Open space is incredibly important in the city and something needed more and more as the city intensifies. Here is a little video from the US talking about it and how we can get more of it.

There are a couple of things that really stand out to me

It’s not how big the open space is but how well it is designed. We’re not likely going to be able to add in another Domain or Cornwall Park to the city however small neighbourhood parks are something we could do and if designed well can be really really effective. Also not all parks need to be grass and trees. Urban plaza’s in the CBD and in metro/town centres are important too. In some ways I think the shared spaces are helping to add to the urban areas what we have even though they are technically streets.

Some potential parks can be reclaimed for public space is by capping motorways or converting old and unused structures. A couple of examples were given in the City Centre Master Plan including capping the motorway between Grafton Rd and Wellesley St and between Upper Queen St and Symonds St. The image below shows what the Grafton Gully capping could look like.

CCMP - Grafton Motorway Capping

Another idea in the CCMP is to turn the old Nelson St off-ramp into a park, similar to what has happened with the High Line in New York.

CCMP - Nelson St Off-ramp

I think there is potential for it to happen in a few other places on the motorway network too, along with a few places on the rail network.

How we deal with expanding the amount of open space within the urban area is going to be incredibly important in the future, especially in areas which are likely to see a lot of intensification in the future. It’s good that we have some ideas for the city centre but perhaps we need to be thinking about other areas too.

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  1. It’s always pathetic how a huge motorway is rammed through somewhere like Grafton Gully, built as cheaply as possibly by leaving all the needed work to try and mitigate some of the damage to the local council. The connection from town to the Domain was ruined by the motorway and associated local road expansion. Years later, Council sits around wringing their hands and they’re the ones not NZTA that have to spend the money to try and correct the severance. I shake my head every time I walk down Grafton Rd to the domain. There’s actually no safe way to get there, slip lanes with no pedestrian crossings, huge open ugly carparks, garbage. The area is a complete mess and a blight on Auckland.

    1. Federal Street between Wellesley St and Victoria St is being upgraded to a shared space, also Halsey St and Daldy St in Wynyard Quarter are being upgraded.
      Projects like Quay St boulivard and Victoria St linear park will start when the CRL is completed.

  2. Certainly this is a vital ingredient for high-quality intensification. A major flaw in how the draft unitary plan was communicated to the public was how little effort Len and his team put into showing people how good intensification would be implemented. What people saw were plans to put in more houses and buildings but very little of how new high-quality open spaces would be created and how transport would be improved to move all the new people around.

    Given this failing, it is certainly not a surprise how easy it was for the scaremongers to gain a lot of political milage campaigning against intensification. The recent Herald survey showed that the die-hard opposition to the unitary plan is only a quarter of the population. I think the majority of Aucklanders see the value in it but are just scared that it will be done badly. With good reason, past history has shown how our esteemed elected officials can turn many good ideas into disasters.

    There really needs to be a well-communicated plan as to how high-quality intensification could be implemented and perhaps more importantly a credible means of ensuring that this plan would be followed. It is too early to go into a lot of detail of course but so far we have only got a lot of empty talk about the most liveable city. People are unsure what this is going to be like and how the council plans to ensure that we are going to get the “most liveable city” rather than a concrete jungle.

    1. Yeah well keeping the Urban Design guidelines secret until after the UP was published was a bad idea in anyones book..
      As was making it “non-binding”.

      Naturally everyone was suspicious of these facts and so they got the impression that the only thing that mattered in reality wit hthe UP was more homes per square Hectare and not much else.

      1. By being non-statutory the council think it will be more successful as they say it means the manual can be updated quicker and easier rather than having to go through public consultation processes like with staturory documents.

        1. Understand all but the old ACC had a similar approach lead by Ludo Campbell-Reid, and I can’t think of one place/development that resulted from the design rules that was improved by being put through the ACC “non-statutory” Design process.

          All the developers did was lip-service to it with the bare minimum changes and hoping that eventually the independent hearing panels would rubber stamp the design if they changed it a little each time.

          If you can list some examples of how successful the ACC Design rules were for development by private developers, then lets hear about them.

          Until then, the Design Guide/Manual is aspirational only and without teeth no matter what the council planners say it will be.

  3. The Nelson St ramp has very little potential to be like the High Line. Have a browse through the design of the High Line here for reference:

    The fundamental difference is that the High Line is intimately bound to streets that are already alive with people. That might sound counterintuitive given the main platform is grade-separated, but in fact there are numerous elements that constantly tie it back down to the street. There are plazas, stairs, elevators, look-outs, open vistas and even direct frontage that give users the feeling of still being in a neighbourhood, only they happen to be above the ground. You can get on it and get off it at will — and practically every connection point is an interesting place in itself (such as a plaza, neighbourhood centre, etc). A great deal of the line gives you the opportunity to see and be seen, even by people going about their lives outside the High Line itself. Sure, within the confines of the viaduct there are a few break-out squares and landscaped stretches that are designed to feel more private, but these only work by complementing the rest of the system (i.e. it wouldn’t function if that’s all it was).

    Meanwhile, the Nelson St motorway ramp is immersed in a sea of other motorway flyovers. The novelty would wear off quickly; the noise and just that feeling of speed will overwhelm the environment. The most you can do to the disused ramp is isolate and contain the it with a wall of landscaping, but what’s the point? What streets and neighbourhoods will it bind to? Who will you see and be seen by? The Nelson St intersection would need a heck of a do-up to provide an inviting portal. And perhaps K’ Rd could be linked by quite distant stairs and elevators? That’s about it. You can already sample the best view on offer with a brisk walk across Hopetoun.

    I’m open to the idea that the project could result in something worthwhile by itself, quite different from the High Line. I have a hard time imagining what that would be, though, and why it should take priority over more relevant work (such as a road diet for nearby K’Rd, say).

    1. I agree it would be no high line. Perhaps a nice fast cycleway bypass route, but not a place to linger.

      A cycleway on upper queen and K Rd would be a better start IMHO.

  4. Those football fields are interesting as Grafton Gully used to be the home of Auckland football – Blandford Park. It would only be justice to have it back.

    1. The university could do with a number one ground on campus for rectangular field sports, and the bank on the campus side could serve as terraces for spectators.

  5. A similar capping was proposed alongside the Carlaw Park stadium plan for the RWC – that was one of the reasons I thought it was the best of the options.

  6. The Grafton Gully capping is amazingly exciting idea, however also will be extraordinarily expensive, so is unlikely for decades. However need to have staged approach so we can reconnect city and uni with domain. Either Grafton or Wellesley should be put on serious road diets. Neither of them are busy at all where they cross motorway. Speeds are also very high due to road design, not helped by very high radius and thus dangerous slip lanes. By narrowing roads and rolling out linear parks along here we can start to restore connections. Albert Park very popular with students at lunch, so would be great to have Eastern equivalent.

    1. I’m not sure if that section would be that expensive. The motorway is already in a trench, the cap would only be some 30m wide and 110m long. 30m is narrow enough to span without intermediate supports (not that they would be difficult to provide in the median), especially if you only have grass or paving over that bit.

      To me it seems the way forward would be working with the university to use the site for it’s next development, with the cap it would be larger than the business school site. However with their acquisition of the Lion Breweries campus I’m not sure if they’ll be looking to expand the city campus any time soon.

        1. You are very mistaken Mr Houtman.
          The Waitemata Local Board has consistently supported the development of civic space/park on the Nosh site. It is in our Local Board Plan and at our inaugural meeting last night Shale (elected Chair again) included the project in the list of what we wish to achieve as a Board over the next three years. At no point has the Board taken a position against an urban park on Ponsonby Road.
          You were a member of the Ponsonby Road masterplan working group so you know the draft plan included 4 concepts for the site that went out for consultation. Each concept included open space – from full use of the site for a park (supported by the Western Bays community group but not local residents who wish to see development at the rear of the site) through to a small urban square with an active retail edge (supported by the Ponsonby Business Association but unlikely to have community support).
          A report on the feedback and next steps for finalising the master plan should be on our December business meeting agenda.

  7. you guys might be interested in these
    somewhat related …
    a friend of mine went to their presentation and said it was very very interesting and thought provoking
    and that a lot of the kids voice was heard in what was presented ……..
    this sort of research seems essential …especially given its actually been done in NZ too….

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