Living at density in Hobsonville Point, Auckland: Resident perceptions

Errol Haarhoff; Natalie Allen; Patricia Austin; Lee Beattie; Paola Boarin

Abstract – Tuhinga Whakarāpopoto

Over half of residential development in Auckland now involves attached housing types such as terraces and apartments. This working paper presents residents’ perceptions of living at higher density in Hobsonville Point. Despite being 2-3 times the density of a typical suburb, respondents in the survey express a reasonably high level of satisfaction with their dwelling design, and the relationships with their neighbours. Of special importance are high-quality public spaces and amenities. Building schools, establishing bus and ferry services, some of the parks, the coastal walkway and making the place a destination by supporting the initial café and farmers market, all helped to promote interest and sales. There are areas for improvement however, in details of house designs, especially living spaces directly facing streets, and the lack of privacy in backyards. There are also resident concerns about increasing traffic and parking issues as the neighbourhood grows to full development, and how new demands for retail and other community services will be catered for. Overwhelmingly, the research demonstrates that housing satisfaction is strongly connected to the quality of the public realm, and how it is designed to deliver wellbeing for all residents. In the case of Hobsonville Point this required a clear vision and intention on the part of the development agency and its professional teams.

Other reports associated with this research

Boarin, P., Allen, N. & Haarhoff, E. (2019). Assessing environmental sustainability outcomes at neighbourhood scale: A Post-Occupancy Evaluation of Hobsonville Point, Auckland. Working Paper 19-05 for Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities Urban Wellbeing: Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods, 104pgs. Auckland: BBHTC.

Haarhoff, E., Beattie, L., & Dupuis, A. (2016). Does higher density housing enhance liveability? Case studies of housing intensification in Auckland. Cogent Social Sciences, 2(1), 1243289.

Haarhoff, E. & Beattie, L. (2017). Can higher density enhance liveability? Build 160, June/July 2017, pp 70-71. Wellington: BRANZ

Articles associated with this research – Karere Tūhono

Case study: Can higher density enhance liveability?

July 2017: Higher-density housing requires quality urban development to deliver liveable, walkable communities. A National Science Challenge-funded survey in Auckland showed this is what people want from where they live. Associating enhanced liveability with higher density at first glance seems illogical. In the early part of the 20th century, the idea was promoted that better urban conditions required lower densities. So how did we get to arguing that higher density enhances liveability? >> Read More

Media: Hobsonville Point high density development study findings

30 May 2018: North Harbour News/Stuff article

Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods Principal Investigator Errol Haarhoff is interviewed about the impact of high density living on well-being and housing satisfaction at Hobsonville Point. The suburb is unique in that it’s the first of its kind: a greenfield built from scratch and founded on the principle of high-density living, says Errol. And it seems to be working well. >> Read More

Keywords – Kupu Hāngai

Post-Occupancy Evaluation, urban development, urban design, neighbourhoods, 15 minute neighbourhood, neighbourhood walkability, neighbourhood satisfaction, community engagement, Hobsonville, high-density living, medium-density living

Fields of Research – Āpure Rangahau

Urban Development; Urban Planning


Date – Te Wā Whakarewa



Type – Te Auaha


Citation – Kupu Hautoa

Haarhoff, E., Allen, N., Austin, P., Beattie, L. & Boarin, P. (2019). Living at density in Hobsonville Point, Auckland: Resident perceptions. Working Paper 19-01 for Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities Urban Wellbeing: Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods, 75pgs. Auckland: BBHTC.