Community for the future

This Issue This is a part of the Urban form feature

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The development of the former Hobsonville Air Base in northwest Auckland into a sustainable coastal community highlights the benefits of a comprehensively planned urban development that takes a partnership approach.

Figure 1: Hobsonville Point master plan.
Figure 2: Some of the sustainability features in the Hobsonville Point information centre.
Figure 3: The newly completed Hobsonville Point Park.

In a rapidly changing world, we need to build communities that will stand the test of time. To succeed, we need resilient urban design, integrated transport and land-use planning, sound community infrastructure and homes that perform well into the future. Experience has shown that fixing past mistakes in the built environment is extremely difficult and costly, so we need to get it right from the beginning.

Hobsonville Point overview

The Hobsonville Land Company is developing the former Hobsonville Air Base, approximately 167 hectares on the upper Waitemata Harbour in northwest Auckland. The scale and location of the site provides an opportunity for a comprehensively planned urban community (see Figure 1) that can accommodate some of Auckland’s rapid population growth and provide local jobs.

Hobsonville Point will eventually accommodate some 3,000 households. Civil works for the first stage are now complete, and house construction is about to start.

Well connected

Integration of land use and transport planning is a key to its success. A new ferry service from Hobsonville Point to downtown Auckland is planned, and local bus services will be improved for good access to the North Shore, Waitakere and central Auckland.

The urban design at Hobsonville Point builds on the amenity and existing features of the site. It is based around a main street concept to create a village feel.

Streets are designed to make walking, cycling and public transport logical choices for residents and visitors – 85% of homes will be within 400 m of a bus stop and all will be within 800 m. While car travel is the most common form of transport today, this will likely change in a carbon-constrained world, so it is important that alternatives are available.

Around 4 km of harbour waterfront will be opened up to the public for the first time via easily accessed walkways and cycleways.

Figure 1: Hobsonville Point master plan.

Designed to attract diverse vibrant community

As part of the first stage, a detailed architecture and landscape design guide has been developed. Emphasis is on respecting and safeguarding the natural environment. Each house design is assessed and endorsed by a design review panel before plans are submitted to council for the consenting process.

Homes will be a mixture of traditional stand-alone and terraced houses and apartments. This will attract a diverse community and allow people to stay in their neighbourhood as their housing needs change. All houses are designed to be healthy, warm and water/energy efficient. Several affordable homes are included.

Master planning extends well beyond buildings and looks at the way people live – where they work, shop, play and learn and how they travel, interact and become involved in the community. Clearly, not all these are within the control of the developer or any other single entity, but the design of the built environment, the establishment and support of community facilities, networks and management structures provide the foundations for a strong and vibrant community to emerge.

Land use includes provision for a leading-edge marine industry precinct, two schools and several mixed-use and retail areas. It is expected that 2,000 people will eventually work at Hobsonville Point.

Sustainable development framework

To guide development activity from the outset, a performance measurement and reporting framework was developed. This document defines aspirational goals, objectives and indicators that support the Hobsonville Point vision. Like many sustainable development frameworks, it covers the environment, economic development and social and cultural objectives.

The purposes of the framework are to:

  • guide development decisions by clearly articulating goals and objectives
  • describe what success looks like (outcome-based indicators)
  • explore the practical steps to ensure success
  • allow performance to be measured (benchmarked indicators).

Each sphere is supported by aspirational goals and is further divided into several dimensions, each with its own objectives and indicators.

The full framework is available on the Hobsonville Point website and is reported against annually.

Development model with public-private partnership

The Hobsonville Land Company is a Crown-owned delivery entity. Legally, it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Housing New Zealand and is responsible for the overall planning and facilitation of the project.

Following a competitive selection process, Australian-listed company AVJennings was chosen as the development partner for the first precinct (the Buckley precinct). The project is one of the first large-scale public-private partnerships in New Zealand.

In turn, AVJennings collaborates with local builders to deliver the finished dwellings. This model has been successful in delivering large-scale projects in Australia and has remained successful during the recent economic crisis.

Maintaining genetic diversity

The coast at Hobsonville Point is clad in native bush. Work has already started on weed and pest management and revegetation to restore this area. The Hobsonville Land Company has partnered with Gecko Trust and EcoMatters Environment Trust to establish the Hobsonville Plant Network. The network will help facilitate the propagation of native plants from local seeds to ensure that genetic diversity is maintained. The project seeks to involve the community in caring for the environment, providing local environmental education and economic development opportunities.

Future-proofed homes

All homes will be water and energy efficient, with rainwater tanks, solar or heat pump hot water systems, high levels of insulation, double glazing, washing lines and smart meters (see Figure 2).

A commercial partnership established with Vector in October 2009 will future-proof the electricity infrastructure for a time when embedded generation and smart appliances are commonplace. Superfast broadband will be a reality from day one via fibre to the home telecommunications infrastructure.

Figure 2: Some of the sustainability features in the Hobsonville Point information centre.

Low-impact stormwater

Road design incorporates low-impact stormwater design principles. Rain gardens, tree pits and bioretention swales ensure that stormwater run-off is pretreated before it enters wetlands and ponds for further treatment before discharge off site.

Figure 3: The newly completed Hobsonville Point Park.

Park and café open

Construction of the Hobsonville Point Park (see Figure 3) is complete and features a naturalistic playground, artworks from notable artists, a community orchard and plenty of places to sit and chat. Neighbourhood shops are planned adjacent to the park, providing a local focal point. The Catalina Café and Community Space is up and running, where new residents and visitors can meet and enjoy good food and coffee.

The information centre is also open. A detailed digital model enables the local community and home buyers to explore Hobsonville Point’s many features and housing options.

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Figure 1: Hobsonville Point master plan.
Figure 2: Some of the sustainability features in the Hobsonville Point information centre.
Figure 3: The newly completed Hobsonville Point Park.