It’s getting a bit intense…
People seem surprised that homes in a medium-density housing development in Newtown have sold like hot cakes – almost all sold off the plans. There seems lots of confusion about residential intensification, so just as a starter, here are some fun facts!
Kiwis’ habit of living in versions of the half-gallon quarter-acre paradise was fine in the 1950s when we didn’t drive as much (and there were fewer of us). Now, we need other ways to live as well. Diversification of places to live – i.e. densification, or intensification – is just starting in the Wellington region, and a new Newtown development is reported as having the great majority of its dwellings sold well before anything’s been built.
Stuff picked the most “outrageous” element of this for the tagline – good call, as it brings the most eyes and clicks. Their choice:
A housing development in Wellington offers no parking yet the majority of the 56 “affordable” two-bed apartments have been sold off the plans.
No parking?! What madness is this?
Stuff commenters were mostly losing their their minds and being outraged or dismissive or both, in various ways – check out the comments. It’s not clear if anyone has actually asked any of the people who’ve bought one…
But what do normal people think about medium-density housing?
BRANZ has been quietly researching this stuff for a few years. They looked at Kiwis’ attitudes – it’s interesting reading.
What is this medium-density thing anyway?
It’s not a huge high-rise apartment block, but do townhouses count? And is medium-density the answer to all our problems, or is it “good when it’s good”? Here’s a fact sheet.
Why are we having to Make It A Thing?
There was a Summit earlier this year, it’s a part (although a surprisingly quiet one) of the Wellington City Council’s moves to address housing affordability, and there’s now a funky looking section on the WCC’s website called “planningoursuburbs.org.nz” – here’s the MDH page.
These alone won’t make housing more affordable, but they’re a good start. The WHAM (Wellington Housing Affordability Model) is being worked on and presumably the effect of these sorts of things will be accounted for – and turned into a projection about how many more we need.
What’s the deal?
It’s complex, but essentially we need to get more of the good medium-density stuff being built. Aaaand maybe, just maybe, more good high-density stuff too?!
There are a lot of interesting (and some downright wrongheaded) attitudes playing out in the conversation space. This piece and its comments highlight the conflicting views (and variable performance) of councils’ work as planners and regulators, and the roles of the market, private preferences vs public good (and exciting things between like neighbourhood collectives with reciprocity).
Watch this space, Wellington!