Multi-Unit Residential / Fire Engineering / Passive Fire Design

Multi-Unit Residential Development, Sunnynook Road

12 unit housing development (Stage 1 of a multi-stage Terrace Housing Development)
Project Snapshot
Year Completed: On-Going
Location: Sunnynook Road
Professional Service/s: Resource Consent, Building Consent, Fire Engineering, Passive Fire Design
Size: 12 residential units ranging from 3~4 bedrooms and 130~150m2


We were commissioned by our client to develop a multi unit housing development across 3 existing sites on the highly desirable Sunnynook Road. There were several restrictions on the sites such as the large 1.3m wide public stormwater drain across all three sites, a minimum floor level restriction due to the flood levels and a height in relation to boundary restriction adjoining a lower density zone on all three sites.


We came up with a design of 3 separate blocks of multi-unit houses of varying densities from stand-alone houses to multi unit terraced houses. Considerate architectural planning and thought were given to achieve a high-quality outcome.

In Detail

Our client for this job is a repeat client for whom we had previously completed the design and building consent documentation for a residential dwelling. They approached us with the idea to develop some land they had on Sunnynook Road. Over the years, they had gradually acquired 6 adjacent lots opposite the Sunnynook Road Countdown. This was prime location, within walking distance to many amenities such as the park and ride, supermarkets, health and dental clinics and various parks and sports clubs. With the change in zoning resulting from the Unitary plan which allowed a higher density development; and the demand for housing still on the rise, the client felt it was right time to develop.

Initial concept

The client wanted a staged development, developing the first two lots in Stage 1. We were commissioned to come up with a design for 12 units to be subdivided into individual titles. In the initial concept stage, we were restricted by the 1.3m public stormwater drain which ran through the back of the lots and also the height in relation to boundary adjoining lower density zones (school) along the back boundaries. Given these restrictions and the 12 units we needed to fit on site, we came up with a solution with a central driveway with four x three storey attached units on both sides, and an additional four x two storey units along the back of the lots.

We met with the Council for the first pre-application meeting to gauge their response to the development and work out any concerns and issues they may have. The main take away from this meeting was that;

  1. With specific engineering design of the foundations and approval from Healthy waters, we would be allowed to build over the 1.3m public stormwater drain, meaning we could re-configure the layout of the units and improve the streetscape interface with Sunnynook Road.
  2. Given that the height in relation to boundary adjoining lower density zones along the back boundary was adjoining a grass field of a school, which meant minimum impact on the neighbour, the Council would be more lenient in assessing any breaches along this boundary.
  3. The Council had concerns about the traffic safety regarding the proposed driveway and its interaction with the existing intersection.
  4. Other matters discussed include planning issues, concerns for flooding and minimum floor levels.

Revised concepts

Taking into account the issues that were raised by Council in the first pre-app meeting, we had many discussions with the client about the best way to move forward. We engaged the necessary consultants such as a traffic engines and, civil engineer to advise us of the requirements and produce the reports needed for the Resource Consent application. In the end, we decided that the best solution was to involve lot 3 in the Stage 1 development. We would sacrifice a chunk of the land on lot 3 for a shared driveway, making allowances for the future developments in lots 4, 5 and 6 to use this driveway as well. This improved the traffic safety as we moved the driveway crossing away from the existing intersection. We reconfigured the layout of the units, so that we had a row of attached townhouses facing Sunnynook Road. This greatly improved the interface with Sunnynook Road and improved the streetscape. We also refined the form and materials of the units and with this improved design applied for a second pre-application meeting with the Council.

In the second pre-app meeting, the Council was generally happy with the proposed design. More detailed items such as specific requirements or certain plans that would be needed with the Resource Consent application were discussed.

Other than fine-tuning the existing proposal, we were satisfied that our design would not require major changes to get Resource Consent approved.

By working with other consultants and engaging in discussions with the Auckland Council planners, urban designers, and engineers early on in the process, we were able to come up with a solution that the client was happy with and one we are confident will sail through the resource consent process smoothly.


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