Category Archives: News

Claudelands Neighbourhood area

The Claudelands area has Miropiko Pa in the north, with Opoia Pa upstream, while in the south is Waipahihi Pa* overlooking the Putikitiki Gully (Seeley’s Gully p60). To the west is Peachgrove Road, formed on an old walking track named Te Ara Rewarewa’*. In the 1860s the area was dominated by the 800 hectare^ forest known as Te Papanui*. (*Hamilton East by B.Lafferty)(^CBER Report 113)

From Hamilton East by Barry Lafferty, page 5

For the early colonial history of Claudelands, see Wikipedia and the next link, which shows an 1879 map of Claudelands Township before Claudelands Park was established. In 1912 Claudelands, encompassing 566 acres (229 hectares or 2.29 km2) was brought into the Hamilton Borough.

From Hamilton City ‘Its establishment and development’ by L.G. Westwood, March 1962

Claudelands as an area has been butchered by area maps over the last half century. Interestingly, up to the 2018 census, the map included the Fairfield side of Boundary Rd as part of Claudelands even though traffic on Boundary Rd is a barrier to accessing Claudelands Park. In contrast, the Claudelands shops, the Grey/Te Aroha St intersection, Claudelands Bridge and Opoia have been excluded in almost all area maps for the last half century.

Claudelands is a good example of a neighbourhood that overlaps with its neighbours. In the north it is part of Fairfield, in the east it is part of Five Cross Roads (Enderley), to the south it is part of Hamilton East, and the Claudelands event centre is an important part of Hamilton Central. The area maps that best respect Claudelands’ original boundaries are council’s rating roll areas 4090 and 4100.

The area that provides the best data is Census SA2. The number of people living in Claudelands has increased 15.4% since 2001 (2,649 in 2001 and 3,057 in 2018). The number of households/occupied dwellings has increased by 7.9% (1,137 in 2001 to 1,227 in 2018). We are not building new dwellings at the same rate as the population is increasing in this area.

Category: News

Opoia waterfront options

This post examines some real-world examples of what the 240m-long Opoia River esplanade could look like.
The 2008 ‘Hamilton City Heart Revitalisation Project’ recommended four key responses for Opoia:
(1) Reduce section sizes from 350m2 to 200m2; (2) Allow parking requirements to be the same as in the city centre; (3) Allow an increase in building heights to 5-7 storeys; and (4) create an esplanade reserve.
This could look like the post-WWII Cologne waterfront. The section shown in the photograph below is 170m long and it is within 500 metres of the city centre,

The photo below provides a closer look; as you can see, private investors appear to be free to build in any style. Walking along here (in 2015) at ground floor level, the atmosphere did not feel manipulated and ground floor designs and uses were ‘flexible and adaptable and … will remain useful over the long term’ as stated in ‘New Zealand Urban Design Protocol’. For example, there is no vertical zoning, as in District Plan 7.3 Rules ee) and ff) ‘Apartment at ground floor’: Non-complying Activity (NC) and Restricted Discretionary Activity (RD), respectively.

The Hamilton City Centre Local Area Plan: Oct 2012 – (p34) 6.2.2 Desired Future Character – Opoia Precinct will ‘Encourage medium to high density buildings, such as apartments/terraced housing/town-housing with 25% permeable surface requirement, 50% maximum building coverage, maximum 25m height for all buildings and 3m building setbacks from front boundaries’. If you scroll down a few pages in the 2012 Local Area Plan you can see what the Beca team thought HCC leadership wanted to see in the section titled ‘Develop design guidelines’, which show wider buildings than you would see in the Cologne example. Here the outcome could look more like this 140m Koblenz waterfront, which is about 500 to 600 metres from the city centre.

From a distance this looks attractive.

Closer in, you can see the risk of building wider, single use buildings. The Cologne waterfront does have examples of this building type, but because the building widths are narrower, a single out-of-place ground floor frontage has no effect on the atmosphere. It actually adds character and amplifies the good design of other buildings.

The 2015 Hamilton Central City Transformation Plan does not include reference to Opoia, but says ‘Small and fragmented property ownership’ is a challenge, and supported a ‘review the role of the Urban Design Panel to enable a more active role in urban design and quality built form outcomes’. We also have the proposed Waikato Regional Theatre becoming more likely. As a benchmark, Venlo (in the Netherlands) has completed a large-scale apartment development (170m-long commercial ground floor with apartments above) along its river-front promenade, alongside an 800 seat modernised (2013) Theatre.

No doubt the architects and urban planners followed the latest urban principles in the design of this waterfront development and it would have been sold to the council as a utopia of its time. But it does now show the difficulty of applying the concepts of modern art to the harsh realities of urban planning.

The day I visited this waterfront promenade (in 2018) it had a feeling of oversized emptiness, while behind these waterfront buildings, in the old streets and laissez-faire mixing of building styles, the area was alive with people.

The Opoia waterfront, at 240m, is long compared to the above examples. The size and style of new buildings will be based on what the funder believes the customer will pay for. The council’s role is to allow investment and fund the River Plan Project to ‘Create a wide and appealing promenade style river walkway … Provide an improved connection to Claudelands Bridge, to complete a river’s edge walking and cycleway circuit’.

Category: News