A beachfront walking and cycling path from Takapuna to the Auckland Harbour Bridge has been proposed as a way of restoring public use of 4km of Shoal Bay lost to a motorway coast grab.
Garth Falconer, of Reset Urban Design, said such a path could connect Takapuna to downtown Auckland via the proposed Skypath project to open the harbour bridge to pedestrians and cyclists.
It would also give a view of the harbour across to the city centre.
"It's a glaringly massive opportunity to restore a 4km length of inner Waitemata Harbour waterfront - the same length as the Auckland CBD waterfront - which is virtually a no man's land and is highly modified.
"Its ecology is marginal and much of it is not accessible.
"We could change that by restoring the Sulphur Beach and the City of Cork Beach which were destroyed to create the Northern Motorway and Esmonde Rd which severed Barrys Pt peninsula.
"It's been hugely mucked around since 1959 and now with the additional harbour-crossing studies showing more road widening and no mitigation for the public's loss, it's more of the same."
Mr Falconer said that regardless of any additional crossing or Skypath going ahead there was an opportunity for a walkway, a better ecological habitat for birds in the upper reaches of Shoal Bay and a marina park at Northcote as a hub of activity.
Mr Falconer presented his idea to the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board last week. Chairman Chris Darby said the designer's work was not commissioned, but was welcome and supported.
"It is in tune with what local communities have told us they value," he said.
Tomorrow, Mr Falconer will present his plan for retrieving the Shoal Bay waterfront to the Kaipatiki Local Board which covers the western side of the motorway.
Chairwoman Lindsay Waugh said it would be a popular attraction and enable people to enjoy "one of the best vantage points for spectacular city views."
The project is on a similar scale to the Onehunga foreshore restoration on the Manukau Harbour.
Auckland Council Parks has resource consent and $28 million for a reclamation which will create new park land, several sandy beaches and a boat ramp.
This seeks to fulfil the promise made 30 years ago by the NZ Transport Agency to mitigate for routing the motorway through the area.
Restoring Shoal Bay waterfront
* Pedestrian and cycle link from Takapuna to central Auckland
* Rebuild Sulphur Beach and City of Cork Beach.
* Protect shell banks bird habitat and create a habitat at Onewa interchange.
* Enhance and extend native vegetation.
* Investigate a more dense residential area next to Shoal Bay.
* Improve pedestrian links between public open space.