Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Auckland Plan: From car-choked grid to vibrant heart

In Part 3 of our look at Auckland's Draft Plan, we find the central area is to be transformed into a pedestrian paradise

Artist Impression of Victoria Street West looking down toward Queen Street and Albert Park. Photo / Supplied
Artist Impression of Victoria Street West looking down toward Queen Street and Albert Park. Photo / Supplied

Removing vehicles in favour of people lies at the heart of the draft masterplan for the city centre.

City planners want to reduce the 34,385 vehicles that come into the city each weekday morning by 500 a year over the next 30 years.

They envisage a fourfold increase in rail commuters, a near doubling in bus patronage and a third more people using ferries.

This follows a "public realm health check" by the Danish firm of Gehl Architects, which found Auckland had all the goodies to be a great city but had become a "mini Los Angeles".

Mayor Len Brown says the city centre needs to perform well and be internationally competitive to attract investment, but it also needs to attract skilled people and retain talented Aucklanders.

"The primary reason people move to places, or choose to remain where they are, is the quality of life a place offers.

"To thrive economically, Auckland's city centre must provide a living working and investment environment that is second to none," he said.

Here are 10 projects that aim to do just that in the draft plan:

QUAY ST BOULEVARD

A $40 million project to boulevard Quay St from Hobson St to Britomart Place by limiting vehicles to local traffic, service vehicles and cruise ship-related activity. Most traffic diverted to Customs St. As the port consolidates, the wharf area beyond the Red Fence will become recreational space. Rain gardens to act as stormwater filters.

LOWER HOBSON ST

Remove the lower Hobson St flyover to create a plaza outside the refurbished Tepid Baths and laneways in the area. The downtown carpark, with some of the best harbour views, could be redeveloped with shops, cafes and restaurants at ground level and some carparking.

HOBSON AND NELSON STS

These busy feeder roads to and from Spaghetti Junction could become two-way "dignified urban city streets" with fewer road lanes, landscaped wider footpaths and improved pedestrian and cycling access from Freemans Bay, Ponsonby and further out west. New SkyCity convention centre on Hobson St could act as a catalyst for the street's transformation.

QUEEN ST

Pedestrian traffic has increased 25 per cent since a $43.5 million revamp in 2007. Now there is talk of malling parts of Queen St, starting with temporary road closures for specific events, then at lunchtimes and weekends. This could be followed by a rollout of "shared spaces" similar to Elliott St. There is also talk of providing light rail up Queen St in the long term.

KARANGAHAPE RD

A plan is envisaged for this edgy street on the city ridgeline for when a station is built in Beresford Sq, just off Pitt St, on the inner city rail link. K Rd could accommodate 962 additional dwellings and 2300 more workers with an estimated 30,000 rail trips a day. The idea is to retain its character, colour and vitality.

VICTORIA ST GREEN LINK

A $40 million plan to turn Victoria St into a "green link" from Albert Park to Victoria Park with fewer lanes for traffic, slower speeds, wider footpaths and landscaping.

The masterplan says it could become one of the "postcard images" of Auckland with a wave of green vegetation pouring down Victoria St from Albert Park.

STANLEY ST

One of the more radical ideas is to build a lid across Grafton Gully and Stanley St to improve the connection between the city and Auckland Domain. It comes with the possibility of tennis and basketball courts, five-a-side pitches and a covered swimming pool.

GREEN RAMP

Turning the abandoned Nelson St off-ramp into a park connected to a new walkway-cycleway, much like New York's High Line - a park built on abandoned railway lines above the streets of Manhattan. It could be linked to the Hopetown St bridge and become part of the wider cycle network.

HOUSING

A shift away from the thousands of "chicken coop" apartments dominated by young people to well-designed, family-size apartments. Wynyard Quarter could house up to 5000 residents, high-value apartments near Victoria Park Market and family-oriented living in Newton. Little said about affordable housing.

CHILD-FRIENDLY CITY

There is little for the 2000 children currently living in the city with a survey showing 92 per cent were unable to have a pet. Plans for new parks, minimum standards for family housing, a new primary school and possibly a new secondary school.

CITY ASSUMPTIONS

* Between 128,000 and 157,000 workers in the city and 44,000 residents by 2032.

* Growth in demand for family housing over next 20 years.

* Inner-city rail link by 2019.

* International convention centre within five years.

* Cruise-ship terminal on Queens Wharf for next 20 years.

* New harbour crossing not built until after 2032.

* Rail to the airport within 20 years.

* Port will develop largely on current footprint.

- NZ Herald

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