Takapuna is one of Auckland’s most important and iconic centres and like so many places around Auckland, needs some love. The council and Panuku, its development agency, have plans to do that centered around turning the 236 at grade Anzac St carpark into a mix of development and new public space. The proposal has seen strong support from the public and local businesses during multiple consultations but was opposed by the previous local board who wanted no development and the whole carpark area becoming large, desolate and soulless public space, along with wanting even more carparking (underground). Those plans took a step forward yesterday with Panuku releasing the concept designs for the town square.

Takapuna locals can now visualise how their future town square will look after the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board endorsed the concept design today. Now, people will be able to give their feedback to help refine the details of the design.

In the future, the town square will be a place where people can come together to meet and relax, children can play and celebrations can be held. The design is the result of local feedback and expert master-planning which will give Takapuna a new heart.

Extensive feedback has been included in the design from the local community, Devonport-Takapuna Local Board and other key stakeholders between 2017 – 2018. The much-debated location and shape of the town square was decided in 2018, following feedback in over 5,300 submissions.


About the design

The design of the town square has been undertaken by Isthmus Group in partnership with mana whenua appointed representatives, Angell and Vern Rosier.

The design references the underground springs flowing from Lake Pupuke to Takapuna Beach and builds upon the meaning of Takapuna – Taka; to collect, gather, assemble and Puna; spring, water, life. Each entrance acts as a wānanga / gallery and references its closest water body; Waitematā Harbour, Lake Pupuke and Hauraki Gulf.

The space has been designed to accommodate a range of events and activities including concerts and a regular market. A possible market arrangement has the potential to provide 86 stalls within the public square, 17 stalls along the lane and 20 stalls along Hurstmere Rd. A total of 123 stalls.

The design includes places for people to sit and play in the sun or shade, with a proposed water feature and outdoor dining area. A potential location for the Anzac Memorial has also been identified in the plan.

The first image is looking north across the town square and at least from these images, the space looks to be right-sized for Takapuna. To the east it ties in links through to Hurstmere Rd, the upgrade of which started earlier this month, which then links to Hurstmere Green and through to the beach and combined should create a great combined public space.

A car can also be seen near the Eat Street sign as well as bollards which suggests the existing access lane will be retained.

The next image is looking west from Hurstmere Rd through to the town square. Panuku say this is in “weekend market mode”. Fortieth and Hurstmere (the building on the right) has dining area along the inside of the wall in the middle section, I wonder how long it will take them to knock that down and open out to the town square.

Finally, in the first image you can see a water feature, this gives a ground view look at it and the square.

In order to free up the land for development, Auckland Transport have forced Panuku to build a 420 space, $26 million carparking building 200m way on the old Gasometer site between Huron St and Northcroft St (below). It will also include with electric car charging stations, bike storage, and changing rooms and is due to open later this year. However Panuku have now agreed to leave the Anzac St carpark open even after the new one opens. The Local Board chair saying:

“It’s very satisfying that Panuku has agreed to keep the Anzac Street car park open for as long as possible to ensure that Takapuna has plenty of parking during the Hurstmere Road upgrade. With the new Gasometer car park also coming on stream soon, car parking in Takapuna will be in abundance.”

They the next steps are:

Over June and July, Panuku Development Auckland in collaboration with the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board will undertake a public engagement process to seek views on whether the design meets the objectives that were identified through previous community engagement between 2017 – 2018. Feedback will be sought through a mix of targeted stakeholder sessions and direct communications, as well as opportunities for the wider community to provide input.

Following this, the plan will move into the final detailed design phase, with a target construction start date of early-mid 2021.

I’m looking forward to this and the Hurstmere Rd upgrades. I used to work in Takapuna but do so nearby now and prior to lockdown I would pop down there for lunch multiple times a week.

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  1. I have changed my view on parking in Takapuna. There isn’t really any need for parking any more as there really isn’t any need for people from outside to travel in. They should drop Takapuna’s status from Metropolitan Urban Centre to Town Centre and call it what it is.

    1. Sounds like this is some desperation measure from the council and local retailers to try and revive this as a place people travel to.
      Methinks they’re living in the past.

        1. 8,000 bus trips a day at the Takapuna interchange, pre covid.

          If it were a train station it would be the third busiest in Auckland after Britomart and Newmarket.

        2. Yes but it is hardly a Metro Centre. In its golden age as a Sub-regional Centre Takapuna had a courthouse, it was the district headquarters for Police, it had government departments like IRD and WINZ who had public counters serving the entire North Shore, it had the Council Headquarters. It truly was a sub-regional centre. Now it is the Panmure of the north. A place that used to matter.

          I am more than happy to see them lose their parking, I am sure most retailers on the Shore are cheering on the anti-car folks in Takapuna as they will figure the fewer people going into Takapuna the better.
          Takapuna has a future as a place for blocks of flats and enough shops to serve those people living there. It is a Town Centre and nothing more.

        3. All of our metro centres are hardly a metro centre. Most of them are shopping malls. Albany is a shopping mall with a district court over the hill. Silvia Park is a shopping mall with a strip mall next to it. New Lynn is a shopping mall surrounded by panel beaters and drive thrus. Henderson is a shopping mall with a winz office. Westgate is like Albany but even further away from anywhere.

          Takapuna and Manukau are about the only places that come close to desrving the label of a metro centre, squint and you could be in downtown Tauranga or central hamilton.

        4. Another way to recognise a regional centre is that it should be relatively easy to reach from that region. So, can you catch a frequent bus to Takapuna from:

          Birkenhead: no
          Glenfield: no
          Northcote: no
          Milford: yes
          Hauraki and Devonport: no


        5. But also:
          Smales Farm -Yes
          Constellation – Yes
          East Coast Bays – Yes
          Albany – Yes
          Downtown -Yes

        6. You should look mostly at the surrounding areas. Why would you go to Takapuna if you’re in the CBD? From most of those others, they’re closer to Albany (which supposedly is also a metro centre).

        7. You should also look at its motorway connections. Takapuna’s motorway was built well away from Takapuna where it would be better able to serve the then proposed replacement sub-regional centre. The Takapuna businessmen took control of the Council specifically to stop the new centre to protect their own investments at the expense of everyone else. Their Mayor was Fred Thomas. The proposed centre is now a golf course called AF Thomas Park.
          The funny part is they rezoned Albany as they thought it was far enough away not to affect them and because they thought nobody would be stupid enough to actually build a centre with half a catchment.

        8. It is a funny history, miffy. And in the future, there’ll be two types of shopping centres in Auckland.

          We’ll call one sort “Healthy”, as in “Healthy Streets,” for all the obvious reasons – possible to get there by bus, walking and cycling. They’ll be safe and quiet, with clean air and plenty of trees.

          And we’ll call the other sort “Miffy”, as in “miffy argued parking was needed for the centre to thrive” – and the only way that’s safe to get there will be by car, but there’ll be lots of parking available. Buildings of it. Underground caverns of it. And as parking begets parking demand, there’ll also be parking in the kerbside spaces, the median strips, footpaths, verges…

        9. Heidi if you want to argue against parking in Takapuna then maybe have a chat with the owners of the the Milford Mall- they might sponsor you.

        10. You mean the Milford mall owners who are removing their own parking to build apartments?

        11. “ John D says:
          May 21, 2020 at 12:30 pm
          All of our metro centres are hardly a metro centre. Most of them are shopping malls. Albany is a shopping mall with a district court over the hill. Silvia Park is a shopping mall with a strip mall next to it. New Lynn is a shopping mall surrounded by panel beaters and drive thrus. Henderson is a shopping mall with a winz office. Westgate is like Albany but even further away from anywhere.

          Takapuna and Manukau are about the only places that come close to desrving the label of a metro centre, squint and you could be in downtown Tauranga or central hamilton.”

          Had to laugh at that one and the conversation following.

        12. @Miffy
          You might want to scroll down to the chart that correlates the registration of new cars to employment.
          It’s now accepted that a rise in unemployment due to the pandemic is unavoidable.

        13. Miffy is correct, the private car as a means of mobility is far from over. If you look at http://Www.Apple.com/covid19/mobility you can chart mobility trends vs January 13. In Auckland driving is now only 19% below baseline. In Copenhagen it’s only 9% below. In the US it’s 25% above baseline.
          What does this tell us? It shows that despite more people Working from home still, private road transportation has returned with a roar. If you think about it, most people are going to feel a lot more safe in their own car than on a bus or train right now and until a vaccine is found.
          So car parking will still be needed in the foreseeable future.

  2. Only in New Zealand would the fight go on for 3 years, including the requirement of building a multi storey Carpark to build an average Town Square in a metropolitan centre….and even then, its still have to go through ANOTHER round of consultation.

    Now all Panuku need to do are the other 20 big items on their list like Avondale, Onehunga Wharf, that when you check their website all have start dates of 2017 etc.

    It’s hard not to complain sometimes 🙁

    1. Why start with the hardest? I’m sure they won’t get complaints in Avondale! We could do with something flash in Mt roskill if they are looking to get something built and it be near significant growth.

      1. In fact why not start 10 projects with only enough budget for 5 of them and see how much the local boards try get in the way then.

  3. So do we have a Mr or Ms Fix-It? Someone’s got to blow out the car park rubbish. Outcomes shouldn’t be determined by such ignorance. I suppose this is the problem when our leaders seem to be as ignorant about car parking as – not the best, but the worst of – the local boards.

    1. FYI the Local Board in this case wanted a better design for this space, not retention of the current carparking. This better option was not presented to the public because Panuku wanted to maximise profits from public land sales to developers.

      That is why the option with the most votes was for no change – a damage limitation vote. Of course the option that received the most votes was ignored, because money talks the loudest.

      And why is there no transit station in this awful plan?

      1. Not quite, for any development to take place the local board wanted the new carparking building handed to them, plus retaining all the parking at the old site also, by which they meant an underground carparking structure underneath. I.e. a completely implausible, horrifically expensive and traffic worsening option. Thankfully sanity has prevailed, and Takapuna finally gets the town square back that was robbed from it in the 1960s, gets some new public space, new shops and restaurants, and still more parking than ever before.

        There is a transit station in this plan, it’s there already, used by around 8,000 people a day and served by twelve transit lines. The new square will front it on one side.

        1. Thanks John D. Parking is chewing up our rates all over the city. Shouldn’t the Ratepayers Alliance try to do something?

        2. That’s not a transit station, it’s a bunch of old bus shelters which are occasionally tarted up. It needs something better than that.

        3. My view is it’s about the most efficient transit station in Auckland. It’s located right in the middle of the town centre, it has very quick and direct access for buses and passengers alike, it has twelve lines serving all of the North Shore and central Auckland, it has a departure every 90 seconds all day long, and is used by thousands of people each day.

          I’m interested to know what would be a better transit station from your point of view?

        4. Takapuna bus station needs better bike parking, better shelter, ticketing machines and service desks. The things we actually have at the busway stations. It is really well positioned and served by lots of routes, but we need to make it an actual station, not just a glorified bus stop.

        5. Good points, those sound like pretty simple things to include as part of the whole town centre upgrade project. I wonder what the plans are for the shelters and facilities, you’d expect they’d do some improvements to the Lake Rd side at the same time (and to be fair, it’s not seen any love since I was a lad).

        6. Sanity has prevailed? Hardly. Two recent surveys of car parking in Takapuna showed that 50% of parking was occupied by long term parkers – nothing to do with serving the needs of the retailers.

          The embarassing thing was that that the 40 Anzac St car park – presumably only for shoppers – was also clogged with long term parkers.

          I suspect that the new parking building will be a financial liability on rate payers for years to come as it racks up loss after loss – remember the Ronwood car park.

  4. At the moment Hurstmere Road is closed to through traffic while there are upgrades to pipes and other things. AT should have closed it permanently, turned it into a pedestrian mall, let the hospitality places spill out into the sunshine and on Sundays had the market down the centre of the road. Could have all been done in a brief period of time years ago. Instead we have this stupid insistence on parking both in Hurstmere Road and everywhere else while the town centre dies and people argue about a huge new development for years.

    1. “That’s not a transit station, it’s a bunch of old bus shelters which are occasionally tarted up. It needs something better than that.”

      Why does it need something better? The frequency of service should be “turn up and go” so why would you need people waiting inside a building.

      I have seen a plan to spend $3 million on a terminal. What is needed is to spend that money on a regular bus service to Devonport; every 30 minutes is inadequate. Although I do acknowledge that if AT scrapped the AT Local there would be a service with great frequency.

  5. The plaza would be empty and soul less during weekday. It needs to a thing to attract people.

    It is a catch 22 if no people, shops and restaurants will not open, so there will be no people and no shop.

    I would suggest they should at least do those:
    -A small playground for young children.
    -Table and chairs for people to eat their lunch
    -Some weekday exhibitions such as Art
    -A relocatable coffee booth with table and chairs during weekday.

    1. Takapuna does have quite a few people there during the day supporting the local shops and the plan is to have even more people living nearby so this will be used.
      There’s already a small playground in the nearby Potter’s Park (50m away) and a massive playground 250m away at the beach

    2. If they want to revive these now redundant town centres like Takapuna; how about getting people living there? Buying their goods there? patronising the restaurants & bars there?

      1. That’s what the development on other parts of the site is to enable.
        Also there are a number of apartment buildings that have gone up nearby recently and more are planned

        1. Matt L
          You are absolutely right that it is nearby apartment development that will revitalise Takapuna in the same way that it has revitalised the city. We live close by and it is great to notice residents of apartments such as the Alba and Sargeson walking around the suburb. Lets hope those that are currently selling off the plans proceed because a greater number have fallen over.

      2. It sounds so obvious. And yet it is so completely out of the question. Even now Takapuna still appears as a blob of particularly low population density in the census data.

        This is true for all town centres, it is just not done to build apartments inside a town centre over here.

        Closer to me it is so easy to imagine how much better Birkenhead Square could be with a similar development. Instead we have a parking lot over there, and apartments half a km away, just far enough to make catching a bus annoying, and just far enough to need to put the entire building on stilts to put parking underneath it.

    3. This plaza already exists by the way, in its interim form. It has tables and chairs, playthings for children, and some art! I was there yesterday and there were plenty of people in it, not least groups eating lunch at the tables.

      1. Yes the plaza is well used with the addition of the piano and the table tennis tables drawing people in.

  6. From the comments being posted it seems half of the posters haven’t been to Takapuna in a very long time. It is not just mega mansions facing the beach and / or lake – as Matt says it has a number of apartments 8 blocks within 5 minutes walk of the proposed square plus Sentinel. More were planned pre COVID.

    I do think Hurstmere should have been closed to traffic and I’d love to see all the car parks on The Strand go. Achieve that and it would be a fantastic destination. As it stands its still not too shabby.

  7. Let’s see how it turns out with that parking building:

    I have to say when it comes to providing parking, the “car park building” pattern is superior to the “cram the parking everywhere between your townhouses” pattern. You’d expect in Takapuna walking to your daily errands should be the norm so it shouldn’t be too much of a chore to walk to that parking garage if you want to go out by car.

    Assuming of course that developers are allowed to not build parking, and that the council actually manages on street parking, otherwise it will degenerate into the inferior “circling around the block” pattern.

  8. Who on earth is negotiating this stuff?

    You are forced to fork out $26m on a carpark as a compromise to making the space a better public one and the receiving party then says “and we’ll keep most of the other car parking too.”

    1. Follow the money I say. Essentially, as I understand it, the council has made some money out of selling off parts of the existing carpark to private property developers (don’t know who and for how much and whether there is full transparency) and then using a fair chunk of those proceeds to build…yet another carpark. Why is council in the business of owning car parks I ask? Why not allow the private sector to do that (if there is demand). The commercial motivations and rationale of this whole thing have not been properly explored.

    2. The charge for more car parking seems to be led by the Takapuna business association. I was gob smacked at the only meeting that I attended to hear members call for Council to provide (cheap) car parking for their employees otherwise they wouldn’t be able to attract staff. Ah, the delights of free enterprise – get someone else to prop it up.

  9. Looks like the outcome with the carpark is really a compromise as is the case generally with anything political like in a democracy. An individual shift in thinking and behavior is needed to really reduce car parking or other poor outcomes. Many people act & vote out of ignorance. This blog & others have an important role for educating & debating this sort of stuff.

    This is a hard slog as one isolated area surrounded by poor walking/active or PT modes makes it hard for any particular area to start. Non convinced people don’t see the benefits in action. Areas with small great cycleways & urban planning are still few and far between with just the big length mainly commuter type ones that are complete.

    1. An individual shift in thinking and behaviour is half the story, Grant.

      We could get better outcomes if

      – big decisions about direction are made through Citizens’ Assemblies
      – the government provides education and also controls advertising of harmful products
      – all consultations use best practice and aren’t skewed to the status quo
      – decisions are made responsibly for our whole population and for the environment that sustains us, not for corporate interest, and
      – externalities are minimised through taxing pollution, carbon use and land use properly.

      Once all that’s in place, individuals’ good decisions are also the cheaper, easier decisions.

      1. Local consultation is unfortunately always going to be skewed towards the status quo because you end up consulting the people who are there now, and not the people who could be there if things changed.

        The Takapuna problem is that while the unitary plan sees it evolving into something different a large portion of the residents in the surrounding community are the same ones who fought to stop intensification and want to hold on to the town centre they have now and they controlled the thinking of the local board.

        Given the beach, the lake, the shops and cafes, the relatively good access to frequent PT to the city centre, there is good potential for Takapuna to transform into mostly medium rise residential development with a commercial heart that supports and feeds off that residential development. Its already happening through private developments on the northwestern edge of the town centre, Panuku tried to facilitate more rapid progression of it using the Council owned land to bring similar development to the core of the town centre.
        That type of transformation shouldn’t be a threat to business it just means they will need to gradually refocus from targeting the car based suburban customers (where they struggle to compete with the shopping malls) to targeting the increasing number of walk up customers that the new residential development will bring.

        However most of those potential new residents aren’t yet there to have a say on the decisions being made right now.

        1. Yes, this is important.

          I think the way forward would be for the Citizen’s Assembly approach to shape the broad direction. By agreeing on society’s goals, and finding broad solutions to meet those goals, intensification and reduction in car parking are likely to be understood for the solutions they are, and agreed to.

          Then local consultation becomes about how to implement the broad solutions locally, but cannot reverse the Citizen Assembly decisions. The views of people currently living locally can help shape how the place changes, but not whether it changes, and not whether the place can be developed to bring down the cost of living there.

      2. Heidi
        I am not sure that local public consultation will achieve a better result. When you look at the surveys of public opinion regarding climate change, the proportion who are changing their actions to reduce emissions is small and many are saying they will only change if someone (government) tells them to.
        I think we need a mechanism where emissions levels are set for the city and then each area is charged with playing their part. A European style SUMP should achieve this, but other options are possible.

        1. Public consultation and Stakeholder engagement are an extremely important part of the development process. I agree re concerns surrounding the usefulness of data that is obtained in some cases often it is junk. That is usually due to the methods in which data is obtained. If stakeholder engagement is done effectively it can significantly change a development for the good. Yes perhaps some stakeholders opinions should be given more attention than others. There are a number of methods and tools available that can help to classify the information received by the planners.

          Elbear made a good point regarding the engagement of the wrong group, often the *majority* of people who turn up to these engagement events are not the group you want to be prioritizing the most. The group you want to be speaking to the most is the 18-25 years as these are the hardest demographic to reach and are the ones who are more likely to be impacted by said development – even if just for a longer time frame. That goes to say this is not the only group to be engaged. A rigorous stakeholder identification process is needed right at the outset of the project.

          It’s naive to shrug of the opinions of others because experts supposedly know better. Often they don’t. The problem is that with planning and developments on a large scale such as this is that they have very long term effects (50+ years) on the built environment.

          Doing the proper thing now and ensuring you can tick as many boxes of those who will be around for the 50+ years lifespan of this site is a pretty important part of the planning process and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

    2. Grant, it’s a very poor compromise. One of the exits for the car park is onto Huron St that is the route for many of the buses arriving and departing Takapuna. Are we going to have peak hour buses stuck behind a line of cars trying to access the parking building?

      1. @johnwoodtakapuna.nz @Heidi @ Elbear @Sam Only just caught up on all these replies. All have good points. Certainly following or compromising to just majority opinion in consultations normally does result in a poor outcome.

  10. The Local Board chair saying:

    “It’s very satisfying that Panuku has agreed to keep the Anzac Street car park open for as long as possible to ensure that Takapuna has plenty of parking during the Hurstmere Road upgrade. With the new Gasometer car park also coming on stream soon, car parking in Takapuna will be in abundance.”

    This is the guy who campaigned on bringing “a fresh approach.” Ha ha!

  11. Which 18-25yr olds? No one in that age bracket can afford to buy there because of current housing and tax policy, as well as NIMBYism. Those at home with parents will be moving out to places they can afford (to rent).

    Any that do turn up will just get shouted down by the “Auckland 2040” crowd who’ll be lucky to make 2040.

    1. According to the 2018 Census for the Devonport-Takapuna local board area just over 1/3 of the population living in the area is under the age of 30.

      I don’t think its justification to ignore the views of this portion of the population because they might move out one day. This doesn’t change the fact that 1/3 of the population is under the age of 30 right there right now.

      At the same time people will continue to have children and raise a family in the area, just because they can’t afford to own a property doesn’t mean they don’t live in and interact with the space and shouldn’t have a say on the future development of the area.

      I used this area although it’s not Takapuna specifically, the surrounding suburbs are likely to have some interaction with Takapuna, just due to the very fact they live close by.

      More info here:

      1. Also you can make engagement events age specific if you have concerns of other people shouting over the top of them and not getting their opinions out. – you can run multiple events to capture many different specific views of the community as a whole then prioritise and categorise these views accordingly.

  12. $26 million for a 420-space parking structure. And how much will the fee be for parking there? A back of the envelope calculation suggests to me that at an interest rate of 3.5 per cent every space would need to earn $10-15 every day to pay back the capital. If that income is not realised, is this a subsidy from government to the businesses of Takapuna?
    On the one hand, as people go about their business in the big city it’s not the government’s job to find them a place to park any more than it’s the government’s job to pay for their cappucinos when they have a break.
    On the other hand, there may be good public policy reasons for government intervention to support the prosperity of targeted regional centres. In a commercial centre there may be good reasons for organising parking communally with one well sited structure, to avoid the inefficiencies of every business providing its own. But how much a subsidy should be is another question. Has it been considered in this project?

    1. Julian,
      that is just the interest cost but what about rates, cleaning, lighting, maintenance and security. If AT were correctly apportioning costs (as happens in the private sector) then the overhead from head office would be applied and I imagine that the daily charge would be $20.
      Remember that spaces on the previous car park were charged at $5 per day – a ratepayers gift to the business people of Takapuna.
      This sort of stuff is the very reason that AT shouldn’t own car parks.

  13. Tainui tradition states that Takapuna was the name of a spring in Hawaiiki (=Raiatea) and that it was given by the people of the Tainui canoe to a spring at Te Hau Kapua (Torpedo Bay, Devonport) in memory of the spring of that name in their homeland. While there are several possible meanings for ‘Taka’ in Māori, Takapuna is an ancient Tahitian name and in Tahitian taka means ‘falling’, consistent with the context of the ‘real’ Takapuna spring, which emerged from the escarpment behind the beach at the base of North Head. It was only after the arrival of Europeans that the word Takapuna was applied to the coastal district as far north as Lake Pupuke.

    1. The name of the original spring is Taapuna. It is near Papeete. Taa (which has become Taka in Māori) means to fall from a rock or high place in Tahitian (ie Falling spring).

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