Inner City Living Business Case and Tool kit, Whangārei

Client: Whangārei District Council

The problem

The Whangārei District Council has a vision to increase residential development in the city centre as a way to meet the districts housing needs and create a vibrant, thriving and well-designed city centre. This vision is enabled through Council’s strategic planning framework including the Whangārei City Centre Plan, the City Core Precinct Plan and the District Plan. Despite this clear policy direction, there has been no significant uptake in building or resource consents for new residential buildings in the city centre.

The process

The Property Group was engaged by Whangārei District Council to work alongside them to prepare a business case for inner city living in the Whangārei city centre. The purpose of the business case is to identify what the opportunities for inner city living are in the city centre, any barriers that exist to this type of development, and what interventions are required to support the development of inner-city living opportunities.

Development of the business case included a workshop and engagement with stakeholders, including landowners and the development sector, to understand the market realities of undertaking inner city residential development and jointly identifying potential areas of intervention. The research to support this process included:

  • Site evaluation to identify existing development conditions, including land ownership patterns, ground conditions, resilience challenges, infrastructure provision and amenity.

  • Market evaluation to test the assumption that there is current and future demand for inner city living opportunities and smaller dwelling typologies in the district.

  • Development feasibility analysis to test a range of development scenarios and typologies.

The outcome

The outcome of the business case was identification of a range of Council and private sector led interventions to support inner city residential development, including Council taking a proactive approach to working with the private sector and landowners to realise existing opportunities. A toolkit was developed as a first step in this process and provides a step-by-step guide on how to undertake a residential conversion project. It walks landowners through the development process (feasibility - consenting - construction) and provides an easy-to-understand guide to accessing Councils resources and processes.

The outcome

The project demonstrates an innovative and new approach to bridging the gap between planning policy and the challenges facing the development sector. It utilises an intervention logic approach to the analysis and shows how bringing the key parties together to work through problems is essential in finding agreed and practical solutions as well as developing ongoing working relationships. It also highlights how achieving strategic outcomes sought is a process and Council can play a role in not only setting the strategic direction but facilitating the pathway for change.

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