Heights in our centres

With engagement on the draft unitary plan now a week old, a major theme to emerge is – as expected – height.

There have been some concerns that it could allow people to build high-rise in any area around the city.  In fact, one of the key proposals of the draft unitary plan is to limit high-rise buildings (9 or more storeys) to the city centre and the 10 metropolitan centres. This is where the public transport, offices, shops, leisure facilities, public spaces and services will be strong enough to support more people. It means focusing on having stronger main centres across Auckland, with the largest growth in the city centre. This will help to make a better public transport system – one of Aucklanders’ chief concerns – more sustainable.

That’s why the unitary plan is not simply about getting homes built and accommodating a projected 1 million more people over the next 30 years. It’s about using that growth to make Auckland an even better place to be.  There is already a housing shortage, and so clearly that needs to be addressed head on as we look at where an extra 400,000 homes could go. But the unitary plan is also about our economic growth and vitality, our rural areas, our retail, getting more customers closer to more businesses and planning our growth so that we look after the city’s heritage, harbours and rural and urban environments.  And when it comes to what our economy needs, the simple fact is that businesses are more efficient and productive when they’re near other similar businesses.

It’s not a choice between up or out. The unitary plan proposes a mix of both. It provides over the next 30 years for up to 280,000 new dwellings (70 per cent of what’s needed) within the existing urban footprint, and up to 160,000 new dwellings (40 per cent of what’s needed) in greenfields areas and satellite towns. Planning for more – 110 per cent in total – means that flexibility is built into Auckland’s growth from the start.

In our residential areas, 7 per cent of land will be zoned for Terraced Housing and Apartment Buildings, where the maximum heights will be four storeys or six next to metropolitan centres or larger town centres. The rest will be Mixed Housing, Single Housing or Large lot zones, where the height limit is two storeys. For our centres, the proposed limits are as follows:

Proposed maximum height of centres
Metropolitan Centres
Albany, Botany, Henderson, Manukau, New Lynn, Papakura Maximum 72.5m (18 storeys)
Newmarket, Sylvia Park, Takapuna, Westgate/Massey Subject to special rules such as volcanic cone sightline
Town Centres
Avondale, Glen Innes, Milford, Newton/Upper Symonds Street, Northcote, Manurewa, Onehunga, Ormiston, Pakuranga, Panmure, Royal Oak, Three Kings Maximum 32.5m (8 storeys)
BrownsBay, Glen Eden, Glenfield, Highbury, Highland Park, Orewa, Ōtāhuhu, Papatoetoe Maximum 24.5m (6 storeys)
Devonport, Ellerslie, Hunters Corner, Mangere, Mt Albert, Ōtara, Parnell, Pt Chevalier, Ponsonby, Pukekohe, Remuera, Silverdale, Stoddard Road, Sunnynook, Takanini, Te Atatu, Warkworth, Whangaparaoa Maximum 16.5m (4 storeys)
St Lukes, Howick Specific overlay provisions
Local Centres
All local centres Maximum 12.5-16.5m (3 or 4 storeys)

The unitary plan proposes the height limits above for metropolitan, town or local centres, with variation in town centre limits largely down to their size.  In each of these areas, there will only be parts where those maximum heights can be reached and there are specific design controls proposed to ensure that what is built will also be well-designed.

Setbacks will make sure that tall buildings cannot be built right next to single storey dwellings. There is considerable interest in setbacks from the comments posted on this site, so we’ll provide some detailed diagrams in another post.

What is your view?

Have a look at the draft Auckland Unitary Plan and see what’s proposed for your area and tell us what you think about how we should house our growing population.

The debate is well underway and we have had thousands of people taking part through meetings, workshops and online discussions.  Let it continue.

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