Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

City Centre Masterplan makes Auckland a hot option for residents

The central city is winning people over — Vaimoana Tapaleao reports.
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said the growth was good news not only for the city's development but for people too. Photo / Richard Robinson
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said the growth was good news not only for the city's development but for people too. Photo / Richard Robinson

Life in the heart of the city is increasingly becoming the hot option for many people in Auckland, with figures showing more than 5000 people moved right into the centre last year.

Auckland Council yesterday put out analysis of targets made four years ago in the City Centre Masterplan.

The targets look to improve a number of aspects in the city, such as creating more jobs, increasing retail sales, reducing crime and getting more people on public transport.

While reviewing the targets last year, it was found a staggering 5460 people had moved into the city centre - the aim was to get at least 1000 more people living downtown a year. There are now about 34,000 residents in the city centre.

Council design champion Ludo Campbell-Reid said people were being attracted to a place that was much "sexier" than 10 or 15 years ago.

"I remember arriving in 2006 and I felt the city was rather lacking in vibrancy. It was rather unattractive and it didn't feel like it had a real buzz.

"It got quiet at night and there were no good retail shops in Auckland - you couldn't get international brands - the public transport was poor and there was no waterfront.

"It's very different today. Auckland city is turning inside-out."

The council's plan is also measuring residents' perceptions of the city centre as "a great place to live" over five years. Although results for that have not yet arrived, Mr Campbell-Reid said more amenities, restaurants and being close to the office were making it a great place for residents.

"It's not just a place to work now, but a place to live and play too."

Dr Elizabeth Aitken-Rose, senior lecturer at the University of Auckland's School of Architecture and Planning, acknowledged the population growth as positive, but encouraged urban planners to make sure the city was ready for the influx.

Ensuring the hospital was big enough and drain and sewage systems were well planned was vital.

"This is the heart of the city and it's really good that it's reflected that ... it needs to be supported by really good infrastructure," she said.

"The city also needs to provide recreation spaces, like urban parks. I don't think we do that very well in Auckland ... [although] we have lots of wonderful regional parks."

Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said the growth was good news not only for the city's development but for people too.

Other analysis highlighted improving crime statistics, getting more people using public transport and getting international visitors to stay longer.

Crime figures showed a 20 per cent drop in 2014. In terms of public transport, the council wants more than 70 per cent of people commuting via public transport or as passengers in a car. When that target was measured last year, the percentage was 58.3 - up slightly from 56.6 per cent in 2014.

The average stay for an international visitor at commercial accommodation in the city was 2.25 nights. The council's aim by 2020 is for people to stay at least 2.2 nights.

- NZ Herald

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