As Auckland’s public transport has improved over the last 10-15 years, so too has the discussion around its value, both to transport and urban form. Nowhere is more representative of that change than Britomart. Both the station and surrounding development have transformed a once unloved area of town into one of the most desirable locations in the city. And as this piece, titled “Transport hubs – new frontier for developers“, from the Herald on the weekend suggests, it appears the link between public transport and development is only getting stronger.
Step off a train at Britomart or Sylvia Park and you’re at the gateways to two of Auckland’s busiest shopping strips. But if you didn’t already know that, could you tell?
Exit signs provide directions but nothing more. Little about the spaces signal you are about to enter consumer wonderlands. But change is approaching fast, as transport authorities, retailers and property developers seek to unlock the commercial power of previously dormant transport hubs.
Bayleys national director commercial John Church says: “Developing commercial and residential space around transport hubs makes sense, both for developers and transport operators. With city centre space increasingly constrained, infrastructure-led developments have taken on new importance.
“Globally, most new large mixed-use schemes are part of existing or new transport hubs. By collaborating with a development partner, transport authorities can increase the level of income they receive from their assets, developing a revenue stream separate from fare-payers and taxpayers.”
Church adds: “A well-connected and fully integrated transport hub can lead to increased economic activity in the area surrounding it, which in turn helps to attract new developments, occupiers, businesses and employment initiatives.
“For developers, the benefits are clear: transport hubs offer them urban land they can’t get elsewhere, and the activity around the transport hubs themselves supports new development, potentially transforming the commercial and residential property market over time. Buyers and tenants want to be near the hub, so footfall and demand are increased.”
This is really positive to read and is similar to what we and many others, including the council in it’s plans, have been saying for some time. We only have to look at the impact the City Rail Link has had on development in the city, helping to spur on many projects worth billions of dollars. A factor important in convincing the government to get on with the project now.
The article goes on to talk to AT and about how they’re looking at what they’re offering at stations, something that prompted me to write this post (more in the series still to come). The comments earlier were further reinforced by the section below.
Retail consultants First Retail Group says that public transport is pivotal to the success of CBD retail and hospitality offerings, and that spaces close to public transport hubs will be in demand.
“The performance of street-facing businesses in CBDs will, in the future, be tied to consumer adoption of public transport.
“Transport hubs drive an audience past a retailer’s doors on a consistent, reliable basis. Few other locations can deliver such volumes and diversity – both necessary in ensuring retail success,” says the group’s managing director Chris Wilkinson.
There are some fantastic quotes in both those two excerpts they highlight that Auckland really is a city in transition at the moment, both physically and mentally. Of course, both are also linked together.