I was under the impression that the location of the proposed Parnell station had been finalised after much to-ing and fro-ing, but recently there has been a push by a local group to change this to a somewhat different location . So now once again it looks like we have two possible sites on the cards. Following on from this recent post I thought I would do a little more analysis on the two main options: the site to the north and the one further south.
The northern station would be on the elevated strip of land between Carlaw Park and Parnell Rise, just before The Strand overbridge where there is an old satellite dish and a small car park currently. Access to the platforms would be from Carlaw Park and Parnell Rise at one end, and Heather St at the other. It has direct access to the street network at these points, and is very close to the Link bus route on Parnell Rise. This is marked in blue on the map below. As I understand it this is ARTA’s preferred location and what was settled on by all parties until recently.
The southern location would be approximately 350m south of here, alongside the Mainline Steam workshops. Access to the platforms would be via a path from Cheshire St with connections to the Domain walking network also. The foot access from Parnell is a bit tricky, as it is a steep route through a series of narrow lanes. Bus access is more or less impossible without a new road being built. This is marked in red on the map below. This was the first seriously proposed site and is currently favoured by the ARC and local groups who wish to turn the Mainline Steam sheds into some kind or arts facility or other public destination.
I have a strong opinion about which of these is best, and I wanted to acquire some data and make an evaluation to see if my opinion is warranted. Luckily there is some very useful data available from the Census. So here we go.
My first step was to plot the location of the platforms and the 500m pedestrian catchment around them. This is a pretty basic way to see who can get to the station on foot within about five minutes or so, it doesn’t take into account the terrain and access issues so we will have to consider them separately. Just looking at the catchments we can see a few patterns.
First of all the most immediate thing is that several sites are easily served by both, including the Parnell Rd main street retail and entertainment precinct and the cluster of high density offices and apartments around it. In addition the two main development sites in the area are accessible from both sites, i.e. the existing development around Carlaw Park and the Tennis Centre and the proposed development of the Mainline Steam workshops.
Also apparent is what neither station services: the museum. It has been proposed by various groups that the Parnell station should be there primarily to access the museum and the other attractions of the domain such as the wintergardens, statuary and the playing fields. But if you look here none of the active parts of the domain fall within the catchment of either site, only the unimproved bush covered gully and a few of the walking tracks. So in terms of a comparison, we can effectively discount those things that are well serviced by both (i.e. the Parnell mainstreet) as well as those serviced by neither (i.e. the museum).
So let’s see what each catchment has that the other doesn’t, I’ll start by looking at catchment of the southern site that isn’t shared by the northern site (i.e. the bit inside the red line but outside the blue line). The most immediate thing is that almost half of that unshared catchment is taken up by the bush and scrub of the lower domain, which isn’t a promising start as there are obviously no residences or jobs in this area and probably little else to attract people there except some great walking tracks. Looking at the other side of the tracks we can a pretty uniform pattern. We do have the southern part of the Parnell village complex and some higher density housing along the rail line and Parnell Rd, but for the most part it is low density detached housing. If I’m not mistaken almost all of the housing stock in this area is quite historic, so there would be little potential for redevelopment at higher densities (either through heritage overlays or people preferring to renovate villas rather than demolish them).
Turning now to the northern site’s catchment (the bit inside the blue line but outside the red line) the land use pattern seems to be quite different. For one on the western side we have part of the university campus within the catchment, in particular the business, arts and music schools. Just north of there is the high court and some associate legal functions. Already this suggests there are quite a few more jobs in the northern catchment, plus of course plenty of student seats. In the centre of the unshared bit of the northern catchment there is quite a mixed use zone, there are plenty of apartments down along Beach Rd and The Strand and several potential development sites. There are also a few jobs in the area in businesses along Stanley St. Looking over to the western part of the catchment we can see some high density housing along The Strand and a large pocket of mixed use apartments, offices and showrooms.
Righto then, so far it looks like we’ve got quite a lot more jobs in the catchment of the northern station site than the one further south, and probably more residents too considering the number of apartments. Luckily this information is collected during the census to quite a specific level, so we can actually find out exactly how many residents and jobs there are in each catchments. On the Statistics New Zealand website they have a handy little map tool that shows you the number of each ‘meshblock’ which you can then use to find the appropriate statistics for those couple of blocks of the city.
So I went through and laboriously identified each meshblock in each of the two catchments, found the right spreadsheets and tabulated the number of jobs and people in each. Adding them all up the results are as follows:
Catchment: Number of residents: Number of jobs:
Area common to both stations: 831 2,541
Area in southern catchment only: 903 735
Area in northern catchment only: 2,970 3,711
Ok, so there we have quite a difference in jobs and residents which suggests my observations above are correct. Looking at the area common to both potential stations, we see quite a few residents and a lot of jobs in that bit of the city around the Parnell main street. So it looks like a station servicing the mainstreet is a good idea. But looking at the unshared portions of either catchment it becomes obvious that locating the station further north allows it to directly service a lot more people and jobs.
Adding these together we can see the actual 500m catchment of each site:
Station catchment (total): Number of residents: Number of jobs:
Northern station (Parnell Rise/Heather St): 3,801 6,252
Southern station (Mainline Steam) 1,743 3,276
In terms of servicing existing residents and jobs, these figures show that either site would be worthwhile. But if we had to pick just one based on these criteria it would be the northern site hands down, as it has 2.2 times the population living within 500m plus 1.9 times as many jobs.
So let’s re-cap on what we have established so far:
- Both of the sites directly service the Parnell main street and the adjacent offices and residences (the southern site via a shorter but steeper and more convoluted route, the northern via a longer but less steep and more legible route)
- The northern site has the potential for direct bus integration via Carlaw Park Ave or nearby Parnell Rise, and several opportunities for foot access in all directions.
- The southern site has no potential for bus access, and is limited to foot access through the back streets of Parnell village or the lower domain.
- Both of these sites directly service the development at Carlaw Park and the proposed development at Mainline Steam (i.e. they could still continue with the mainline steam transit oriented development with the northern station location).
- Neither site provides good access to either the museum or the other developed parts of the domain.
- Both sites would provide reasonable access to the university, but only the northern site has part of the university campus within 500m.
- The northern site is directly accessible to twice as many residents.
- The northern site provides direct access to twice as many jobs.
- The southern site has limited potential for intensification and development, while the northern site has several large development sites.
In summary I’d say the northern site is superior in just about every measure, especially in terms of the number of residents and jobs nearby, now and in the future. Considering that either station location would provide good access to Parnell and the Mainline Steam site, there really is no reason to put the station so far back into the gully. Don’t get me wrong, being able to step off the platform and right into a redeveloped arts centre at Mainline Steam would be nice. But that will have to come second fiddle to the extra six thousand residents and jobs that would be within 500m of a train station at the more northerly location.
Case closed… or is there something else I haven’t taken into account? I’d like to hear what people think.