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Property sweet spot: Upper Harbour

Oct 20, 2015 Property

This article first appeared in the October 2015 issue of Metro magazine. Photo: Jonny Davis. 

As our photo suggests, there are few places as beautiful around Auckland as the upper harbour nexus of Hobsonville Pt, Greenhithe and Beach Haven. Who wouldn’t want to have that regularly in their life?

Go to live around the upper Waitemata Harbour and you can choose a fully suburban environment, a country retreat or something in between. There are little baches and luxury homes hidden in the bush; lifestyle blocks that range from rustically ramshackle to mansions on the hills; apartment blocks, terrace rows, new subdivisions with warm dry homes and old villages with weatherboard houses a hundred years old, and more.

To the south, where the Upper Harbour and Northwestern Motorways meet, is the new Westgate Town Centre, otherwise known as Boomtown! A gigantic new mall was due to open on October 1, with major brand big-box shopping also under way. They’re expecting to build 40,000 new homes in the immediate vicinity, and that will spread.

To the north there’s Albany, also growing fast, with restaurants and cafes that get better every year and student life from Massey’s Albany campus to inject an essential dose of urbanity.

If you don’t fancy living quite so close to relentless commercial and retail activity, you’ve still got rich pickings. Hobsonville Pt is a model town, in the sense that it’s being developed with all the care and skill the council and developers can muster, with schools and traffic-calmed streets, and a fantastic farmers’ market.

The older parts of Greenhithe still offer bargains if you’re keen on being close to the water, and the whole area is close to the adventure playground of Woodhill Forest , the beaches of the east and west coasts and the wineries of Kumeu.

Getting to town? Pretty easy on the Upper Harbour Motorway, which connects quickly to the main motorways of State Highway 1 to the north and State Highway 16 to the west.

It’s so lovely, we were tempted not to tell you about it.

From Albany you can also connect easily to the Northern Busway, one of the great success stories of Auckland public transport, and bus routes in other parts of the area will also grow better as the population grows. And there’s the ferry. Just 35 minutes on that idyllic upper harbour and you’re in downtown Auckland.

It’s so lovely, we were tempted not to tell you about it.

To look at Tamaki is to look at possibility. And action. The transformation taking place in the suburbs of Glen Innes, Pt England and Panmure right now is one of the most profound in the whole city.

It needs to be. Forced evictions and removal of state housing from Glen Innes over recent years created a bitterness in the suburb that has not yet been eased, and all parties to the development still have work to do restoring local confidence. The good news is, they’re doing that work, and on the whole doing it well.

Te Oro, the new community centre in Glen Innes, is a magnificent and very busy asset. Down in Panmure, they’ve redeveloped the town centre and arterial road interchange (don’t worry, the famous sign is still there), and they’ve got one of the best-looking train stations, too.

New commercial precincts will be created, and there’ll be more of the modern, eco-efficient, mid-range housing already established so successfully in nearby Stonefields.

There are real prospects for this part of Auckland: sunny slopes and appealing features like the Panmure Basin are obvious pointers to the potential.

Less obvious, perhaps, but more important than all of that, is the plan to transform the standard of housing on the Pt England flatlands. The Tamaki Redevelopment Company is a joint venture between the government and the council and is mandated to turn a suburb that’s little better than a slum into a model of warm, dry, energy-efficient, affordable housing, with good transport links and well-appointed community facilities.

Pt England Primary School has been a national pioneer in the use of technology in learning and, at least as valuable, in using it to link home and school. Now, on this neglected section of the Auckland coastline, the prospects are that the whole area, a relatively easy commute from downtown, could become a great place to live.


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