Recently Auckland Council released an update confirming that the City Centre would indeed reach 45000 residents this year. In 2012 this was not forecast to happen until 2032 & shows the strong demand for the City Centre which Auckland Council are calling a “Renaissance of inner-urban living”.

Other key events have also happened:

  1. Pedestrian numbers on Queen Street have doubled since 2012 and there’s been a 34 per cent increase in pedestrians across the city centre.

    Council Planning Committee – 2017-03-28 – Pedestrian volumes
  2. No increase to car trips despite the rapid growth.

    People in Cars into the City Centre
  3. More people now live in the city centre than travel in by car.

    Council Planning Committee – 2017-03-28 – Population vs car volumes
  4. 30,000 more residents now projected in next 10 years bringing up to 75000, up from 5000 odd in 1996.
  5. More than 10,000 added to the city centre since 2012 even on the narrowest of CBD definitions. Now more than 100,000 people work there.

This growth is predicted to continue especially now the City Rail Link has been confirmed. The issue now, however, is that not only has the City grown much faster than expected but we are also having a tourism boom at current. This means the City Centre infrastructure specifically the City Centre Masterplan needs to be accelerated to cope with the growth. Hopefully, this will be addressed on the Local Government Level in the 2018 – 2028 LTP (Long Term Plan) Budget discussions that will occur soon.

However, I think a large case is to be made that the Crown should help fund the City Centre Masterplan. Importantly, growth of the City Centre has seen increased Crown Revenue through a higher GST take and increased business activity. Investing in Auckland’s City Centre, enabling more tourism & business growth will help increase this revenue further. Auckland Central now is the biggest tourism earner $2.5b ahead of Clutha-Southland. Tourism is now a bigger export than dairy & and last year the Government earned an extra $400m in GST paid by international visitors. There are many ways in which this could be done which I will go into in the next post.

In the grand scheme of things helping fund the City Centre Masterplan is small fry compared to the size of the Crown’s budget, it is a one off CAPEX & will help increase tourism as well as job & resident growth in the City Centre making us a competitive international centre. But if they came to the party we would really be able to get moving on the Masterplan.

CCMP High St potential
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  1. Fully 1% of the national population and 4% of national employment is now in the Auckland city centre, this alone should be reason for the government to invest!

  2. At what point does land availability in the CBD become a constraint to population growth?
    Not exactly going to go knocking down 20 year old 20 storey buildings. Other buildings often have heritage protection. Businesses need their office buildings.
    All height restrictions should be lifted in the CBD to allow for supertall buildings (except in very limited exceptions – we probably shouldn’t have them down by the harbour blocking that off from the rest of the city for example). Would love to see a whole lot of 300m tall buildings in Auckland

    1. I think we’re still a long way away from that. There are still quite a few at grade car parks, then even more low rise car parks, and a number of former industrial sheds between Nelson Street, Victoria Street, and the Northern Motorway and around Beach Road, Wakefield Street, K Road, and Wynyard Quarter.

      Of course, there is always plenty of land in the city fringe, too. A lot of population growth will be occurring along Khyber Pass Road in the next two years as all of those projects wrap up and around Mt Eden Station after the CRL is built.

      1. Victoria Quarter is defs underutilised area.

        With the CRL as well as the future Federal Street Stage 3 & the potential Hobson/Nelson 2 waying alongside the future Street Upgrade for both will do much to unlock that area.

        Mt Eden Station Redev will hopefully be great as well.

        Yeah those at grades on Elliot & Fort are pretty bad.

        Room for improvement in the Wakefield area as well.

        1. Wow, you’ve put a lot of work into that. It’s excellent. The car focus and pedestrian hostile design is very well recorded. I got completely saturated at a bus stop in this area on Tuesday; busy bus route, no facilities. Then watched as one little tot nearly rode his tricycle under my bus while his mother struggled with the twin playing up a few metres away. No separation between the footpath and busy road.

          The plans do give hope. There are so many good designers in AC and AT who know what people need… but they’re all hamstrung by the Getting Auckland Cars Moving philosophy. Thanks.

        2. That’s a very sad, but accurate description of Victoria Quarter. Car-centric design in all its gory detail.

          I’ve had my stint on Hobson Street. The treatment of anyone outside a car is disgraceful, and you tend to be exposed to that a lot when you live in an apartment. It’s not a place you want to call home for years. I’m most definitely glad I don’t live there anymore.

          I’m curious about what response you’ll get. I hope there will be some progress in solving some of these issues. The plans to make Hobson and Nelson street 2-way have been there for years, but seem to have fizzed out.

          And for funding, the council must be collecting heaps of rates on a small area over there.

      2. “There are still quite a few at grade car parks, then even more low rise car parks” … you don’t mention the highrise ones. 🙂

        “land in the city fringe” Yip.

        1. I’m wrong, sorry. Learnt today the difference between medium rise and high rise. So yes, accommodation much better use of land than Victoria St and Downtown carparks, etc…

  3. In the past the government has sponsored Team New Zealand as this is seen as an opportunity to promote NZ, tourism, business etc. So I think that helping fund the city centre masterplan is certainly justified and would be money well spent.
    The biggest issue (aside from the fact that the current government has very little interest in funding anything in Auckland that isn’t a motorway) would be that people are going to argue that other city centres around NZ need improving as well. Would the government be expected to help fund other cities? If they don’t, people are going to complain that Auckland is getting special treatment.

      1. I’d agree that the politics would probably get in the way of the government chipping in and paying for this. They seem reluctant enough to give local areas the means to provide extra basic facilities for tourists etc like toilets, let alone financing a huge masterplan for Auckland which is out of their traditional voter heartland…

  4. Thanks for the interesting data behind this story. Imagine how much more different the inner city might be if the CMJ “collar” did not strangle it? Even removing the Grafton Gully segment alone would remove the severance between the city and Parnell and open up a huge area of derelict light industrial land for urban development, right next to the university precinct. Would it make that much difference to the traffic? I don’t know, but I doubt it. The CMJ juntion would remain the capacity constraint.

    1. Given the amount of ‘cut n cover’ tunnels ‘we’ are so fond of, what’s stopping the Grafton Gully motorway lanes from being covered over and then replanted?

  5. Thinking further, this also has implications for transport planning too. Transport planning tends to focus on how we get TO the city, but not much on how we get around within the city. In the long term, the case for pedestrianising more city streets simply on transport grounds (as opposed to amenity) appears strong. Many European cities have pedestrianised quite large areas of their CBDs, with no ill effects on businesses there. Quite the opposite in fact.

    1. Good point, pedestrianize lower Queen Street from Victoria Street down, terminate any future LR on Q nearer Aotea square.

        1. Because its not necessary to push LRT through a pedestrian area.
          The concept of a pedestrian area is that people walk, in safety, not dodging LRT vehicles. Terminate LRT on edges of pedestrian area and commuters walk to their detination.

        2. That sounds really shit for anyone who wants to catch LRT to or from anywhere except where you decided to stop it.

          Queen St is 32m wide. LRT needs 7m, About a third of what is currently allocated to traffic lanes and parking bays. A LRT transit mall will be a very good outcome for pedestrians, it will approximately double the space for people on foot.

        3. I like the idea of running LRT right through, along the waterfront and terminating at Wynyard quarter. And then at some future date connect it via a tunnel or bridge to the shore.

        4. What we can do is pedestrianize High Str—

          (cue gasps)

          …pedestrianize High Street, Eliott Street and so on. That will be the pedestrian only area. And then Queen Street is where the rail goes.

  6. If the Council wants the City Centre Masterplan then why don’t they do what the do everywhere else. Just impose a ridiculous consent condition on every developer that requires the first person to develop to provide everything for them for free. Then they wonder why developers lose interest and land bank instead.

    1. You’re sarcastic, but this is a big issue for greenfield vs brownfield sites. Look at the quality oif footpaths (that will barely get used) in new suburban developments vs those around brownfields in the city – no one (neither council nor developers) is doing anything to improve amenity, so we’re left with crap for what should be the council’s higher priority developments (up not out right?)

  7. You just had to put that drawing of High Street in as a shared space to show how great it could be. Living in the city centre is great. Mostly everything I need right at my doorstep. A few retail branches miss out, though, by not having a store in the area.

    Also the pathways are getting too narrow for the number of pedestrians in the cbd.

    1. +1
      Charge commercial property capital gain tax when property are sold to next owner – benefitting from council infrastructure upgrade.

      Money then recycle to fund more infrastructures upgrades.

  8. Can someone please enlighten me as to where this huge surge in Central City residents in the last 5 years are living? There has been relatively limited apartment completion in that period…
    This does not seem credible. Were the original numbers wrong?

    1. My guess is that they are living in existing buildings that have been converted to apartments. Auckland actually has a bit of a problem, in that many of the large businesses that formerly had head offices in Auckland CBD have either left town and gone to Oz, or have relocated to the latest hot spot: Wynyard Quarter. That’s actually left quite a few empty office spaces in central, and this problem has been partially solved by subdividing them up to provide cheap accommodation. Some of this will have been done legally. Others, not so much.

    2. I’d say three factors:

      1) There has actually been a fair amount of apartment development. Don’t forget about the Quay Park area and the pocket of student towers tucked up behind Symonds St. Probably a couple thousand units across those two areas in the last five years.

      2) Occupancy rates are at an all time high, there are basically no empty rentals in the city whereas in a slower ‘normal’ market you might have up to 10% of apartments empty.

      3) Overcrowding. This is hitting the student market especially hard. People are doing double occupancy on bedrooms, even hot bunking. There was a thing in the paper where they had two sets of bunks beds in each room of a two bedroom flat, so eight students crammed in where you might only expect a couple of people.

      1. Thanks Nick.
        I can’t think of much apartment development in Quay Park over the past 5 years. I thought it mostly dates to 10 years ago or more.
        I would have estimated 400-500 student units at most in and around Symonds St, and obviously low occupancy .
        Sure, bit of conversion and overcrowding.
        But… I’m still very skeptical that there would have been more than a 2000-3000 population increase in and around the CBD in the past 5 years.

        1. I’m pretty sure that SugarTree alone has added more than 2,000 residents in the last five years. The developments completed at or around SKHY has probably added a similar number, as have the five apartment buildings recently completed at the intersection of Hepburn and K Road. On the Development tracker alone I see over 1,000 dwellings added around Whitaker Place. Even with an average occupancy of 2 these developments alone explain more than the last five years of growth (14,000)

        2. Nowhere near that much. I think there are around 300 residents in the completed SugarTree building.
          I need more convincing, preferably data sources and references.
          It reeks of council propaganda, to me

        3. Bit touchy there? I would have thought a website like this would welcome free and frank questioning rather than towing party lines. Maybe you need to seriously check your own preconceptions. Sugartree 2000 residents??????

        4. Sailor Boy
          You do realise the 2016 estimates are ‘provisional’?
          And, further, are based on very crude estimations based on general migration and birth and death data?
          In my experience utilising some of this data in my work, the estimations can be hugely out at times. This is not necessarily a criticism of Stats NZ. Without huge additional resourcing it will be impossible for them to do better. In addition, Auckland’s CBD has much different population dynamics to any other area in Auckland, let alone NZ.
          My criticism lies more with agencies that fail to look at the ‘provisional estimates’ much more critically than they typically do.
          I will be very very surprised if the population of Central Auckland is above 35-37K.
          We will need to wait for 2018 Census results for greater certainty.

      1. yes some, but not a huge number
        What is the source for the 45,000 population claim?
        I can find data on the Stats NZ website for 2013, but not more recent.
        This sounds really incorrect to me
        Happy to be proven wrong, if the evidence is demonstrated

  9. Why is a Masterplan required? It’s overkill.
    What is required is fairly simple. Most of the pavements are a grotty, uneven disgrace. Put some money into fixing that and properly maintaining it.
    Basic stuff

    1. No, it needs a lot more than just re-asphalting the pavements. Local hipsters need to be facilitated on their way to the food truck, apparently.

    2. So you think our current footpaths with a new surface are sufficient to handle the growing numbers of people in the CBD, which will grow further after the CRL opens?

  10. Every Crown dollar spent on this is a dollar that doesn’t go to:

    * Health
    * Education
    * Defence
    * Police

    Not sure about you, but patrolling our EEZ, preventing burglaries, teaching kids, and curing diseases ranks a little higher to me than facilitating a walk to a foodtruck for some hipster.

    1. Come on. Not everyone in town is a hipster. I mean, I’ll put a wiggle in my hips and hope, but no. Read dr’s reports on the state of the Victoria Quarter which he’s given a link to above.

      There’s no reason we can’t expect better amenity in the cbd. The built environment has a huge impact on HEALTH (psychologically, air quality, accidents etc), and many people participating in EDUCATION are studying in the cbd. Well-maintained areas reduce the need for POLICE by discouraging crime (from many years of experience, the community groups I’ve been involved with, for example, have learned to keep places as tidy and cared-for as possible – this is the best way to reduce vandalism), and as for DEFENCE, well… probably best not discussed here.

      1. Actually Defence is really important now, after Kiwi’s sticking the finger at Rex I expect an invasion any day now.

        1. Did anyone actually do that? It was an absolutely foul day in Wellington on Tuesday, I can’t for a minute believe the streets were lined with anyone let alone people flipping the bird.

          Sound suspiciously like fake news.

        2. That’s hilarious. Even if it’s not true. The weather might have just prevented some brown eyes.

        3. I’m guessing there must have been a small group of protesters that did this at most. But it is simply not credible that the streets were lined with people flipping the bird, the weather was too awful for people to be just out and about along that route for the hell of it.

          Also it doesn’t appear to have been captured by anyone on camera despite the plethora of cellphone cameras nowadays and also the presence of media.

        4. 350aotearoa and generation zero websites have quite a few photos of the protesters. None showing the fingers, but there were more than just a few people.

    2. That only applies if you assume Crown revenue remains static. It is quite reasonable to think an appealing downtown Auckland will help ensure tourism revenue in the future, which contributes to tax take directly through GST and indirectly through company tax on hotels, tour bus operators etc.

    3. Ignore Aucklanders for the time being and look at the tourism dollars earned by the central city. Ask yourself if the tourism income is at capacity and, if so, if that capacity limit is natural or artificial – Natural if there’s no way to extract another cent, regardless of upgrades to tour boat facilities, pedestrians, inner city transit, financial attractiveness for big brands. I posit that if the capacity was capped, it would be due to lack of investment in those facilities.

      Think about what makes other “world cities” great. Obviously everybody has different things they like about other cities. For me, it’s about street food and the art of street photography but there’s no way I could engage in those activities if I couldn’t get from A to B. I love Auckland and have never tired of the CBD, however getting around by foot is getting harder.

      Now if we stop thinking about just the tourists and include Aucklanders, making the central city more efficient and inviting encourages spending. More than that, it makes the place a destination in and of itself, rather than where some shops are or where some transit is. We have hard evidence that spending money upgrading the streets to be more pedestrian friendly results in better financial performance of those areas. This all translates into more tax dollars that the government can spend on the areas you noted. Fixing the central city isn’t spending money, it’s investing money.

      1. In any case, we don’t have to take anything from health, education, defence or police. Just stop spending on car infrastructure.

      2. Good stuff JK! With more population density we need more public space, it’s as simple as that. Infrastructure is also not just for adults, it’s for children and extended family members as well, so the more inclusive a city becomes the the more people it can support.

        I hope that the upcoming Ryman development in Devo will be the last time a publicly-accessible green space is allowed to be built over in Auckland. We should be creating more green spaces, not destroying the ones we have, and it would be great to see the Council enforcing this as a matter of policy or even as part of a wider approach towards carbon neutrality.

    4. We could spend $50,000,000 on police, or we could spend $50m on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. Do you want the fence or the ambulance?

  11. 1. Build a landmark urban public school in city with highest achievement
    2. Resurface all run down pedestrian streets
    3. Encourage building owners to maintain their buildings – issue notice to fix for rundown buildings
    4. Vacant land from land bankers are temporarily used as landscaped park/ public space at land owners cost
    5. Manage homeless people sitting on the streets, police target anti social behaviour.

    1. 6. Remove cars and replace with trees, cycleways, bioswales, LR, stormwater sculptural features, and public furniture.

      I like number 4. It would need:

      7. Employ full time park coordinators to help apartment dwellers, city workers and homeless people to enjoy and participate in the parks.

      1. The whole “vacant land” thing is cultural imperialism.

        Not everyone adheres to this Western protestant ethic that land that hasn’t been “tamed” through farming or building or some other utilitarian use is “vacant.” If owners wish to leave land vacant for their own spiritual or philosophical reasons, that’s fine too. Wasteland, for example, can be an amazing environment for lizards. But of course lizards don’t matter.

        Next you’ll be demanding Bastion Pt be seized for housing.

        1. Oh drat, I thought you’d be on-side. I thought capitalist land-bankers being required to provide amenity for the proletariat by opening said land up for temporary parks would be right up your alley. What could be bad about providing a much-needed canvas for artists working cross-media in garden and built environment design, and for locals wanting to satisfy their temporary urge for growing passionfruit up the neighbouring building? And all serving no corporate purpose at all. Fantastic.

          Lizards – tell us what you know, and I’ll tell you what I know. Could be fun.

    2. “Manage homeless people sitting on the streets, police target anti social behaviour.”

      By housing them so they aren’t homeless anymore?

      1. 🙂 Yup. Friend of mine is making tiny homes for a church carpark. I reckon once he’s filled that up he should start on some of the cbd at-grade carparks. All within a nice park paid for by the landowner, as Kelvin suggests. Super. The occupy movement might help us bring this idea into the public realm. 🙂

  12. Why do we always use that ugly grey stone in all the shared spaces?? Love the idea but it is really ugly, plain and highlights all of the mess left on it.

    1. It would be worth asking where it comes from. If it’s local, that makes sense. Shipping stone around the world is a stupid waste of fossil carbon.

      As far as I know, the kerbstones used to be local but for at least a decade, Council has been importing them from China. That’s aesthetics getting in the way of sustainability.

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