A couple of weeks ago Auckland Council quietly released a new version of its Capacity for Growth Study. The CFG study is an important and interesting document – it models the potential for future residential and business development under current or proposed planning rules. In other words, if you want to figure out what’s possible under the proposed Unitary Plan, take a look at the CFG study.

For example, the CFG study identifies opportunities for future residential development for throughout the Auckland region. Based on a detailed analysis of planning rules, property parcels, and existing buildings, it finds that Auckland could add up to 38,000 new dwellings on vacant lots within the urban boundaries and another 58,000 dwellings through infill development:

Capacty for growth

The CFG study also presents maps showing development potential in each local board – which is helpful for all us visual learners. Here’s the map of development potential in the city centre. The coloured areas represent vacant or partly vacant plots of land that could be developed under the proposed Unitary Plan:

Capacty for growth CBD map

One of the most interesting things about the CFG study is that it lets us get a sense of the development capacity around the three CRL stations – Aotea, K Road, and Newton. As a reminder, here’s a map of the three stations:

Alignment Map

The CFG study really highlights the potential of Newton Station – there is a lot of vacant or underused land that could be redeveloped to a high standard. Here’s a zoomed-in map of the area around Newton and K Road Stations. The Newton station catchment is, roughly, the area immediately to the south of the white motorway cordon:

Capacty for growth Newton map

The dark blue plots represent vacant lots that could be developed, while the light blue represents lots with the potential for additional buildings. Compared to the map of the full city centre area, you’ll see that Newton has more development potential than almost anywhere else around the city centre. Certainly more than K Road, which is mainly built out at this point. It helps that the area’s zoning under the proposed Unitary Plan allows for medium-height development of 8 story buildings.

The Capacity for Growth study shows that Newton Station will really be a game-changer for the area. The CRL will put Newton on the map – and once connected directly to the rail network, perhaps with an associated bus interchange, it could easily become a second Newmarket.

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28 comments

  1. From memory the City Centre Master Plan showed huge development potential at Newton. It’s one of the most exciting elements of CRL that you could effectively extend the city centre southwards and break down the barrier of the moat-orway.

  2. I think this should be coupled with consideration for a (covered) pedestrian and cycleway over the motorway linking Newton and K’Rd more or less following the path of the CRL route under the motorway corridor. i.e. between Upper Queen/Alex Evans area and roads on the north side of the motorway – somewhere near where the K’Rd motorway off ramp will eventually link to that area as well.

    This would encourage good links between K’Rd and Newton as Newton will become a key interchange station to reach Newmarket and points south, it makes sense to ensure it has both good rail and walking/cycling access as well. And of course ties in with the (soon to open) Grafton Gully cycleway.

    I’ve always like Newton, my first few jobs in Auckland were there and it has a lot of good things going for it, despite 50+ years of motorway induced severance, some huge water reservoirs, crap low density housing on the northern slopes (land between Khyber Pass Road and the motorway).

    1. Covering the CMJ and reconnecting the center to the fringe will only be possible if the majority think it’s a great idea, because they want to be able to use the space.

      I’m looking forward to the day it happens.

      My question is how do we influence others to help make it happen.

      1. I think he just means a covered bridge, not trying to cover the whole CMJ. Though that is also a great idea.

        I really like the idea of a covered cycleway with clear plastic roofs. I am always surprised the Dutch have never tried that but I guess that probably also means there are some problems with the concept – beyond cost I mean.

        1. Could you look at making retail on the bridges (ie widening them) to remove the visual gap of the motorway? Would be nice at removing the disconnect of buildings across the CMJ and reclaim a slice of the air rights for non motorway use

          1. Yes. That would be a great help. Especially on the K Rd bridge. Also remember that a lot of this motorway kit is coming to the end of its natural life [oh joy- I love build destructive kit twice]. The KRd bridge in particular is knocking on, it was one of the earlier bits built. If there is any money around for rebuilding motordom next decade after all the mortgages the current government is signing us up to are paid then let’s build a better and activate one there.

        2. > some problems with the concept – beyond cost I mean.

          I don’t know if it’s really as much use as a covered walkway is. If it’s raining and you’re on a bike, you’re going to get wet, unless there’s covered cycleways almost door-to-door.

          Whereas pedestrians have more opportunity to stay dry by walking close to the side of buildings, using umbrellas, making a spur-of-the-moment choice to use a bus and so on. Then, people dry off faster than metal bikes do, so if you’ve only got cover half the way, it’s still a lot better than no cover.

          You also tend to walk different sorts of trips to those you’d cycle – particularly walking short distances within a town centre, something you’d not generally do by bike, and that’s the only place pedestrians normally get continuous shelter along a route (as opposed to shelters to wait under, like bus stops or at pedestrian crossings).

        3. Goosoid, thats what I meant, a covered cycle/pedestrian bridge means that you won’t get caught in the open during one of Auckland sudden rain showers and be too far from being able to get under cover somewhere if you desire.

          Agreed idea needs some work, but we do need to reduce the severance of the motorway here more than the current two overbridges at Symonds and Upper queen.
          Even allowing for the fact that Upper Queen is getting a makeover to make it more cycle friendly, its still a nasty piece of town yet need not be.
          And a full CMJ cover is a nice idea but a bridge too far right now.

          Also been looking at the CMJ and I reckon there is a potential to link the southern/eastern part of the K’Rd overbridge to Alex Evans by using some more “legacy” motorway ramps and a bridge over the NW to Port and Port to NW link roads to Alex Evans, so with a couple of good Ped/Cycle bridges you could link K’Rd area from the motorway bridge all the way to Upper queen could more or less be linked with a 5 minute cycle/10 minute walk “triangle” between K’Rd and Alex Evans streets. And this would of course tie in with the K;’Rd to Hobson walk/cycleway using the old Offramp structure.

          And these 2 plus of course the existing Upper Queen and Symonds Street bridge, would give 4 crossing points between K’Rd station area and Newton Station area and linkages to the rest of the city.

          1. Here’s another minor idea: change those clunky names to “McKinnon Road” and “Evans Street”.

  3. There are more than that, if we allow and account for intensification and remove parking minimums. I know of a few places in that area which are neither pale nor dark blue on this map.

    This is exciting though, and another opportunity to transform the city.

    1. > It helps that the area’s zoning under the proposed Unitary Plan allows for medium-height development of 8 story buildings.

      Unfortunately that’s not so – it’s only 8 storeys in the quarter to the north of Newton Road and west of Symonds Street. The rest is only 5 storeys, and the “Town Centre” zone around Symonds Street and New North Road is only 4 storeys. That said, the CFG study doesn’t and can’t take into account non-complying activities that get consent, or possible plan changes.

      I think Newton could actually become something more than Newmarket, though: it’ll become simply a continuous part of the city centre, particularly once the area around the corner of Alex Evans and Queen is spruced up a bit and there’s an obvious and appealing walking link to K Rd. So even eight storeys might be a little low, outside the protected viewshafts.

      1. The 4-storey height restriction on Symonds St and New North Rd makes sense, where the historic strip shops are, to protect their character and context. But down toward the motorway could probably take some buildings taller than 8-storeys, as long as we can avoid creating a “canyon” effect. Perhaps narrow Alex Evans St and Ian McKinnon Dr to allow a wider planted strip between the street and motorway (and separated cycle lanes).

        1. > Perhaps narrow Alex Evans St and Ian McKinnon Dr to allow a wider planted strip between the street and motorway (and separated cycle lanes).

          There’s already a fairly wide planted buffer in the motorway designation itself, and we shouldn’t waste even more inner city space trying to dilute the motorways. Time to cover them up, wall them off, rip them out, or live with them. Cycle lanes and narrowing would be good for their own sakes, but the big change for Ian McKinnon would be letting buildings open up onto it, or even building more buildings on the far side of it that can soundproof and wall off the motorway.

          > The 4-storey height restriction on Symonds St and New North Rd makes sense, where the historic strip shops are, to protect their character and context.

          I don’t really buy into that way of seeing heritage protection. Particularly if we’re seeing Newton as an extension of the city centre, where we actually add to the character of the city by having short and tall buildings happily coexisting, rather than insisting on bland uniformity.

          For the most part, people interact with buildings on the human scale, seeing the details at the ground floor. But when you do look up, having a mix of heights looks a bit nicer and celebrates the change and diversity and growth that cities are all about.

  4. Newmarket still has potential to be Newmarket! There are plenty of vacant sites between Mountain Road and Crowhurst/Gillies with the potential to be developed, along with a swathe of underdeveloped land between Nuffield Street and the five point intersection (Broadway/St Marks/Manukau/Gt S/Alpers).

    1. Not to mention the dozens of parking buildings and swathes of on-street parking. Newmarket still has so much potential…

  5. Anyone writing about that piece in the Herald by the Auckland Chamber of Commerce guy? I thought it was an interesting idea. Basically, the Counicil uses stations like Newtown and builds apartments, shops, hotels etc above them, then sells them off to pay for the CRL. Would this work?

    1. Yes, though I note that Auckland Council Property Limited, to my knowledge, despite having a $600m drawdown facility (enough to commission a *really good* developer to do something), has never touched that facility in the eight or so years it has been around. It’s kinda like Council having Claytons intentions in stimulating good development.

  6. I’d argue those maps are also very conservative, Newton is also littered with low value low rise buildings of dubious value that could easily be replaced with higher density. There’s actually already quite a high density of housing in the area, which in general still feels a lot like the council thinks it’s still full of car yards. Something does need to be done about Newton Rd and Symonds St which are at present packed with cars avoiding the motorway. The council needs to actually start treating them at local roads and give priority to buses and walking cycling rather than simply maximising how many cars they can pump through. They’re both complete place destroying roads at present.

    1. Not to mention New North Road which has a complete 60km/h bypass in the form of Ian McKinnon Drive. There’s no reason for car through traffic on New North Road at all, from the Dominion Road interchange to Alex Evans Street. Just local traffic, buses and then we’d have room for some bike lanes too.

      Sorted.

      1. AT took years to allow that silly little cycle feed lane to be built leading onto New North Rd, and refused for years for cycle feeder lanes to be built on Great North Rd as it would slow cars by 30s! Two roads with a massive parallel motorway and yet they still get treated as only the domain for cars.

  7. I hope it doesn’t become another Newmarket. Newmarket sucks. Unless you’re into clothes shopping or happen to be going to the Rialto, literally everything else is more easily accessible in other parts of the city. I can’t remember the last time I went there by choice. It’s not the most happening place, which is a real shame given the location.

    1. You should give it another shot, check out Nuffield St and the area around the back of the Rialto, massive improvement in the last couple of years.

      Having said that I kinda agree, Newmarket, Broadway especially, is a bit ‘blandiose’ at times. It tries to be glitzy and glamorous but amounts to little more than glass boxes with clothing stores. The Nuffield and Teed St improvements have added some much needed vitality.

      I do think Netwton could be better, it has the bones of a solid centre with good connectivity, a reasonable sized hinterland despite the motorway, some great if neglected historic buildings and critically, several large sites for redevelopment as well as scores of small ones.

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