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Master planned community – Addison, Papakura, Auckland

Fast facts

Location: Takanini, Papakura, Auckland

Construction: 2003–2011 (ongoing; 20 percent complete at June 2008)

Developer: Addison Developments Ltd (part of McConnell Property)

Design: Stage 1: Masterplan – Ian Craig (Harrison Grierson Consultants)

Stage 2: Bob Earle (Oculus)

Case study researcher: Lisa Mein, Boffa Miskell Ltd

Key statistics:

Site area: 84 hectares

Dwellings: 1,500 terraces, detached dwellings and apartments (the majority are three, four and five bedroom homes, from 140–160m2 gross floor area, up to 220m2 gross floor area)

Gross density: average of 20 units per hectare (that is, gross average density of 1:500m2, including roads and pocket parks)

Average lot size: around 270m2 over the entire development

Range of lot sizes: 120–400m2, made up of rear loaded attached/terrace housing of 120–180m2 lots (approximately 35 percent) and predominately detached housing of 270–400m2 lots (approximately 65 percent)

Addison within its wider context.

The metropolitan urban limit (the thick black line) at the edge of urban areas and Addison development in the wider context of the Auckland region.

Site within the context of the Structure Plan (depicting an outline of the site and Areas 1a and 1b).

The Addison development

Addison is an innovative, intensive residential development located just north of the Papakura town centre, Takanini, and to the east of Great South Road and the Southern motorway. The development site is bounded by the main trunk railway to the west, Airfield Road to the north and Walters Road to the south. Porchester Road bisects the development, connecting it with the proposed new transit-oriented centre of Takanini and the existing Papakura town centre to the south.

The development process was initiated in 1999 as a direct response to the Auckland Regional Growth Strategy (the Strategy). The Strategy identified Takanini as a future growth centre because of its proximity to current and proposed public transport (road and rail) connections. Hawkins Property and, subsequently, McConnell Property made a decision to construct an intensive residential development that incorporated a range of housing typologies and communal open spaces. Hawkins Property selected a design team comprising Harrison Grierson Consultants (as urban designers/master planners), Cook Sargisson and Pirie Architects (as architects for the dwellings) and Isthmus Group (as landscape architects). This team developed the original masterplan concept.

When McConnell Property took over the development in late 2002 it changed the design team, opting to use a designer it was familiar with. Thus, Bob Earl from the Australia-based Oculus took over. Shanahan Architects were engaged to provide housing architecture and to refine and execute the masterplan. Isthmus Group was retained for the design of the streetscape and open spaces.

The concept for the development is to create a community with a residential neighbourhood core.

The key design elements of the masterplan include:

  • a community gathering place that includes a children’s playground, restaurant, café, six-unit retail space and childcare centre

  • a matrix of parks to link the development with the existing Takanini railway station (and a proposed station at Glenora, now unlikely to happen) and the community to Takanini’s commercial core

  • an overall landscape concept that integrates Bruce Pulman Park, some 63 hectares of large, centralised open space, sport and recreation facilities, into the development through a tiered level of reserves and parks

  • two storeyed houses, on compact sites, to create extra living and outdoor space

  • dwellings that front onto the street or communal open space

  • ‘Crime Prevention through Environmental Design’ (CPTED) principles, to ensure a safe living environment (as a rule, houses that front onto commons and neighbourhood parks encourage good, passive surveillance of these open spaces).

Design process

Addison housing development masterplan.

Houses fronting Bruce Pulman Park.

Houses fronting Bruce Pulman Park.

Several key steps have led to the creation of the guiding masterplan for the Addison development.

Takanini Structure Plan

The Southern Sector Agreement (an agreement between the Auckland Regional Council, Manukau City Council and Papakura and Franklin District Councils as to the form and timing of urban growth) provides for an additional 35,000 persons for Papakura.

In 2000, the Papakura District Council (the Council) initiated a charrette planning process for Takanini. This was designed to identify the constraints and opportunities of the land. The process established an overall framework for the planned growth and development of the Takanini area and led to the Takanini Structure Plan being adopted by the Council in November 2000. The Structure Plan anticipates a high level of residential growth (an additional 20,000 people) and job creation (an additional 3,000 jobs) for Takanini over a 50-year timescale.

The Addison development is set within the context of the Takanini Structure Plan. The Structure Plan area has been broken into three sub-areas for staged implementation. The first stage is referred to as the Glenora Structure Plan (Areas 1a and 1b). Area 1a is a mixed use (retail/residential) and medium to high density residential living area along the southern rail corridor at Glenora and was subject to another plan change that was notified in March 2007. The Addison site forms part of development Area 1b.

Residential 8 zone

In 2000, the Council engaged Harrison Grierson Consultants to prepare Plan Change 3 to a new Residential 8 zone to Area 1b. The objectives of the Residential 8 zone are to achieve medium density residential development within close proximity to public transport routes, Bruce Pulman Park and the proposed mixed use node in the Takanini Structure Plan area. Plan Change 3 was adopted in 2003. Within the zone, medium density housing development (defined as a residential development comprising four or more household units on a site with a minimum area of 1,400m2 and at a density of greater than one household unit per 350m2 net site area) is a restricted discretionary activity.

The Residential 8 zone includes detailed design assessment criteria for subdivision and medium density residential development. This assessment criteria set out five design matters to which the Council’s discretion is restricted:

  • public interface and external appearance

  • dwelling design, position and orientation

  • private outdoor spaces

  • visual and acoustic privacy

  • parking and access.

This criteria has guided the development of the Addison masterplan and provided the Council with a tool for assessing each resource consent application. However, the criteria do not provide adequate assessment of rear terrace housing, and this was of particular concern to the Council.

The masterplan

A non-statutory masterplan for the Addison housing development was initially prepared in 2000 by Harrison Grierson Consultants for Hawkins Property. This plan is still evolving.

The concept masterplan was developed according to the following urban design principles:

  • transit-oriented development (TOD)

  • highly connected network of roads

  • pedestrian-oriented development – good connectivity and permeability

  • quality public open spaces

  • streetscape amenity

  • landscape themes – street tree planting that reinforces road hierarchy, and reserve planting that provides character for the neighbourhoods

  • solar orientation

  • innovative, low-impact solutions for treatment of stormwater.

The masterplanning of the Addison development has been based on defined neighbourhoods, each with its own neighbourhood-scale reserve (1,500m2). A concept of ‘neighbourhood commons’ was also developed. These are small neighbourhood parks or open spaces of 500m2 to 800m2, fronted by a small cluster of houses.

The concept masterplan was instrumental in testing the anticipated yield at an average of 20 households per hectare over the entire site (compared with around 10 to 12 households per hectare in the surrounding, established residential neighbourhoods) and for ensuring the development would meet the basic urban design principles, such as good connectivity and solar orientation.

The Council was not involved in the development of the masterplan, so it varies from the Takanini Structure Plan. For example, the masterplan has omitted an east–west arterial connection under the railway line, favouring, instead, a network of inter-connected, local roads. The most notable departure, however, is that there is no mixed use nodal area in the masterplan.

The Addison project was the first, comprehensive medium density residential development of this magnitude within the Papakura district. There are, however, challenges, because the Council must assess and approve all the different approaches to density, the shape and size of reserves, narrow road widths and road reserves, and the new approaches to stormwater management that are present in the development. Added to this, infrastructure issues were not resolved before the development began.

The staging of the development evolved in response to market demands in house sizes and as supporting infrastructure has become available. The first stage of the Addison project was deliberately developed adjacent to Bruce Pulman Park, with a road around its perimeter creating interaction/engagement between the park and private dwellings, providing surveillance and security, and adding value to the properties.

The local streets in the development are generally much narrower than the accepted standard of the Council, but provide appropriate engineering solutions. McConnell Property negotiated these road standards at an early stage with the Council to create roads that were pedestrian oriented, with less focus on vehicle passage.

The Addison dwellings are all two storeys high, and set on compact sites that range from 120m2 to 400m2. This layout departs from other conventional subdivisions in the area, which consist of single storey, detached dwellings on sites that range from 500m2 to 1000m2. The range of housing typologies includes:

  • terraces that front onto pocket parks, with access lanes at the rear

  • large terraced homes that front onto the street

  • large detached family homes, with double garages and gardens

  • detached compact dwellings on small sections.

In all instances, the compact terrace dwellings front onto open space to create amenity within this higher density environment. This layout requires the homes to have access through rear lanes.

The houses are designed and built to a high standard because the Addison development employs strict guidelines for the use of quality materials, construction and finishes. Furthermore, covenants are in place on the land to help maintain the residential environment in its current state.

McConnell Property has established an incorporated residents’ society, to ensure ongoing maintenance of access lots, reserve lots and commons, to enforce the covenants and to protect and maintain standards. All new and future homeowners are required to be members of the society, and existing homeowners within the development have the opportunity of becoming a member. This initiative is a response to the lack of community titles that bind similar freehold developments in Australia. The residents’ society can levy members for costs associated with the expenses of the society.

Terraces fronting onto parks.

Terraces fronting onto parks.

Urban design issues

The focus of the Addison housing development has been on place-making and creating something ‘urban’ in a traditional suburban environment. Physically and visually, it succeeds in presenting an alternative to the conventional subdivision, and provides a greater degree of residential choice to homebuyers.

One of the early motivators for the intensive development of this site was the location of a proposed new railway station at Glenora, however, this is unlikely to occur. The Takanini railway station is a five minute walk from the north-western part of the site, but it is not easily accessible to those living to the east of Porchester Road. Bus connections are also poor. Thus, while the intent was to be transit-oriented, this aspect of the development has not materialised.

The Addison development contains a range of road types and sizes. The narrowest of these are the shared surfaces that service groups of up to 16 dwellings. They have a carriageway width of 2.4m to 5m, with no footpaths or parking, and give the appearance of a driveway. These streets need to be short so all residences are within reach of a fire hydrant. Road reserves increase incrementally in width (although retain traffic lanes at a maximum of 5.5m to 7.5m) to provide increased access to houses, and include parking and footpaths on both sides. However, as a consequence of the low-impact solutions to stormwater management and the addition of cycle lanes, some of the major distributor roads through the development, are significantly wider than originally planned (Porchester Road the central spine road is 28m in width from boundary to boundary).

In contrast, the rear lanes (typically 6.5m wide) have been used as access to the terrace houses that front onto the reserves. The lanes were introduced by McConnell Property to remove garages from the street frontage, thus allowing a narrow site frontage and an improved connection to the open space. The Council has concerns about the appropriateness and safety of the rear access lanes but has had difficulty in assessing them because the Residential 8 zone assessment criteria do not refer to them specifically.

The dwellings are all two storey to make efficient use of land (resources), and generally cannot support additional levels because of the peat sub-surface ground conditions. There are some limited three storey apartments planned in proximity to the retail centre. However, the construction of these will be dependent on engineering issues.

Emphasis has been placed on the streetscape and open spaces, to create a sense of place, an intimate scale of houses clustered around open spaces and a hierarchy of parks and reserves that includes:

  • a central town park that is located adjacent to the Takanini commercial core

  • a series of neighbourhood parks of a size that enables the opportunity for active recreation and play (1,500m2)

  • community commons for the houses that surround the parks

  • link commons

  • reserves that connect open spaces and walking routes.

Most of the parks are vested with the Council, however, the Council has reservations about the establishment of small reserves and links in future development stages. It has not yet been established how the Addison residents’ society will maintain such open spaces.

The development incorporates Crime Prevention through Environmental Design principles for safety and security, including:

  • no front fences

  • all the houses overlooking the street and/or other properties

  • ensuring rear access lanes have good sightlines

  • eliminating entrapment spots, and monitored security.

The proposed retail centre within the Addison development deviates in location from earlier versions of the masterplan, and from the centre anticipated by the Takanini Structure Plan. The Council’s Structure Plan seeks consolidation of commercial development within a new (greenfields) Takanini centre, located 200m from the proposed retail centre and is scheduled for a council hearing (no date had been set at the time of writing). A community gathering place, within walking distance of the central part of the community, is seen as being essential for the health and interaction of the people who live within the Addison development.

Evaluation of urban design principles


The Addison residential development is located within an area identified by the Auckland Regional Growth Strategy for residential intensification. It is well located, and within five to 10 minutes’ walking distance of the Southgate shopping centre. It is also within a five minute walk of the open space provided by Bruce Pulman Park and its associated recreation centre, primary schools and a proposed secondary school, and rail links.

The suburban nature of much of the surrounding area means there are limited employment opportunities within walking distance of the site, so most residents are required to travel to work. However, the majority of the 3,000 jobs anticipated within the Takanini Structure Plan are likely to be generated within close proximity to the site by 2020.


The existing character of the area is low-lying peatlands and, therefore, lacks any distinguishing landforms. The distinctive character of the development – clusters of homes fronting inter-connected common green spaces – fosters an identity that would not otherwise exist. Bruce Pulman Park, where the first houses were built, has helped anchor the development.

This is complemented with street planting and a colour palette that is distinctive to the development, and covenants prevent these elements from being altered materially.


In 2007, Takanini was one of the reasonably priced areas for first homebuyers within the Auckland region. For all homebuyers, the Addison housing development provides an alternative to the traditional suburban environment by presenting two styles of terrace houses and two styles of detached homes to suit different household types.

The varying types of housing encourage a mix of residents, from professionals without children, to families to post-family couples. However, despite the development providing alternatives to the existing area, there could have been, in the initial stages, further choice in housing types, particularly in size and in the number of bedrooms they had. The housing all comprises three to five bedrooms. The covenants in place prevent housing being leased to Housing New Zealand Corporation, thereby not allowing any social housing within Addison.


The narrow roads, combined with inter-connected reserves, create a pedestrian-friendly environment, enabling residents and visitors to walk freely and safely throughout the development and neighbouring streets. Around 40 percent of the Addison development is open space, which consists of walkways, commons, linear parks and roads. Cycle lanes are incorporated into the wide shared paths along major routes, including Porchester Road. There is also a dedicated cycleway along High Street. Connections between Addison and the Takanini rail station will be developed to foster improved pedestrian/cycle linkages.

The development is well connected to the rail network, being within a 20 minute walk of Takanini station, one of Auckland’s regular services between the city and Papakura. However, bus services and choice of routes are still deficient, although these should improve as the demand for such services increases as a result of the influx of people from the Addison development.

Addison is also well connected to major arterial roads (including Great South Road) and the Takanini motorway interchange. Until regional transport improves, these roads provide the best transportation options for journeys.


The development provides an alternative environment to the conventional suburban subdivision. It also shows that alternative housing typologies are acceptable and, indeed, attractive to buyers when they are of a high-quality and well-designed architecture.


Addison has, overall, employed an efficient approach to land use through the clustering of two storeyed dwellings around usable, open spaces and narrow roads. This has resulted in more usable open space than is available in many similar housing developments and conventional subdivisions. The visual amenity has also been increased through high levels of visual connectivity between dwellings and the public realm.

Roads generally orient north–south to create east–west oriented dwellings. This maximises solar access into the principal, habitable rooms.

The design of the development has incorporated Crime Prevention through Environmental Design principles.

The ownership status of the private rear access lanes, and whether they contribute to, or detract from, liveable neighbourhoods, are issues still being debated between the Council and McConnell Property. To clarify these issues, McConnell Property and the Council have jointly developed a set of 13 design criteria to endeavour to ensure the best design outcome for the rear access lanes.

Low-impact design methods for stormwater management and disposal, such as rain gardens and swales, are being investigated and will be employed in the development, where possible. However, there are issues relating to these solutions in this particular environment (for example, it is low-lying land with a high water table) in terms of cost of both the operation and ongoing maintenance, both of which will require particular input from the Council.


Addison has developed through a collaborative working approach between McConnell Property and the Papakura District Council and, in particular, through the plan change that has been guiding the development. The Council has become increasingly involved in the project as it has progressed, largely because it has been developing its own urban design capacity and capability.

The two parties have a good working relationship and hold weekly meetings to discuss progress on this large and complex development. A project manager, who is based at the Council but funded by McConnell Property, has been employed (since mid-2005) to handle all ongoing requirements of the project. This has significantly improved the level and detail of communication between the two parties, and has helped with the early identification, resolution and management of any issues.

Lessons learnt

Detached family homes.

As with any large-scale development, knowledge is gained as the project progresses. From the perspective of the developer, the masterplan should have been completed before construction began. The first stage of the development began before the masterplan had been finalised and many issues required greater input and negotiation than the developer had first appreciated. On a project of this significance, communication is critical and must involve an open, collaborative process between the developer and the Council.

McConnell Property realises it under-estimated the complexity of this type of development and this was a major learning experience. This was, in part, because of Resource Management Act 1991 consenting issues and current thinking in urban design, versus standard practice in subdivision. Had some of the critical infrastructure issues, like stormwater management and the location of roads, been addressed at the beginning of the development, the regulatory processes would have been more efficient.

The Council has been expanding its urban design capacity and capability to respond to the intensive residential development of Addison. From the beginning of the project, it did not have a clear idea of all the issues pertaining to medium and high density housing. The Council standards have thus been formed in tandem with the development process.

From an urban design perspective, the developers feel they could have created better physical connections through to Porchester Road at the beginning of the development. While in the long term, Porchester Road will be the principal north–south central spine road, at this stage it forms the western edge of the site. From an urban design perspective, it would have been better to build some of the proposed houses fronting this road at an early stage in the development process.

Rear lanes are used widely for accessing the terrace houses. The Council has expressed concern about whether these lanes are an appropriate urban design solution in the New Zealand context. As stated in ‘Custodianship’ above, both parties have subsequently developed a set of 13 criteria that help assess rear lane access to terrace housing.

The Addison development was designed as a transit-oriented development. The cycle lanes provided throughout were intended to connect to the once proposed Glenora railway station. This is great in principle, but fails because the development has preceded viable public transport by several years, thereby creating a car dependency that will be difficult to change in the future.

From an urban design perspective, the ‘legibility’ (ability to read) of the development could be improved through increased choices in the design, housing typology, materials and colour of the built form.

Value gained

In general, the Addison housing development is succeeding in establishing a community. It is attracting a greater diversity of people to Takanini (and the Papakura district) than would otherwise have chosen to locate there. Residents have indicated they enjoy the strong sense of community and interaction that occurs at Addison.

The standard of housing is superior to anything else on offer in Takanini, and this is reflected in the property values. Sale prices for the complete house and land packages have exceeded expectations, and are well above the initial prices of $300,000. The latest house sales are between $380,000 (for a three bedroom terrace house) to $480,000 (for a large, stand-alone house). These figures are about $80,000 more than other properties selling in the local market.

The Addison development generally adheres to recognised principles of good urban design, such as including walkable neighbourhoods with inter-connected streets and open spaces that create good connections and encourage residents to walk to local facilities. A residential neighbourhood of this scale will increase the viability of local shops, services and facilities.

Interestingly, the charrette focus groups noted the lack of bus stops within the development. Medium density developments such as Addison should serve to increase the viability of public transport services by creating an intense population base around transit nodes. In turn, such developments then require a frequent and reliable transport network to provide a genuine alternative to the private vehicle.


The Addison residential development is a large-scale, high-quality, medium density greenfield residential development that has been based on clear urban design principles. It is already adding considerable economic, social and environmental value to Takanini and the wider Papakura district.

McConnell Property and the Papakura District Council have both faced many challenges in advancing this development. Both are equally committed to quality outcomes, but have different, and sometimes conflicting, approaches. The practicalities involved in addressing the low-impact, contemporary solutions to infrastructure in this particular environment is one such debate. The ownership and ongoing maintenance of public space areas and rear access lanes is another. The lessons learnt from this process will be invaluable for informing best practice in the New Zealand context for future medium and high density residential developments.

Finally, because less than 20 percent of the development has been constructed to date, just how the development will fit into its landscape, once 1,500 homes are constructed, will need to be examined. The effect of the Addison housing development on the economic, social and environmental values in the area will also require re-evaluation once the development is complete.


Addison Masterplan Document – Revised Draft II, October 2005.

Baikie, R, Craig, I and Cox, D 2004. Planning in Partnership – Innovative Approaches to Growth Management in Papakura District.

Papakura District Council, Papakura District Plan (Operative June 1999) – Residential 8 zone provisions (Part 16).

Property Economics for McConnell Property Ltd 2006. Addison Focus Groups.

Urban Initiatives for Papakura District Council 2000. Takanini Structure Plan.

Wes Edwards Consulting 2004. Local Roads for Liveable Neighbourhoods.

Useful websites