Housing intensification is bringing overcrowding, gangs and transport issues - Salvation Army report

Suburbs jam-packed with "shoe box" houses are becoming the new way of living in New Zealand but a new report has warned while townhouses are helping Kiwis get into a home, there are significant downsides. 

The Salvation Army State of Our Communities 2022 report found the townhouse takeover brings problems with transport issues, overcrowding and gangs. 

It also found housing intensification is putting a strain on infrastructure and building houses not fit for the community.

The report uses the west Auckland suburb of Westgate as an example, where building consents have increased by 400 percent over the past decade and almost three-quarters of these consents were for townhouses.

Salvation Army Westgate officer Ian Wells told Melissa Chan-Green on AM the report voices concerns of the community.

He said the problem is with infill housing, where three-bedroom bungalows are being pulled down and replaced by multiple townhouses with little to no car parking.

 "There's [a] belief that's going to lead to overcrowding because it's creating a product that is suitable for smaller families and not the larger families of west Auckland that are already in the neighbourhood."

Waitakere Ward councillor Shane Henderson said in his ward, which he believes has the largest amount of intensification in the Auckland region, people are concerned needs aren't being met.  

"We are not catering to that growth, we are not bringing things like good public transport to these larger new infill housing areas."

The report found in the face of rapid development and intensification, residents said community cohesion was integral to locals well being.

Wells said west Auckland has always been community-focused and, while there has been a great influx of population, there has been little investment into the community.

"Westgate does not have the ability to serve the current community, let alone newcomers," residents told the Salvation Army.

Residents want "investment in creating community" such as more green spaces and recreation centres such as swimming pools, Wells said.

As the population and demand for houses in New Zealand increases, Kiwis want building communities at the forefront, the report said.