More Medium Density Developments on the Way

Conditions becoming favourable for more Medium Density Residential Developments.


From Transport Blog’s Bayswater and Alexandra Park developments post from earlier today:


Bayswater and Alexandra Park developments

By Matt L, on October 25th, 2013

As we keep pointing out, the development community is really coming back to life and lots of projects are now on the table again. This is most likely being brought on by a number of factors:

  • Higher land prices are making developments more viable.
  • The Unitary Plan, despite only being notified and not in place yet, has given developers some certainty about Auckland’s future.
  • The economy is looking healthier and so it is becoming easier for developers to obtain finance
  • Migration levels are increasing bringing more people into the city.

Today brings news of more development proposals. This time in Bayswater and at Alexandra Park.

You can read the rest of the details over at Transport Blog.


What this does show and I agree with Matt is that Auckland is fast gearing up for Brownfield development and most likely wide-scale intensification. However before our NIMBY‘s crop up as they will and do this new incoming tide of investment and growth does no mean High Rises sprouting up everywhere across Auckland.

As I pointed out earlier this year we do have official definitions Auckland Council and its CCOs adhere to on what warrants what in the terms of height definition. Again for your benefit:

  • Low-rise: up to 3 storeys
  • Medium-rise: 4-8 storeys
  • High-rise: 9 storeys 
  • Super Talls (international definition) 200 metres high or more

High Rise buildings of any sort can also only be built in the CBD, nine of the ten Metropolitan Centres (Newmarket being the exception) and Pakuranga Town Centre (with an 11 storey limit).

With density you have the three definitions of: Low, Medium and High Density. However, the definitions are quite fluid and depends on what the planners and government authorities would use. Urban density in short is explained in the Wikipeida article “Urban Density.

I tend to draw my definitions from the American examples of density. If Auckland Council uses different definitions flick me an email please on your definitions so I can standardise mine up please. The loose definitions I tend to use for density of a development:

From Page 28 of my feedback to the Unitary Plan (earlier this year)

What I have (including the new two sub zones (expanded on later)) these following zones (from my submission to the Auckland Plan)


  • Low Density Zone (two specific zones here): Mostly single family homes to be built (would allow small scale infilling as well)

  • Medium Density Zone (two specific zones here): Smaller Apartments and condominiums (terraced housing and “walk up” apartments would be built in this zone)

  • High Density Zone: This allows your towering residential blocks to be built


Looking at Bayswater you have medium density – low-rise residential developments being proposed while Alexander Park is classic Medium Density-Medium Rise by the looks of it. As for Spring Park – Mt Wellington which seems to be causing some “concerns” amongst a few that development is again Medium-Density – Low Rise.

Meaning? Unless the Urban Design really stinks which I doubt it will as all three developers are wanting to utilise the Auckland Design Manual to its maximum extent, there should be no issues with the development what so-ever.



While I was writing this a thought came to mind that the Unitary Plan Planners and their communication specialists are going to need to be on game for. As I said above and concur with Matt, conditions are favourable for quite a lot of medium density residential development across Auckland. My Census 2013 and What it means for Auckland I pointed out what the Census data means and in effect how this gives favourable conditions to large and wide-scale medium density development in Auckland. This will have spillover effects to our Metropolitan Centres that are able to support high density developments as you get clustering effects to serve particular areas of Auckland. From conversations about that spillover is happening in Manukau with some long-awaited high-rise towers coming through the pipelines as conditions become favourable to build and support them. I say it will not be long until more towers join the one being built in New Lynn and one pops up in either Takapuna or Albany. All this can only mark the slow towards an Auckland progressing into the 21st Century. However, still much work to do.

As for me singling out the UP Planners and their Comm’s team, the open days are coming up and are being advertised quite heavily. I have the dates posted here:  Unitary Plan Open Days

Owing to the “communication” disaster as acknowledged as far up as the Deputy Mayor in the last round of feedback (closed May 31), there is a massive onus not only on clear and simple dialogue between planner and resident but also putting down NIMBY myths as well.

The biggest two myths being:

  1. High Rise sprouting up everywhere across Auckland
  2. UP is an enabling document that allows developers to go up to a maximum – much like American Zoning. Economic conditions still have to prevail before someone in the CBD builds a 36 storey tower as an example…


From the word get-go (March 16) I took considerable effort breaking down the complex from the UP and putting it into the simple that 99% of Auckland could understand. I am not so willing to do this exercise again en-mass as I did last time – not at an “amateur” level with the amount of time it took .

We do have some quality developments coming through from low density and low-rise through to high density and high-rise. While still a bit slow on transport aspects we are paying massive attention to urban design with our developments. The open days would be the bet chance in show casing on what can be done and what will be avoided (or rather should). 

Simply put Auckland is growing and short of World War III there is nothing that can be done to stop it (we are now Soviet Russia). So we best make plans and provisions for the growth this Beta Class World City is going to see over the next 30 years (and more).


Developments such as Bayswater and Alexander Park will become more common over the next 30-years. To be blunt – we better get use to it unless we want endless sprawl from north to south.


In the meantime I might go use Google Sketchup and get to work on some marco urban design here:

Manukau City Centre Area
Manukau City Centre Area