Is urban density a dirty word?

The Spatial Plan group is keen to get as much feedback on the plan as possible.

With Warkworth’s population likely to exceed 25,000 people, the question of whether to go ‘up’ or ‘out’ is attracting huge interest in the spatial plan survey currently being promoted by a group of concerned locals.

The group has started a conversation about Warkworth growth and how 1000ha of land zoned future urban should be developed. It excludes discussion on the existing town centre, which is already live zoned.

Group members Ian Hutchinson and Burnette Macnicol say people have referred to the types of subdivisions not wanted in Warkworth, but getting an understanding of what people do want is not as clear.

“With plenty of poorly-designed subdivisions around Auckland, it’s not surprising urban density gets a bad rap. But it can be done well if we look at new ways of developing residential areas,” Burnette says.

“Most people who’ve given feedback agree that we will run out of room if we continue building single house sections at the current minimum size of 600sqm.

“At the same time, there is a reluctance to spread houses onto productive farm land around Warkworth or to make public areas like parks smaller, but this is the trade-off if people want larger sections.

“There is also the matter of affordability. With houses on individual sections becoming financially out of reach for many – especially first home buyers – smaller less-expensive properties can help get people on the property ladder.

“The downside of higher density is more people living in less space and more multi-level dwellings like terrace houses and apartments.

“While detailed design is not part of this spatial plan process, it is clear people do not want ‘Coronation Street’-type houses or high-rises that are out of place in Warkworth.”

After the spatial planning process, one outcome could be that detailed design guidelines are developed and could form part of future structure planning processes, which Auckland Council will start around the middle of next year.

Ian says there is an opportunity for Warkworth to become a larger, picturesque version of itself with walkways, reserves, houses, tree-lined street scapes and shops.

“The spatial plan discussion is the first step in the local community defining how Warkworth grows so we can create a character town that has good infrastructure supporting it,” he says.

For those who consider sprawl an option, Burnette warns this is only a solution for as long as there is land available, and the scarcer it becomes, the more expensive it will get.

“This could mean only those who can afford it will enjoy typical ‘Kiwi’ suburbia where everyone has their own back yard for socialising, gardens and swimming pools,” she says.

With a number of local groups wanting presentations, the Warkworth growth survey will stay in circulation longer so more people can have a say about how the town should develop.

The One Warkworth Business Association is hosting a presentation by the spatial plan group on Wednesday, August 2, from 5.30pm to 7pm in the back bar at the Bridgehouse.

Info: Murray Chapman

Have your say

The Spatial Plan discussion document and maps, plus feedback form, can be viewed at Hard copies of the consultation documents are available by contacting


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