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.

Union St Carpark

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.

CCMP Move 2 - Victoria Quarter

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.

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  1. This all seems a bit unfortunate. This area has plenty of potential, but needs some serious intervention by Council / AT.

  2. An interesting fact I learned from a friendly transport economist after writing this was that as the land is now owned by the NZTA, if they did need it for the AWHC it wouldn’t be counted as a cost in the business case.

    1. I recall commenting here not long ago that a AWHC would need a $^&%load of facilities to cater for these kind of things like fires, crashes etc. Where better to put it than in the CBD? Genius. NZTA must be stopped

    2. It is an easy cheat to leave out the cost of land you already own but it is still a cheat. The manual is clear that all land has an alternative use and should be included as a cost.

  3. Technically Auckland Transport cannot sell land, this is all handled by ACPL and may have been initiated by them.

    1. Which is odd because I asked ACPL just last week and they said they haven’t sold anything. Also when I asked the NZTA they said they bought it from AT

      1. Well that sounds like a pure buggers muddle from both ACPL and AT
        Similar to the same buggers muddle we are facing over at Manukau with the Manukau Interchange right now and here

        In short ACPL own the Lot 59 land not AT who want to build the interchange. Any land selling ACPL handles, and hello per the LGOIMA’s received back one does not know what the other is doing.

        Indeed keep digging Matt. Might be time for an LGOIMA/OIA?

  4. What a shame! Any idea on the height of the new building?

    On a side note, they really need to hurry up and bowl down Placemakers, that land would make for a sunny, central city park which I believe it may be put aside for already?

  5. Not sure if they would want to relocate once the building is up and staff get used to it.

    Can they make the building as compact as possible to use as little of land, making the other land free to develop in the future?

  6. Not sure the proposed plan is any good either as the link to Cook Street is needed to get vehicles into mid city. Last thing you want is more people using Fanshawe St which is already going to struggle to handle buses.

  7. The rediculous city ruining additional road crossing plan _just_must_be_stopped_.

    It is the single worst thing that could happen to Auckland this side of a new volcano.

      1. Rofl. Just had dinner with a certain double graduate of the Auckland School of Engineering, now in a high leadership role in a big tech business in Sydney and he said:

        ‘Engineers are great, but only if there’s an adult in charge of what they’re doing.’

        That’s been the problem in Auckland; too many decades without grownup oversight over people who are keen and able technically but without sufficient strategic sophistication.

        1. So how has the adult non-engineer oversight been working for the last 10 years or so? Here’s the professions of some recent key people.

          Minister of Transport
          Stephen Bridges (lawyer)
          Stephen Joyce (zoologist, radio entrepreneur)
          Gerry Brownlee (teacher)

          NZTA / Transit
          Geoff Dangerfield (MSc in Resource Management)

          Auckland Transport
          Dr David Warburton (environmental engineering – an engineer!)
          Lester Levy (MBA / medical)

          Decisions are made at the top. And before anyone argues that “all the engineers below them are influencing them” – well, from my look at it the next levels down aren’t exactly crowded with engineers either. I will say it again: Blaming engineers is an easy out when the policies are car-centric, and we have been failing to get them changed for a decade or more.

  8. It will indeed, be a great day when active modes likes walking and cycling have all the money they need and NZTA need to hold a cake stall to build or widen yet another motorway.

  9. I didn’t think the city centre master plan was something anyone ever intended to actually do. Wasn’t it more of an exercise in colouring stuff in so they could claim they had “vision”?

  10. As a soon to be resident of SugarTree nearby, I am really hoping that the council gets it together to realise the potential of Victoria Quarter as an area to be enjoyed and well used by pedestrians. At the moment even just walking from SugarTree apartments down to Wynyard Quarter or Victoria Park is a pedestrian nightmare, let alone a family doing the walk with children.

    1. Impact on SugarTree was one of the first things that sprang to mind when I saw this.

      I was not aware of plans to modify the off-ramp, but it sounds like a very good idea. I use that offramp frequently to get to Freemans Bay/Ponsonby, and Cook street is bit of a mess; people coming of the motoway meeting slow moving traffic changing lanes to get to from Vic Park to Union street.

      Nicely redeveloped areas on one side, (Vic Park), SugarTree and lots of potential around the area, in particular if the single level carpark/Placemakers ‘island’ is redeveloped.

      Makes so much sense, why does it not surprise me that NZTA are going to throw a big spanner in the works. Not sure I understand the rational why mostly office based staff working with IT systems need to be physically close to motorway/Vic park tunnel.

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