A herbal tea garden, beehives on roof spaces and laneways are among ideas for revitalising the Grey Lynn shopping centre where the community values are being challenged by gentrification and intensification.
"We don't want to be a McBrand. We want to be Grey Lynn. Bring on intensification and public transport but allow the shopping precinct to respond to that in a sustainable way," says Kris MacPherson, the author of a report on the shopping precinct.
The Grey Lynn shops, around the busy Great North Rd-Chinamans Hill intersection, have a gritty edge, Pacific heritage and arty vibe - a dynamic yet fragile environment.
Under the Auckland Plan, the area is listed as a "local centre" with low and medium density apartment buildings planned along Great North Rd and Surrey Cres.
With this in mind - the Auckland Council is beginning work on the rulebook to roll out the Auckland Plan - the Grey Lynn Business Association has prepared a document on the needs and high value of the shopping precinct.
It was produced after 4000 flyers and leaflets were circulated throughout the suburb and feedback that included pop-up meetings hosted by local businesses.
The Parnell community committee has prepared a similar document that, among other things, has nominated several roads that could be used for housing and community uses.
The Grey Lynn document highlights the values of the suburb and shopping centre, threats to the community and a number of initiatives it wants to work towards with the council.
Project chairman Nick Pinchin says "community" is at the heart of the proposal, but acknowledges the suburb's diverse mix of students, the elderly, Pacific Islanders and artists is under threat by soaring property values and gentrification.
Last year there was talk of closing the library and two years ago the Post Office closed in a storm of protest.
Mike Murphy, who opened Kokako Cafe & Roastery in the old Grey Lynn Post Office, says he was lured to the site because it was true to his values of sustainability, fair trade and community initiatives.
The 53-page document is full of images of community projects in other cities to show how the Grey Lynn shops could be transformed.
Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said the document was hugely helpful for the unitary plan process, which she is overseeing. "What they are doing is exactly what I'm hoping the unitary plan will do ... The last thing we need is a homogenous and grey one-size-fits-all Auckland.
"That would be unthinkable."
Plans for the shops
* Widening footpaths and building cycleways.
* Reducing traffic to a single lane and reducing speeds.
* Redesigning Chinamans Hill intersection.
* Creating laneways.
* Community gardens on roof spaces.
* Using Countdown carpark for a community market.
* Community-based review panel for new developments.