On Friday, the council published the newly refreshed City Centre Masterplan that was consulted on last year. That the council had already done so much work on it has also clearly had an impact on what they’ve been able to roll out on Queen St over the last week in response to COVID-19.
Auckland’s City Centre Masterplan, the visionary document to guide the city centre’s development for the next 20 years, is now accessible to all via a new digital platform.
The masterplan, which was endorsed by Auckland Council’s Planning Committee in March, sets out a vision for a greener, safer, and better-connected city centre that celebrates our unique Māori identity.
Councillor Chris Darby, Planning Committee Chair acknowledged the changes COVID-19 is having on our city centre and the way we view street space.
“The adoption and digitisation of the City Centre Masterplan comes at a time when we are more focused on how our streets can function to allow people to physically distance. Being able to move around the city safely is a focus for those that live and work in the city centre.
“During Alert Level 4 Aucklanders have enjoyed having more space to walk and cycle and it’s given us a glimpse of what it’s like to have streets focused on the wellbeing and safety of people.”
Of the 542 Aucklanders who submitted feedback during public consultation, 76 per cent supported the overall direction of the masterplan. The most frequently mentioned theme was the masterplan’s direction towards greater pedestrian friendliness in the city centre.
Tim Fitzpatrick, City Centre Design Manager at Auckland Council said he is proud of the work they have done with the City Centre Masterplan and said the plan has proved very useful in formulating Auckland Council and Auckland Transport’s COVID-19 response.
“The extensive work on the City Centre Masterplan and its access planning has been invaluable in allowing us to roll out an emergency response that ensures physical distancing can be maintained on Queen St in COVID-19 Alert Level 3.
“Although this work is temporary it will give us an opportunity to move seamlessly from streets designed for physical distancing during COVID-19, to streets that reflect our City Centre Masterplan and the vision to reallocate more street space for people.”
Sometimes there’s nothing more permanent than a temporary fix, afterall, just look at the ‘temporary’ slug still sitting on Queens Wharf nearly nine years after the Rugby World Cup.
As we’ve discussed before, the to biggest changes to the plan are the inclusion of
- Access for Everyone – which aims to make the city centre more people friendly by changing how streets in the city work. It will it possible to still drive to the city but once fully implemented you won’t be able to drive through it. This then allows the reallocation of substantial streetspace away from cars and towards open space.
- The Grafton Gully Boulevard – that would see Stanley St and The Strand changed from a pseudo motorway into a tree lined boulevard that supports significant development.
The most interesting part of the newly published plan are the gorgeous digital maps and graphic what’s planned. There are eight interactive maps that show the key changes proposed by the plan – one for each of the transformational moves in the plan.
CCMP envisages ongoing redevelopment and regeneration of Wynyard Quarter, with mixed use development and green links leading to a flagship new green space on Wynyard Point.
CCMP envisages staged redevelopment of cruise and ferry infrastructure to unlock new waterfront public spaces, with a transit street on Customs Street enabling enhanced access and integration with Waihorotiu / Queen Street Valley.
CCMP envisions a new multi-modal boulevard and future urban neighbourhoods for Grafton Gully and Te Toangaroa / Quay Park seamlessly stitching the eastern edge of the city centre with the heart of the city and eastern city fringe neighbourhoods.
As mentioned above, the addition of the Grafton Gully multi-way boulevard (below) is one of the key changes to the CCMP. The plan also includes in it the reopening of the Albert Park tunnels
CCMP seeks to improve the network of big streets and blocks to be more human-scaled and people-oriented. It will also overcome the severance and movement barriers that isolate Victoria Quarter from both the heart of the city and western city fringe neighbourhoods.
CCMP seeks to bring new life into the heart of the city with a revitalised, pedestrian-priority Queen Street. The laneway network would be expanded as the centrepiece of a new zero emissions zone, which is free of through-traffic.
The council’s response to COVID-19 is seeing some of the changes to Queen St start to be implemented already and helps to highlight the value of having plans. We really need them for more areas too. As a result of that, within the next 1-1½ weeks the main Queen St changes, removing private vehicles from driving along it, will be in place.
CCMP seeks to enhance integration and access to city centre universities through rapid transit, and walking and cycling connections. It will create a more attractive, expanded city campus environment through significant street network changes enabled by Access for Everyone (A4E).
One of the key changes proposed in the Learning Quarter is to redesign Symonds St and the image below highlights what that could look like. The street would become a transit street with no general traffic through the heart of the Auckland Uni campus which frees up space for continuous protected bike lanes from Upper Symonds St to Britomart. It would also create more public space and have links to an interchange with buses on Wellesley St.
CCMP envisions a new hub of transit-oriented development, and pedestrian-priority streets and public spaces. These build on the massive place-shaping investment underway in rapid transit stops and stations.
One of the projects that can be seen here, and also in the previous Learning Quarter image is the proposal to close the Symonds St motorway on-ramp. This would help by stopping driving through the area to access it and also significantly improve safety for pedestrians and bikes. The CCMP also suggests linking it with Grafton Rd for improved connections and that could help take pressure off buses and bikes sharing Grafton Bridge.
CCMP envisages transit-oriented development to create two new urban neighbourhoods around Dominion Junction and the City Rail Link (CRL) Maungawhau / Mount Eden Station. This includes new and enhanced walking and cycling connections including a signature beltline greenway along Ian McKinnon Drive.
Combined, the City Rail Link site at Mt Eden and the proposed removal of the Dominion Rd flyover open up significant opportunities for urban redevelopment close to the city.
Overall the plan represents a fantastic vision for the city centre and is the result of a lot of hard work by the council and in particular the Auckland Design Office who have driven it. I just wish we could have it all implemented now, put perhaps if we can learn to love more quick and cheap temporary solutions, we could do large parts of it.