Over the last few days the council have shown that miracles can happen, even if they’re somewhat belated, with High St finally starting to be transformed into a more people friendly space.
To tie in with Art Week, the council have implemented the first stage in a trial give more space to pedestrians. With the exception of expanded loading zones on the eastern side, car parking has been removed from between Shortland St and Vulcan lane. In its place on the western side is the most significant change so far with the footpath being expanded via the installation of decking over the carparks. The whole installation only took a few days and I was really impressed with the quality of the result with the surface completely level with footpath so no risks of people tripping. I felt like it really helped to open up the street more and it is particularly nice being able to walk comfortably and not having to squeeze past people.
Cam Perkins of Auckland Council’s Design Office says he’s thrilled to see the trial begin.
“Over the past few months we have worked with Heart of the City, High Street businesses and residents to understand what they want to see for High Street.
“As a result of our co-design process we’ve installed decking to create wider footpaths, bike racks and planters with edible plants. The wider footpaths will make it safer for pedestrians and for those using personal mobility devices. Vehicle access will be maintained which is particularly important to support business deliveries and servicing.
“The changes will also improve lines of sight so that people can better appreciate the wonderful heritage buildings along High Street.
“The changes represent a lighter and faster approach that we can learn from and adapt for future projects. We’ll be monitoring and evaluating how people and vehicles use the space.”
Here’s a time-lapse video of the changes being installed.
Tuesday not only saw the changes make their debut but also saw the whole street closed for Art Week, thereby giving a further taste of what High St should be and saw some tables and chairs added to the street as well as art installations.
It will be fascinating to see what happens to pedestrian numbers in the area following these changes.
The changes to High St are being made incrementally with the next section to get treatment being Vulcan Lane to Durham St early next year.
Stage two of the project will run from Vulcan Lane to Durham Lane and is planned to start from February 2020. Feedback from the High Street community on stage one will inform this next phase.
Now that we’ve got our first real taste of it, we need to see these types of changes being rolled out at pace, not only in the city centre but in town centres across the region.