Hamilton Suburban / Local / Neighbourhood Centre / shop / dairy

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This post tries to bring together reports on Hamilton local Centres and benchmark them to other ideas about what a local centre is.

Here in Hamilton the Proposed District Plan (PDP) seems to use what Jane Jacob calls “Orthodox planning theory” to explain local facilities.

PDP Ch.6 Business Zones

(p7) “Suburban centres vary in size and character between 10,000-20,000m² gross floor area and generally serve between 10,000-30,000 people.”

(p8) “[In] neighbourhood centres … the overall floor space for a centre [is] between 500-5,000m².”

Jane Jacob’s book The Death and Life of Great American Cities: The Failure of Town Planning states

(p124) “[In] orthodox planning theory…. the ideal is a neighbourhood composed of about seven thousand persons … to support convenience shopping and a community centre” [She does add]* “an ideal population of almost 7,000 … is silly” [and for reference to area (p142) notes that an] “effective district seems to be roughly about a mile and half square” (3.8km2)

Setting a number maybe silly, but city bureaucrats need a number to benchmark against. For example, the 1934 (AUP) general expansion plan for Amsterdam (p4)

“divided the whole city into clear neighbourhoods of about 10,000 inhabitants with their own public and private space and [necessary] school and other social functions.” Source (p4) http://www.corp.at/archive/CORP2011_160.pdf

And from the 1960s here is a report with a higher number. The Ideal Communist City. Moscow University

(p109) The radius of Unit of Settlement (NUS) will not surpass 1.2 miles. (1.9km)

(p129) “The residential sector is a densely built-up … It is surrounded by a green belt primary one quarter of a mile wide, and it incorporates a shopping centre for 25,000 persons”


Now even though Hamilton’s PDP seems to be based on “orthodox planning theory,” there are differences in how Hamilton assesses the needs for future local centres. These centres are listed below; if you know of other reports on local centres please comment.

PDP Ch.13 Rototuna Town Centre Zone wants to be “a local commercial and community focal point.” To achieve this outcome it sets a minimum of 1,347 Residential Units (p19) and plans for increased density in the central zone (Appendix 7). This planning could equate to about 3,500 persons, meaning it is expecting to get a supporting population from the wider Rototuna Catchment (Figure 2-7) Appendix 2

Rototuna Catchment Boundaries

Peacockes: “consists of approximately 720 hectares” and is seen as a “community of approximately 20,000 people” PDP 3 Structure Plans Dec 2013 (p5&264) with one suburban centre planned.(Figure 2-1) Appendix 2

Rotokauri: PDP Ch.3 (p33)  “The Rotokauri Structure Plan provides for urban growth with an eventual population of between 16,000 and 20,000 people.” Appendix 2 (Figure 2-11) does show higher density residential areas within a 5 minute walk.

There is a helpful report on sizing this suburban centre, using data comparisons to many other retail centres in Hamilton and NZ, available at PDP 3 Structure Plans Dec 2013.  Page 321 presents a study by Robert Speer in 2007 titled:  Rotokauri – Assessment of land demand for new commercial centres. On  page 344 the area is described as “6ha – 7ha land demand, for a “suburban retail centre” with some community facilities, plus provision for roads, reserves & open space” and (p345) “say 15,000m2 / 20,000m2 retail floor space capacity.” Also this report references a Hamilton survey of dairies which found (p349) typically a “gross ratio of 1 dairy: 2,600 population.”

Rotokauri Neighourhood Centre

Ruakura information from EPA HCC Retail Economics – T J Heath – Mar2014

(Par 36) Starting with the proposed smaller ‘northern centre’ set among the approximately 1,800 new residential dwellings … This centre’s trade catchment is likely to include part of the existing Fairview Downs suburb.” (Par 39) Enough to sustain around 1,200m2 of retail GFA

(Par 41) The second main street/suburban centre is proposed to be sited within the industrial area.

(Par44) The 9,150 employment figure is estimated to be able to sustain around 2,000-2,500 m2 GFA (rounded) of retail activity.

(Par 53) Importantly, with no material localised residential demand for services, there is no likely supermarket requirement. And with primarily just employee and business demand to satisfy, there is no imminent requirement for a new suburban centre with a Plan Change – a centre status that would enable up to 15,000m2 GFA retail activity to be established. Such a centre type would appear excessive and unwarranted. At best a Neighbourhood Centre status is considered appropriate (up to 5,000m2 GFA).

(Par 54) A suburban centre … would have to rely on cannibalising retail expenditure and customers away from other centre catchments to remain viable.

Last word from The Ideal Communist City. Moscow University (p155)

“The standardized project, furthermore, does not allow the planner any latitude even within prescribed limits. Because creativity is reduced to a minimum, the outcome is a depressing monotony.”

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