As we learnt last year, the council is in the process of refreshing the City Centre Masterplan (CCMP). The current version was adopted in 2012 and has been critical in helping shape our city centre, such as the work that currently going on around the downtown area, and coming up with the concept for the Victoria St Linear Park. The CCMP is in need of a refresh because a huge amount has happened in the seven years since it was approved. For example:
- Major projects such as the City Rail Link and the downtown works are well underway. Other projects like Light Rail weren’t even on the cards back then. This is also tied to the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (between the government and council) confirming the high-level transport strategy.
- The number of people living in the city centre has already exceeded the 20-year projections in the original making it even more important to provide for all of the new city residents.
- There has been significant public and private sector development which is helping to reshape the city.
- There is a greater need to address issues such as emissions, both from a climate change perspective and a public health one.
Yesterday the council voted to send the new CCMP out for the first round of public consultation from mid-August. However, taking into account the time to analyse feedback, make changes and also hold potentially more targeted engagement if required, It is expected the final version won’t be approved and goes live till March next year.
By in large the refreshed CCMP will be similar to the existing one but there are three key additions/changes.
Māori Outcomes: Our place in the world
This is described by council as:
Working closely with Mana Whenua, a range of unique initiatives and developments will provide all Aucklanders and visitors with a deeper understanding of Mana Whenua histories, associations and aspirations within the city centre and waterfront. Collaboration, innovation, creativity and the direct involvement of Mana Whenua will develop and deliver a thriving Māori culture and identity for the area, from which Aucklanders and visitors will benefit.
Tāmaki Makaurau – our place in the world, firmly grounded here in Aotearoa, looking confidently across Te Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa out into the world.
Access for Everyone
We first learnt about Access for Everyone (A4E) late last year. It is a plan to make Auckland a lot more people friendly and it was unanimously supported by councillors. Councillor Chris Darby is quoted with the below comment.
“Our new mobility plan, Access for Everyone, will create a low-emissions zone in our city centre within the next five years. It will transform the way we use our streets – making sure that pedestrians, cycles, and buses can move freely and safely, while preserving access for drivers. It will free up public space and improve deliveries to businesses and residents.
Aucklanders will get a chance to feel the difference when trials start in High Street later this year. Working closely with city centre residents, businesses and visitors we will begin to test and refine distinctive streetscape arrangements that combine access and enjoyment. We will ask people to tell us their experiences, and finalise a plan for the city centre as well as look at how the concept can be scaled up for regional town centres.”
Outside of the Queen St valley, which would only have access for pedestrians, bikes and public transport, A4E would divide the city up into eight zones. People would still be able to drive to the city but would only be able to travel around the cell they arrive in and not drive between them. For example, trucks to and from the North Shore would use the motorway connections specifically built for them about 15 years ago and not rumble along Quay St.
A4E is a big proposal and the whole thing won’t be rolled out overnight. Council will start with the Downtown East area and trial the changes to see how the concept works on the ground.
With cars eventually removed from Queen St, there will be no need for many of the intersections along it which will free up even more public space in the city, allowing for new plazas. The image below is a concept of what the Queen / Shortland St intersection could look like – with light rail also rolling through.
The area around Stanley St and The Strand might only be 800m from Queen St but it’s like a completely different world, and not a pleasant one if you’re not in a car (or truck). This is in part due to the planning blight created by uncertainty on the long term plans for SH16. This CCMP plans to change that with council saying:
The vision is to complete SH16 to Tāmaki Drive as a tree-lined multi-way boulevard to improve connections and access to the port area and eastern suburbs – creating a new eastern gateway to the city centre and extend the city centre’s vibrancy to the east.
The area represents a huge opportunity for the city to redevelop and grow, much like has been happening at Wynyard Quarter. The images below come from a councillor Workshop uploaded as part of yesterday’s Planning Committee. They’re a little bit fuzzy but the first of these shows a map of the development potential and a comparison to the space available at Wynyard Quarter.
Much of that land is already in crown ownership.
Development here would also work perfectly with plans to reopen the tunnels under Albert Park.
But the key change to enable this is to turn Stanley St and The Strand into a tree-lined multi-way boulevard – a street design that separates local traffic from through traffic. An image of how this would be laid out is shown below.
And a final image, an artist’s impression of what it could look like as from the air.
If this gets through consultation, it could be up to 20 years before it actually happens but hopefully will be much sooner than that. However, I do wonder if we’re really going to regret not putting the Parnell station in better location so that it could have not only served Parnell, via an easy walk up Heather St, but also been closer to the heart of all this redevelopment potential. Something more like below.
I look forward to the CCMP consultation coming out and we’ll certainly cover it more when it does. I’m also going to be really excited to see the and the A4E trial starting.