The future of (more) affordable city housing: lose the car parks

“We want and like cars, they suit our lives and the lives we choose to live.”


Thus spake a high-profile commentator, one of many loud voices in Auckland decrying Auckland’s new inner-city Ockham Residential apartment complex (below). Its crime? Daring to not provide a car park with any of its homes.

The Daisy (Ockham Residential)

Other NZ Herald voices, including property editor Anne Gibson, saw the complex (called The Daisy after its street address) as part of “the whole anti-car move that is going on in Auckland”. An apartment block with no car parks — just space for bikes, scooters and two shared cars — was bound to make Auckland’s already car-ridden landscape worse, reported Noted‘s Chris Barton.

Thing is, not providing a carpark is the main reason why the Daisy’s apartments were so affordable: just 60% of the median Auckland price for their type.

Let’s think about this for a minute.

Carparks cost a lot – a lot – for developers.

Excessive driving and parking cost astronomical amounts for cities.

Minimum parking requirements – the obligation to provide x many carparks per head of population you’re planning to accommodate – are basically the devil, for cities.

Not only do MPRs bring all the iniquities of market-distorting over-regulation, they also suppress the private sector’s innovation that invariably flourishes when markets have well-founded parameters clearly set. (What does that mean? Good is “50% lower household carbon footprint for everyone who lives in a new build”. Bad is “provide a car park for every 1.6 humans who will dwell in your building“).


Let’s think about some current Wellington city developments. Shelly Bay is suffering a hailstorm of criticism, reckons and commentary, but some of the better-founded questions are about transport.

Due to its Special Housing Area status, plus a bunch of other things, they didn’t have to do much about the narrow coastal road that’s the only access. There’s talk of a ferry, which is promising. But – we’d love to be wrong – we gather that most apartments would have a carpark.

Why?!

In an age of Mevo and Uber and Ola and Zoomy and bikeshare and better busing and mass transit between city and airport?

A visualisation of Shelly Bay (supplied to Stuff.co.nz)

Mostly, we suspect, the logic goes “it’s kinda for fancy people. And fancy people have to have at minimum a Lexus or a Range Rover Vogue, and a Porsche Cayenne for the school run otherwise… how will people know they’re fancy?! They won’t want to buy apartments otherwise.”

Leaving aside for a moment questions about the ethics of that logic, and the freedom of the market to offer things people want to buy at prices the providers want to offer them…

If it was more ‘legit’ not to provide car parking, how would this change life at Shelly Bay? How would this change its marketability? How would it change the whole proposition, including its effects on the city at large?

Anyway, given that transport is such a whopping percentage of Wellington’s carbon footprint [PDF], shouldn’t it be the default that active and sustainable travel is the first-best choice for people living in central Wellington?

How “central” is enough? How close to the city centre or to a suburban centre is “close enough”, given our near future with Let’s Get Wellington Moving, to warrant not assuming everyone will want to own and run a car?


Read more
The Daisy: Why we did it
Transport, architecture, planning – an architect’s perspective on Shelly Bay
The Daisy and Ockham Residential’s interesting affordability schemes



2 comments on “The future of (more) affordable city housing: lose the car parks”

  • Ian Cassels says:

    May I say we (TWC) were amongst the early providers of inner city apartments without carparks and we do provide, far and away, the most city apartments in the low to mid price range, we are a shareholder in MEVO, we did buy three of the first Mitsubishi Mievs when NZ Post, WCC and Meridian could only manage one each. We are committed to the Ferry. We are working furiously on two Kiwibuild projects and we are close to completing the first 15 year lease with WCC for rental apartments. Shelly Bay – once the orchestrated noise abates – will have car share, the houses will be high performance and there will be local electricity production and if there is anything more that we could do – please feel free to tell us.

  • Taryn says:

    this is good to know. lots of people critcizing “it’s too high end” and “only for rich people”, the sausalito thing doesnt help IMO because some photos look really “fancy”.

    local electricity production, cool! like little windmlls on the hill?

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