Auckland, NZ developer publishes 78-page slam of master plan for not favoring fine-grain density

Borneo-Sporenburg_02 From Auckland Transport Blog: "Brady Nixon, the Development Manager at Progressive Enterprises (yup, the supermarket biz) and the force behind the upcoming Vinegar Lane development has written a detailed response to the Draft Unitary Plan.  The fully-illustrated PDF, 'Market Responsive Intensification', is available here.

"The inspiration is an urban renewal project from the 1990s on some disused docks in Amsterdam, called Borneo-Sporenburg [photo above].  At Borneo-Sporenburg, there are some 2500 separately-owned four-story dwellings with a heady density of 100 units per hectare.  The key to their appeal is variety of appearance with a consistency of massing.

"Each of the row houses has a small footprint; therefore, the whole site offers a comparable density to apartment blocks but they can still be organised more like detached buildings with independent ownership rather than needing systems like Bodies Corporate to operate them.  Furthermore, by subdividing valuable land into small lots, the cost barriers to entry come down, a way to involve ordinary people in development.

"Which brings us to Auckland.  Nixon argues that the market is more accustomed to ‘fee simple’ ownership structures than to more collective models such as renting or co-governing whole buildings.  He has two other observations from local market condition.

"One, we are a nation of small-scale builders; our building industry is structured around putting up one dwelling at a time, with a straightforward builder-client relationship with small amounts of capital .  He claims that the proportion of single-dwelling construction compared to higher-volume builds is 80%.  Therefore, how the city is to grow must be deliverable through this cottage industry.

"Two, he argues that the resulting buildings are more acceptable to those fearful of density. He asks: 'Where communities oppose intensification the question is not Do they oppose intensification, but In what form do they oppose intensification?'

"So all is good then?  Nixon and others can happily offer this typology to the market, and developments like this should be lapped up?  Not so fast, there are a lot of road blocks in the way of this model in the DUP, most notably minimum lot size, but also setbacks, and of course those great place killers: minimum parking regulations."  Full post here.