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.

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  1. Would love to see the likes of Southmall Manurewa redeveloped around the train station to capitalise on such a busy station. Would spur significant urban renewal to develop the shopping and carpark area into mixed shopping & high density residential.

      1. Strange that LINZ disagrees with you. About 20 years ago the shops were put on individual titles and sold off, some to occupiers and rest to investors.

      2. Foodstuffs doesn’t own Southmall. It is owned by a disparate group of absentee owners who can never agree on any changes.

        That is why the pedestrian walkway through the mall (as proposed a long time ago by ARTA) between Great South Road and the station never materialized.

    1. Sounds like a fabulous idea, as long as it does not involve the Local Board putting further rates money into improving privately owned assets.

    1. They have in Australia. Chatswood in Sydney now has a significant retail presence built around the station. BUT then comes the issue as I found out on a recent visit there after a 10 yr absence, try and find a sign in reail complex that tells you the way out….

    2. Yeah, I’ve been always amazed that West City mall in Henderson doesn’t link directly to the station. Both have elevated structures opposite each other on Railside Ave… Just needs an extended skybridge and can have extra retail space even off the sides of the new access corridor.

      1. Westcity was recently sold to an Australian company (can’t remember which one), so it’ll be interesting to see if they make any moves to integrate with PT (both train and the bus stops outside) once it’s out of Westfield’s hands later this year.

      2. Recently Kiwi Property held up a plan change in New Lynn which sought to impose retail frontage and verandah requirements through the town centre. Not satisfied with removing them from the mall site they then proceeded to demand they be taken off other sites. As for providing better pedestrian connections to the train station – “only poor people use PT” so they were no value to retailers.

        This is what youre dealing with.

        1. The assumption only poor people uses PT will need to be revisited.

          The key is there need to be a large numbers of upmarket apartments built near train stations. So people who are only one or two train stops away will take the train to go to the nearest mall.

          So for the context of new Lynn mall, it will need a large number of mid income people living close to Avondale train stations and Glen Eden.

          For Sylvia park, it will need to build high rise apartments near otahuhu, ellieslie and panmure.

          Of cause the train will need to have better frequency that are convenient. Not those 30min off peak that put people back to cars.

        2. “only poor people use PT” is the attitude that much on NZ has and, closer to home, many over a certain age in Auckland.

          Old attitudes take a long time to change, sometimes with a lot of kicking and screaming.

          I think that the council should either engage in some outreach, or direct AT to do the same (not that I’d trust AT to get it right). Get them to target the property owners with dreams and hard facts, show them the potential value to be tapped. Heck, even the Chamber of Commerce should be all over this and attempt to educate people.

          It’s like the High St retailers who thought that the majority of their customers parked right outside. Funny enough, that was also a prime example of an opportunity lost to bungled outreach.

    3. Westfield NZ is very laid back and seem very conservative and last century mentality. My take is on kiwi-property which owns Sylvia park and Lynn mall, in which maybe more aggressive and hope they can build seamless link to train station.

      1. The design of the station at Sylvia Park is a joke. Yes they ticked the box of mall next to station but it was quite obviously an afterthought in terms of designs.

        1. It’s better than whatever is going on a Pukekohe. When you get off the train and cross the bridge you end up pretty much in the carpark for the bunch of shops where the Pukekohe Warehouse is. There is, in fact, a set of stairs that lead down from the path into the carpark. Very convenient right? Wrong. There’s a fence. They have literally fenced off a public carpark from a public path/train station. I have no idea why.

          And if you’re wondering, it’s a substantial dogleg to not have to use this little set of stairs leading down from the bridge.

        2. I suspect they didn’t anticipate hardly anyone using it. It wouldn’t be too difficult to integrate it better.

        3. A slight correction: Sylvia Park were forced to pay for some of the station as part of their resource consent, and did as little as legally possible.

    1. But it’s not a Westfield Mall, that’s the point being made. Having a mall as part of a train station is extremely common worldwide, however, Westfield seems oblivious to the advantages. It was even hostile to the city rail link running beneath its former site IIRC.

        1. Commercial Bay is specifically and intentionally sited at the centre of the biggest Public Transport hub in the country; at the heart of a triangle between Britomart, the Ferry Wharves, and the Lower Albert St Bus Station (plus the Quay St Cycleway).

          But it’s even more than that as it creates a virtuous circle of higher demand for all these services with 3 floors of hospo and retail and 10,000 office users…

          In just 2 years downtown Auckland is going to be unrecognisable all over again with yet another surge in vitality, activity, and sheer busy-ness, people, and happily with new public realm to expand into. This is going to be more than fantastic, more than most are expecting, and spells trouble for planners of anything who don’t anticipate continued acceleration of demand.

          And sadly this will really highlight how badly our second city was misled into a wrongheaded rebuild that wilfully ignored the urban economic force of our age: intensity. Auckland is surfing on this agglomerative economic energy, while Christchurch is drowning under a de-powering dissipation. Squabbling over subsidised car parking, so still heading in the wrong direction. Very sad.

    1. Tell me more, Kelvin. The K Road station needs multiple entrances, and they need to be positioned for maximum accessibility, connection and walkability. How do we get this to happen? What can we do to enable some private money to help with funding what we want, without creating an advertising labyrinth nor giving the developers more rights or assets than what the additional amount of extra funding actually represents?

      1. As reported here (/2015/10/15/the-mercury-lane-entrance-decision/) – It’s only another $30-40M to build the Beresford Square entrance. The businesses there would experience a large increase in foot traffic. Perhaps the council should press ahead with that development and steamroller over the owners there who are opposed to development (yes, there is one person who owns a large building and is very anti-CRL. Even killing this entrance was seen by them as a win).

    1. You are welcome. Please send 47 of your Genie 7m boom lifts to me at 15 Acacia Avenue, Mt Eden, They will need to be gift wrapped as they are a present for my mistress. Thanks. PS: Do you accept Scambank Visa cards?

  2. “Little about the spaces signal you are about to enter consumer wonderlands.”

    Consumer wonderlands….that’s verging on the vomit-inducing.

    1. The whole Herald article almost made me think that to reach my usual level of subversiveness, I’ll need to avoid using PT. Don’t want to be sold to… 🙂

      1. I really wanted to be a subversive until I found out that was against the rules…but yes, I find that mall-culture consumption thing most distasteful.

        BTW Who was Sylvia Park?

        1. Ha ha. No, he just provided the “hell” material for the book. Actually her best book was the The Colossus; that’s why the mall was named after her.

        2. You whimsy killer, Niall.
          Actually, (according to the interweb) Sylvia Park was the first person to circumnavigate Rangitoto Island on a unicycle and the mall was named after her in recognition of this semi-amazing exploit.
          If I had the time or the inclination I would edit Wikipedia to prove it.

        3. Sylvia was married to Keith Park who actually has a park named after him called Keith Park Park.

        4. I don’t think Keith Park in South Auckland is named after Sir Keith. The Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield at MOTAT2 is named after him (from 1975), as is the railway station on Meola Road, but I can find no record it was ever called Keith Park Park (officially).

        5. You’re thinking of Lancaster Park, Patrick, which was, of course, named after Keith’s bomber of choice.
          Incidentally Sylvia got the name Park by marrying Keith’s brother, Mark. To my knowledge there is no Mark Park park.

        6. They actually do have a round square in Rome. St Peter’s Square is round. Maybe he called it that because he was a fisherman and didn’t learn any geometry.

        7. A doddle? Can you imagine doing algebra with Roman numerals? Think of all the x’s and all the i’s. Mistakes would be so easy – everything would get multiplied up too large by mistake, and there’d be lots of imaginary numbers… their imaginations would get out of control – they’d build huge buildings. And when the imaginary numbers were multiplied up, think of all the negative ones. Like the colosseum – a very negative one!

          Ah, that’s why you mention it. Sylvia Park’s book The Colossus must have been inspired by the Colosseum. In terms of negative monstrosities, Sylvia Park has been very well named. It took me a while to understand your comment, but I got there eventually.

        8. It is all starting to make sense. When the Lord told Peter to come forth and he actually finished fifth it was because of Roman numerals. He forgot about the I before the V (except after C).

  3. Would be worth looking at Hong Kong as an example of how to really do it. Goes something like this: the Government owns the land. Sells it to a developer, who builds:
    A) massive train station
    B) massive shopping mall above train station
    C) massive housing project above trains and above and around shopping mall.
    D) 50,000 people move in, no cars, captive audience, everyone connected.
    E) repeat.

    To be honest, it is inspiring stuff. From what I understand, the developer owns the entire project, and so shoulders the risks and also takes the profits for at least 30 years or so. They really understand the power of TOD over there.

    1. +1

      The city planner in Auckland should book a trip to Hong Kong and Tokyo and visit a few major train stations to see the real ‘vibrant paradise’.

      People who grow up in suburban environment will never understand unless see it.

        1. That fine and up to you, just take care not to live in a transit interchange then. Plenty of opportunities to live in car based low density suburbs in Auckland, always will be.

        2. Aaaah, but Owen, you don’t know until you’ve been there. Hong Kong leaves New York for dead in terms of excitement and vitality in the urban environment – but spatial standards in both those cities leave a lot to be desired. Certainly wouldn’t want to live in HK if i had to live in one of their 15m2 New Harmony flats (suitable for a couple), or even worse, if I had to live in cage housing, (2m2 per person…) but the cities themselves are great.

        3. Had never heard of cage housing so that was educational. No wonder the whole world wants to move to Auckland and turn it into a Third World slum.

      1. I agree, Kelvin. There aren’t many good excuses for wasting aviation fuel – but seeing an inspiring model for a better Auckland is one of them. I wouldn’t restrict the exploration to cities with very high populations, though. I’d include places with a similar population and density to Auckland, like Helsinki.

    2. Hong Kong would also show what’s possible from an engineering standpoint regardless of the land you’re building on. Don’t forget that there’s a lot of reclaimed land there, with train tunnels and large underground stations. Also shows how if you build a fast efficient train network, if grows and grows. They’re still adding to the network. – 8 new stations opening from 2014 to now.

      1. There is also solid granite rock in HK underneath all that reclaimed land, so in terms of engineering and tall buildings – very very relevant. Auckland – volcanic rock with voids, and greywacke – not so good.

  4. For PT access around Sylvia Park – Can anybody here improve on some of my basic mock-ups?
    I’ve posted these pics up in previous posts (Spamming in other words) however for good reason, I think it would be a good long term thing to see a multi-level public transport concourse merged into Sylvia Park to incorporate the train station and SE highway all into one.
    Instead of spending on the East-West, LRT along the same route and through Sylvia Park, connecting to AMETI at Pakuranga

  5. NZ has a neanderthal attitude to public transport connections to shopping malls and other public spaces. It really is a good study in completely outdated attitudes. Overseas students should study NZ and their “only poor people take public transport” attitudes. It would at least provide much comedic value overseas as a country so completely and totally out of step with reality.

    Anyway, I’ve been to Chatswood. Manukau had the potential to be like that but they decided to put the station 100m away from the Mall. It is under MIT and that isn’t a bad thing but the missed opportunity really is astounding.

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