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New subdivisions affordable and attractive places to live

5 September 2017

Criticism that new subdivisions create urban sprawl, or all look alike, is misplaced, believes Kevin Atkinson, the Chief Executive Officer of award winning national top 10 home building company Generation Homes.

It should come as no surprise that new subdivisions are often in the public spotlight. Growth on green field sites on the urban fringe of our cities is highly visible.

Advocates of compact cities believe outward development should be limited, and that urban growth is bad. However, as a housing company we feel that argument is too simplistic and that the benefits of subdivisions – economic, environmental, and social – deserve wider publicity.

The impact of new housing on affordability demonstrates classic Economics 101 in action, in particular the laws of supply and demand. New subdivisions bring prices under control and make housing more affordable for everyone.

This was clearly evident in Christchurch following the earthquakes of 2010-11. After whole neighbourhoods were lost and people were forced to move out of their severely damaged homes, the shortage of housing resulted in high demand for any housing across the city, even poor quality stock. Prices rose dramatically. Once new subdivisions came on stream, prices stabilised.

Housing in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, has become a major issue and a political hot potato because of a lack of supply combined with high demand, and prices remain significantly higher than other centres. Once more new subdivisions appear, price rises will ease. Prices in most other New Zealand cities are somewhere in the middle.

Much depends on the availability of land for new development and also on the consenting rate for new builds. That is heavily dependent on the policies and actions of both central and local government. It is worth noting that even at a modest rate of population growth, of a few percent a year, the country needs a constant steady supply of new housing.

We’re optimistic. Fortunately, there’s a great land supply around the country, so there will be plenty of opportunities for people to build in new subdivisions.

Creating good infrastructure in the form of transport links and services is essential. Again, this is the responsibility of local and central government. Creating good amenities and an attractive environment is up to the developers, in consultation with local authorities.

The best new subdivisions are not merely rows of housing. They are communities. They have walkways and green spaces, thoughtful landscaping, places for residents to meet and relax, and shops, schools, and sports facilities are often part of the subdivision or easily accessible. In this internet era, new subdivisions are not all just dormitory suburbs where everybody commutes each day; some businesses can operate on site in purpose-built facilities or from home.

It is the overall quality of houses in new subdivisions that is one of their biggest selling points. For those used to freezing in damp, cold uninsulated homes, just stepping into a new home comes as a real eye-opener. New housing is better housing. We build new comfortable houses that are warmer, healthier, and more economical to run. They are designed for 21st century living, and come with all the latest design features, such as family kitchens, indoor-outdoor flow, double glazing, low maintenance-high performance materials, and efficient heating.

Generation Homes is proud to be a building partner for Papamoa’s newest subdivision, Manawa – the new 20ha development launched a few weeks ago.  It will add another 240 houses in Papamoa, Tauranga. It is owned by Nga Potiki a Tamapahore Trust.

This subdivision is a perfect example of clever design – from the natural eco system that will be used to filter storm water to the favouring of native plants over exotics. The use of green space will be maximised with walkways throughout the subdivision, common greens and a large reserve ensures the walk to the beach provides protective shading from the Papamoa summer sun. Public artworks within the subdivision are planned. The whole development is designed to encourage interactions with each other. We are proud we can help raise the quality of life for Kiwis.

Covenants, conditions and restrictions (CCRs) imposed by the local council and land developers also come in for criticism. True, if you want to show off your individuality by indulging your taste for vivid colours and strange shapes, you’ll probably be out of luck, but in fact, there are many options for creating individual and appealing homes. Generation Homes offers 200 architecturally-designed plans. We have more than 100 custom variations available so you can add your own personal touch to your property.

The plus side of covenants is that the whole development looks more attractive. With focus on design and details, subdivisions look visually appealing and architecturally harmonious. Homes are of a similar quality, style, and standard. 

As well as ensuring quality and consistency, covenants also regulate activities: for example, no trucks parked on roads, no sheds at the front of houses, houses must be completely finished.

There’s another advantage, too. Choosing a home that has been pre-designed for the site simplifies the process of building a new home and reduces the number of decisions you have to make. This reduces processing time and ensures your building consent is approved much faster.

Subdivisions present a unique opportunity for you and your family to become part of a new community and enhance your local neighbourhood.

This opinion piece was published by The Press and Stuff.co.nz on August 17. Check out the article here.