News and information from Beacon Pathway

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January 2016

Learning from Vancouver, Portland and Seattle

Beacon’s study tour in July was the opportunity for 20 New Zealanders to experience successful medium density solutions in both suburban and inner city settings. Here are four key things New Zealand should take on board.

  1. Make the most of opportunities (especially large scale brownfield) – they lead to success.
  2. In addressing affordability, think about long term rental and different models of tenure and community
  3. Pursue institutional investment in large scale rental
  4. Always think about transport, infrastructure, housing and land use together
  5. Embrace medium and higher density but also think about new types of lower density living such as pocket neighbourhoods.
Read more

Message from the CEO - the housing crises


Nick Collins says Construction of affordable housing under the Special Housing Areas is proceeding more slowly than expected.  There's a lot of media attention on land and construction costs deterring development of affordable homes, but little empirical evidence.  Work Beacon has been doing seeks to change this.

Read more


Pocket neighbourhoods

You may not have heard about pocket neighbourhoods before – they’re a way of grouping more homes around a shared common area, often a garden or outdoor living area.
The benefits are all about community and affordability. Ross Chapin says 6-8 neighbours are the realistic number we connect with regularly, and so pocket neighbourhoods are built to that scale. They’re also a more affordable option, given land prices, and appeal to those downsizing, empty nesters, single parents and first home buyers.


Housing Matters - Canterbury workshops

Learn, Share, Connect, Collaborate, Innovate

Beacon has developed and run the Housing Matters programme in Canterbury, an open forum to enable learning and collaboration in the residential development area.  We’ve run a series of workshops and site visits:

  • Housing Matters One: Setting the Scene – address by architect David Sheppard, and discussion of a long-term vision for the area.
  • Housing Matters Two: Quality Medium Density – presentations on learnings from Vancouver, Portland and Seattle
  • Housing Matters Three: Local Study Tour of Silverstream & Beach Grove, Kaiapoi – case study developments and discussion on planning / consenting processes, the challenge of delivering affordable housing and issues relating to development in Canterbury.

Read the presentations here

Learning about placemaking

Some of you may remember the placemaking workshops with the Pomegranate Center’s Milenko Matanovic we organised back in February 2015. They were greatly appreciated in both Auckland and Christchurch
“Thank you for this excellent workshop. Full of very practical information I will take away and use in many facets of community work and development, In particular, the tools of being a facilitator, and absolute need for clarity and brevity. All delivered in an engaging, enjoyable, real, interesting way. Best workshop I've done - FULL STOP!”
Community building through shared planning and placemaking projects is so important to the strength and resilience of our communities, that Beacon is bringing Milenko Matanovic back in 2016.  He will again be available for communities wishing expert facilitation of their planning processes, and to organisations (particularly councils) that want to upskill staff in supporting community-led planning. 


Facilitating communities to plan their own places

With three Beacon staff members trained by Milenko, Beacon is offering this experience to facilitate communities setting out on placemaking journeys. 

In 2015, Verney Ryan ran workshops for the Parakai, Leigh and Whangateau communities in north Auckland. Verney guided these groups through an introduction to placemaking, generating a list of ideas of what they wanted to see happen and be involved in, and summarising them into key themes.  The communities then took ownership of identifying the next steps and who would organise these. 


Placemaking inspiration from Rodney communities

The Leigh workshop has morphed into community initiatives under the name, Big Omaha Bay.  They started with a bake off as a way to get feedback from the rest of community, telling them about the initiative and asking their ideas alongside beach games and baking.
 Check out the Big Omaha Bay Facebook page 

Also inspired by a community placemaking workshop, facilitated by Milenko Matanovic, is the launch of the Riverhead Paper Road projects, a group formed in March 2015 to start developing the ideas behind cleaning up and developing the many paper roads in Riverhead.

“We started this group up as a result of an overseas guest (Milenko) who facilitated a workshop (via the Rodney Local Board). He inspired the community to get about cleaning up the paper roads we have and help create a better sense of community. In essence our focus is on community participation to cleanup the paper roads (make safe and accessible by removing weed trees and providing basic path access/bollards etc). We have sourced funding for this purpose.”

 “Achieving great things little by little allows us all to have ownership in our community.”
Riverhead Paper Roads Project

Check out the Riverhead Paper Roads Project Facebook page

Provocative Breakfast - Why is density a dirty word?
In November we held a Provocative Breakfast in Auckland in partnership with Inspiring Communities. With Rod Oram as MC, the speakers discussed 'Why is density a dirty word? How can we do it better?'
  • Patrick Reynolds,
  • Mark Todd, Ockham Properties
  • Penny Hulse, Deputy Mayor Auckland Council

Local hero!

Beacon was delighted to hear that Christchurch City Council's Sustainability Champion (and great Beacon supporter) was awarded the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year - Local Hero Award. He was anonymously nominated by the community for his efforts to rebuild the city in a more sustainable way.

This award couldn't have gone to a more deserving recipient – Tony has made an enormous contribution to the Christchurch community.

UniPod Design Competition

Watch out for the results in February of PrefabNZ’s UniPod Design Competition which has challenged entrants to produce an open-source universal bathroom pod. The UniPod responds to accessible needs of retirement and social housing dwellers, and can be built and demonstrated to retirement village and social housing developers. It may also be suitable for multi-unit residential developments.

Found on Facebook

  • Are tent cities (such as Portland’s Dignity Village) a good response to homelessness? How can design assist the homeless? Read more
  • Insurance companies have a part to play in reducing risk – South African agricultural insurer Santam has teamed up with conservation non-profits to support large-scale tree planting and water catchment restoration. Read more  
  • Why we should be talking about comfort, not energy efficiency – “The broader populace gets comfort. They generally don’t get u values, conduction, kilowatts and therms and thermal bridging even though the results are the same from an energy perspective.” Read more
  • Veteran US builder thinks health will resonate more with customers than green - Read more

Changes at Beacon

We have a new office.  Come visit us at 43 Jervois Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland
Phone 09 361 5170.
PO Box 47141
Auckland 1144

At the October 2015 AGM there were changes to the Beacon Board.  Resignations were received from Derek Heard (Fletcher Windows and Doors) and Dave Brown (Certified Builders).  Resene’s Ben Solly was nominated and elected as the new Board member.

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