While we’re underwhelmed by the vision announced on Sunday of a roads first harbour crossing, far more interesting is the vision for the waterfront being pushed by Mayor Wayne Brown and the council that was released last week.
At a series of confidential workshops, council staff, independent advisors Flagstaff Partners, GHD Engineering and Eke Panuku discussed the draft findings of land release options for waterfront land.
The independent advisors and Eke Panuku presented a high-level preliminary feasibility study which identified the possible first stage of land release, redevelopment options and commercialisation opportunities.
“I want us to deliver to Auckland the most beautiful and loved publicly owned waterfront of any harbour city in the world, and this is a first step,” Mayor Brown said.
Stage one of the release would focus on the redevelopment of the central wharves – Queens Wharf, Captain Cook Wharf, Marsden Wharf, and the Hobson Wharf extension – for a mix of uses, activities and development with Bledisloe Wharf to follow in the not too distant future.
“I have strong public support for getting more public access to the harbour. By freeing up and developing these valuable waterfront spaces, we have an opportunity to create a world-class arts, culture and entertainment destination that celebrates our identity and evokes pride in Aucklanders.
“We can create an open space that interacts with the harbour with the potential for an urban beach or tidal pool where people can actually touch the water, while housing a water-based amphitheatre for maritime events and activities that will attract thousands of local and international visitors. It also has the potential for an international event and exhibition venue and a Te Ao Māori showcase centre, to celebrate our rich cultural heritage.
“I’m pleased with the progress made on this work so far, which is indicating that there is a pathway to return a portion of land back to public use within the next 2 to 5 years without undermining the Port operation, while delivering significant wellbeing benefits for Aucklanders.
The concepts include ideas like salt water swimming pools, a seaside amphitheatre and exhibition centre
Eke Panuku has been doing the initial work on conceptual plans and have released the presentation they gave to the council. As they highlight, the remaining port land is huge, about twice the total area as Wynyard Quarter, where the vision for it was first established in 2005 and is still expected to take another 10-15 years to complete. A lot will also depend on long term location of the port.
Given the size, Eke Panuku suggest it might take until 2060-2080 to fully develop. However it won’t happen all in one go and any redevelopment will start with the remaining finger wharves, which are also the ones closest to the city centre, being right across from Britomart. As noted in the release, it could be freed up in 2-5 years.
A few other interesting things from the presentation include that the pipeline of projects in the city centre could add around 640,000m² of office space, which is around a 42% increase on what we have now.
And that assuming a typical allocation of land towards public open space, we’d add about 16 Ha to Auckland’s waterfront.
Given past discussions, one thing Eke Panuku say this about the prospect of a stadium.
A city centre stadium would provide many benefits to the city.
But in order to realise these benefits, it needs to be based in the best location – not all city centre locations are equal.
We have concluded that none of the sites within port land are suitable.
All of this is of course only at a very early stage and a lot more detail needs to be worked though, not least of which is how the development will respond to climate change given most of the area would be subject to costal inundation with a 1.5m sea level rise.
The council and Mayor are saying there will be “a significant public consultation process before any further progress is made” but it’s great for the city to be able to have discussion about the vision for the future.