01 Nov 2012

Fear ‘dog boxes’ will lead to problems

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Written by: Liz Willis
Published: Auckland Now | North Shore Times 01 November 2012

The rush to intensify housing may force people into “dog box” sized apartments in Auckland because that’s all they can afford, local board politician Grant Gillon warns.

Affordable housing is needed but a glut of small apartments can easily lead to serious social problems, Mr Gillon says.

North Shore has already seen apartment complexes with poor facilities for the disabled, elderly and children who live in them, he says.

Mr Gillon, a Kaipatiki Local Board member, says the existing minimum-sized apartments on the Shore are too small.

The newly released Anzac St precinct plan for Takapuna allows for apartments to be as small as 35 to 45 square metres.

Mr Gillon was on the former North Shore City Council that helped set the apartment sizes. He fought to raise apartment sizes but says he couldn’t get support to make them any bigger.

Other councillors warned the Anzac St apartments wouldn’t be built unless they could be as small as 35sqm, he says.

Aucklanders don’t want the small apartments they hated on their OE but tolerated them in places like London because of the lifestyle, he says.

Mr Gillon is concerned too much weight is being placed on the views of international experts pushing for the multi-storey apartments from their homeland to be built.

The cost of apartments in Auckland can be higher than buying a house, he says.

Good three bedroom houses can be bought in areas like Beach Haven for $350,000, he says.

Planning seems to play into the hands of developers out to make money, not the people, Mr Gillon says.

“What we are witnessing is a massive intensification of Auckland and the communities we know and grew up in.”

He calls for a robust review of population estimates and the level of housing required.

Lending criteria for apartments is also a crucial issue and council needs to involve banks in discussions, New Zealand Homeowners and Buyers Association chief executive Roger Levie says.

Banks tend not to approve mortgages for small apartments of 50sqm or smaller and there are other restrictions, Mr Levie says.

The association has been talking with the council about affordable housing including the possibility of redeveloping leaky complexes.


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