Auckland’s city centre has improved remarkably in recent years. The likes of Wynyard, Britomart and our shared spaces have showed that Auckland is capable of making significant and world class urban improvements.
Now, the details have emerged of the council’s refresh of the City Centre Masterplan and the Waterfront Plan. They’re due to be approved by the council’s Planning Committee next week. They say the refresh “maintains the vision and direction of both plans, and focuses on the next phase of delivery“. This also follows on from our victory on Victoria St over Auckland Transport’s plans which would have killed the Victoria St Linear Park. The refresh covers 5 key areas.
- Waterfront Corridor
- Midtown Streets
- Central Wharves
- Wynyard Quarter
Let’s look at them in more detail
Downtown and Waterfront Corridor
As part of ATs response to the midtown bus consultation, which resulted in the Victoria St Linear Park being saved, they came up with an option they call the ‘crossover’. At the time they said it involved “swapping some major bus route groups within the city centre” (more details on that later in the post). For the buses that travel to Britomart, AT are looking at building a new bus interchange on Quay St between Commerce St and Britomart Place. A roundabout at the intersection of Quay and Commerce streets, which I understand has affectionately been called the “bus ballsack”, serves to turn buses around and to punctuate vehicle movement along Quay St so that west of Commerce St can be converted into a shared space/more pedestrian friendly location. It will also allow for all of the streets within the Britomart precinct to become shared spaces too.
I’ve got a few concerns about this, including:
- People wanting to transfer to a Northern Express or other Lower Albert St bus could potentially have an over 500m walk to do so.
- By having the bus interchange on Quay St, it gives the buses that use it the same disadvantages that ferries have, that half of their catchment is water.
- The roundabout essentially takes up all of the space currently on Quay St between the buildings and the red fence. This could have major and serious implications for the popular Quay St cycleway.
- It’s hard to see just how reliable buses are going to be given they’re going to have to be competing for access to the roundabout with cars.
Here’s a prettier image of what’s planned.
Another bus interchange will be centred around Lower Albert St and will serve the Northern Express, Onewa Rd and North-Western Busway buses. This will effectively ring the block containing the Downtown Carpark, AMP & PWC buildings with a busway. As part of this, access to the downtown carpark would need to be changed (or the carpark redeveloped). AT also want to keep the vile Lower Hobson St flyover but narrow it down to two lanes with one each way.
The intention of much of this is to tie in the planned people space that will be built in front of Britomart with and improved Queens Wharf and much more people space along Quay St between Lower Albert and Commerce St, as well as an upgraded Te Wero island. Further west the Te Wero bridge is due to be upgraded or replaced, hopefully with something much wider.
You can also see in the images above Light Rail slipping out of Queen St and onto Customs St and Sturdee St. As I understand it, Sturdee St will become dedicated to PT while Fanshawe St between Nelson and Albert streets will cater for traffic in each direction.
As mentioned, the fight to save the Victoria St Linear Park paid off and AT came up with a new option they call the ‘crossover’. The map below is indicative at this stage but shows how the routes are intended to work. Routes heading to the city from Newmarket will turn down Grafton Rd, on to Wellesley St to Wynyard while isthmus routes will use the Quay St facility above. The two NEX routes will use either Lower Albert St or Wellesley St and turn around in Grafton Gully which is being called a new ‘University Station’. There are no details on just what that station entails.
They say this will enable them to deliver two great city streets, the Linear Park on Victoria St and a bus boulevard on Wellesley St.
The main element of the Central wharves is the public realm improvements to the Ferry Basin, infrastructure to support a future doubling of ferry services. A mooring dolphin to allow longer ships to berth.
The Halsey St extension has been talked about for a while in relation to the America’s Cup in 2021. However, the report says there’s no intention at this stage to bring it forward
At Wynyard the plan is to extend the Daldy St Linear park to connect up with the proposed Headland Park. It doesn’t mention it in the report but it would create a linked park/urban space all the way from the Domain through to the tip of Wynyard Point. They also say they’ve dropped plans (at this stage) for a “signature public building”.
Overall there are some good proposals and it’s exciting they’re moving closer to implementation. However, I do continue to have some potentially major concerns around the crossover option AT are touting.