The Auckland Council is looking to update the 2012 City Centre Masterplan (CCMP), a document that has been a critical in helping shape our city centre. The CCMP pulled together a 20-year vision for the city and first introduced ideas such as the Victoria St Linear Park.
The CCMP is now in need of a refresh as it is now six years since it was first approved, there have been significant changes in the city centre and many of the assumptions the plan was based on are now well out of date. Some examples include:
- The City Rail link is now under construction and other large projects, like Light Rail are also now a reality having not even been on the cards back in 2012.
- The number of people living in the city has already exceeded all of the projections in the original CCMP.
- There has been significant public and private sector development which is helping to reshape the city.
- The Auckland Transport Alignment Project (between the government and council) has confirmed the high-level
As part of the new CCMP, the Council want to add three new key focus areas
- Māori Outcomes
- Grafton Gully Boulevard
- Access for Everyone
Below is a quick look at the second two
Grafton Gully Boulevard
Compared to most of the city centre, stepping onto The Strand is a bit like you’ve been transported to a completely different part of the city, and not in a good way. Here’s what the report says about this idea.
- Council is working with a team of local landowners and stakeholders, including Auckland Transport, the New Zealand Transport Agency and Ngāti Whātua Orākei. The aim is to develop a more affordable ground-based approach at a different location, slightly further north, broadly following the Stanley Street Corridor from Parnell Rise to Tamaki Drive.
- The area surrounding Stanley Street/The Strand is generally a low-quality, low-value environment, despite being situated between the city centre and Parnell. The vision is to integrate the many workstreams for the area and surroundings into a coherent vision. These include the Ports Master Plan; the Parnell Plan, regional rail network planning and a private sector proposal to reopen the Albert Park tunnels. There is an opportunity to deliver considerable transport improvements, land value capture, housing and employment space.
- This project will examine new design solutions that are more feasible to fund and build. The outcome would be that this connection is able to be provided sooner and cheaper, enabling access to the Port and the Eastern Suburbs; in, out and around the city. It would also improve road safety and deliver better foot, cycle and public transport connections. Completed successfully, it would transform the performance, connectivity and productivity of the entire eastern edge of the city.
We first covered the idea of a Grafton Gully Boulevard back in 2014. I don’t know if it is exactly the same but should be similar.
Access for Everyone
With all of the growth and projects going on, Auckland’s city centre simply has to change. It needs more space for pedestrians, bikes, scooters and buses but also for non-discreationary trips like rubbish collection, deliveries and emergency services.
Once we start to build light rail we will need to close Queen St to cars. For those that still drive in the city (why would you) it will result in changes in how they get around. The council are trying to get ahead of that and have come up with a concept called Access for Everyone (AfE). I think this is a really exciting idea and is one that could significantly change our city centre for the better.
Below are how the paper describes A4E. They also note that pedestrianisation of Queen St was the most supported of any proposal in the last CCMP.
- Auckland Council is working with stakeholders in Auckland Transport and other organisations to develop a new city centre access concept called Access for Everyone. It is based on examples used successfully in cities overseas, such as Groningen and Barcelona and under consideration in Melbourne. The overall aim of Access for Everyone is to ensure that everyone who needs to get to the city centre is able to do so more easily.
- Access for Everyone would mean that car drivers would access the city centre from its edge, not via the core. Private motorised through-traffic would be directed around Auckland city centre before entering. East-west journeys would be made exclusively via the motorway box and, in the first instance, Mayoral Drive.
- Access within the city would be prioritised for non-discretionary trips. These include, but are not limited to, emergency vehicles, servicing, deliveries, rubbish removal, existing access to buildings, people with specific mobility requirements and other critical business trips.
- A reduction in non-discretionary vehicle trips is anticipated of up to 20%. The reduction in discretionary traffic should make non-discretionary vehicular trips (deliveries, etc.) easier and more predictable, as well as allowing for road-space reallocation to walking, cycling and public realm.
- Within the city centre, the existing street network would be reconfigured to function as a series of zones. Buses, light rail vehicles, pedestrians and people on bikes would be able to pass directly between zones. Private motor traffic would generally be required to enter and leave from the same zone. Private vehicles would be able to move within the zones for most of the day but not between them. Traffic to each zone would be carefully accommodated from all motorway points and key arterials.
- Access for Everyone allows space to be reallocated from private vehicles to other uses. It therefore meets the needs of the growing residential, worker and visitor populations by favouring spatially-efficient transport modes. As the city centre accommodates more residents, businesses and visitors, there is an imperative to make more efficient use of limited city centre street capacity.
- Reallocation of street space in favour of spatially-efficient modes also increases streets’ abilities to perform other functions, such as loading, servicing and public amenity.
- Access for Everyone is predicated on the fact that, over the past 15 years, all growth in commuting to Auckland city centre has taken place via public transport; it now accounts for the majority of commutes. City centre employment growth has been de-coupled from increases in inbound car traffic since 2001.
- With the scale of forthcoming investment in City Rail Link, light rail and the New Bus Network, public transport capacity into the city centre will increase by 150% above existing levels between 2018 and 2028. The number of people within a 30 minute rail journey if the city centre will double when City Rail Link is complete. Access for Everyone therefore
reflects wider transformations in Aucklanders’ journey to and from the city centre.
Both of these look like fantastic proposals and ones that could have many benefits to all users of the city centre. Let’s hope the councillors vote to keep things going the way they are. Finally, while I hope I’m wrong, I’m anticipating some colourful commentary when some people realise the plan means they can’t just drive across the city like they’re used to.