Kate Hawkesby: Heritage homeowners will be feeling a little uneasy

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Oct 2021, 10:42AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Kate Hawkesby: Heritage homeowners will be feeling a little uneasy

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Oct 2021, 10:42AM

As if this week’s not tough enough and we’re not rarked up enough already, now they want to carve up heritage houses for more development. 

A new bill aims to force councils to allow more dense housing. The "new intensification rules will allow buildings of up to three storeys on most sites in cities without any need for resource consent from August 2022,” we read yesterday. 

This is basically a green light to development and a way of addressing housing supply. Councils have previously made access to land difficult; this turns the tables. It takes more power off Councils and reduces impediments to progress, and that’s no bad thing. 

What might be ruffling the feathers of the latte set however, is whether this snazzy new drive for development winds up on their front door step. 

A South Auckland Councillor has said that it needs to include wealthier suburbs too. 

So those sitting pretty in a 200-year-old villa in Remuera, or Kelburn or Fendalton may well be looking down the barrel of a 3-storey development going up next door. In some areas it's up to 6 storeys. 

How palatable will be this be for them? I can tell you it’ll go down like a cup of cold sick. 

Low density houses in suburbs in metropolitan areas are already feeling the squeeze with infill housing and developments like apartment complexes springing up around them.  

A green light to more of it will have people worried. 

I get both sides of the argument, on the one hand we need more housing, no question, and we need it to happen quickly. But on the other hand, who’s overseeing whether quiet neighbourhoods will turn into bustling ugly concrete jungles?  

Threats to remove heritage overlays or to reclassify them risks losing, not just the history of suburban areas, but also the architecture, cityscape, urban landscape and design aesthetic. 

If sprawling bungalows lovingly maintained in Merivale or Mt Albert or Maori Hill suddenly have to make way for 3 or 6-storey-high concrete apartment buildings, then what does that do to the value of an area? 

Will this devalue already established homes? Will there be a flight to certain areas, thus rearranging the whole current make-up of suburbs? Or will value of the ancient villa on a one-thousand-square-metre lot actually go through the roof because they’ll soon be like hens teeth?  

And how much is it costing to throw your 3-storeys up on land in wealthier low-density suburbs anyway? Where, by the time you’re done, the price of the finished development will be out of reach of any first home buyer. 

Will this pump the market up? Or pump on the brakes? 

I imagine it's a gamble that'll have heritage home owners feeling a little uneasy this morning.