Why Isthmus and pockets of Southern Auckland “popular”
We know affordability (of a house) and travel (in terms of cost and time) will sway choices in selecting a place to call home. That is why Rebekka and myself chose where we are in Papakura at the southern end of Auckland. Where we are now in Papakura was picked as it was both affordable (house was four times our annual income (so mildly stressed but still okay), very close to transit lines or routes (12 minute walk to Papakura Train Station or the closest 33 Great South Road bus stop), within seven minutes of either Papakura Metropolitan Centre or large format retail in Takanini, and around 20 minutes to our closest MAJOR Metropolitan Centre and place of work – Manukau City Centre. The main City Centre has no technical relevance to either of us apart from “errand” running (no offence tended to Town Hall nor Panuku when visiting) so it is a reason why the Isthmus was quickly ruled out. In fact apart from seeing family in West Auckland it would be somewhat rare for either of us to leave fortress South Auckland as the South has all the amenities we seek out that wider Auckland otherwise also has (basically South Auckland is a mini-city in its own right within a larger City that is Auckland).
Our trends above would be reflected in the latest report done by the New Zealand Centre of Sustainable Cities as mentioned below:
Affordability and travel issues sway housing choices
A survey of over 3000 Aucklanders has provided evolving insights into people’s housing and travel preferences.
A gradual shift from the standalone houses toward townhouses and, in some cases, apartments, was noted, reflecting previous research work, says a report by the New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities.
“It’s notable that, when people face constrained choices, but take into account affordability, neighbourhood and travel, they don’t necessarily indicate a preference for standalone houses,” says Associate Professor Ralph Chapman of Victoria University, who led the survey work.
Members of Auckland Council’s People’s Panel, which affords a quick and easy way for Aucklanders to have their say on key issues, participated in the survey.
Presented with various choices to consider, people from a range of backgrounds listed three housing and neighbourhood attributes as most important. First was ‘affordability’ (94%), second, a warm and dry house (92%) and third, a safe neighbourhood (88%).
A standalone home also ranked highly at 70%.
On transport access, the option chosen most was location ‘very close’ to the local town centre and CBD (five minute walk to the town centre and five-15 minute drive or bus to the CBD) and ‘fairly close’ (10 minute walk to the town centre and 15-30 minute drive or bus to the CBD).
A third of respondents preferred to drive for their daily commute while public transport and walking were each preferred by over a quarter of people. Cycling was the least preferred mode of transport (11%).
Professor Chapman said it was interesting how many Aucklanders now prefer not to use a car for commuting. “This reflects the importance of easy access to public transport.”
Common housing issues raised by respondents were given as “too small”, expensive, cold/difficult to heat, and poor condition.
Auckland Council Manager Land Use, Infrastructure Research & Evaluation, Regan Solomon said: “There is a lot to the research and the results are consistent with other research showing that choices are constrained and that preferences are shifting towards denser housing typologies.”
The full report is available at aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/peoplespanel
Affordability and travel issues sway housing choices: Supplementary information
1 December 2016
The findings on Aucklanders’ housing-related preferences come from an Auckland Council People’s Panel survey designed by the NZ Centre for Sustainable Cities. The report updates earlier findings on Aucklanders’ housing, neighbourhood and travel preferences, and provides insights into evolving concerns of Aucklanders. The survey received responses from 3,285 Aucklanders registered on the Auckland Council’s People’s Panel.
Three housing and neighbourhood attributes were the most important to respondents. First, was ‘affordability’ (94% extremely important, very important, or important). Second was a ‘warm and dry house’ (92%), while a safe neighbourhood (88%) was third. Other highly ranked attributes were outdoor space (80%), parking space (80%), an attractive neighbourhood (75%), a quiet street (73%), and having a standalone home (70%).
Respondents were also presented with price considerations and trade-offs. Taking these into account, and regardless of house size, standalone houses were selected as the preferred type of house for 8 of the 12 choice sets presented in the survey. Townhouses were chosen as the preferred option in another three choice sets, while an apartment was only preferred in one choice set.
For all but one choice set, transport access was important – the option chosen most was located either very close (5 min walk to town centre and 5 min drive/15 min bus to CBD) or fairly close (10 min walk to town centre and 15 min drive/30 min bus to CBD) to the local town centre and CBD. Another common feature of the preferred housing choices was some form of parking (on street or off street), but there was no clear preference regarding neighbourhood type.
A third of respondents prefer to drive for their commute/daily transport (33%) while public transport (28%) and walking (27%) were each the preferred modes of transport for over a quarter of people. Cycling was the least preferred travel mode (11%).
The report details barriers to alternative transport modes to the car. The most common barrier to cycling was a perceived lack of safety (65%), while unpleasant routes (e.g. steep hills) (39%), other things to do (31%), weather (29%), and long journey times (27%) were the other most important barriers.
‘Takes too long’ was the barrier most people mentioned in regard to using public transport (49%). The other most common barriers were an unsuitable or infrequent timetable (34%), no easily accessible stop or station (33%), an unreliable service (22%), and having other things to do (21%).
As far as problems with their dwellings went, the most common problems given were too small (12%), expensive (11%), cold/difficult to heat (10%), and poor condition (8%). These problems generally align with the most important attributes (reported above) of affordability, warmth and dryness, and neighbourhood safety.
In regard to the residential neighbourhood, the most common problems were the reliability of public transport (14%), noise or vibration (10%), sidewalks/cycle lanes (9%), distance to work (7%), and problem neighbours (7%).
Associate Professor Ralph Chapman of Victoria University, who led the survey work, commented that it was not surprising that affordability of housing ranked first in importance among respondents, nor that having a warm and dry house was seen as vital. These factors were more important even than a safe neighbourhood, which a previous survey had placed as most important.
‘It’s also notable that, when people face constrained choice options which take into account affordability, neighbourhood and travel, they don’t necessarily indicate a preference for standalone housing’, Dr Chapman said. ‘We are seeing a gradual evolution of preferences away from standalone houses towards townhouses and in some cases apartments. This is consistent with a shift we picked up in previous work we’ve done.’
Another interesting insight was the significant number of Aucklanders who now prefer not to use a car for commuting, Chapman added. ‘It is significant that about 55% of respondents prefer to take public transport or walk’, he said. ‘This is an important finding, and is consistent with other findings about the importance to people of easy access to public transport.’
 Results reported here are based on a weighted analysis. The survey was conducted in November-December 2015.
These were similar to those used in a 2014 survey for Auckland Council. See Yeoman, R & Akehurst, G 2015, ‘The housing we’d choose: a study of housing preferences, choices and trade-offs in Auckland. Auckland Council technical report, TR2015/016’, Market Economics Limited for Auckland Council, Auckland.
 See the Yeoman and Akehurst study cited above: p.23
 See Hamer-Adams, A, Randal, E, Howden-Chapman, P, Chapman, R & Early, L 2015, ‘A Survey of Sentiments about Cities’, in L. Early, M. Russell and P. Howden-Chapman (eds), Drivers of Urban Change, Steele Roberts Aotearoa, Wellington. http://sustainablecities.org.nz/2015/11/new-horizon-poll/
 See the Yeoman and Akehurst study cited above: p. 25
The Auckland Plan when refreshed next year should reflect most of what has been said above if we are wanting a sustainable 21st Century Auckland.