Architect: Residents Protect their Patch, Hinder City’s Progress


Andre de Graaf, an Auckland architect and urban designer has got to thinking about “why development that attempts to do the right thing in terms of revitalising this city around the rail corridor is frustrated at every turn by residents hell bent on protecting their patch as it were under often spurious arguments tailored to protect their self interest.”

This after a letter he got today from the Orakei Residents Society in response to submissions sought for a plan change for Orakei Point.

So he shares his thoughts in a guest post. He isn’t involved in any way with the project himself:

“What really annoyed me about the letter was that it included a submission form assuming I would be opposed to it including a pre-worded  response simply urging my signature.

That got me thinking about why development that attempts to do the right thing in terms of revitalising this city around the rail corridor is frustrated at every turn by residents hell bent on protecting their patch as it were under often spurious arguments tailored to protect their self interest.

I have been on occasion to public meetings with the residents society, the developer and the city council debating the issues.

The residents society is attempting to gather as much support as possible to oppose the plan change.  Please note this is not about the architectural character or the merits of a scheme itself (there I have some reservations) but it is about a plan change to allow greater density and scale.  Because this proposal is intrinsically linked because of its location around the rail station there is huge opportunity here to leverage off that - which I might add the residents society seem not to want to acknowledge.

Yes they say; ‘”sure its over a rail corridor but we don’t do public transport around here we like our cars” - (a quote from one of the residents at a past meeting I attended).  As far as I understand a fair bit of traffic investigation has gone on here, the findings of which the residents seem to dispute.

This plan change has the potential to set up the framework for a well conceived masterplan and density of urban form that this city badly needs and in my opinion has the ability to showcase true transit oriented mixed use development in Auckland that unfortunately through places such as Newmarket, whilst the Newmarket station is quite fine, the surrounding development is not (apartments) and nothing short of appalling.

Ugly apartments dwarf Newmarket's nice new station

“From my experience whenever a plan change such as this has the potential for marked influence on a area (good or bad) it invariable incites the opponents to action, whilst the proponents are silent (because its generally proposing what they already agree with, so why worry), thereby skewing the representation of objectors to supporters of a proposal.

Changed land use and density (in essence all that this plan change is about) along the rail corridor is the surest way to increase patronage on the rail network (never mind all the other benefits that are too plentiful to go into here) and hopefully secure future funding for further improvements.

I would  invite all those who are suitably keen to see some real change to better; mixed use, density and transit oriented development to support our fledgling PT network to make a submission in support of this plan change. The Auckland City Council website (go to “current consultations”)has all the details to check out if you are interested. Closing date for submissions is 1st March 2010.  We need to do our bit to counter the more often than not detractors stuck in a past reverie of unsustainable privilege.”

Interesting, Andre.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts.




  1. curtissd says:

    I think the proposed Orakei Point development would be perfect for the area. Adding shops / cafe’s on the water side of the development, a spped boat marina and a man made beach along the eastern edge of the railway tracks would be great too! Kayaking, small sailing boats in a safe area of water. Also with medium - high density housing and a railway station closer than the street, can’t you get any better? Rail to work, sail / kayak after work… Good for the environment and non urban sprall… If I was a local I would want it due to it providing access to the water and more people would be around.

  2. Ingolfson says:

    Mmmh, I will consider a submission. He makes some very fair points.

  3. Joshua says:

    I’ll make a submission, it’s a great proposal.

  4. bob says:

    I think Andre misses the point - residents do not object to the planning concept of greater density or better PT necessarily. Objections to the plan change are normally because of fear of the ‘Newmarket syndrome’ - ugly, oppressive, low quality apartments jammed in for maximum profit and minimum liveability.

    Proponents of the plan change need to provide concrete guarantees Orakei won’t end up like Newmarket, because once it is built, it is too expensive to ‘fix the blunders’.

    Which is exactly why Newmarket rail station rebuild was so expensive (and constrained operationally on platform access) - because once NZ Rail sold the adjacent land to apartment builders, Ontrack & ARTA could neither afford nor convince the developers to allow expansion of the station into the bottom levels of the apartment block (to allow conventional 2 centre island platforms and 4 tracks).

    Please don’t blame residents for dodgy developer plans and the shifty plan change shuffles from Banks’ council. I smell several rats in the Orakei plan change - tho that could just be the sewer they’re replacing ;) .

  5. Ingolfson says:

    Submission done. Approve in general, with some tweaks.

    “Please don’t blame residents for dodgy developer plans and the shifty plan change shuffles from Banks’ council.”

    Well, the Newmarket stuff didn’t go through anything like such an urban design initiative. This looks a lot better, and my hackles rise at the type of “we like our cars” comments. That IS nimbyism to me - oppose something not because of the effects it will have on you, but rather because you just gut-feel dislike it.

  6. bob says:

    Ingolfsen - I don’t live in the area, and the daft resident who expressed their car love deserves a rocket, but that doesn’t alter the facts - this plan change is dodgy, and seems more about facilitating a bad architectural plan so the developer can maximise profits. Not a lot in that about improving PT is there? Which is what our focus should be on.

    By all means open up the station precinct to allow public access to the Orakei basin. A walkway and cycleway alongside the rail line would be a nice low-gradient addition to funnel Meadowbank & Remuera residents into/from the CBD and Tamaki Drive. In fact, if it ran from Tamaki Dr to Meadowbank station, then up and over the ridge line to Tamaki Campus of Auckland Uni and Glen Innes, it could attract quite a student commuter crowd. Rivalling the rail, but usefully so.

    Now that is a far better use of the adjacent space at Orakei rail station than a couple of hokey fake ‘Euro’ apartments that add little to Auckland. Let’s not ruin all our PT corridors by cluttering them with ‘intensification’ that just blocks PT eh?


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>