When the familiar disappears

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Early morning mist, Collins Park Greenhithe. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I love the way that morning mist renders even the most familiar landscape a little bit unknown and mysterious.

I’ve lived in the same place for 19 years, and although much has changed in that time, physical alterations have been gradual, each settling more or less gently into the neighbourhood.

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Still a pleasant place to sit. War Memorial Park Greenhithe, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Until recently.

In the last year or so, a large number of modest houses have been demolished to be make way for McMansions. In the latest case, there was sufficient land around the old house to be subdivided into seven lots, each priced at just over a million dollars.

That’s right. For a NZ$1,050,000 (1) you can own 600m2 of bare suburban land upon which to build your dream home. As long as your dream complies with the (usually quite restrictive) building covenants on such developments.

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Scraped bare. Gone is the modest house, garden and small orchard. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Installing services for seven new houses that will be built on this site. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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On the left, an old-school renovation. On the right, bin for construction waste for a complete re-build; the previous house having been demolished. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I hardly know where to start with my list of concerns about this trend. The increasing homogenization of an already elite neighbourhood? The massive environmental footprints of the new houses? The obscenity of building mansions when there are families only a few miles away living in their cars?

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Old Greenhithe. How long before the area’s original cottages (with environmentally friendly rainwater tanks) are just a distant memory? Image: Su Leslie 2019

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No room for eccentricity. Quirky and unique letterboxes aren’t allowed in covenanted developments. Image: Su Leslie 2019

When I noticed this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge theme was “around the neigbourhood”, I set out for a walk intending to capture some of the beauty and charm of the place where I live.

What worries me is that so much of that charm is being destroyed, and what’s left will only be accessible to the wealthy few.

(1) $1,050,000 = around US$719,000, approx £541,500, just over 1,000,000 Australian dollars, or €635,000.

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Where will the food grow now?

houses instead of food Another slice of the countryside carved up for housing. Long Bay, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2018

When productive land is re-zoned to allow developers to build high-density housing for a growing population (growing largely through inward migration), does anyone else wonder where the food for all these new people is going to come from?

Six Word Saturday is hosted by Debbie at Travel with Intent.