It appears that Auckland Transport may have sold a key piece of land needed to implement part of the council’s City Centre Master Plan.
Yesterday it was announced by the NZTA that they are building a Central Incident Response Centre on the site of a former AT carpark on Union St.
NZ Transport Agency committed to keeping Auckland moving with new Central Incident Response Centre
The NZ Transport Agency is establishing Auckland’s first permanent Central Incident Response Centre located on Union Street in the central city.
The team who’ll be based at the centre will focus on the Central Motorway Junction (CMJ) part of the network, attending to motorway accidents and breakdowns, assisting in the clean-up of spills, removing debris, and managing technical issues like monitoring faults and completing minor repairs.
“The team is currently based at temporary facilities at the northern end of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. The new location means they will have close access to the Victoria Park Tunnel and direct access to the State Highways to help ensure that our motorways are kept safe for drivers and that traffic keeps moving,” says Auckland and Northland State Highways Manager Brett Gliddon.
Since the incident response team was formed 3 years ago, it has been called out to attend more than 2,300 incidents in the CMJ area.
The teams are typically made up of 4 crew and 3 vehicles. They will continue to work around the clock on a 12-hour shift roster every day of the year from the new Union Street facility.
The new centre is due to be opened in October. It will be situated on the site of what was the Union Street public carpark, which has now been closed. The building will be constructed off-site and put in place overnight. All other preparation work on-site will be completed during the day.
Here’s the site.
That’s all well and good except for the fact the council has identified that same site as a location to realign the Cook St off-ramp – reducing traffic on Cook St and enabling it to eventually become much less of a traffic sewer. The vision for the area is shown in Move 2 of the CCMP. Here’s what they say about it.
The Victoria Quarter has considerable latent development potential. The development industry has recognised this opportunity. However, the full potential of the area will only be
realised when Nelson and Hobson Streets become inviting public spaces for pedestrians, and other strategic development opportunities, such as in the Wynyard Quarter and growth
around the City Rail Link stations, are further advanced. Significant investment in amenity of the area and its streets and spaces will be important, as will greater connections across the motorways to Freemans Bay and Freemans Bay School, which is set to double in size.
In time the area will emerge as a vibrant, residential-led, mixed-use urban neighbourhood, referencing its industrial heritage and with a strong leaning towards compact family
housing. The built form is anticipated to be reasonably fine grained medium-rise development that responds to the needs of families, i.e. unit titles, with reasonable indoor/outdoor spaces and opportunities for safe play.
Auckland Council owns significant areas of land in the quarter. This is mainly road reserve, but it also includes a 5853m² parcel of land at 106 Cook Street on the corner of Union Street. A dramatic change is proposed for this area with a draft masterplan in place that will centre residential apartments and office space on a new public park.
Redevelopment plans, along with longer term New Zealand Transport Agency plans to upgrade the Cook Street interchange as part of the additional harbour crossing, will require a new road layout appropriate for a new pedestrian focused area.
Here’s what they envision it could look like and it looks like it has the potential to be a fantastic area of the city without the motorway firing traffic on to Cook St. In addition the straightened off-ramp looks like it would probably be safer too.
On the plus side of things at least this was sold to the NZTA and not a private developer which means there’s a chance the NZTA could move the new Central Incident Response Centre and still realign the off ramp. In response to a question about it the NZTA have said the building could be relocated of needed.
The new structure is permanent, however for future proofing purposes it can be moved to another site in the future if that becomes preferable.
Of course the purchase is also a bit of land banking by the NZTA in case an additional harbour road crossing goes ahead. In fact I was told by Auckland Council Properties Ltd (soon to become part of Development Auckland) that development of the 106 Cook St site is on hold as they believe up to one third of it might be needed by the NZTA for the AWHC. This highlights that far from just a tunnel, it has serious impacts for large parts of the city both in how much land it takes up where it connects but also affecting the development potential of the city.