Yesterday’s Waitemata Local Board meeting included an interesting update on how the City Centre Master Plan refresh is coming along. The paper itself starts at page 31 of this link, while page 83 onwards of this link has detail of the content.
The CCMP refresh has been going a while now, as nearly three years ago the council’s Planning Committee endorsed a refresh of the existing Plan’s implementation strategy. Work has stepped up more recently, with substantial engagement on some key updates of the plan guiding the work that’s been done over the past year. I discussed the details of the CCMP refresh late last year when the public consultation was underway, but in essence the big change is a fundamental review of how transport works in the city centre through the introduction of the ‘Access for Everyone’ concept. There’s also some overdue focus on fixing up Grafton Gully and a much stronger emphasis on Maori outcomes.
Access for Everyone is a pretty radical (but clearly necessary) proposed change to how the city centre’s transport system works – essentially making it possible to still drive to but not through the city centre and reallocating substantial streetspace away from cars and towards open space. It’s also an idea we’re seeing emerging in many cities around the world.
As we reported in December, the CCMP had strong support and within that Access for Everyone actually had some of the highest levels of support.
All ten Outcomes were supported by at least two thirds of the participants. The highest support was for Accessible City Centre (90 per cent), Green City Centre (88 per cent) and Liveable City Centre (87 per cent).
While people talked in detail about various additions and requirements for the CCMP, the main general theme about the outcomes was that they covered the important aspirations for the city centre and were important goals to focus on.
Some felt that the plans sounded good but wanted to see progress on actual tangible outcomes and improvement to the city centre. Others asked what, specifically, the outcomes meant and what actions and proposals they would trigger. They felt the outcomes were too vague / open to interpretation and possibly overlapped.
Some felt the CCMP could have more focus on creating a city that values people and the public, with amenities and facilities for public, cultural and recreational use (as well as commercial). This related to a theme of inclusivity: to make the city centre welcoming and accessible for people on lower incomes and from all Auckland suburbs.
A small proportion of participants felt the CCMP proposals went too far in prioritising pedestrian access over vehicle / driver access. They felt that prioritisation of car access was critical for the city centre.
Time and again, public consultation on big plans like the Auckland Plan and the Council’s budgets shows that the public – with a few vocal voices of opposition – on the whole supports progress towards making Auckland a more multi-modal and less car dependent city.
In fact it seems like the biggest barrier to swiftly implementing the City Centre Master Plan comes from Auckland Council’s very own transport CCO – Auckland Transport. AT’s submission nominally supports the concept but puts so many barriers in the path of its implementation that it will be hard to see it implemented. Here’s a very diplomatically worded snippet from the paper to the Waitemata Local Board:
AT’s submission on the CCMP identified a series of workstreams necessary to deliver the transport outcomes of the new city centre vision. In particular, AT identified that the full implementation of the Access for Everyone concept would likely require a 30 per cent reduction in general traffic during the two-hour morning peak and an increase in peak public transport capacity of 11,000 over that which is already planned for. It also identified the need for:
- a well-resourced and clear communications around the city centre transition to a new transport system
- significant ongoing stakeholder engagement (led by council) on the changes
- LTP and RLTP bids for new projects and initiatives to support the necessary mode shift
- significant ongoing work on developing, assessing and implementing the new projects and initiatives
- a range of travel behaviour change efforts to support and enable the mode shift.
Delivery of the CCMP vision will entail close working with AT. A staff working group with cross-AT disciplines relevant to city centre matters was established in October 2019. It includes representatives from across council and several teams from the NZTA. This group, led by AT’s Planning and Investment team, will report through established city centre governance mechanisms and progress will also be reported to the Planning Committee. The group will provide input into established budgeting processes, business case development and ongoing operational programmes.
This group is now commencing a comprehensive investigation into the implementation of the A4E concept, including the opportunity to develop pilot projects as part of a transition plan. AT has noted that substantial future funding for A4E initiatives and projects will be required (e.g. additional public transport capacity, modifications to the strategic network, etc.) and this upcoming work will identify this in more detail.
Some of that ‘significant and ongoing work’ includes AT wanting additional traffic capacity on The Strand and new motorway connections in the CMJ. They also say that they don’t think the full A4E network can be delivered until both the City Rail Link and Light Rail are operational to increase PT capacity, which now means maybe not till the the latter part of the decade.
While it’s good that more detailed planning work will now get underway, Council really need to pull AT into line and make it clear that their job is to make Council’s plans and strategies happen – rather than put every barrier in the way of progress. Auckland Transport also seem to miss the point that it is the very reallocation of streetspace away from cars and towards more efficient modes would allow for more capacity for buses and the expansion of open space in the city centre.
On a more positive note, through the CCMP refresh there is a clear high level strategy for transport in the city centre. As articulated in the pages below:
The refreshed CCMP will be presented to the council’s at a workshop today and at a Planning Committee on March 5 where it is hopefully finally endorsement. Then the pressure really will go onto Auckland Transport to make it happen.