Neighbourhood case study: West Harbour

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  • Waitakere City
  • lower density, single use, low cost, suburban retrofit
  • rated a medium sustainability neighbourhood by the Observational Tool but a low sustainability neighbourhood by the Resident Self-Report Tool

Key positives

Key negatives

  • Good walking access to local services and facilities (shops, school, early childhood centres, community facilities and parks)
  • Food shopping is highly localised
  • Good quality of space (parks and streetscape)
  • Good passive surveillance of streets and quite good surveillance of parks and walkways
  • Protection of riparian area along the Manutawhau Stream
  • Proximity to Westgate
  • Affordable housing
  • Smaller homes available (2 bedroom)
  • Convenient bus stops and access to five bus routes
  • Serious concerns around safety when walking at night
  • Noise considered to be a problem by many
  • More than average number of people looking at moving because their house no longer suits them
  • More than average people looking to move because of the neighbourhood
  • Lower than average levels of neighbourhood interaction
  • Low public transport usage
  • No bus service after 7pm
  • Low levels of walking and cycling
  • Lack of stormwater treatment
  • Disconnected street network


The large number of Housing New Zealand Corporation houses add to the diversity of the area in that they provide affordable rental housing and also provide a number of smaller (two bedroom) units in an area dominated by larger family homes. Private housing in the neighbourhood is at the lower end of the market.

Many of the homes have serious maintenance and repair issues with rusting gutters, cracked roof tiles and leaking windows.  Inside, damp and mould problems are much higher than the national average.  Investment in house maintenance and performance is low, resulting on dilapidation.

Walking and public transport

West Harbour residents have excellent access to everyday facilities. Every dwelling is within a 10 minute walk of parks, primary school and pre-school facilities, shops and community facilities.

The area contains many pedestrian walkways that are traditionally challenging in terms of surveillance. However the walkways in West Harbour are generally wide and overlooked by neighbouring properties and therefore feel reasonably safe.

Bus service to West Harbour is reasonable. More than 70% of dwellings are within 400m of a bus stop and  there are five bus routes serving the area

Amenities and services

The shops at Luckens Road provide excellent local services including a post office/Kiwi Bank, bakery, dairy, take-away, Korean restaurant and hairdresser. The Westgate town centre is less than 3km away and there are extensive facilities available there, including a movie theatre, supermarket, restaurants and clothes shops.

The neighbourhood has a primary school and several early childhood education facilities (play centre, Samoan language nest, private child care, Montessori) as well as basic community facilities such as a hall and playcentre.

Public space

Quality and quantity of parks is high, with several neighbourhood playgrounds that are well maintained and designed. There is a walkway along the Manutawhau Stream.


Treatment of the natural environment is good, with densely planted riparian margins along the Manutawhau Stream and West Harbour Esplanade. The riparian planting forms part of a wider green network linking adjacent planted areas to the sea.

West Harbour, however, scores poorly for stormwater management. The stormwater system is typical of its age with no treatment or detention taking place. The permitted imperviousness of the residential sections is 60%, though actual imperviousness is likely to be lower. The receiving tidal estuary is sensitive and improving stormwater quality in the areas discharging into it is as a priority.