The Hobsonville Point Story
In 2007, as New Zealand’s housing market was experiencing a hefty downward ‘correction’ in response to the global financial crisis, AVJennings began work on one of the largest and most ambitious residential development projects of its eighty year history.
AVJennings was chosen by the New Zealand Government to partner a Crown-owned subsidary, Hobsonville Land Company (HLC), in the development of a new township 11kms northwest of Auckland’s CBD. The township, Hobsonville Point, is projected to become home to 11,000 Aucklanders in 4,500 dwellings, and take 15 years to complete.
As of mid 2016, Hobsonville Point has over 950 homes either built or under construction, a cohesive community of 1,450 people, and more than half of its impressive public amenity complete. Hobsonville Point’s high quality homes are being delivered to the market at a faster rate than any other development in New Zealand. Most of them – over eighty per cent – sell before the foundation slab has been poured. The remainder sell before construction is complete. The project has been a remarkable success, selling strongly since its inception, despite the highs and lows of the local property market.
The reasons for its success are many and varied. At the heart of it, though, is the emphasis placed on community building. This design-led project has been, from the start, all about clarifying and then delivering the kind of neighbourhoods Kiwis love to live in.
Architectural variety lends interest to neighbourhoods.
Density in Hobsonville Point's first neighbourhood, Buckley A.
Removing the Barriers
The 167ha of land that became Hobsonville Point was, for a period of 80 years, a defence base. The base was home to a small number of defence force personnel and their families who lived in a close-knit community. The vast majority of Aucklanders were prevented from exploring the peninsula’s shelly beaches and bush clad gullies by chain link fences and barrier arms.
The site is dotted with old Defence Force buildings.
The work of removing the physical barriers is largely complete, although some of the most picturesque parts of the site and characterful old buildings are still awaiting remediation and renovation.
However, there were other barriers to overcome.
Because the base had been ‘off limits’ the area had very low awareness among Aucklanders. Many people had never heard of it or weren’t sure where it was. Those that knew of Hobsonville Point had a perception that it was isolated and hard to reach. In fact, new motorway networks had improved to such a degree that travel time from the CBD had been radically reduced, but awareness of the new roading was also low.
And finally, Aucklanders had been exposed to very little suburban development of the density being proposed. In order to offer new, high quality homes at accessible prices the HLC and AVJennings team would need to introduce Aucklanders to more compact lots than they were used to.
Stand alone and terraced homes overlooking a pocket park.
A higher density would, however, help with the biggest barrier of all for homeowners: affordability. Ordinary Kiwis on the average wage were struggling to buy their first home in Auckland. This, then, was a chance to show them that a 200m2 section within a well designed, pedestrian friendly neighbourhood near parks, schools and shops provided an equal or better quality of life than the quarter acre back yard many grew up with.
By committing to the project during difficult times AVJennings provided the financial injection, expertise and impetus (and assumed the risk) needed to get underway with the development and the early public amenity that would be so critical to its success.
Over the next few weeks we will share many of the strategies and design tactics that have contributed to Hobsonville Point’s success.
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