Council planning is routinely the subject of intense debate and no little politicking. Often, this leads to myriad twists and turns and the possibility that the outcome will satisfy no one. The Britomart transport terminal, which celebrates its 10th birthday tomorrow, proves, however, that this need not be the case. Its success provides lessons that should never be overlooked.
Britomart started life as a monster scheme, with a vast commercial property development, underwritten by ratepayers, attached to the delivery of trains to downtown Auckland. This was never embraced by Aucklanders largely because of its sheer scale. What finally emerged during the mayoralty of Christine Fletcher was a more realistic "baby Britomart".
Not only was the project opened on time but much of the hoped-for urban regeneration around it transpired. The Britomart precinct boasts not only shops, offices and apartments but restaurants and pubs that vie with those at the Viaduct Basin.
The station itself has more than proved its worth, with a sixfold increase in the number of commuters passing through it each day. Importantly, it was also future-proofed, so that it will become a through station under the planned City Rail Link.
Clearly, this is an example of a council getting most things right after a number of false starts. The final choice was development on a human scale. In Britomart, at least, that gives Auckland something in common with the world's best cities.