density can only be achieved if it is supported by good design and an integrated approach. We need to continue to gain the public's trust and show them we can deliver.
First published date: 17 June 2015