The agenda to the February 1st meeting of the Auckland Future Vision Committee contains a paper on the “Proposed International City Masterplan”, which seems to be a holistic look at how to transform Auckland’s CBD over a 20 year period into a much nicer place.

There are some exciting proposals included in the initial thinking behind the Masterplan, which seems to be taking its cue from a Public Life Survey undertaken by Gehl Architects last year. This had led to early thinking on the Masterplan identifying some very interesting and exciting propositions. The masterplan is proposed to be based around three core objectives. These are outlined below:

  • A well connected city centre
  • A waterfront city centre
  • A lively and desirable city centre

Ways in which these objectives can be achieves are also detailed. Starting with connections:
Well there’s some pretty interesting possibilities listed here. Along with the predictable (city centre rail link, additional harbour crossing etc.) we also have some smaller projects that could be achievable in a shorter timeframe: including a number I have championed before. Of particular note is the mention of two-waying Nelson and Hobson streets – which has become my pet project of late. It’s also great to note that there’s strong consideration of light-rail: in the form of extending the Wynyard Quarter heritage tramway (currently under construction) initially to link with Britomart and then perhaps even further in the future (up Queen St?)

In terms of having a greater focus on the waterfront, a number of measures are proposed:
It’s good to note that pedestrian improvements to Quay Street definitely seem on the cards, and that there would be a particular focus on improving the pedestrian experience of the waterfront. Parts of Quay Street are pretty hostile to pedestrians at the moment.

Finally, in terms of creating a “lively and desirable city centre”, the following projects are considered:
In my mind definitely the most potentially exciting of these is the consideration of covering sections of the motorway ring road the surrounds our city centre to create new public spaces or mixed use development opportunities. The area between the Upper Queen Street and Symonds Street bridges might be a good place to start – though it would obviously be necessary to ensure this could be done feasibly from an engineering perspective and that it would make financial sense (ideally the development space on top of the covering would pay for the engineering works).

Looking at these lists of projects, the number of familiar ones makes me wonder whether the team at council putting this together regularly read this blog. Not that I mind them taking on the ideas of course: in fact that’s the whole entire point of me sharing them!

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  1. Very, very promising. Light rail, Quay St boulevard, connected urban villages, harbour bridge walk/cycle way….even a downtown “Chinatown”!

    One question: What’s the “major PT hub on Wellesley St” all about?

    1. The PT hub at Wellesley Street is likely to be in the carpark behind the Bledisloe building I think. It’s to take pressure off Britomart and would be a bus station type structure that would in the future interchange with the Aotea Station.

      It’s been talked about for years. Would be useful if it happened.

  2. There are some great things in those lists and just imagine how different Auckland would be if we had all of them. I know they can’t be all done in one council term and some will require some decent funding but I hope these are all going into the CGI flyover that the council were talking about so that people can really get to seem so of the ideas working together and start calling for them.

  3. Might be taking about creating a connection somehow with the Sky City bus terminal, or around the Dominion Rd buses that leave from there?

  4. Wow. That’s a lot of ground to cover. If they got even half of those proposals done then Auckland would be well on its way to being the most livable city in the world. I can’t wait to see what the results of this meeting is. Auckland needs to take more pride in its CBD and make it a desirable place to visit for all of New Zealand.

  5. My word, this sounds like a Christmas wish list of most of the feasible projects we have discussed here and on the CBT boards, fantastic stuff!

    Perhaps we should hammer the removal of the hobson street viaduct too, it fits in perfectly with the two waying of Hobson St and the boulevarding of Quay St.

  6. In regards to the “enhanced ferry system”, i’ve wondered if it’d be possible to use a model similar to what Brisbane uses with the CityCats. There could be a western service (Hobsonville-West Harbour-Te Atatu-City), a Birkenhead service (Beach Haven-Birkenhead-Northcote-City), a Devonport service (Bayswater-Stanley Bay-Devonport-City), East Coast service (Gulf Harbour-Browns Bay-Takapuna-City) and a Gulf service (Waiheke-Pine Harbour-Half Moon Bay-City), with a few new terminals chucked in.

    What about an underground pedestrian link between the ferry terminal and britomart?

    1. There was an underground pedestrian link planned between the ferry terminal and Britomart (and the other way to Queen St), but it got reduced to just the underpass to QEII square during the penny pinching of the first Banks administration.

        1. The big glass canopy was installed instead, which is pretty useless on a rainy, windy day.

          I hope that when/if they need to dig up the area for the CBD rail tunnel, they will build that link tunnel.

  7. All I can say is wow. This is vision the likes of which Auckland has never seen. This is exactly the type of thing we would have hoped for from a new council. Very exciting!

    1. Oh no, Auckland’s seen it before all right. Robbie’s Rail being but one example. Seen it before, been knocked back before by penny-pinching National governments before. Hopefully a lot of this can be done purely on regional resources, without having to go back to central government, because that’s the only chance we’ve got of it eventuating.

  8. another essential is promoting high architectural standards for any new development. The Urban Design panel has helped a little, but we are still see big failures such as the Britomart carpark.
    Need to ensure development have good street frontage, and take into account the site and surroundings.

    In a related note good to see a new Countdown planned for Albert/Durham streets, good to have some ground floor retail in these big office buildings. Far preferable to the horrible Countdown on Quay St.
    Was headline news in the NBR that it wasnt going to have any parking! also good for encouraging apartment dwellers as supermarkets are lacking in that part of the CBD.

  9. Only problem is I can see the greater powers that be and their Auckland based mouthpiece coming out with some “war against motorists” crap.

    1. In the short to medium term, no. That’s the country’s main container terminal and there isn’t really a suitable place to (easily) move it to. One option would be to get rid of it completely, and let the ports at Tauranga and Whangarei do all the work. That might be strategically problematic (moving the port away from the main population centre), plus it is a big contributor to the Auckland regional economy. One ironic thing is that the Auckland council uses dividends it recieves from Ports of Auckland Limited (it is 100% council owned) to pay for things like public transport and waterfront developments.

      Note that the current plan is to consolidate all port activities to the container terminal (i.e. the big bit east of Britomart Place) while the ‘finger’ wharves along the downtown waterfront are earmarked for civic purposes. Also you might not be aware but the entire ‘western reclaimation’ between Westhaven Marina and the Viaduct Harbour is currently being redeveloped.

      1. Closing POAL and shifting it all to Tauranga and Whangarei? The Road Carriers Forum thank you for your generous support of their insufficiently-padded profit margins.

        That’s the best argument against moving the major container terminal out of Auckland: getting all the goods back to Auckland, especially since there’s no rail line of utility north of Auckland.

        1. Yeah, it would be pretty silly to do that (at least without a major rail upgrade and inland port in South Auckland). One of the best proposals I’ve heared is to shift the port to Puhinui Reserve next to the airport, which puts it close to transport links and the idustry/warehousing of south Auckland. Only problem there is of course the massive amount of dredging needed to get a deep channel across the harbour and the bar.

        2. Also means Auckland has no port on the east coast, which is probably not a great idea in an area vulnerable to tsunami. Right now we have Onehunga and POAL on opposite sides, meaning if a tsunami levels one the other will be untouched.

        3. Er, actually I think that having proper container terminal on the Manukau would provide extral resilliance to natural disasters. As it is Onehunga can only handle small ships, certainly not full size container ships from abroad.
          If Auckland built it’s main port on a West Coast harbour (and Northport was expanded to full capacity) this would give the upper north island two deepwater international container terminals on the east coast and one on the west.

  10. “Oh no, Auckland’s seen it before all right” I diagree in terms of a comprehensive and bold vision for central Auckland – I don’t think Auckland has ever seen anything like this before from a council.

  11. Its great having both a working port with ships and cranes, and a “public” waterfront area with bars, restaurants, artwork etc, provided the two are seperately identifiable.

    Keep the port, but have it consolidate into the area from Bledisloe Wharf to the east (but not too far east), and all wharves west of that should be for public access, new structures, and some bling.

  12. If I was conspiracy minded Admin, I’d think you could claim the CBD covering almost singlehandedly…

    Good to be back in NZ..!

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