Mt Albert To Get A New Lynn Look


Those attending today’s Baldwin Avenue train station ceremony learnt that neighbouring Mt Albert will the next train station for a major overhaul and that the proposed Parnell heritage station is still on the cards.
Auckland Transport board member and Auckland Council transport chairman Mike Lee said: “Auckland Transport intends to maintain the momentum. The next station after this I understand will be Mt Albert, which will be much more, elaborate – somewhat along the lines of a New Lynn.
Auckland Transport Chairman Mark Ford also confirmed this saying “The next station prioritised for upgrade is Mt Albert Station, where progress will be made this year.”
Mr Ford said that since passengers began using the upgraded station at the beginning of February they have had a much better experience and security when using the new station.

“There have been significant improvements to stations on the rail network in recent years. This upgrade brings Baldwin Ave up to the same standard as the majority of others on the Western Line.”

Today’s ceremony marked the revamp of the Baldwin Avenue station which was closed over Christmas so that platforms could be moved and extended to accommodate longer trains, and pre-electrification work could be done including the installation of the first masts to be seen on the Auckland rail network.

Locals Lew Peters, Poutama Lyon-Elzen (5) &Albert-Eden Local Board Chair Peter Haynes

Mike Lee said besides the mid-year opening of Manukau, “ near and dear to my own heart will be progress on a new station at Parnell – a heritage/museum station which has long be supported by myself and the local community.
“A station which will be built around the former Newmarket heritage station building. I am pleased to say that the long standing impasse between KiwiRail and Mainline Steam, (the leasees of the big shed on the site which has all the wonderful old steam locomotives in it) is being resolved and hopefully that should clear the way for us to make progress there.”

Mike Lee, agreeing with the Mayor’s stated mission to double public transport patronage within 10 years, noted that public transport patronage in Auckland in recent years has increased dramatically – rail in particular – from 2.5 to 3 million passenger trips per year some 5 years ago to over 9 million passenger trips per year today.
He predicted that given that impressive momentum within two years Auckland’s rail patronage figures will overtake Wellington’s which are currently just over 11 million passengers per year and with electrification, Auckland would become the nation’s premier rail city.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce was not present today but the Chair of Auckland Transport Mark Ford read a letter from him noting the importance the Minister placed on attending Auckland station openings.
Mike Lee quipped: “Steven Joyce since he became Minister has been punctilious about attending just about every Auckland station opening we’ve had over the last two years. Given that – and on your behalf I would like to invite the Minister to further station openings – on the CBD Link.
I would like to invite the Minister to open the future Aotea Station, Karangahape Station, Symonds Street Station – and then after that I would ask him to open a Mangere rail station and finally a station at Auckland International Airport.”

The revamped station

Albert-Eden Local Board Chair Peter Haynes says on behalf of the local board and community he is delighted to thank Auckland Transport, KiwiRail and the contractors for the splendid new station in the neighbourhood.
“We’re all very chuffed about these high quality new facilities.
“Transport is right at the top of the list of the Albert-Eden board’s priorities. The integration of a new Mt Albert Station, the next stop after Baldwin Ave, with the town centre is a key initiative for us.”
Veolia Transport Managing Director Graham Sibery says: “In response to our customer’s changing needs Veolia Transport and Auckland Transport introduced longer six car trains and more seats, on the western line last September.”

“As well as improving comfort and capacity we also extended peak services by an hour which meant more trains, running more often, at either end of our busiest periods.
“I am pleased the station upgrades have been completed so customers using the Baldwin Ave station can take full advantage of improvements to trains services,” Mr Sibery says.
* Auckland Transport research showed that Baldwin Ave Baldwin Avenue was named after a famous British Prime Minister of the 1920s and 1930s – Stanley Baldwin




  1. Matt L says:

    Thats good to hear they are planning something decent. The advantage of Mt Albert is it is already pretty much in a trench being lower that the town centre next to it so it should be much easier and cheaper to do than New Lynn. While there are still plenty of stations to do out south it will be nice to have one line with all stations completed on it.

  2. joust says:

    Sounds promising.

  3. rtc says:

    Mt Albert is a station that has the potential to really revive the town centre and will be a real asset if integrated properly - great to hear it’s next up and it will be more than a minor upgrade.

  4. patrick says:

    great news about Mt Albert and keeping the momentum
    The upgrades make a huge difference and as a passenger on the southern line, I am looking forward to the stations they are still waiting for upgrades.

  5. Sam says:

    I thought a proper upgrade to Mt Albert was years… or decades away. sounds to me like they will be getting the public square, town centre upgrade and everything if its being compared to New Lynn

    Was anyone expecting such an announcement?? this is great!

  6. Commuter says:

    Veolia Transport Managing Director Graham Sibery says: “In response to our customer’s changing needs Veolia Transport and Auckland Transport introduced longer six car trains and more seats, on the western line last September.”

    Only on peak services. Veolia run 6 car trains off-peak but close off two carriages because they only roster sufficient staff for four. This has the effect of slowing down off-peak services as waiting passengers, unaware of the closures, take some time to: (a) become aware that the door they’re standing in front of isn’t going to open; (b) traverse the platform to board the train. In other words the usual AT/Veolia deficient levels of service. If they want to run closed carriage trains then they should indicate platform locations averting as to where the train will stop and, similarly, indicate on timetables and PIDs that off-peak services provide only 4 cars.

  7. patrick says:

    Yes I have noticed that also, so what are they waiting for.
    Now that Baldwin station is finished will that mean the six carriages will be staffed.

  8. Matt L says:

    Why would you add more staff when hopefully they should be mostly redundant once integrated ticketing comes along. The new EMU’s are meant to be able to be operated by just a driver and a train manager from memory.

  9. Andrew says:

    The current DMus and SAs could also be operated with just a driver and a guard.

    I believe staff levels are sure to go down within the next couple of months with the new smartcard ticket.

  10. Sam says:

    I think one staff member per train is too few. Especially on less busy services there should be at least 1 moving guard per 2 carriages for security reasons and to ensure that no-one is damaging/ vandalizing the train. Our trains are pretty good inside (especially when compared to the back few rows of seats on most buses), and some passengers require the active supervision they are getting now to uphold that.

  11. Patrick R says:

    A new Station at Mt Albert is a great opportunity to revitalise a fairly tired area. But to work it’s going to have to be ambitious. They should really take the opportunity to lower the tracks all the way back to Woodward Rd to take out the level crossing before electrification. It will be expensive, but there is a lot of potential development space above the station. A great hope for a real transit integrated commercial development… better even than New Lynn because it’ll all be in the same building: no roads to cross….

  12. Luke says:

    dissapointing to hear Lee has won out over the Parnel location. seems to be a victory of ‘feel good factor’ over raw patronage numbers, and amount of people living and working there.
    Great news about Mt Albert though. Interesting to see what comes out of it, really need to buy up and rebuild at least some of those shops for it to be really successful.

  13. Matt L says:

    Patrick, it doesn’t need the tracks lowered, in the town centre the line is already below the ground level of New North Rd and lowering them wouldn’t really serve any purpose other than wasting good money. Same at Woodward Ave where New North Rd is above the level of the tracks so it wouldn’t be hard to build an overbridge to cross them. Why go to the extra cost of a trench when you don’t need to especially considering the chances of redevelopment above the tracks between the two locations is pretty slim and it is only a narrow corridor.

  14. DanC says:

    Great news! Mt Albert Station is already in a great spot. I would like to see the Carrington Road bridge widened to allow for bus stops above the tracks for quick transfers. Regarding the Parnell Station a bridge needs to be built above to link the Domain to Parnell with Elevators going up from the Platforms to the bridge. The bridge should also have a cycle way, It would bring the area alive.

  15. Mark says:

    Great to see Mt Albert progressing - it has huge potential - both to redevelop a commercial area that is about ready (re building lives etc)

    It also s/be be a major bus hub (and with cycling connections / station storage) - it has potential to have a wide feeder area along Mt Albert rd - and of course has MAGS and Unitec.

    Corner site needs to designed as bus interchnage, including link back out to Carrington rd above rail at the bridge.

    this needs to be seen as a town centre redevelopment - and it seems that AT see that as well.

  16. Patrick R says:

    re Matt. Hmmm? must have another look at Woodward Rd…. from memory it’s fairly level, and the line climbs from Avondale to get there, be more elegant to lower the tracks than try to get the traffic up above them at their current grade? Either way it seems like an issue to sort at the same time as developing the station, electrification, linking with buses, foot and cycle traffic, and commercial development. In other words a fully coordinated urban design solution. Yay, Ak is growing up, perhaps…

  17. Vote National - Kill Rail says:

    I’d invite Joyce to the CDB Rail Connector station openings too…. but if we vote the Nats out we’ll get the lines built faster and save Northland Rail amongst others.

    Vote National - Kill Rail

  18. dave s says:

    Just a small footnote to the accolades for the Mt Albert upgrade. Has anyone heard of Waitakere station—-that’s where the west trains return to Britomart. We don’t ask for much, just a rudimentary upgrade would be welcome. I have heard that trains could be returning to Huapai sometime in the near future so this station would still be operational. At the moment, apart from a new sealed carpark the platform shelter leaves something to be desired. Now here is an afterthought, how about the old Henderson wooden station being resited at Waitakere.

  19. mark says:

    “I thought a proper upgrade to Mt Albert was years… or decades away. sounds to me like they will be getting the public square, town centre upgrade and everything if its being compared to New Lynn”

    Just because some people (even higher up people) say “along the lines of New Lynn”, it doesn’t mean that will happen, I am afraid.

    Methinks we won’t get something that fancy, or if we do, it will be dragged out for years more, until enough funding is found. Even without trenching, such a major upgrade would cost many millions (personal *guess* 10-50 million, depending on fancy-ness) and that money just isn’t there. And the property market isn’t hot enugh to finance it by selling the rights to build above.

    I’d be happy with some serious money (single-digit millions) being spent on a few core things: i.e. prettyfying the direct surroundings, improving the shelters and providing improved access overbridges and/or underpasses. If they do some future-proofing (space for foundations etc…) for later capping it with a public plaza or a building, while they are at it, fine. But I’d rather have something decent in 2 years than something mindblowing in 5-10 years.

  20. mark says:

    Dave, re the Waitakere station - if you want change, you need to lobby for it. Approach local community groups or form one yourself, and then get into contact with Council(ors). Squeaky wheel and all.

  21. dave s says:

    Mark, thanks for the advice, I will discuss it with my club the Waitakere RSA which is just across the road from the station and see what we can come up with.

  22. mark says:

    No problem dave.

    From somebody who works as an advocate with Council’s all the time - the key is persistence. Aim for something reasonable (not too high, but maybe a bit more than you would be happy to settle for) and keep at it.

  23. Patrick R says:

    Mark the point about Mt Albert is that with electrification work needing to be done now is the time to do any significant track work and Mt Albert is screaming out for an integrated urban design job, not more short term patch ups. That is a real waste of money. I know Joyce has pulled the plug on the fuel tax and forced more cost onto the whole network but we have to be brave and trust that this attitude from WGTN will change in time. And if that means AT taking on debt to do things properly so be it.

  24. mark says:

    Patrick - I would NOT be happy with AT or Council to take on debt (if they even can, legally) for what would be in the end, would be above the requirements of PT itself. Those upgrades would be as much for revitalising the suburb, and therefore need to stand on their own, with funding found in the budgets, rather than borrowed. And I see no reason why electrification works at Mt Albert would prevent or make a major do-over later more expensive.

    Note that I am talking here only of an upgrade that goes beyond what is now becoming the average, adequately upgraded standard for train stations in Auckland. Funding should be made available for an upgrade to an adequate level (and according to the other post today, they are indeed looking for $38 million for upgrades to lots of stations, incl. Mt Albert) .

    We have no cash. So if there’s anything AT should consider taking out loans for, it’s the CBD tunnel, and not 2nd or 3rd-level priorities.

    Even if those feel pretty important to the locals.

  25. Matt L says:

    Dave - Sorry but I just don’t see Waitakere a priority for the next few decades. There are only a hundred or so passengers that use it and even trippling the usage (hard with the small popluation nearby), it would still put it at or near the bottom of usage across the network.

  26. mark says:

    “Dave – Sorry but I just don’t see Waitakere a priority for the next few decades”

    Dave isn’t asking for much, as I understand him.

    The station patronage may not be worth a major upgrade right now, but I can’t see, for example, new shelters costing more than a few tens of thousands of dollars, which may indeed be both feasible and warranted (I don’t know the area & situation enough).

  27. Patrick R says:

    Mark, I’m as desperate as you for the CBDRL, and very keen to make it a success. Where i disagree with you is your short term thinking which means that we will build and re-build things over and over again thereby spending more of our scarce money. Why we should do it properly once is so we don’t find the need to rip things up, like the electrification kit, simply to build what we should have done earlier. This is the story of PT in AK. And yes, of course, AT should not pay for what is outside of its area, but there are many more creative ways of funding what is needed at Mt Albert. It is screaming out for a TOD in that airspace. The council’s property CCO or a partnership with a developer should be involved in the work. Properly done this could become a great model… the same could so happen at Parnell. Although there Mike Lee’s nostalgia could make that difficult. And of course the opportunity, or rather the necessity of some creative commercial ideas with the building of the stations on the CBDRL is clear. There are some real opportunities to help fund these projects through development of leasable space around stations that just isn’t happening yet.

  28. Aaron B says:

    Awesome that Parnell is back on the cards, it will save a bunch if us at least 15-20 minutes to walk from Britomart.

  29. Mark says:

    Patrick R - spot on re Mt Albert.

    A major property owner owns 80% of adjoining properties. Creatiev use of Coucnil land eg Ballast lane - air-rights above that and the rail corridor, would lead to a land type swap to give us the entrance/square.

    Developer would benefit - and the trade off is they construct commercial above the station.

    One major key building/public plaza on Videon with bus hub, will get the rest moving……

    AT should fund a compatible station eg escalotors etc, and Kiwirail give air rights - firstly to AT for bus interchange back onto Carrington, and also get a commercial return for commercial air-rights for the property deveoper to build above/alongside station (like MIT in Manakau)…

    Council should fund/kick start the TOD by working with developer and putting in public plaza. Previous Ak city had a “development with vision”/property group who could have undertaken this.

    from an urban design point of view having a quality development with quality open space, sets the std and direction of the town centre.

  30. Patrick R says:

    Yes! Brilliant, we are on the same page…. are the people who get paid to sort these things also on to it though?

  31. jeremy says:

    Good realistic discussion on how to proceed from Patrick and Mark. But we need to bear in mind the previous city council had plans for high rise high density development in the rail precinct area that spread out into Mt Albert itself, and, partly out of the negative reaction to these grotesque plans, there was also the Mt Albert design competition that was a overall a nice exercise but not grounded in commercial reality.

    Moving forward we need to get away from the planners’ “smart growth” intensive high rise nonsense. This means building in scale with the heritage of the area, don’t obscure views across the city with high rises, and don’t overload the infrastructure. Designed properly, the station should interchange with buses, have secure parks for day bikes and scooters that can be used by Unitec students etc - this could make this a practical transport hub. Urban renewal of existing shops, removal of non-heritage buildings and replacement with low rise buildings consistent with the overall area, with ample permeable areas i.e. grass and trees, and secure car parking, would work really well, linked into a new and safe station.

    If the new spatial plan for Auckland is rigid in terms of not letting Auckland grow outwards expect smart growth / high density developments clogging up your neighbourhoods in the isthmus especially if you are near a railway line. But if the spatial plan is flexible and allows sensible outwards growth where there is demand, common sense should prevail. It will be interesting to see which way Mt Albert goes.

  32. Nick R says:

    The last concept from the Auckland City Council proposed a six story building over the station. I’d hardly call this “intensive high rise nonsense.”

    It is interesting to see that any proposed form of higher density development usually gets assumed into a general conspiracy to cover the suburbs with high rise tenement buildings.

    And personally low rise redevelopment with plenty of secure car parking sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

    We need to go back to the raison d’etre for places like Mt Albert. They came into existence as a centre of agglomeration to service primarily local who arrived on foot, but also others who could arrive by rail or other routes at this strategic interchange of rail and road links. It was by definition a village centre.
    The recent decades’ conversion of Mt Albert into a strip mall for motorists should be reversed and the village character re-introduced. This would necessitate development of the site including people living and working there as well as merely shopping or driving past.

  33. jeremy says:

    While I welcome potential moves to clean up and improve the station precinct area I had concerns last year that Council were using this as an opportunity to push intensive development agenda into the precinct and out into the suburbs. Nick the last concept from ACC proposed a lot more than a 6 story building; we are talking about intensive development way out of scale with what is there right now. No general conspiracy - 3 and 4 story apartment buildings right out into heritage suburbs, published online and displayed in a council open day last year. No surprise the locals who got to hear about it were not impressed

    In my book all 6 story apartment blocks in Auckland are dreadful & I would doubt the planners who want them would actually live in them. In the Mt Albert context anything higher than 2 levels would affect views across the city in all directions.

    Why no secure car parking? Reality is your local small business, e.g. panel beater, foodmarket, butcher, cafe, needs these to operate - staff, customers, supplies and deliveries. Am I picking up an anti car sentiment here? As for how people arrived back in the day - Mt Albert was a village surrounded by small farms people arrived on horse and buggy before cars replaced them, then buses, trams, trains, etc.

    Sorry but “This would necessitate development of the site including people living and working there as well as merely shopping or driving past” sounds like central planning speak to me. Changes in the precinct should be driven by local residents and business associations not planning theory. Lets’ get back to the station upgrade. A sensible upgrade & cleanup of the station and immediate area around it for safe and easy to access doesn’t need to turn into a full on planned community.

  34. Nick R says:

    Er Jeremy, that plan you posted the link to shows a maximum of four stories over the rail station, five stories fronting New North Rd, and a small cluster with a three or four story maximum along Carrington Rd. Most of it is suggested to be two story maximum, which is interesting given that the area currently has a general 9m (three story) hight limit.

    Just to clarify I wasn’t suggesting the council plan only involved just one single six story building, but rather that building was the closest it got to “intensive high rise nonsense” as you claimed.

    It’s not anti car sentiment per se, its pro alternative sentiment. Mt Albert, like most parts of Auckland, already has a huge provision of private car infrastructure. It is bisected by a pair of four lane highways lined with parking, and some of the most prominent sites in the village are used for grade carparks.

    Reality is that supplies and deliveries need loading bays, not carparks. Staff and customers don’t need a heap of secure car parking either, what they need access to their shops and their cafes. The two are not synonymous by any means. Retail and businesses need patrons and staff to flourish, not cars filling a car park. Cars don’t buy bread and drink coffee, cars don’t work in an office. Cars and places to store them in are but one of many way people can travel, and Mt Albert has plenty of support for them already.

    Do you know how much it costs to build a single car park in Auckland? It works out to an average of around 70 thousand dollars per space. Seventy grand for one spot to stick an empty vehicle in. It’s not a very efficient use of resources, not a very efficient way of getting customers to shops. The most efficient way is by walking, and continued development around Mt Albert station would result in a lot more people with walking access to those shops and businesses than you could ever supply with parking.

    Auto infrastructure is not something Auckland needs to improve on, it is awash with it. In fact it is quite cost inefficient to try and add more in most cases, particularly when it would be so easy to improve non-car alternatives.

    As for the big boogeyman of ‘planning’, I’m sorry but the precinct is already being driven by planning theory, and has been for half a century. It is encumbered by zoning regulations and laws that ensure that the only form that Mt Albert can take is one consistent with a 1950s central planning theory of low rise, dispersed monofuntional development serviced almost exclusively by the automobile.

    If you think that your suburb is somehow unplanned and it exist simply as the product of what the residents want then you are very mistaken! Mt Albert is already a “full on planned community”. Toddle off down to council with a proposal for a new house, a business renovation or some such proposal and you will find out just how planned it is!

  35. Nick R says:

    Oh and by the way I am a planner and I would love to live in an apartment or townhouse in Mt Albert. My girlfriend used to live in one of the terraces alongside the station and it was incredibly convenient, so I’d be more than happy to live in something new there.
    In fact I’ve been having a hard time finding a reasonably priced place that isn’t miles out on the fringe of the city. Not everyone wants a four bedroom house with a lawn and a drive just to pick up some milk.

  36. jeremy says:

    Nick fair enough, good to get the planners point of view - I had a sneaking suspicion - fascinating how you see things. And good for you for walking the talk and living in an apartment for a while.

    Good distinction made on loading bays. The area still needs carparks as it is a lot easier to shop and transport your shopping & family with a car. And carparks along with PT provide access to visitors. Check out the Alberton shops with carparks - works really well. If you cut back on carparks then visitors will park in the neighbouring suburban streets. At the end of the day cars give people freedom of choice on where to go how to get there day and night. Trains and buses cannot do this by themselves. Is it really 70K for a car park space in Auckland how did you get that figure?

    5 stories is way higher than anything in the area and as I have pointed out wrecks views across the city. So goodbye lovely views across to the Waitakeres or Mt Albert/Owairaka. And 3 level apartment blocks backing onto bungalows - no thanks.

    If Auckland Council keeps to the current ARC urban limits that make land supply scare while demand is high you will struggle to find a reasonably priced place anywhere in the isthmus. Fully aware of how OTT & difficult & innefficient the planning process & regulations are in Auckland - been there done that & never want to go there again. The planning process adds to the cost of housing too of course. But you never know if the current situation continues people will leave Auckland out of frustration with the cost of land and building on it, and and you may get yourself a bargain! Back to the station upgrade - bring it on.

  37. Nick R says:

    I’ll clarify on the carparking: a smaller multi-level car park building works out at around $70 grand per space, larger ones get a little cheaper with economies of scale. Underground parking can be two to three times more. If there happens to be a large empty lot handy then that can be made into a carpark very cheaply, but naturally one has to consider the value of this land for other purposes. If you can sell the land at the equivalent of say fifty grand per park then at the end of the day that’s what they cost you to make them. And if you need to buy existing properties to build parking then it is going to shoot back up to costing several tens of thousands each. Obviously in Mt Albert there is little ‘waste’ space available for new parking, so it would need to be underground, multi level, or come from buying and tearing down buildings. So I think the $70k figure is appropriate for any new parking in the village.

    I’ll just reiterate that I do think Auckland’s suburban centres need carparking, but in most cases they already have quite a lot and building more wouldn’t be an efficient application of resources. The issue is one of demand rather than supply. Currently we plan our suburbs to be more or less only accessible by car, and it is extremely hard to manage that sort demand by just building more carparking. The answer has to be to limit demand growth by providing other realistic options, so that the existing supply is adequate.

    I don’t agree that cars necessarily give freedom of choice, or that trains and buses can’t. Cars can be incredibly constraining on your options depending on traffic congestion, petrol prices, parking availability etc. How many times have you said “Ill wait until after the traffic dies down” or “we can’t go there we’ll never find a park”?. I have lived in a couple of cities where I haven’t owned a car and public transport provides almost unlimited freedom to travel. I’m not just talking about hong kong here, but also places like Melbourne which are generally suburban like Auckland. It really just comes down to priorities from politicians. Auckland used to be a public transport city, but in the 1950s the decided to change transport policy wholly in favour of the car. Five decades later and we reap the ill fruit of that decision, we have world leading car ownership rates, world leading transport costs, and world leading congestion. If we don’t make changes to the same 1950s transport and land use policies then nothing will every improve.

    As for five stories wrecking views I’m not sure if that necessarily would be the case, it really depends on the specific building, the location, the vantage point etc. View shafts can be managed appropriately and if I’m not mistaken there are overarching view protection corridors to the Mt Albert cone and parts of the Waitakeres, these would still apply. Five stories isn’t way higher anyway, there are old three story buildings on the main strip, and the newer building with the winz office in it is also three stories. So what they are really proposing is a strip of five story building next to a three story building, with less the further out you go.
    Might I suggest that most of your concerns aren’t actually against mid rise buildings and apartments/town houses themselves, but rather against poorly planned developments of the same that have major and unwarranted impacts on the existing residents? Given the quality of past developments this isn’t a surprising angle to take. However the best way to change this is precinct plans that take the whole suburb into account, rather than just leaving it to the market to throw up whatever a greedy developer can get away with.

    Just quickly on the topic of the urban limit. Removing the urban limit would do nothing for finding a reasonably price place on the ithsmus. You can already easily buy a cheap place out on the fringe in Albany or Papakura or wherever. This bears no impact on prices on the isthmus. Having further sprawl of such cheap suburbs out to Huntly or Wellsford isn’t going to change that, there are many housing sub markets and a glut of supply in one tends not to affect the others. Such sprawl might actually worsen prices in the inner areas as it increases their relative scarcity of supply.

    The only thing that is going to make housing cheaper on the ithsmus is increasing the amount of cheap housing on the ithsmus! Without any spare land this would have to involve reusing existing land in existing centres, and to make things cheap having multi-unit dwellings would be a good idea. Say these sorts of developments went ahead and you could get a new townhouse or a three bedroom apartment for $350,000 in Mt Albert, almost half the median sale price for the area. Then that is obviously going to affect the relative value of a house down the road much more than some new subdivision in Kaukapakapa.

    And if we put those people in Mount Albert then they can easily take the train or bus to work, they can shop locally and patronise the village cafes. If we put those people out on the fringe then Mt Albert doesn’t get that patronage, the train system doesn’t get those passengers and they all just line up to crawl down the northwestern motorway instead.

    But at least we can agree the station upgrade will be good for Mt Albert. It wasn’t so long ago that people were campaigning against station upgrades because the though it would only bring criminals and drug addicts into their neighbourhood.

  38. jeremy says:

    Basically I don’t agree with much of what you say here but we are getting off topic. Interesting to get your planning views out there & if anyone is following this thread they can make their minds up. I will make a couple of final comments.

    While planners have plans for us, locals would like to think plans should reflect what they want, not the planners think is best for us.

    As a Mt Albert local your examples just prove my point: WINZ building is a blot on the landscape, putting a row of buildings like that on Carrington road would be criminal. There are view protection rules that would have to be changed if the Councils intensive prectinct plan were to be adopted. The plan has no legal status and should be scrapped so we can get on with sensible nodal development around the station.

    FYI in Mt Albert people including me have been campaigning for a station upgrade & general cleanup for years - one of the reasons being the increase in criminals and drug addicts frequenting the station and surrounding area as it continued to degrade.

  39. Nick R says:

    The problem with that approach is local residents are effectively individualistic and selfish in their wants. At the end of the day people just want everything that is good for themselves, and they care very little about what is good for others, particularly if they have to make some sacrifice for it. I’m not being judgemental here, just establishing a baseline of normal human behaviour that we all engage in.

    While we can’t blame people for looking out for themselves, we cannot plan cities around a zillion selfish independent entities either. Planning simply to what residents want is a fools errand, it has to operate on a broader level.

    We need to take a wider view that incorporates the individual’s needs and wants, but also the needs and wants of the local community, and the regional community. We must realise that there are systemic effects of a multitude of little actions, otherwise we will suffer a death by a thousand cuts. We need to plan cities at a citywide level, we need planning that accounts for the region as a whole, not as a collection of a thousand little neighbourhoods.

    Auckland needs great neighbourhoods and great local communities to be a great city, but we can’t forget we live in a community of over a million people, not a city of one person and a million others.

  40. jeremy says:

    Thanks for the take on normal human behaviour and diagnosing whats good for us all. We have plans for you.

    All very central planning eastern bloc stuff. Outlines the disconnect some planners have from modern reality and the people who pay their wages.

    Dave - the waitekere station is a disgrace I use it when I go cycling out west, second worst after Mt Albert on the western line - keep pushing.

  41. Nick R says:

    Jeremy, read back over what you have posted and then run over my comments.

    You’ve basically said “I don’t want any more people in my neighbourhood, I want to have amazing views to myself that no one else can block, I don’t want development, but I do want lots of carparks so I can park wherever I like, whenever I like. I want a train station upgrade but I want the ratepayers to pick up the tab for me because I don’t want any development to occur there that might pay for it. I want everyone to live the way I like to live, in the types of houses I like, in suburbs that are the way I want them to be”.

    You’re me me me ideology is very disconnected from modern reality and relies on other peoples taxes picking up the tab for your lifestyle. Low density dispersed development is the most expensive in terms of resources consumed, resources that I have to pay for out of my rates bill mostly… just so you can progress your agenda of how you believe people should live. You’re one eyed approach is plainly obvious with you comments about planners (or anyone) not wanting to live in apartments. You really need to look beyond your own prejudices and take in the views of all facets of the community. Managing this is one of the skill planners are taught to apply.

    Thank you yourself for diagnosing what is good for us all, I’m sure you love your individualist libertarian views of society, but you have to pardon me if I don’t agree that urban planning and precinct developments should be undertaken just by local residents and business associations. I live next door to an accountant and a waitress on on side and a plumber on the other, to be honest I’m not sure if they are really cut out for urban development but hey, I don”t claim to be able to reconcile fringe benefit tax or install a hot water cylinder either.

  42. Aaron says:


    Cripes mate you need to chill on the prescriptive intensive design mantra.

    Suburbs are where communities of people - you know families, pensioners, rate payers i.e. customers - live, they aren’t notional population density nodes that require central planning edicts.

    I’ve lived in Mt Albert and similarly in suburban city fringe London where high rise intensive planning was outlawed for the betterment of the community in fact there was a park/woods opposite the tube station and the high road was heritage 2 storey buildings. It all worked well and kept a sense of community and family living in a high population city for the benefit of the citizens who live there - the families, children, pensioners, you know, the rate paying customers of the local authority.

  43. Patrick R says:

    Aaron and Jeremy can I suggest you have a look at the short film at the link below to see where Nick is coming from.

    Of course the scale for Mt Albert compared to Jersey City will be way different. But this is the sort of vast improvement good development around stations can bring. A huge increase in the quality of life on the street, amenity, employment…. why wouldn’t any current resident of Mt Albert want that? You both do come across as just fearful of change, things can be better, but we have to work towards it…

  44. Nick R says:

    Aaron, I understand that suburbs are communities where people live, and I’m not advocating wholesale conversion of anything into tower blocks.

    However I am annoyed by the concept of the evils of ‘prescriptive design’ and ‘central planning’ etc being some planners fantasy of utopia. People need to realises that suburbs are currently designed accounting to a single largely inflexible design mantra according to one particular ideology, and they have been for some time. They are already highly constrained by central planning edicts.

    A greater variety of housing and development types would be greatly beneficial for many communities, and people who demand that suburbs never stray from their vision of quarter acre paradise are just as one eyed as the worst of stalinist planning.

    Take my elderly parents for example, they are stuck with a large family home on a big section that frankly they don’t need or want anymore. In fact it is hard for them to maintain the place. What they want is to live in a single level flat or apartment, something nice quality but not to big. They actually want to build a couple of these on their section, but they are not allowed to by central planning edict. They have looked into moving elsewhere in their neighbourhood and nearby, but again planning controls stop the sort of housing they require from being built. This is pure and simple central planning ideology impinging upon community wants. They have lived in their suburb for thirty years.
    If the nodal style development of the sorts proposed for Mt Albert were allowed and not fought tooth and nail by ideologues who want the whole city to be just they way they like it, then there would be a greater mix of housing types in Auckland and my parents wouldn’t be stuck with something they don’t want and find hard to manage.

  45. jeremy says:

    Nick - the scale of the proposed development is way out of proportion to the area and the infrastructure would not be able to handle it. Yeah I think it is worth advocating for houses with full sections it is the kiwi way of life and worth fighting for. We get lots of people walking and cycling in the streets in our area where the housing density is not high. It is also important to protect the views across the city - not for me (I don’t have one anyway), but for everyone.

    This smart growth push in the Mt Albert area falls under the Future Planning Framework of the previous council. The impact of the FPF on heritage areas was criticised by one of the Eden Albert councillors at the time - similiar concerns to mine, including not listening to community views

    Sensible, sensitive nodal development structured around and over parts of the existing station can provide a safe practical precinct without hitting up the taxpayer ratepayer for $. Limited intensification around land ready to be redeveloped e.g some of the shops and above the strip without destroying the heritage - fine. Intensive development out into residential streets - no way. If that is being an ideologue then guilty as charged.

    I am sure planners have a role to play but they do have to listen to the local people first. People like your typical plumber, accountant, and waitress - don’t write them off, they pay your wages. The people in the area I have talked to think the council precinct plan from last year is dreadful.

  46. Nick R says:

    Well I disagree the infrastructure could not handle it. In terms of transport infrastructure there is a huge amount of capacity left in the Western rail line and the New North Rd bus route. In terms of social and community infrastructure, an expansion of that should come as part of any development and indeed could bring forward some of these things.
    For example there were suggestions that a development over the train station would include a new public plaza with a library fronting onto it.
    In terms of water, sewerage, power etc I wouldn’t know myself.

    I find you comments here interesting: “Limited intensification around land ready to be redeveloped e.g some of the shops and above the strip without destroying the heritage – fine. Intensive development out into residential streets – no way. If that is being an ideologue then guilty as charged.”

    What you are calling for there is to my understanding almost precisely what is outlined in the proposed 2050 precinct plan:

    It shows a thin slither of four and five story maximum sites along the empty rail corridor, i.e. “land ready to be redeveloped”.
    It maintains the main street frontage at three stories (i.e. what there is there already), i.e. “some of the shops and above the strip without destroying the heritage”.

    Most of the rest of this is earmarked for “single dwelling traditional site” or “small site” with a limit of two stories, i.e. exactly what there is there now.

    The remaining section is the cluster around Carrington Rd west of the station, which is suggested for “low rise apartments / terraces” up to three stories. Low rise apartments and terraces are residential, they have back yards, they are by no means intensive development. There are already three story terraces in precisely this location. This is by no means “way out of scale with what is there right now” What exactly is the problem?

    One thing to bear in mind is that plans like these show maximums at a precinct level. The actual implementation would never meet this maximum right across as not every site gets redeveloped, especially historic ones.

    This isn’t a proposal to bulldoze Mt Albert and rebuild it from scratch. It is a proposal to ease zoning constraints slightly to encourage a strong village centre based around the station to develop between now and 2050. A precinct plan can’t override heritage protection, it cannot revise view shaft restrictions etc.

    And just one last thing, I haven’t written off local residents and their views, in fact if you read above I said they were very important and planners would have to work directly with the various sectors of the community.
    What I was writing off was your suggestion that planners and the council should just but out and do only what local residents and business associations wanted them to do. It needs to be a collaborative process, not a process of “council proposes something out of the blue, residents become irate thinking their suburb is going to be bulldozed for tower blocks, nothing happens”. The council is probably to blame for this for the apparently poor way that this draft long term conceptual plan came to the attention of the community, and the community’s inability to read what is effectively a piece of planner jargon.

  47. Matt L says:

    The thing with Mt Albert is that if you didn’t do anything to encourage more development and left it to to the community to decide then it will be hard to justify any kind of decent upgrade to the station or other local amenities.

    I think one of the major reasons people complain about more intensive development is that historically in NZ it has been done poorly by developers who are just trying to build as many buildings as they can for as cheaply as possible and being let do so by the council. Perhaps a better approach for locals is not to oppose development itself but to push for some strong localised urban design criteria so that any development that does occur actually enhances the area and makes it more desirable.

    That way everyone can win, if the townhouses/apartments have a nicer design and features (i.e. slightly larger floorplans, better balconies and other facilities) then they will be more desirable and therefore command a higher price. That will also benefit neighbours to the project whose property values will also increase as developers will want to do more development.

  48. Aaron says:

    This - :

    is exactly why locals don’t trust pro-smart development people.

    This is massive intensification that is not suported by the local infrastructure e.g. where are all the kids going to go to school?

  49. Patrick R says:

    Aaron, what on earth are you so afraid of? It is hard to reconcile your terror with this modest plan to slightly intensify around a currently busy intersection. There are two schools on the map, and plenty with walking, cycling and, of course, a train ride away. Mt Albert will be still almost entirely single dwelling sites but with a slightly more lively centre with all the advantages that that brings- safer streets as there will be more pedestrian traffic, better choice at local shops, more to do locally, for kids and adults. And less need to leave your local hood, while making it easier and cheaper to do so- a better train service. Are really angry about this?

  50. Aaron says:

    Why are you attacking PatrickR?

    i.e. using the words
    - afraid
    - terror
    - angry

    Stick to a civil discussion please.

  51. Patrick R says:

    Well, your comments make you seem so fearful…. I apologise if you don’t enjoy that observation, but still it remains hard to reconcile the tone of your objection with the modest scale of the proposed plan. See above.

  52. Jeremy says:

    That’s quite a long-term plan in that link and that part of Auckland is quite well placed interms of transport links after the SW motorway is completed. I think 4-5 levels max is appropriate for a suburban area where growth potential is high but I agree more intensive developments should be made in more central places like the CBD, ManukauCC and Hobsonville?(going on geographic location), that’s why I feel a 3 City structure proposed by the mayors back then to the Government might have been the way to go.

  53. Patrick R says:

    Auckland is only ‘quite well placed in terms of transport’ for car users. In fact AK is hopelessly dependent on getting in your car to do anything. What is desperately needed is the growth of the local like a centre like this so people can avoid driving to say St Lukes to get stuff, or can safely and coveniently ride the electric train to Newmarket, New Lynn or the CBD or whereever. We all are likely to find it increasingly necessary not to use our cars, and the increasingly rare and expensive stuff used to run them. A happy side effect of this will be a gradual improvement of the quality of life at the street level. More street: less highway. More quality of place, more community not less.

  54. Nick R says:

    Precisely Patrick. A compact town centre development like this would greatly benefit people’s options with transport, work and services. Both new residents and the existing ones.

    So not only do you get people living within a cooee of the station (and a good bus route, and arterial roads) instead of at the end of a motorway on the city fringe, you also develop the shopping, community infrastructure and job opportunities for both the new residents and the existing ones.

    So we would eventually see some new apartment dwellers and young families moving into the terrraces, and they would be able to walk to the shops, walk their kids to school, and probably be able to catch a train or bus to work in good time if they wanted to…. but also the existing residents who lived nearby would get the same benefits that a lively village centre would provide, say the proposed new library, a plaza or revamped main street, more cafe and restaurant options or a new daycare centre.

    One other thing to consider is that this sort of housing is precisely what a lot of Aucklanders need. The traditional family of a parents with children is no longer the way the majority of Aucklanders live. The population is aging and living longer, people wait longer to get married, have fewer children and don’t always stay together. The fact is that single housholds, couples without children living with them and mixed housholds are now the majority. We need to introduce more variety into our housing stock to keep things affordable, otherwise we have the situation where young couples and empty nesters have no choice but to shell out for a 3-4 bedroom home on a full section that they don’t need and can’t afford to manage.

  55. jeremy says:

    The post from Jeremy earlier today is from a different Jeremy. But interesting points - why would Helensville need intensive development though, lots of space out there. This post is from the Jeremy who thinks smart growth is not that smart.

    Nick the intensification goes beyond the town centre and further up Carrington and New North roads. The height of the buildings is too high, they would block out views and shade neighbouring bungalows. The increased population could not be sustained by local schools. The road network would not be able to handle the increased traffic. The footpaths would need to be widened. Read the press release by City Vision re impact on heritage and lack of community consultation. Local residents and business associations pay the rates and know the area so they are important in shaping the redevelopment process from the start, working with Council. Yes the council communications on this were poor, as per usual, my understanding is the FPF and precinct plans have no legal standing and are probably being reviewed by the new council. There are a lot of townhouses with tiny sections on cross leased sections in Mt Albert. If Auckland “needs” more compact housing then why there has been a glut of apartments and falling prices here; maybe Auckland does not “want” them.

    Matt - any good examples of townhouses/apartments in Auckland that would work in the context of Mt Albert?

    Patrick - one of the reasons I moved to Mt Albert & am still there was to take advantage of trains & cycle lanes. But you still need cars for shopping, sports, ferrying kids around, vising our lovely beaches, let alone commercial business, trucks etc and it is vital the motorway network is completed.

  56. Nick R says:

    Ah I see, the “we can’t do any development because it would require development”. Well that is quite circular reasoning isn’t it.

    I think your concerns on shading and views are misplaced. Is going from the existing two storey height limit to a three storey height limit really going to plunge Mt Albert into this viewless black hole of eternal gloom?

    And do you have any evidence that the schools could not support growth, what about the rapidly ageing population of Mt Albert? Without any changes school rolls will dwindle in the area in the next few decades and the area will slip into a quasi-retirement village.

    And the local roads aren’t big enough? That’s the old “everyone has to drive everywhere for everything argument”, which really doesn’t hold much weight. The whole point of developing in a town centre next to a rail station is that people will be able to access services, facilities and employment locally without having to drive, and have access further afield for work or whatever without the need for a car. Would you prefer that these people move to new fringe suburbs instead where the only option is to drive for everything they need or want? What do you think that would do to traffic levels on New North Rd and the Northwestern motorway?

    RE: “If Auckland “needs” more compact housing then why there has been a glut of apartments and falling prices here; maybe Auckland does not “want” them.”

    The reason for that is that Auckland’s zoning basically only allows apartments in the CBD (which creates a glut of student accommodation but little else, as students are more or less the only people that want to live in that area), while people anywhere else apart from the CBD moan and whinge about going from a two story height limit to a three story one. So Auckland has a glut of crap student apartments in the western CBD, and almost nothing anywhere else.

    So yes, given the only option translates into 35m2 shoebox apartment with no parking in the middle of downtown, it is true that Auckland does not want those (well some Aucklanders do, naturally, but not as a rule). This is hardly proof of people rejecting affordable compact housing of good quality in good locations is it?

    Aucklanders need as greater variety of more compact housing in suburbs, places precisely like Mt Albert. And if people would stop being so self centred about it then they could get affordable housing that suits them, not the Hobsons’ choice of a McMansion in Flatbush or a shoebox downtown.

    Those compact townhouses in Mt Albert with the small sections out back, are they all empty and unwanted as you suggest… or are the full and very popular with their residents? Back a few years ago when my girlfriend lived in one they were all highly sort after at least, can’t say I’ve been in one recently though. And you know what, she loved the ‘tiny’ section. It gave her room to sit out in the sun and have a garden without having to worry about mowing lawns and maintaining the grounds.

    It seems very hard for you to accept that not everybody wants, needs or can afford the so called ‘kiwi lifestyle’ of a big separate house on a big section and two or three cars in the driveway. Sure some people do, perhaps most, but mono functional residential suburbia isn’t something Auckland is lacking in!

    Easing the zoning constraints on eight hectares in and around the village centre doesn’t mean the remaining 600 hectares of suburban bungalows in Mt Albert are going to be bulldozed! We’re talking about intensification of around 1.2% of the area of the suburb, the once percent at it’s core that is already of a mixed use character. The other 98.8% remains untouched. This is the whole point of centre based intensification, it leave most of the city alone and intensifies in the spots where it is really effective.

  57. Jon C says:

    Thanks to the contributors to this debate.
    It’s an important one and a very thoughtful discussion.

  58. Nick R says:

    Without being too adversarial here, perhaps you should go take a walk through Parnell. Parnell is a historic centre that has been subject to development along it’s main street and in it’s central area, while maintaining much of it’s historic character elsewhere.
    It has a mix of bungalows, terraces and apartment buildings, and from what I see most people think it is a pretty nice place to live. Certainly the Prime Minister agrees.
    Parnell has 3-4 storey buildings at it’s core, a handful of apartment blocks up to five or six storeys (these are certainly in demand!), and a terraces and traditional housing elsewhere. The place isn’t shaded or have destroyed views.
    What would be so bad about a Mt Albert village that resembles Parnell village?

  59. jeremy says:

    Thanks Jon C thought we were off topic


    I did not say “we can’t do any development because it would require development”. I am not anti development, just anti simplistic smart growth development. Like I said in my first post “Moving forward we need to get away from the planners’ “smart growth” intensive high rise nonsense. This means building in scale with the heritage of the area, don’t obscure views across the city with high rises, and don’t overload the infrastructure. Designed properly, the station should interchange with buses, have secure parks for day bikes and scooters that can be used by Unitec students etc – this could make this a practical transport hub. Urban renewal of existing shops, removal of non-heritage buildings and replacement with low rise buildings consistent with the overall area, with ample permeable areas i.e. grass and trees, and secure car parking, would work really well, linked into a new and safe station.”

    The schools have zones to manage their capacity and are not getting smaller. One of them had to review their zone area as the MOE believed it did not have the capacity to handle predicted roll increases. They ended up decreasing the zone.

    The roads are not big enough now and adding more people into the area will worsen the situation. The railway station will help mitigate this but increasing population denisity won’t.

    I would not assume people spread out into new fringe suburbs would all be on the NW motorway in fact I would like to see discussion about a low density silicon valley high tech area / business park out west. Which would mean loosening the urban limits of greater Auckland.

    Re apartment glut there are also plenty of apartments and rows of townhouses being built in the suburbs - take the train out to the end of the western line and you will see them right up against the tracks.

    Not suggesting the townhouses in Mt Albert are empty - how did you draw that conclusion I did not say that - I was making the point there aleady are lots of them in the area, where a 1/4 acre section will have 2 or 3 dwellings on it. So there is choice and prices are dropping.

    I know people in parnell with an old bungalow paralell to the main strip. Since a high rise apartment was built next to them they have been shaded and crime from tenants in the apartment block has been an ongoing issue.

  60. Mark says:

    good debate here

    Mt Albert has the chance to be a good quality TOD development - maybe Auckland’s first.

    To do that it has to get the balance right between an historic/character area.

    So far the planners have failed to connect with Aucklanders - only 600 or so submissions on Auckland’s Future planning framework. People distrust a controlled / top down planning process.

    We have been let down by politicians and media who don’t want to or can’t debate these issues.

    I have been a big supporter of using the available commercial strip and a rail station upgrade to rejuvenate Mt Albert. And that approach has had general community support. However planners went further and started rezoning traditional house sites for intensification. That is when they lose me in this process.

    By being “greedy” and trying to get too much intensification out of an area, they put it all at risk, and once again will not have a successful model to show Aucklanders. If any planner can show me quality built and integrated intensified redevelopment in Auckland, I’d love to see it!

    It’s easy for a planner to change a map and rezone someone’s house. but the hurt and uncertainty they create out there is huge. And in the end the developments won’t happen in some nice Chinese bowl/throw the peasants off the land kind of way :) - developers will pick up a couple easy sites and whack up 3-4 stories next to houses - leading to shading/downgrading over many years.

    One of the scariest things I’ve heard, was auckland city planners wanting public works act changed so they could “acquire” (steal) land for intensification!

    Auckland is multi-nodal. And “sprawl” is not all bad. Some would hate Albany - but it has created a thriving commercial area, with good/ latest infrastructure (fibre etc), and accessed a huge talented local workforce - including part time local mothers. I have clients there, and it has worked extremely well.

    We don’t have to cram everyone into a “compact” city. Sensible dispersal is essential. It minimises risk - as we’ve seen with Christchurch. It also reduces costs. The current rationed land approach has been a large contributor to our unaffordable housing.

    The solution for Mt Albert is simple, and can be done quickly. - Don’t push through re-zoning of traditional sites. Concentrate on the commercial strip with mixed residential/commercial, at a scale that doesn’t dominate existing heritage shops and surrounding houses. Have good infrastructure like fibre through the strip etc.

    then link it to it’s surrounding area. A bus interchange to support rail, cycle/walking routes to the centres and rail. large cycle facilities at the station. MAGS and Unitec must be supported - they have growth potential way beyond just the local.

    This leaves in place a quality suburb, protects heritage / suburban sites and probably adds an extra couple thousand residents along the whole strip.

    Going for “too much” intensification, puts the whole thing at risk.

  61. jeremy says:

    Participating in this thread has been interesting. While wanting the station and precinct redeveloped I thought the process could be complicated & jeopardised by the FPF released last year. I went onto this (thread) with the opinion that planners were out of touch with the dynamics of Mt Albert & dismissive of what locals, the people who had most at stake in the area, had to say. I am surer than ever of that now. But the reality is we don’t get to choose our planners, unlike our plumbers, hairdressers, and so on, we cannot shop around & get new ones & have to deal with the ones we have got. Engaging in discussions like this at least gets a discussion going.

  62. Patrick R says:

    Hey Jeremy and Mark, I’m not a planner but I still can’t see your problems, you insist on calling 3 floors ‘high rise’. Clearly a blatant and scare mongering exaggeration. A two story Edwardian shop with 3-4 metre stud heights is going to be higher. You say the area can’t cope with more cars, exactly why we should intensify around the rail line, by all means liimt the amount of new parking, that will help shift movement onto train and bus. I’m still trying to work out what you find so scary about this modest plan… you say locals aren’t being listened to, do you mean that unless you can stop any change you havn’t been listened to?

    Do you perhaps harbour some idea about newcomers moving in and perhaps they will be different in some way, is that it? Perhaps you think if someone else has an appartment that will lower the value of your house, if you have one.? The reverse is almost certainly the case, if stand alone big houses are rarer, they will surely become more valuable. Even though this plan affects such a tiny part of the housing stock in MtAlbert anyway. What about those who simply don’t share your taste in living? Say don’t want the cost or responsibilty that a house involves, should they not be allowed in your area? Again, fear of difference?

    It is clear that an intensification around the shops would help to improve the diversity and quality of the shopping there as there will be more coustomers to support this, how can this be bad? It will also increase employment opportunities. My 16 year daughter now works on Sundays at a local cafe that she can walk to which is fantastic. The fact that it is local makes this new found income and independence possible. What possible evidence do you have that allowing some growth and increase in economic viability to small business in Mt Albert will lead to anything but improved outcomes for you and other existing residents in the area?

    Mark the Victorian and Edwardian strip shops are an ‘intensification’ of the neigherhood. If only the City would get on and, as you nuttily put it ‘steal’ some land around transport nodes and get on with intensifying these nodes Auckland could truly become a city of great vibrant interconnected and individualised villiages. Mt Albert has so much potential to be so much better, for the enrichment of those lucky enough to already be there, and enrichment in every sense of the word: quality of life as well as value of property and businesses.

    Have you been to Paris? Too intense for you? Five /Six stories is pretty good for Paris perhaps Three or Four might help bring some interesting diversity to Mt Albert?

  63. Nick R says:

    Yes apologies to anyone who feels we have hijacked this thread, but I am finding this discussion to be very constructive, almost an exercise in professional development.

    “ I am not anti development, just anti simplistic smart growth development.”

    Perhaps you should ask yourself what is really simplistic. The measured application of housing, retail and employment growth to constrained,specific nodes where it can be supported through planned development of new infrastructure and existing underutilised infrastructure such as the rail lines. Targeted development in a way that minimises travel times, energy expenditure and enhances the viability of sustainable travel for new and existing residents, while maintaining the existing character and form of the vast majority of the city.

    …. or idea the all of Auckland’s suburbs should only be single story separate bungalows and very low rise shopping strips and growth should be met by expanding the urban growth boundary to build more single story separate houses and low rise shopping strips, all supported by massive car dependency and hugely expensive and disruptive motorway expansion programmes.

    If it is simplistic intensification you are concerned about then you should be glad they are considering these precinct plans that focus development into very specific sites while restricting it anywhere else. The real simplistic approach was that of the 80s and 90s where the allowed subdivision of properties anywhere resulting in ‘pepper pot’ intensification with no regard to transport or community infrastructure or the character or form of areas affected. That was the lazy laissez-faire ‘market driven’ option and it created a hell of a mess.

    “Moving forward we need to get away from the planners’ “smart growth” intensive high rise nonsense. “

    Where is this intensive high rise nonsense? The proposed precinct plan for Mt Albert maintains existing controls on almost all of it, with a small cluster of 3-5 story buildings in a thin strip along one side of the main street and around the rail station. You’re in your right to call it nonsense if that is your opinion, but it is hardly intensive, and most certainly not high rise. A three story terraced house is not high rise. Even a five story building over a railway station is not high rise.

    “I would not assume people spread out into new fringe suburbs would all be on the NW motorway…”

    Well you probably should, despite all the noise about decentralisation and suburban employment zones the fact is they have only a minimal effect in Auckland. Auckland is actually far less multi-nodal than you might think, in terms of where the jobs and industry are and the places people commute to. At the last count sixty-eight percent of workers living in the old Waitakere city commuted to another part of Auckland, the vast majority of those to the old Auckland City boundaries, i.e. down the Northwestern Motorway, New North Rd or the western rail line. It would involve a massive redistribution of employment to significantly change that. Interesting that you won’t consider a minor intensification of retail and residential in your local town centre, but you are happy to promote a massive intensification of commerce and industry in a suburb somewhere else.

    “Re apartment glut there are also plenty of apartments and rows of townhouses being built in the suburbs… Not suggesting the townhouses in Mt Albert are empty – how did you draw that conclusion I did not say that – “

    You said that there was a glut of apartments and that maybe that showed Auckland does not want them. My response to that was there was only a glut of apartments in the CBD, due to the almost complete focus on cheap small units for students and a collapse of the student housing market, So any talk of an ‘apartment glut’ is quite irrelevant for our discussion of Mt Albert because it is apples and oranges. I was saying the market for compact affordable housing in suburban areas such as Mt Albert was still very healthy, as you appear to agree. I’ll just clarify that I was drawing a distinction between apartments of the high rise tower block type, and terraces, town houses and low rise flats of only a few floors. There are few actual apartment towers outside of the central city, i.e. a couple of buildings in Manukau and Takapuna, one big block in New Lynn. In terms of apartment towers I think these outer business districts are the appropriate place for buildings of this scale, however clusters of low rise flats, townhouses etc would be very well suited to village centres, especially along the rail line.

    And Mark, I would agree that “Going for “too much” intensification, puts the whole thing at risk”, however I would suggest that this case is actually a very restrained application of intensification. Too much would be a thirty story tower over the station plus redeveloping the whole suburb into five story walk ups. There are a few people around that would love to see that happen, mostly property developers.

  64. Mark says:

    Patrick R - yes I have been to paris - and yes it is too intense - that is why I choose to live in Auckland.

    I’ve lived in a 5 storey German apartment and in the centre of London (4 storey) right alongside Kings Cross and also Denmark. Also worked in many eropean cities on a fly in/ out basis - but knew many locals.

    Have you actually lived./worked in any places such as these? I often find people that do the tourist bit think they would be wonderful to live in - and to a degree some can be nice - but apart from work opportunities everyone I know wants the Auckland lifestyle. they don’t actually “like/enjoy” that intensified lifestyle. So why emulate what those there don’t actually want?

    And the height limits aren’t 3 storey.

    I’m not saying the central strip can’t be re-developed - but large swathes west and north west should not be.

    It’s about getting some balance

  65. Patrick R says:

    Mark, yes i have lived and worked in both urban London and rural Italy and I share your wariness of the tourist view of old cities. However my wariness is that people charmed by the centres of these old cities mistake the surface for the processes at work. They are charming partly because of the materials and low tech nature of their construction but mostly, and importantly, they are charming because they were built be the the age of the car.

    This is what most people miss when trying to recreate a bit of that quality in the new world. It is no good sticking a bit of stone on a car park, or painting a house orange, it won’t bring the advantages of european cityscapes to to NZ. What really needs to happen is that the reordering of the place with people at the centre rather than the car.

    I suspect you might agree with this? So how to do it? Design for quality of place and not for priority of vehicle movement. This means improving non car transit, and building places for people on foot. To me the plan as shown and as Nick has argued above is a modest move in that direction. And there is no compulsion in it to make you leave your bungalow, and nor can it be shaded by even a 5 story building in the Mt Albert shops.

  66. Mark says:

    Patrick - good to see you have some experience re urban London.

    I don’t think we can or should try and emulate “advantages of European cityscapes ” - I think that misses a lot of key differences and where much will fail.

    People often forget a lot of key points - firstly a lot of European city centres are the results of ww2 bombing - those lovely wide boulevards often weren’t there before then!

    I’m sure these are the centres people often have in mind - if you look at all the examples of Copenhagen cycleways the roads are twice the width of a New North or Dominion Rd.

    So we should design our level of intensification to match those constraints.

    Another key difference is often our mixed economy. Many English and European towns have specialised eg into finance or manufacturing or port activity or education etc - Whereas we do it all in one city.

    What I’m suggesting is we allow nodal growth much as European countries have nodal cities. This takes the pressure off intensification.

    The other element is the NZ lifestyle. We’re lucky re weather etc, and we live outdoors more. And in my view we need to protect that. We owe a lot of our culture to our large social groups built around being able to socialise around our houses. The big back yard BBQ, imho has a lot to do with our social skills/attitudes. And we need to protect this.

    I agree lifestyles are changing, and people want apartments for periods of their life. Although I had an interesting discussion about how young people in apartments are having a different experience from my generation, and our flats of 4-5 people + hangers on!

    Another key element is why have intensification anyway? 60+% is natural growth. And people seem to think we just need more houses. At a very basic level what we need is more/better use of rooms.

    Here you touched on an issue that is a hobby horse of mine, and that is how to free up villas/bungalows etc in Mt Albert for new generations. A key for Mt Albert and other inner city suburbs with good schools, is to recycle those properties - not bowl them for terraced houses.

    If you look at some of the areas outside of the town centre eg terraced bits - you’re likely to get less people. Once you consider current 5 bedroom houses replaced by singles or couples in terraces.

    So a key is to get accommodation suitable for elderly people in the redeveloped Mt Albert strip. That’s where the retirement industry needs to step up and demonstrate a model that will work.

    Having talked to elderly people in Mt Eden and Mt Albert, they love their areas, and don’t want to go to the large sprawling retirement villages further out. They want to stay in the suburb, and would look at apartments if quality / noise etc were right.

    So 300 apartments might free up 300 4-5 bedroom houses……

    That’s where the holistic thinking needs to come in - but it needs to follow what people actually want. Not a top down rezoning exercise.

    You are right quality is key. Again using Mt Albert - that can only be achieved if rail is built over and effectively tunnelled for noise etc. the terrace areas along it outside of the strip will never be quality for an above ground rail corridor.

    I’m actually positive that Mt Albert could be a very good example of well thought out intensification/rejuvenation, it just needs to dial back maybe 20% eg the out areas of terraces etc, and come up with the accommodation for elderly people who want to stay there.

    Btw- I don’t think we’ve hijacked a debate:) - this is really saying Mt Albert actually isn’t New Lynn, and needs its own design.

  67. mark says:

    Mark (with a capital M) - please don’t mix up facts.

    Copenhagen streets are NOT significantly wider than Auckland’s streets. In fact, don’t take my word - go onto Google Earth, and start measuring. Lots of 14m wide streets and 18m wide streets in the (quite large) centre of Copenhagen. Dom Road is about 18m.

    Further, the “wide European streets due to bombing” is also a pretty shaky statement. Apart from Germany, most western European cities were never bombed. And the rebuilding often occurred right along the old property lines (surprise).

    The “there’s no space here” is a faulty argument. What Auckland does is turn the argument on its head. It says “IF, after providing the STATUS QUO for cars (parked and moving), we have space left, THEN we can provide for other modes”.

    More sensible cities realise that it doesn’t work that way. They rolled back (or never went so far over the edge as we did) the absolute predominance of the private car.

  68. Nick R says:

    Mark, those comments about elderly people wanting to stay in their neighbourhoods but not having options but to keep the 5 bedroom home or move to a retirement home is precisely the reasoning we have been promoting here.

    I.e not having just one housing type but a variety that suits the wants and need of a broad base of residents, and having it well planned and quality design.

    This is exactly what I was saying earlier regarding housing prices and affordability, and my own elderly parents are in exactly the same situation in their neighbourhood on the Shore (however it has had a few 3-4 story developments in the village and the locals don’t seem too concerned).

    Retirees aside the same can also be said for many others, singles, young couples, small families that don’t find a four bedroom bungalow to their needs or their price range etc.

    You seem to agree closely on this, so why the earlier comments about:”everyone I know wants the Auckland lifestyle. they don’t actually “like/enjoy” that intensified lifestyle. So why emulate what those there don’t actually want?”.

    You’ve only just gone and said that people might actually want the “intensified lifestyle” and that it would be very beneficial for the suburb and housing affordability in general.

    Again I’d like to point out that the proposed village centre development affects around 1% of the area of Mt Albert and leaves the remaining 99% alone, yet could obviously have great impacts on the economic vitality of the centre, the affordability of housing in the suburb and the general appeal and liveability of the village.

  69. jeremy says:

    Marks posts make a lot of practical common sense and are grounded in local knowledge. Patrick and Nick I hope you are learning something from this and can appreciate the bigger picture.

    Patrick look again at the FPF map. Up to 5 stories in places. 3 stories next to bungalows. Do you live in Mt Albert? One of the reasons we have things like local residents associations and design competitions is because the council does not listen to us & our views on how we can help shape what happens in the future. I have no fear of difference, but fear of inadequate consultation and badly done intensive development that you cannot undo in a hurry. Change can be great - look at the renewal of the Mt Eden village & preservation of its character. Yes limited intensification should lift the area in general and make it safer but get it wrong and it will get worse. The area between Woodward Ave and Carrington Road that runs alongside the railway lines has no heritage and is arguably the most degraded part of the precint & has lots of potential for limited intensification and improvement.

    Allowing some growth and increase in economic viability to small business in Mt Albert will lead to improved outcomes but again cars have to be part of the mix.

    Paris - now we are getting off topic - old part is now wealthy but its not all intensive living heaven, the 5-6 story intensive development housing estates there are awful.

    Why are you deliberately misquoting me? I actually said low intensive a la silicon valley out west. I am not keen on “promoting a massive intensification of commerce and industry in a suburb somewhere else”. Lets be clear on that.

    I said “I would not assume people spread out into new fringe suburbs would all be on the NW motorway in fact I would like to see discussion about a low density silicon valley high tech area / business park out west. Which would mean loosening the urban limits of greater Auckland.” and “But interesting points – why would Helensville need intensive development though, lots of space out there”

    There are some things they don’t teach you at planning school & glad to help with professional development. Simplistic is putting a plan in without understanding the dynamics of the area first. Simplistic is not understaning the wealth creating effects of sprawl over the years. Simplistic is trying to control where people live and work.

    Can either of you show Mark the quality built and integrated intensified redevelopment in Auckland he asked for?

  70. jeremy says:

    Hey nice talking to you & all the best but life is to short - this is going around in circles. Checking out of this thread.

  71. Nick R says:

    I’m not misquoting you, you said you’d prefer a large new commercial-industrial zone to be built out west, I read that just fine. You’re happy for this to be plonked down next to the residents of Hobsonville or Westgate, but you scream blue murder about a terraced house next door to a bungalow?! So you’ve said Mt Albert’s footpaths are too small for rows of flats, but a building development like Silicon Valley on the edge Whenuapai or wherever is just fine. Ok, that sounds like simple NIMBYism, you don’t mind about creating jobs and homes as long as it happens somewhere else and doesn’t affect you in anyway.

    I’m sorry but your cries of “inadequate consultation” and “not listening to us” are bordering on laughable, what would constitute adequate consultation for you? The council doing exactly what you want and nothing more? Consultation means listening to people and taking their views on board, it doesn’t mean automatically kowtowing to the noisiest voice is the room. Sometimes there are greater considerations that they guy that can whinge the loudest, and not everyone can have their way. Of you look at the precent plan it says “Version 3.0”. This means it has had three major revisions so far. Also, you’ll note it doesn’t say “final version” either. It has been revised, and would be revised and developed further if Auckland Council picks it up. Precinct plans and similar instruments are very long term tools. They take a long time to finalise and continue to be amended throughout their life.

    Yes there are plenty of things they don’t teach you in “planning school”. But I am a grown adult by the way, a person with knowledge and experiences. I do live in a community, I own my own home, I have run my own business, I have seen many different kinds of places in the world and many different approaches to how people live. I worked in business for ten years before I decided to retrain as an urban planner. Please don’t condescend like I am some little child with a book on utopia in his hand.

    …but there are also plenty they do teach you in a planning degree. Like how to put your personal prejudices aside and work from facts and evidence, to work with groups and communities, with stakeholders and government, as well as the demands of individuals. The teach you to be able to act proactively to achieve strategic goals, rather than simply be reactionary. Very interesting you start talking about appreciating the big picture when you can’t progress any arguments beyond “I don’t like it and I don’t want it in my neighbourhood”.

    As for examples of quality built and integrated intensified development, there are some. I have already suggested parts of Parnell, and parts of the Viaduct and Takapuna beach that reasonably good. But at the end of the day, no, it is hard to cite good examples because we don’t have the suitable framework for them to occur. Most are slapdash crap put up by developers making a quick buck wherever they can. To have quality integrated development we need to have precinct plans, ones that take the form, function and character of the whole suburb into account to find where development is appropriate and where it should be prevented. That is the very definition of integrated. Unfortunately these precinct plans haven’t been successful because intransigent individuals kick up a fuss over the simple fact that a strategic planning exercise for the year 2050 has even been considered.

    That is the whole point of planning, to arrive at a workable solution that meets all the varied goals in the most efficient and least damaging way. If you go a fight the very process of these plans then all you do is reduce the chance for it to be done well.

  72. Luke says:

    love how some people think that if we create low density sprawling industrial parks on the edge of suburbs, lots of mini Googles and facebooks will pop up there. I think Rodney had a zoning called ‘knowledge’ that anticipated that.
    However inevitably they will end up like Highbrook, full of same old service industry businesses like transport and warehousing, with a few offices scattered about.

  73. Mark says:

    mark - little M
    please read proeprly I said”Copenhagen cycleways” that is a style of cycle way - ggogle it and check photos you’ll find many many examples of wide footpath / wide cycle lane / .5m raised medial barrier / car parking then lanes.

    many cities were bombed - not just onbvious german/english. rotterdam, Vienna,Prague, lyon,warsaw (which saw a planned destruction, with rebuilt widened roads) etc - And a lot of the german cities are the ones we admire. And yes they did often have altered/widened roading structures.

    I still don’t undersatnd why you turn this to a car arguement - one I’ve never used - this all about the balance between heritage town centre / surround garden suburb and allowing quality growth in a strip ready to be developed.


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