To Apartments We Go – In Auckland #UnitaryPlan

Detached Dwellings Fall Away for Terraces and Apartments


This was always going to happen as a City matures and the market provides for what people want rather than what politicians and NIMBY’s want. That is the allowance for terraced housing and apartments to be built especially in or close to Centres and major transport routes.


From Stuff:

Half of all new Auckland houses will be ”attached” as the city densifies: RCG

 Auckland is getting denser, with more than half of new housing next year expected to be built with shared walls.


Rising house prices, an aging population, shrinking household sizes and record migration, were seen as the four key drivers behind the trend.

“We’re in the early days of a shift which will transform Auckland; as new housing is increasingly made up of apartments and terraces,” RCG economist John Polkinghorne said.

“Based on building consent data and our own forecasts, 53 per cent of the new homes built in Auckland will be attached by 2017. This is a considerable shift from the average of the last 20 years, which has been closer to 35 per cent.”

Bill McKay, of Auckland University’s school of architect and planning, said density was not new to Auckland, as many state houses in the 1940s had been attached to each other.

“People think of the typical state house standing alone but a lot of them were duplexs, probably about a fifth, and then there were a whole cluster of three or four-bedroom, two storey things. And then there were a whole bunch of apartment buildings built throughout the country as well.

“We also had a bit of an apartment boom between the wars in New Zealand as well, so density’s nothing new and in my opinion, nothing to be scared of, as long as it’s quality. And that’s the crucial thing.”

McKay said duplexs were quite pleasant because they had three sides for windows instead of the two-sided terraced house.

However, denser housing fell out of favour in the 60s and 70s as families become more affluent and housing become influenced by the US and particularly Californian range-style dwelling.

RCG’s Polkinghorne said Auckland’s return to density was a trend being mirrored in Australia.

“Demand for medium density living is booming here. In Australia’s three largest cities at least 60 per cent of new homes are attached.”


The five areas most affected by increased density in Auckland would be the CBD, Stonefields, Albany, the Western CBD and the Southern CBD fringe, RCG said.




We still pay the price for following what America did in the 60’s and 70’s with large amounts of single detached dwelling sprawl and motorways in place of public transport. While the US is turning its back on that situation it seems Auckland and some in both Auckland and Wellington think mimicking American in that time-frame is the best thing since sliced bread and continue to push for them (detached housing especially on the Isthmus, and motorways).


None-the-less apartments and terraced housing can only occur in the following zones:

  • Mixed Housing Urban (up to three storeys)
  • Terraced Housing and Apartments (up to five storeys unless an Additional Height Control overlays applies then you can get 7)
  • All Centres Zones (Neighbourhood, Local, Town, Metropolitan and City Centre) – height restrictions apply to all but City Centre
  • Mixed Use Zone


Where the zones go though is still be worked through with the Rezoning topic of the Unitary Plan Hearings continuing until end of April.



5 thoughts on “To Apartments We Go – In Auckland #UnitaryPlan

  1. Your initial argument in support of the increase number of apartments is because that was indicative of what people ‘wanted’. I’m saying you are drawing a long bow to come to that conclusion, especially as you know that is partly because that is the only choice financially that they have. And worse many are locked forever out of home ownership at all. Do you not think that with people third world ‘hot bedding’ in Auckland, that we don’t have a system that is dysfunctional?

    Harriet is right that the 1/4 acre is gone from Mt. Eden, but she is wrong in the inference that no system will allow affordable housing. The same laws she is quoting were all in place when the medium house to income ratio was 3x in Auckland.

    Yes we are all limited by our capital, but we are not limited in our knowledge which tells us that other people in other countries using other methods enjoy far more affordable housing on a like for like basis, so regardless of your financial position, if your want is an apartment in the CBD or a stand alone on the fringe, then it is far more affordable.

    Your argument that this increase in medium and high density ‘was always going to happen as a City matures and the market provides for what people want rather than what politicians and NIMBY’s want’, is completely wrong.

    For starters, high density is not a sign of a mature city anymore than low density is a sign of an immature city. And what the market provides is more of a reaction to what people can afford rather than what they really want, that is why 90% of the talk has been around the cost of housing, not the type of housing.

    There is no universal law that says we should be paying what we are, or should be doing what we are doing.

    If we don’t like what is happening, then change it. The present amount of building (including number of apartments being built) is not a reaction in making meaningful change, but is a reaction in support of the present system.

    My point to you is that the increase in apartments etc. is more a reaction to affordability than want. And someone in your position should not becoming an apologist for the present system, but then as a home owner you are now part of it.

    What we need in NZ housing, as an analogy, is Toyota’s at a Toyota price, not Lada’s at a Rolls Royce price that we are getting at the moment.

    1. I never said housing couldn’t be affordable, my claim was that prime proximate urban land is scarce i.e. you usually (Note usually not always) have to make a trade off choice between a smaller dwelling being close to culture (Cafe’s, museums etc.), the city, shorter commute etc. or a bigger dwelling that has has longer commutes etc. Since the prime proximate urban land is more scarce as opposed to general urban land or exurban land having a system of affordable low density for that area is unlikely even with massive deregulation of housing, changes in the financial system (Movement from an Asset Economy to a Wealth Economy) & improvements in building productivity.

      As cities grow there tends to be a movement towards higher densities usually due to the increased agglomeration efficiencies that occur in larger cities. However this is not universal nor is it axiomatic.

      I disagree that housing type you believe in is meeting what people want, I think one of the big problems we have are the mismatch in current housing stock types & the housing stock that is allowed for in old plans. The three & especially four bedroom house on a larger block that makes a large proportion of post war housing becomes redundant to a demographic that is

      1. Top age heavy and thus will be heavily retired persons who want to wind down, close enough to the culture that does not require heavy commutes & a property that is easier to look after.

      2. Younger couples who will have 1 child as opposed to 2 or 3, and we are even seeing a giant increase in couples who will have zero children. This younger demographic which I am a part of want smaller homes 1/2 bedrooms with less space to look after with means more apartments & most likely much more terraced housing. Location is more important to us than housing type because we have differing life objectives & values to older generations.

      3. Immigrant groups especially 1st & 2nd generation from outside the Anglo-Saxon Sphere have not been conditioned with the Kiwi Quarter Acre/Suburban dream which is a very Anglo-Saxon concept very alien to other European, African & Asian cultures.

      Whatever the argument I don’t actually intend to plan, since I would pretty much remove zoning controls except for things that actually seriously effect public health like you can’t build an airport/nuclear plant next in New Lynn etc. thus allowing the consumers to decide the housing they would prefer rather than planners.

  2. And yet only 9% of those in a recent survey said they preferred apartments.

    You are confusing what people can only afford to what they would buy if affordability was not so much of an issue.

    The present system does not give anyone affordable housing. More opportunity should be allowed to build up and out, but you don’t need to over ride individual property rights to do that.

    Paradoxically (for those like this article show don’t get it) the poster child of affordable housing ie Houston, has now one of the fasted densification growth rates in the USA BECAUSE it has less restrictive growth boundaries.

    Think about it.

    1. The question is fallacious though it would be like saying would you prefer a fancy restaurant or Mcdonalds or would you prefer a Audi or a Swift. If I asked would you prefer a 4 bedroom Auckland House or a French Castle they would pick the latter as well what does it prove.

      However when studies actually account for more preferences than home type alone like if they ask would you rather a house in Puke or Apartment in Mt Eden then they start going well the latter is closer to work, culture etc so I will pick the apartment. Home choice is more than the home type and no system will allow affordable quarter acres in Mt Eden.

      Are planning laws are an antithesis of individual rights, Locke, Mill & Co would be disgusted at the idea as an infringement of natural property rights. The Common Law is very similar, in fact that is why they passed Planning Laws because the Common Law protected heavily the right to use your property as you see fit.

      “As a general rule, a man is entitled to build on his own land, though nowadays this right is inevitably subject to our system of planning controls. Moreover, as a general rule, a man’s right to build on his land is not restricted by the fact that the presence of the building may of itself interfere with his neighbour’s enjoyment of his land.” Hunter and Others v. Canary Wharf Ltd. (1997) Lord Goff

      “As to any right of prospect, a building erected so as to spoil a view cannot at common law be a nuisance for that reason. I know no general rule of common law, which warrants that, or says, that building so as to stop another’s prospect is a nuisance. Was that the case, there could be no great towns; and I must grant injunctions to all the new buildings in this town” Lord Hardwicke – Attorney General v. Doughty (1752)

    2. That would have been from the Barfoot and Thompson survey which has one fatal flaw:

      I desire a 1 ha lifestyle block in Ardmore with an apartment in Manukau but capital allows for only a house in Papakura.

      If I then boil down to pragmatism then I choose my house in a Mixed Housing Urban Zone based on our capital and some choice. This is different from desire which can be very rarely attained.

      The RCG survey keeps track and if apartments are selling out faster than detached then a demand is there on a 1 to 1 ratio.

      Harriet explains the rest very nicely.

Comments are closed.