Another of Auckland’s long standing empty holes is going to be developed after resource consent was issued by a council commissioner. But unlike the massive tower planned for Elliott/Victoria/Albert Streets this one will be a lot smaller and dedicated to one thing, parking. The site is 28 Shortland St which is the former home to the Auckland Start building and also backs on to Fort St where the access to the current at grade carpark is located.

28 Shortland St

You can read the resource consent decision here. The proposal is listed as:

Land use consent to construct a new three level car parking building that will include both non-ancillary commuter parking and short-term visitor parking. There will be a café/coffee shop constructed within the site’s south-eastern corner fronting onto Shortland Street, while the ground level units along Fort Street will be utilised for retail purposes and provide vehicular access to the parking building. A walkway will run through the middle of the site and will provide a pedestrian link between Shortland Street and Fort Street.

I’m not sure what’s planned for the Fort St retail side but my understanding is the café/coffee shop in the south-eastern corner is basically the coffee shack that is already on the site. The rest of the Shortland St side will basically be a blank façade which will likely block off any views of the harbour. From memory with previous proposals the council was keen on retaining a view shaft through the site

At three storeys it’s definitely not on the scale of other carparks and is only expected to have 147 spaces (by comparison the Downtown carpark has 1,890). Of the 147 spaces the consent only allows 18 to be used for commuter parking. The remaining 129 are required to be short term parking only. This is one of the reasons it was approved with the commissioner saying

The intensity and scale of the car parking operation is considered appropriate given the location of the site with frontages to collector roads and the clear sightlines that are evident to the east and west as vehicles leave the site. The car park is designed primarily for short-term visitor parking, where high demand will be outside the morning and evening peak hours. As a result, the parking arrangement will have a reduced impact on traffic congestion in the central city and the surrounding road network.

Perhaps there is a small silver lining though, those short term parks are obviously intended as a way for people to be able to drive to the city in the middle of the day for the likes of shopping so the creation of those carparks could allow the council to be bolder in simultaneously removing them from High St. In fact it would probably be worthwhile the council looking at other areas where on street parking in the area could be scaled back as a result in return for better pedestrian amenity.

It’s surprising that the owners of the site haven’t been able to (or don’t want to) justify a commercial tower on the site. My understanding is that high quality office space is in short supply in Auckland at the moment and the site is big enough to be able to provide a building on similar scale to the likes of the Vero Centre or even the recent Deloitte building.

The Auckland Star building was demolished in May 1989. Here’s what it used to look like from Shortland St in 1910

Auckland Star building, Shortland Street, Auckland. Auckland Star :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-002917-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
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  1. 1. The photo of what used to be there makes me feel really, really bad
    2. Another car park visible from my kitchen window 🙁
    3. Will it be required to provide free motorcycle parking? (I currently have to walk back and forth between Fort and Chancery ;))
    4. Fort street as a shared space is a fairly contentious concept with the amount of parking feeding through it.
    5. Council should grow a pair and justify this as the reason to remove the High Street parking 9as noted)
    6. That place is such a hole I’d welcome anything being built there, even an improved car park. I suppose. Not what I’d expect for such a site though.

    1. Shortland St would be worse. There isn’t a single garage or driveway on Shortland between Fields lane and Queen St. But consider what is there, Jean batten Pl, High St, O’Connel St. Soon enough that will be the centre of the shared space zone.

      On the other side the entrance would be at the end of commerce St, a kerbed roadway leading from Customs St. Better that drivers come in directly there than work their way through the old quarter of town to a new driveway where there are none now.

  2. Well, that’s a disappointing waste of some pretty well-located land.

    Also, “frontages to collector roads”? Really? It opens up almost at the edge of the Fort Street shared space. What fraction of the cars in this carpark are going to be rat-running onto Queen Street? Or coming down Shortland Street and cutting through Jean Batten?

    1. It seems that both Shortland Street and Fort Street are termed “collector roads” in the District plan.

      Which is about right – it is more the issue that we have no formal protections for shared space (which is not a road hierarchy term) which would discourage car park access on such streets. Arguably, the same protections should apply that apply to Queen Street, i.e. – no (more ) driveways onto it are allowed to be built…

  3. Well, if there’s any building that represents Auckland it has to be a multi-storey car park, so thank you planning commissioner for stuffing up the Auckland streetscape just one little car park further. As an aside, it will cover the area where Europeans first settled Tamaki-makau-rau, so full marks for historical symbolism. And congratulations, too, to the site’s owner and designer, as well as the planning commissioner, for stemming the tide of liveability represented by all those awful shared streets council insists on creating around the area.

    Matt: that wasn’t the Auckland Star building that succumbed to a little arson; from recollection that building dated from the mid 1920s; a rather handsome Beaux Arts edifice, rather than the neo-classical facade of the photograph.

    1. “Well, if there’s any building that represents Auckland it has to be a multi-storey car park” depressing but true

  4. You’d have to suspect this is reasonably temporary plan for this site. Perhaps the carpark will be built in such a way that a building can be added onto it later- as per the site up from the chancery that was supposed to have a huge building built on top of it at some stage.

  5. Look at ’em paperboys, what with their smokin’ and their whistlin’ at the ladies. What they need’s a decent war, makes a man stand up straighter and look you in the eye.

      1. And then you meet St Paul and you stand up straight and look him in the eye. He’ll see what you’re all about, none of this gadding about with all that Purgatory nonsense.

  6. the planning commissioner can just decline a resource consent because some people don’t like car-parking buildings. His decision has to be legally valid and robust. The real issue is the quality of the central area plan which has largely been rolled into the unitary plan unchanged.

    1. This is true, but Auckland Council and AT have just spent millions upgrading the Fort St area to achieve a particular outcome. To then approve a development that will directly undermine this outcome seems somewhat mad.

    2. It’s hardly a case of ‘not liking parking buildings’ it’s a case of inappropriate site use. There is no point in the Council working hard with one hand to improve the liveability of the urban core street fabric with one hand when the other is working hard to undermine that good work with extremely poor decisions like this. Attracting more vehicles to this point of the city is counter-productive, as allowing any increase in the number of vehicles with a project that adds no more people to the area is clearly an appalling outcome.

      parking = driving = poorer place quality + more congestion

      The owners should be told to go away and come up with a real building for this crucial site.

      Or perhaps the rating regime on parking only uses needs reviewing, or alternatively AC needs to decommission one of its parking towers to compensate- that would be cash positive.

      1. This could so easily have been a lane extension to O’Connell St down on to fort St with retail, apartments, cafe’s etc on the sides. Groan 🙁

        1. That would have been great. Even an office building could have had an arcade, or been done as twin towers with a lane in the middle.

          1. Walkway is a very lose term. There is already a walkway through the site for example.

            My guess is it means the carpark buildings grotty piss soaked stairwell will have a door to Shortland St, and people could walk through it to get to Fort St.

      2. I agree the use is inappropriate for this site, but the owner of the land doesn’t (as it will provide income) and neither does the District Plan which specifically seeks to enable short-stay visitor parking in the CBD. Im also presuming the applicants “transport” expert would likely have justified it on the basis that it will soak up existing cars scattered throughout the area rather than discussing the likelihood of inducing any new vehicular trips.

        Its applications like this which serve as a timely reminder of the need to get the Unitary Plan right this time around.

    3. Actually, they bloody well can, because there is a District Plan that actually strictly limits car parking in the Auckland CBD. How the heck did they get around that? Anybody know?

      1. The district plan strictly limits car parking, but only on the grounds of the effects on traffic congestion. The assessment criteria are only related to safety and traffic – not pedestrian amenity, or vitality of the area.

        1. Yes but as as a discretionary activity, pedestrian amenity or vitality of the area technically could have been considered. However, urban environments are poorly provided for under the RMA (well not at all) so considering such issues in the absence of assessment criteria can often be difficult and easily subject to grounds of appeal in the event of an adverse decision against the applicant.

          Unfortunately, central government has been preventing the progression of a National Policy Statement on Urban Design which would provide some legislative backbone to ideas like liveability.

        2. Doesn’t answer the question as to how this could become permitted, when the DP clearly limits car parking to much less than they got consent for.

          And talking Unitary Plan – why even have the rule, when this stuff happens? Is this how much our future maximum parking rates are going to be worth?

          1. Because the applicant was able to successfully establish that any actual or potential adverse of allowing the development would be minor when viewed against positive elements of the application (e.g. the new building and ground floor retail will help to define and activate the Fort Street edge). That’s not to say that positive elements of the application could not have been better, however there is no mandate under the RMA or District Plan to provide the best – just to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects.

            The fact that the site is currently utilised for a mixture of short stay and commuter parking means Council may have also disregarded any actual or potential effects of the actual activity of carparking in forming an opinion as part of the Permitted Baseline Test (this should be found in the officers report).

            In answer to your final question, anyone could still seek to infringe maximum parking controls. However, much more onerous controls and assessment criteria have been set out than is currently provided. In addition, there is a clear intent that applications seeking to exceed the maximums may be more likely to be notified.

          1. You can allow deliveries in the morning from authorised vehicles. It’s not necessary to let every yahoo drive downHigh Street. There’s no off-street car parking (except for the very far end), the way there is on Elliott or Fort streets. So there’s no reason for private vehicles to be there at all.

          2. But as another point: why give such prominence to deliveries and other services anyway? It’s not the end of the world if you have to park your van at the end of the street in a loading zone.

          3. But likewise of there is no parking and no reason for private vehicles why would anyone drive down it? I guess the key is to make it undesirable as a rat run.

            They should be looking at the while precinct from fort st up to Victoria as one or more no exit zones, basically you can drive in and out to a loading zone or parking building, but not through. IMHO they should make Kitchener St a two way road (one lane each way instead of two northbound) so that it plus fields lane and the top section of Shortland the become the main vehicle access. The rest shared space with no way through. They migh want to reverse the direction of high st actually, to make the high-Lorne combo useless for anything but local access.

          4. I just think we should pedestrianise as far as possible. The current shared spaces are better than what was there before, but they are somewhat dominated by moving cars and parked cars, and large open expanses (like eastern Fort Street) still feel unsafe. You can really feel the difference between standing in a “shared” space. and a real environment intended for people.

            Most streets have at least a few vehicle crossings, and so they can never be more than a shared space, at best. Whereas High Street north of Freyberg Place has none. This is a very rare opportunity to do full pedestrianisation (Freyberg would have to change direction). You could also limit access in the southern half to approved vehicles at certain hours of the day: there’s two private loading docks, but no general carparking. The Victoria Street carpark exit would have to stay as-is, but it only affects the last few metres of the street.

            It’s hard for even sustainable-transport enthusiasts to get out of car-brain thinking, but the question should be: “what’s the minimum level of car access necessary?”, not “what’s the maximum amount of car access that won’t detract too much from the street?”

            Full pedestrianisation wouldn’t even make deliveries harder than the status quo, anyway: there’s rarely any parks free on High Street!

    1. I guess if oil does run out, storing non-moving cars is going to be an even bigger business than it is now 🙂

    2. Perhaps recognizing that we are at the end of the golden weather. Make some hay while the sun still shines eh, because tomorrow we could all be walking!

  7. Shame that building has gone. Double shame they want to put a car park on the site? I mean come on. It lets the sun shine right through to Shortland & O’Connell. Why not extend O’Connell down to Fort for walking only. Markets, something either side of the walk through, Even just grass it and make it a park? It has huge historical significance why not a park to reflect this. Join High with Fort don’t block it off.

  8. I just cant believe this, it makes me want to give up on this city. Really, what a disaster – not so much the building itself but just what it says about how the people “running” (mostly into the ground) this city. They havent changed their view at all on how people should be encouraged to access the city centre.

    The only silver lining I can see is if there was a “one in, one out” parking space policy. So we should now be able to remove 127 on street parking spaces (High Street, Britomart) and use that space for wider foot paths. The street scape also needs to be changed to make rat running through the Fort Street shared spaces impossible.

    For example, it is an absolute no brainer that the Fort Street/Jean Batten Place shared space should have the exits to Shortland Street and Queen Street sealed off with bollards. Also seal off the eastern Customs Street end of the Fort Street shared space and also Fort Lane with bollards. The bollards cost nothing and can be put in very quickly.

    This would still leave access via Fort Street down Commerce Street or Gore Street for the people parking in this building or the small parking garages in Fort Street or for service vehicles. They can exit the same way. In fact, Gore Street should also be a shared space with bollards at the Customs Street end, leaving access only down Custom Street to this new parking building and the shared spaces for cars.

    Right now these streets are used as rat runs, especially by courier and taxi drivers. Someone is going to get seriously hurt with the flood of pedestrians from Jean Batten to High Street and the cars screaming down the Shortland Street slope at excessive speeds. I have almost been hit a few times by taxis turning into Jean Batten from Shortland beacuse there are cars bearing down on them turning from Queen into Shortland. It is a disaster waiting to happen.

    However, if that was to happen you can just imagine the “war on cars” whingeing from motorists as a tiny part of their “right” to 100% of street space is removed. But as Phil wisely says: “you cant moan when you have options”. You would still be able to get in and out of there, it will just be less convenient.

    We should also be cutting off access in the whole Britomart area and removing all the parking. Again, there is no reason to go through there except for rat running and there will be plenty of parking provided in that area once this is built.

    But of course, none of that will happen.

    So glad that tore down that awful old Star bulding with all its character and heritage. That featureless hole filled with cars is so much more inspiring.

    1. “So glad that tore down that awful old Star bulding with all its character and heritage. That featureless hole filled with cars is so much more inspiring.”
      The problem with the city centre is that there are no NYMBYS with the money living here. They all live in heritage villas with heritage on street carparking. Who cares about the city centre? It’s just a hole full of carparks anyway (cit)

  9. The left hand revitalises an area while the right hand tries to claw it back into a barren wasteland.

    Seems to me that the entrance should be on Shortland St and the bottom level retail / entertaining. No need for a walkway with Jean Batten place 5m down the road. Then you can make High St shared space without scaring the existing retailers.

      1. In Auckland they are based on capital value, which is land value + improvements. Levying rates on capital value is somewhat weird: it’s a capital tax that doesn’t apply to other investments. It distorts investment away from building, and especially higher-value land use. Taxing only the land value provides more incentive to develop the land into the “highest and best use”, since you don’t pay more rates for building something more valuable.

        A land tax is a particular discouragement to “land banking”, like leaving a site vacant and used for surface carpark for a couple of decades. In this case, the owner would pay the same rates whether the site was a surface carpark or a 30-storey tower.


        1. Okay, and I can see why we don’t have it – all sorts of people would be up in arms as to how it is like confiscating private property, and how granny will be turfed out of her old villa her husband built with his own hands, because she doesn’t want to turn it into high-rise apartments but cruel Council is bankrupting her if she doesn’t…

          1. That seems to be happening anyway, with or without a land tax or anything else to justify it.

            Poor Baby Boomers. They had to grow up under the horror of socialism with high taxes, free education and health, full employment and cheap housing.

            Now their new “free market” neoliberalism fad is taking all that they built away (while also screwing their children, but hey,you cant make an omelette…).

            When will they get a break?

        2. Manukau City Council had rates based on land value. It created many unfair outcomes and did not stop land banking.

  10. Different question – is this going to be worth it? Assume all car parks are used three times a day. Assume $8 per stay. Makes around a million quid income a year.

    Now change my assumptions. Make it five uses a day, at $12. Somewhat under three million income a day.

    I have no idea whether my above assumptions were too pessimistic, but is that enough to fund a multi-storey car park building, plus land rates and car park OPEX, and still make a reasonable return? And how long until the owner decides it is a crappy return on investment and does something better / sells? One can hope.

    1. Good question. Given there are around 60 parks on site there now you have to wonder whether the return on an extra 80 or so parks are worth it (which is why I did wonder whether this is just stage 1 of development of the site).

        1. He hasn’t done it. He has got a consent for it. I personally have worked on dozens of successful consents that never got implemented. As I said, one can hope.

          1. The consent may not even be intended to be built at all: it could just be to raise the value of the site so that it can be sold to someone else.

    2. I expect that its merely a cheapish way to land bank a site – getting some return to cover costs (rates etc) and simply let the site value go up over time, then sell it on later for a hopeful capital gain.
      Doesn’t actually add much to the fabric of the CBD in the meantime or afterwards though.

      Nor does this or any other similar changes down that way make we want to go near the CBD, and spend any of my money, any where around there, any time soon.

      So its a own-goal for everyone here – AC/AT and the retailers nearby – that car park makes the likelihood of me driving into there and using that car park much much lower than it was before.
      So the car park owner or nearby shops won’t get any of my money.

      So be careful what you wish for CBD retailers (more parking – for “your” customers) – it might come true (i.e. more parking alright- but they’ll put less or even no $$ in your till)

  11. What a depressing announcement, this will simply destroy the shared space and add further traffic to the area. Auckland Council really is really intent on destroying the city for the sake of cars.

    1. Huh? Isn’t this decided on by independent comissioner(s)? In that case, I can’t see how it is Council’s or AT’s fault – though it would be interesting to know what their submission / opinion on the case was.

      1. If supposedly Independent Individuals make the decisions with no recourse by council then the system is horribly broken. And if Auckland Council aren’t to blame for poor planning outcomes in Auckland then who is making the decisions around here? Most days it feels like no one makes any sort of coherent decision about Auckland’s future.

      2. The “commissioner” who issues the consent is a council staff member. The text of the district plan is set through a political process (which we just went through for the Unitary Plan). How it’s interpreted and applied are entirely Auckland Council’s responsibility.

        1. Exactly, so the blame falls squarely on Auckland Council who like Auckland Transport appear to be stuck in a 1960s mentality of increasing car capacity and car parking at the expense of all else.

          1. Disagree. The blame falls squarely with John Key who has delayed the rail loop. Forcing Auckland into a car based design. Auckland is trying to build an amazing and dense city but if the rail infrastructure isn’t there then developers are going to fill the gap with what they think people need. And we are back to square one with the whole car thing. Cars = sprawl, and parking. Rail = dense, and compact and walkable. The problem is Mr Key says he “doesn’t care which way Auckland grows” but it must grow.

  12. From the decision reasons:

    “The proposal will promote the sustainable manage ment of natural and physical resources as contemplated by Part 2 of the Resource Management Act 1991 because the proposal promotes a degree of streetscape activation and will continue to maintain and in some cases enhance the amenity values of the site, while avoiding any adverse effects on the environment. ”

    I’d kinda disagree with that. Just kinda.

    Cars? You know these things that another 80+ extra car parks are being provided for, without even increasing the amount of people or jobs at the same time? Those cars? They don’t have *any* adverse effect on the environment? What are we? The tobacco industry in the 1950s?

  13. “To minimise impact on sightlines to the harbour from the pedestrian link ramp, the canopy over the currently uncovered area in front of the pedestrian link entry shall be finely designed and detailed to be glass or sheet metal spanning between, and supported slightly above the top of the canopy sections on each side of the entry”

    that at least is neat that they will retain some harbour views. But doesn’t really turn this from an issue into an asset…

    1. What this site needs is a real building, with, you know, humans in it. Certainly this should involve activation and through movement at the ground levels, but ‘preserving harbour views’ just means an empty site. This is at the heart of the city- it should be intensely built up, not kept vapid and open.

      1. Very true. But the Council is promoting construction in the Wynyard Quarter rather than Britomart. Auckland has a very limited demand for office accommodation.

        1. Not true – demand for office space has been surging in recent year. And if (of course only if!) the CRL comes in, demand for office space in the City Centre will skyrocket again. If at that time you have an old car park in prime location, you would be foolish to keep it. You’d flog it off for bazillions, or build something yourself.

          So again, it comes down to the CRL. Proceed with it NOW. 5-6 years of construction is an awful long time on its own, we don’t need another another 5-6 years delay on top of that.

  14. There’s a public parking garage literally directly opposite this site on Fort Street. I can’t honestly believe this is how this site is being filled. I joked earlier last year that that was what was planned, I’m sad to know that that joke has become reality.

  15. Someone needs to police the speed limits on the shared space in Fort St. I don’t use that area often but it’s frightening to have someone drive at you at about 30-40 kph. Looking on the positive side though they weren’t coming from behind.

  16. Long-abandoned site that’s been used as a carpark finally gets redeveloped into… a carpark. Yeah, that’s Auckland alright.

    1. Not quite, this is NZ’s biggest city after all, so to put a NZ Herald – “truth spin”TM on it – the true story is this:

      “ that’s been used as a carpark (due to overwhelming demand) finally gets redeveloped into… a much bigger carpark”

  17. This is incredibly depressing and very difficult to understand – especially considering this is the one area of Auckland that was finally beggining to free itself from the shackles of auto-mania. There are already far too many carparks in Auckland – considering we have roughly the same amount as Melbourne, which has 4 times our population! Again, this reinforces the idea that the auckland CBD is merely somewhere you drive to and from and not a place where you actually spend time. As for destruction of heritage buldings in the CBD to be replaced by carparks – what a disgrace. I’m with Goosoid – this kind of decision just makes you want to throw your hands up and give up on Auckland.

  18. Since a common theme of this blog is ‘let the market decide’ (in relation to minimum parking requirements), we can’t really object to a developer building a carpark if they find that is the highest and best use (subject to other planning consideration such as activating street frontages etc.)

    But if there is – and there should be – planning goals like ‘encourage use of public transport to the central area’, or ‘reduce inner city traffic congestion’, then it is completely consistent to argue that the Council should take the opportunity to extinguish an equal number of publicly owned parking spaces, whether on-street or in parking garages.

    1. Fair point, but as noted above, there are parking MAXIMUM requirements that this seems to casually ignore the letter and spirit off. It’s a bit like affirmative action – some things are so out of whack in one direction, that there is a case for active push in the other direction, even if that also isn’t a perfect solution.

      1. Also, this blog isn’t anti-regulation as such as far as I can see. It is mainly pointing out that the pro-car lobby should try some of their own “free market medicine”, when they are happy to prescribe it for anything EXCEPT cars.

    1. I’d however be interested in WHAT our Auckland Transport said. If anything at all. They could have made a case for declining, or at least mitigating, and the commissioner would have to at least consider the matter.

        1. AT is part of Council, so they certainly have the opportunity to provide comment. Whether they cared enough (or were even told) is another matter.

  19. Seems from the property file that AT did have a look at it. Applicant argued that if AT worried about increased parking in CBD then it can close its parking buildings, which would solve the problem immediately, and save ratepayers the cost of running parking buildings.

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