This site is surely a prime candidate for development sitting right next to the Grafton Station and just across the road from the new Auckland University campus currently under construction. In addition it is also passed by all the buses that travel along Park Rd. It’s currently owned by Kiwirail and has sat empty since the Grafton station was completed four years ago. Any development would surely be better than just leaving it sitting there to grow weeds. The weeds look especially bad when they’re growing above and hanging over the walls.

Grafton Empty Site

Grafton Empty Site 2

Grafton Empty Site 3

It would be great if the station was able to be capped allowing more development as well as better weather protection for those waiting on the platform. The land by itself is about 1,300m² however if the rail line was capped it would deliver up to 3,000m²

Grafton Empty Site Map

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  1. Would make a great light rail hub, enabling masses to transfer from train to LRT to get to the hospital, uni and CBD. Essentially a surface rail link from Grafton to Britomart via the central corridor and Queen St – and potentially on to Wynyard. Would help boost Western Line patronage without the Britomart constraint, and would compliment the CRL by creating a high quality link via the hospital and uni, which the CRL won’t do much for.

    1. I agree that a begetter interchange should be built at Grafton but what’s wrong with the existing high frequency bus service along Park Rd through to Symonds St? Why is LRT needed.

        1. you’re right Alphatron, if LRT is the answer to an empty piece of land then we’re asking the wrong question!

          Geoff, you forgot to mention LRT is significantly more expensive to operate and would not replace many buses at all. Remember the Link operates at 5 minute frequencies at most, hence all we need to 400-500 seats per hour. LRT is vast over-kill for such a corridor. Dom Rd is better, but still too light to warrant LRT right now.

          The only corridor that comes close to needing LRT, IMO, is Queen Street and City Link.

          1. Those arguments are put forward by the pro-bus lobby about any and all light rail lines. Most of Melbourne’s light rail network could easily operate with buses, but the planners there understand the greater attraction of rail-based solutions to the public.

    1. Must be a cold pool. I use to live in a flat in the location where the green roofed flats and pool are now. The garden where the pool is now was always cold and damp.

      Great thing about that house was you never needed an alarm. The first commuter train of any week day just before 7am woke you up with the top of the loco (and its exhaust) blasting past at ground level After two weeks you never heard the train, but always woke up at the same time……

  2. Back in the day, pre amalgamation, a scheme was done for this corner looking at integrating the site with Outhwaite park via a public space and retail at ground level with commercial above and over the rail. Seems like the commercial case would be even stronger these days. Its a very important urban gateway corner, servicing hospital, domain, uni, signaling arrival in New Market etc. I think at the time kiwi rail/on track put it in the too hard to build over rail or sell air rights basket.

  3. There’s an apartment block going up on the other side. They just knocked the old building down but once that starts going up I imagine that space will start getting developed in no time.

    1. Agree and capturing some of the other comments, the cap ontop of the railway line should be an open park, connected walk way etc which when combined with the rail/bus stops, should allow for bottom floor to have a cafe, small superette etc (ie. Tesco Metro).

  4. Buildings yes but the right kind. Extending Outhwaite park over the rail as a green lid and carbon sink would still be a good option. Commercial above could pay for public greening below.

  5. If any of these great development ideas were commercially feasible then some private sector whizz would be chomping to get in there and grab the risk from Kiwiraii/Council/AT – on a land lease or something. I do really like the idea of using new open space to further connect the station into the urban fabric but it all sounds very expensive. While on the subject of weeds – it looks like some of the worst noxious weed infestations in Auckland are nursed in the urban rail corridors – we should really do something about that. The native planting in the motorway corridors looks to be working well – at 80 km/hour any way.

    1. I suspect some in the private sector people would be chomping at the bit to take the land off Kiwirail. But that requires Kiwirail to want to sell and given how they’ve dug their heels in to even the likes of AT wanting to lease land elsewhere I suspect they’re not even entertaining the idea of selling.

      1. KiwiRail is selling land all over the place, desperate for the cash. Mainline Steam have to vacate Parnell by Christmas, as KiwiRail is selling the land there.

        1. Does that mean they’re gonna build the new Parnell station in the more sensible northern site instead?

          1. No, the Parnell station is going where it was always planned (where the track has already been prepared for the platforms). Mainline Steam are moving to Opaheke, between Papakura and Drury, where new sidings, a turntable and workshop are being built.

          2. A long section of the rail corridor has been sold to developers at Swanson too, which is why all those trees were cut down, as the rail corridor has been narrowed.

          3. You mean Parnell? I think the site chosen is the best for serving its intended purpose, which is as a station for Parnell, and not the university which is better served by Britomart (and eventually Aotea). The project was well researched and re-examined multiple times, and the chosen site was determined to be the best.

          4. Actually all the research and examination showed it should be at the other site, the proposed site was chosen by a political decision made against the advice given.

            It doesn’t even serve Parnell village well, being accessible only by a steep dogleg series of back lanes.

  6. Great site Matt. The blog. and the corner of Park and Khyber Pass. Looking forward to the next of the prime development site / under-utilised space series.

  7. “Mainline Steam are moving to Opaheke, between Papakura and Drury, where new sidings, a turntable and workshop are being built.”

    I see on google maps that there seems to be a widened rectangular boundary around the rail tracks at Opaheke Road. Was there once a station there? And if so why was it abandoned?

    1. There was an Opaheke station, but I’m not sure where it was exactly. It might have been a bit further south. The new depot will be at the corner of Opaheke and Walker Roads, on KiwiRail land.

  8. Wasn’t the area in behind this one of the new housing accord areas? I remember discussing this peice of land recently.

  9. It’s a problematic piece of land. It’s too small for a commercial office building; there’s limited vehicle access for an apartment building; the surrounding area is too hostile (i.e. no pedestrian traffic apart from the train) to support a retail business.

    I don’t think you can cap the station because of the diesel trains? Including the freight trains that will still rumble through post electrification.

    1. Agree no to commercial and re housing, it would have to be low cost, no parking option. Being close to uni (new campus) and the hospital, I am sure they would fill lots of small apartments.

      I think it would get more pedestrian traffic than your standard corner dairy. The bus stop there is reasonably busy, add in schools in the area so busy from 3pm onward.

      Re capping, it is only for about 200m – surely that would be ok once electrification goes ahead (ie. only a few deisels

      1. proposed Unitary Plan prevents people’s ability to build small apartments in Auckland, with a minimum area requirement of 40sqm plus 10 sqm balcony. To think my friend in Amsterdam lived quite happily in a 18 sqm apartment, and IKEA sell kits for 25sqm apartments. All of this potential innovation/efficiency is lost to Auckland because suburbanites run the show.

        1. 18sqm? That’s about the size of a caravan. My bedroom is 15sqm.

          Still, presumably he paid under $10k for it, so very economical.

          1. Indeed, there’s one of those just down from the road from me. They appeal to hippie types.

    2. It is blasted by traffic, but north is out the back so there are architectural solutions to that, no the real problem is AT grabbing an significant slice of it for a slip lane on Khyber Pass Rd. This has made the site much less useful. Motordom spreading its love as usual.

      1. What slip lane? That intersection is rare for Auckland in being a major road / major road intersection without any…

        1. I think he means the left turn bay. It used to be three lanes Eastbound, one lane Straight and left turn combined, One straight through and one right turn lane. Now is one left turn lane, two straight through lanes and one right turn lane.

          1. Yup, the determination of our friends the traffic engineers to give drivers their own special lane for every possible direction turns our intersections into land eating monsters: you can get there quickly in a car but there’s nothing there when you do. Site rendered useless by road widening.

    3. “It’s too small for a commercial office building”

      Yeah, right. Because there’s no-mid-size development, ever. Maybe our developers LIKE bigger ones, but if they aren’t willing to take a punt at medium sites, that is either their loss, or lack of market demand right now maybe. But the site itself is easily large enough for pretty significant commercial development.

      “there’s limited vehicle access for an apartment building”

      Come again? Not only is vehicle access easily enough possible (two frontage roads – heck, it has two driveways now!) but also why would an appartment building even need car parking (except for the rules, the blasted rules. Zone it mixed use in Unitary Plan and it won’t need any tho).

      “the surrounding area is too hostile (i.e. no pedestrian traffic apart from the train) to support a retail business”

      What? A major train station right next door, a big university about to open directly across the road, and big schools just to the south? I give you the fact that the ped environment isn’t nice now, but that is due to the lack of good footpaths and the ugly hoardings, not due to lack of people.

  10. I’m surprised by the people suggesting it should be an open space/park. The site is less than 200m from one of the largest urban parks in the city.

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