Auckland has a fabulous natural setting, one of the best in the world. Unfortunately it is badly tarnished by poor planning, wasteful expenditure, and lack of vision. It is not a case of not enough money being spent - it is a case of too much ratepayers money being badly spent.
As an inner city apartment dweller for most of my 40 years in Auckland I have spent a lot of time thinking about solutions, and submitting various ideas to the Auckland City Council, especially during my time with the CBD Residents Advisory Group. Regrettably, in my view, City Council Planners are far better at ‘staging' consultations than in actually examining and implementing ideas that do not co-incide with their own!
I submit herewith a summary of these ideas for you to consider and then HAVE YOUR SAY.
CUP CENTRAL – PARTY CENTRAL
The Auckland governance and Party Central circus is providing another sad act in the drawn out saga of finalising plans for a fantastic World Cup in 2011.
Simple solutions to identified problems are almost always the best. One of the many problems with our politicians is that they have no concept of providing the best possible solution for the lowest possible cost. It is always our money they want to spend and always there is a large element of waste, often for very second rate solutions. Our politicians vision is limited to their own place in the ring and no one has a city and event wide grand plan.
QUEENS WHARF – a tragi comic farce!
The return of Queens Wharf to the people is a huge advance for Auckland. Now the infighting politicians are doing their best to destroy it. There is some good news in that most citizens want a fabulous people place and recognise that we cannot do this in time for the Rugby World Cup. The bad news is that the politicians have no idea of how to provide the facilities necessary.
Let us understand some realities:
Queens wharf will not provide the ideal Party Central location, whether it has revamped sheds, slugs, or wide open spaces. There is a lack of infrastructure in food and beverage and shopping outlets and anything provided now is going to be temporary in nature. The two cruise ships alongside will change the dynamics of the wharf. While those passengers will want a great time in Auckland they may not appreciate an all night party outside their portholes. Also the inherent dangers in having a large number of people, many intoxicated, in a venue surrounded by water on 3 sides are huge.
The current wharf sheds have no architectural or heritage value and should be demolished once the world cup is over and the ‘grand plan’ for Queens wharf has been decided. They can be tidied up to provide basic facilities for cruise ship passengers for the 2011/2012 cruise season including the World Cup. Food and beverage outlets and shops can still be available for people accessing those parts of the wharf which will still be open. A supplementary cup party can be held in one of the sheds with big screen provided. The tens of millions allocated by the ARC and Auckland City Council in their dying moments to renovate the sheds would be a huge waste of money.
If Queens Wharf is to be truly returned to the people and become an extension of Queen St it cannot contain a cruise ship terminal. Captain Cook Wharf is the ideal location for a purpose built cruise ship passenger terminal serving both sides of the wharf with the terminal doubling as an exhibition/event centre when not used for shipping. The wharf needs to be lengthened which can be done easily by using fill from Marsden wharf which Ports of Auckland wish to demolish to improve usage of Bledisloe Terminal.
The ferry basin between Queens and Princes Wharf is becoming congested with delays to ferry services at peak periods. This is inefficient and detracts from the attractiveness of the service. Congestion will increase as ferry services expand. Some of these ferry services need to be transferred to the eastern side of Queens Wharf. This is not compatible with the use of Queens wharf for a cruise terminal. Some of the larger cruise ships now turnover up to 5,000 passengers in a day plus embark huge amounts of stores. Considerable space is needed for service trucks and buses for efficient handling..
Quay St must be undergrounded from Commerce St to Hobson St and QE2 Square returned to the people prior to the world cup to make a fabulous waterfront ‘people’ precinct.
CUP CENTRAL – PARTY CENTRAL - The ideal location is Aotea Centre and Square.
** Almost all the facilities needed are already in place once the big screen already planned by the Auckland City Council is installed in Aotea Square. Very little investment is needed.
** There is a wide range of restaurants, food courts, bars, and accommodation in the area.
** The open area in front of the theatre centre will hold some thousands to watch the match outdoors and for an ongoing party afterwards. (Outdoor bands would need to cease at midnight)
** The Aotea Centre, Civic Theatre, Imax big screen, and maybe a revived St James Theatre lend themselves to exciting big game/big screen plus entertainment events for those who want to watch the game in a crowd setting in indoor comfort for a fee!
** Queen St from Mayoral Drive to Victoria St plus side streets within the area bounded by Mayoral Drive, Kitchener St, Victoria St, and Albert St should be blocked off for the World Cup opening weekend (9-11 September) plus semi and grand final period (14 to 23 October). The Queen St/Wakefield St intersection becomes part of Aotea Square. Wellesley St between Mayoral Drive and Albert St becomes a ‘night and day market and open air food court’ excluding the Queen St corridor. Queen St between the Town Hall and Victoria St becomes a street theatre and music venue. There are many other activities which creative minds can introduce including a performing stage in the natural ampitheatre of Myers Park, etc.
** AOTEA CENTRE becomes Cup Centre from the 7th September to 24th October housing full information services in all relevant languages manned by quality personnel and open from 7am to 10pm daily. It will also house a HISTORY OF NEW ZEALAND RUGBY display bringing the best information and artifacts from throughout the country and extensive HISTORY OF AUCKLAND and NEW ZEALAND DISCOVERED interpretive and (hopefully) interactive displays.
For the final 10 days there should be a
(a) Festival of New Zealand music in the Town Hall and outdoor venues
(b) Festival of New Zealand culture in the Aotea Centre
(c) Festival of Polynesian Culture – Indoor and outdoor venues
(d) Festival of New Zealand Art – Art Gallery
(e) Festival of New Zealand food and wine (adjacent restaurants, Aotea Centre, streets)
(f) Festival of New Zealand Film – Cinema Centre, Wintergarden, etc
(g) FESTIVAL OF CULTURE FEATURING CULTURES OF ALL NATIONS PARTICIPATING IN THE WORLD CUP – Aotea Square and Viaduct Harbour precincts.
SUPPLEMENTARY ACTIVITIES CAN STILL BE HELD AT QUEENS WHARF/BRITOMART PRECINCT AND IN THE VIADUCT HARBOUR AND EVENTS CENTRE/GATEWAY PLAZA AREAS, EACH WITH A DIFFERENT THEME.
The use of the Aotea Centre and Square as Cup Central will greatly minimise transport problems.
Trains can still be used as primary transport for those going downtown. A totally free flowing transport service from Eden Park to the Town Hall can be provided before and after the main matches by blocking New North Road from Sandringham Road and diverting normal traffic across Bond St. Cup traffic can be provided with a free run between Eden Park and the Town Hall. An absolute must is an underpass under Karangahape Road as a legacy provision for all New North Rd, Sandringham Rd, and Dominion Rd buses. Transit time from Eden Park to the Town Hall will be 6 minutes. 100 buses can move around 20,000 fans per hour.
The introduction of the “Supermaxx” transport system (see www.supermaxx.co.nz) would provide a world leading public transport system with its totally integrated and highly economical Super City wide transport service which can be introduced within 6 months.
Auckland Transport Consultancy Phones (09) 309 1831 Mobile: 021 174 9588
There are two long term issues with the Auckland CBD
1. IMAGE, AMBIENCE, ENVIRONMENT, LIVEABILITY.
Call it what you will it is the enjoyment people get out of living/working/playing/shopping in a particular area. How attractive is the CBD to Aucklanders? How good is the image we present to visitors?
How easy and efficient is the movement of people and goods around the area?
How good are the basic services such as water, waste disposal, power, etc?
Unfortunately many parts of Auckland's CBD are unpleasant, polluted, and dysfunctional. It does not have to be like this!
In December 2006 I put together a major ‘Grand Plan' for the CBD at the time of the Stadium debate to make it a more liveable and functional area. The basic elements were these.
I believe the best solution for a long term fabulous facility was to build a covered in stadium with 45,000 permanent and another 15,000 temporary seats in the wasteland behind the old Railway Station on Beach Rd. The current student accommodation would have been demolished. The main Railway station would have been a fabulous, iconic, highly functional grand entrance to the stadium. The eastern end would basically be a glass wall facing out to Judges Bay and Rangitoto (used for temporary seating for the World Cup). The stadium would be attached to Vector Arena and I believe there is space to put the best Exhibition/conference facility in the Southern Hemisphere on the Quay Street side, along with a 4 or 5 star hotel, and Aquatic New Zealand Olympic swimming facility at the Eastern End. Possibly also to put an all weather tennis facility at the South eastern end in an area which would probably be used for temporary seating for the Rugby World Cup. The whole complex would have been managed and marketed as one facility lending itself to a huge variety of major events.
The facade of The Strand side would have been student accommodation to replace that currently behind the Railway station, offices, and maybe a 3 star hotel. These facilities would have provided ongoing revenue to cover the operating costs of the total facility. Entry/Exits and transport facilities would be on ground level with entry/exits to the stadium on all 4 sides and a grand walkway from the eastern end to Tamaki Drive, and western end to CBD. A 100-200 metre wide pedestrian plaza would have been built above the transport and service facilities on the South, East, and West sides for free flow of the public at all times and with entry/exit gates. Some food and beverage outlets would be provided and the plaza on the eastern side would be high enough for people to have a view over the Container terminal and harbour.
A railway station would have been built on the Eastern Line under the eastern side of the stadium. The Southern Line would have been diverted from Parnell Rise across Stanley St, under Albert Park to Victoria St, over Queen St, and under Albert St to Britomart. The current rail overbridge on Parnell Rise would have become a walkway from an adjacent station directly into the stadium.
I still think that was the best solution however we now have Eden Park well on the way to completion and this was certainly the second best option.
Transport planning is crucial to the success of the World Cup and other major sporting fixtures. It is actually quite simple and a large number of people can be moved quickly by closing New North Rd and Ian McKinnon Drive and diverting New North Road traffic across Bond St to and from Great North Road. This would allow free flowing bus travel from Eden Park along Sandringham and New North Roads, Ian McKinnon drive, under Karangahape Rd (see below) and down Queen St to Mayoral Drive and a bus terminus area on Queen St just above the Town Hall. Queen St should be blocked off from the Town Hall to Victoria St. This is a vastly better 'party central' area than Queens wharf.
The car parks at Eden Park should be used full time as parking linking to Supermaxx services to the CBD for older people who do not want the hazards and costs of driving and parking in the inner city and with major safe cycle holding areas. Most of the surrounding suburbs are reasonably flat and totally suitable for cycle commuting without facing the hazards and hills of the inner city.
Finally Queens Wharf has been brought back into public ownership. The competition for the design of what to put on it was a fiasco. Many of the design issues have centred around the need for a Passenger ship terminal on Queens Wharf. HOWEVER an alternative to ensure that Queens Wharf is truly a people place should be considered. Ports of Auckland have suggested demolishing Marsden wharf to allow better use of the Bledisloe terminal and this makes good sense. It would free up Captain Cook wharf to develop a cruise ship passenger terminal servicing both sides of the wharf. A relatively simple, modern, exciting, and highly functional structure could be built, which would be available for functions when not required for cruise ships. As this wharf is shorter than Queens wharf a mooring dolphin would probably have to be built off the end of the wharf but this is not a major issue. Alternatively the wharf could be extended using fill from a demolished Marsden Wharf. Captain Cook wharf is still close to Queen St and QE2 (Hillary) Square. The provision of a passenger ship terminal is actually the responsibility of Ports of Auckland as they get the revenue from berthage.
The terminal could incorporate a massive statue of Captain Cook and Kupe at the northern end as welcoming figures to all visiting ships. A museum of their voyages should be contained in the terminal.
In any case the development of Captain Cook and Queens wharves must be considered together and will only be truly effective in raising New Zealand's stakes as a world leading city providing Quay St is undergrounded from Gore or Commerce St to Hobson St linking to Hillary Square (Currently "QE2" Square -see below)..
The current facilities for major cruise ships berthed at Queens Wharf are an insult to our guests, and basically unworkable, particularly when up to 3,000 passengers are being changed over in a day. If it is determined that the Passenger terminal should be built here the western half or two thirds of the wharf should be a pedestrian plaza beyond what is needed for ferry terminal expansion. Limited food and beverage outlets would be provided. The western half would be a 2 -3 story complex with the ground floor providing baggage facilities for cruise ships and available for cars, bananas, and whatever when no passenger ships are in port. The 2nd floor would provide customs and boarding facilities and retail outlets when used as a passenger terminal and be available for functions, entertainment, exhibitions at other times. The floor above that could be used for convention and exhibition centre, retail, hotel, etc HOWEVER the harbour end of each floor must be available to the public at most times with the harbour end of the top available to the public at all times. The roof must be an open park available to the public at all times. (See the Yokohama Passenger Ship terminal for a fabulous example).
QUAY STREET must be undergrounded as soon as possible from Gore or Commerce Sts to Hobson St to provide free flow pedestrian access between Queen St, "QE2" (Hillary?) Square, Queens Wharf, ferry terminal, and the Viaduct Basin. (Blake Harbour?).
An absolute disaster area, as I pointed out it would be at a meeting of Heart of the City and City Council back when Britomart was just a hole in the ground!! What should be a prime people place has been reduced to a congested, dysfunctional, bus station! My suggestion for this area was to build a glass atrium out from the Downtown Shopping Mall, height at least 10 metres above the Westfield Mall roofline for natural backlight, across two thirds of the square to about where the eastern side of the current road is and from Galway St (to be pedestrian only from Commerce St) to Quay St. Filled with greenery, fountain, performing stage etc, and with the Westfield Food Court extended out on a balcony into the Atrium it would be a fabulous, all weather, facility open from 6am to 11pm weekdays, 8am - midnight Saturdays and 9am - 8pm Sundays providing all weather very pleasant access from Queen St to the ferries, Viaduct (Blake) harbour etc. Views of the iconic old Post Office would be enhanced.
I suggest "QE2" Square be renamed HILLARY SQUARE with a statue of Sir Edmund on the Customs St side which must have an information centre on his life, expeditions, and work in the Himalayas and the facility to contribute to the Himalayan Trust. This of course could only be with the agreement of the Hillary family.
I believe the Viaduct Basin should be renamed BLAKE HARBOUR with the old Tourism Information centre turned into an information centre on Sir Peter Blake, his expeditions, Americas Cup activity, and environmental concerns. The Americas Cup boats should be linked to this with the upper level being available as a viewing platform onto the boats.
QUEEN ST/CUSTOMS ST INTERSECTION.
For a free flowing city build a 4 lane overpass on Customs St with a 3-4 metre high walkway underneath from Queen St to "QE2:" (Hillary) Square. (Forget clunky concrete overpass - think the Punga natural effect, or crystal glass light effect!)
There is room in the lanes currently on both sides of Queen Sts for bus stops associated with Britomart.
Queen St from Fort St to Customs St should have the footpaths widened and two thirds of the street length used for service vehicles and short term angle parking. All traffic should be diverted from Queen to Customs via Fort St to Commerce Streets for traffic turning left across the overpass and along Fort St to the Beach Rd/Britomart intersection for traffic turning right.
The Customs St end of Gore St should be blocked off. The western side of Gore St used for service vehicle parking - the eastern side used for short term angle parking.
FREE FLOWING TRAFFIC AND PEDESTRIANS FROM ALBERT STREET TO BEACH ROAD!
SWANSON ST/SHORTLAND ST/FORT ST
Tens of millions of dollars have been wasted on giving the lower half of Swanson St a freshen up without in any way making it more functional. My suggestion to the City Council Planners while in the CBD Residents Advisory group was to remove the steps and make Swanson St a continuous walkway from Queen St to Albert St. It should have a glass roof, hanging plant baskets, and food and small shop outlets on each side for an all weather and fun major arterial pedestrian way between Queen and Albert Streets. Traffic would have been banned from upper Swanson St between Mills Lane and Albert St and Mills Lane intersection be left turn only in and out - at least during peak traffic periods.
Towards the top of Upper Swanson would have been access to an underground shopping mall under Albert St to the far side. Under that would be space for a train station. MOST OF THE COST OF THE UNDERGROUND MALL AND SPACE FOR A TRAIN STATION COULD BE PAID BY THE DEVELOPER OF THE ALBERT ST/SWANSON ST NEW DEVELOPMENT IN RETURN FOR RESOURCE CONSENTS AND THE RIGHT TO RENTS FROM THE MALL FOR SAY 20 YEARS. Part of the cost should have been provided by the Stamford as part of their resource consents for their new apartments.
The BANK OF NEW ZEALAND should be actively encouraged to provide a covered pedestrian BNZ walkway from lower Swanson St across Queen St to Shortland St and through the first floor of their new complex (via a shopping mall and retail banking centre!) to the north side of Fort St.
EXCITING FUNCTIONAL DEVELOPMENT DOES NOT HAVE TO COST RATEPAYERS HUGE SUMS OF MONEY - IT DOES NEED CREATIVE THINKERS!
WYNDHAM STREET/QUEEN STREET
The lower part of Wyndham St should be blocked off to make a pleasant pedestrian garden space 3-4 metres above Queen St stretching back into Wyndham St. A greenstone water wall from the pedestrian space to Queen St would be attractive. The northern side of Wyndham St would be used for service vehicles parking, the southern side for short term angle parking.
The ASB and BOND and BOND should be encouraged to provide a covered walkway from the pedestrian space across Queen St (and possibly through to High St) for a FREE FLOWING city.
VICTORIA/QUEEN ST INTERSECTION
CENTREPOINT IS THE ANSWER!!
Build an exciting covered all weather pedestrian plaza above the intersection with escalator access in line with Queen St on both sides and using the fall of Victoria St into the intersection to provide ramp access on both sides of Victoria St for disabled and those who do not like escalators. The centre of the plaza would be a high quality coffee shop with lounge seating around the outsides.
CENTREPONT WOULD QUICKLY BECOME THE PREMIER MEETING PLACE IN AUCKLAND WITH FABULOUS VIEWS UP AND DOWN QUEEN ST FROM K ROAD TO THE WATERFRONT AND ON VICTORIA ST FROM SKYTOWER TO ALBERT PARK.
FREE FLOWING CITY. At worst the pedestrian phase of the traffic lights would be removed. Victoria St could possibly be made left turn only into and out of Queen St and you have done away with another set of traffic lights for a free flowing city.
VICTORIA/ALBERT ST INTERSECTION
We missed the train on the Albert St/Swanson St intersection. Let's make sure we do not do it again. As a requirement for any resource variation for the tower to be built on the old Royal International site it should be required that a 2 level structure be built under this intersection BY THE DEVELOPER AT NO COST TO THE CITY! The upper level would be a pedestrian walkway and shopping mall with letting rights to the developer. The lower level would be a train station. Cost of fitting it out as a train station would belong to the ARC/ARTA.
HIGH STREET/LORNE STREET
These should be blocked to traffic from 11am to 4pm and 6pm to 11pm and local businesses allowed to expand tables, stalls, etc onto the road.
QUEEN STREET/KARANGAHAPE ROAD INTERSECTION A two level underpass should be built on Queen St under Karangahape Road for free flowing traffic and a bus lane through Queen St to Ian Mckinnon Drive - an important part of the Supermaxx transport network. The lower level would have 4 lanes of through traffic. The Upper Level would carry 2 lanes of traffic from Queen St to Karangahape Road westbound. TYraffic would no longer be permitted to turn right from K Road to Queen St but can easily access upper Queen St via City Rd or Wakefield St.
VIADUCT (BLAKE) HARBOUR
Some fabulous designs were exhibited recently for an opening bridge from Te Whero Island towards the Tank farm HOWEVER FOR A FREE FLOWING CITY THERE SHOULD BE NO BRIDGE AT THIS LOCATION!! Te Whero Island is a great people place to get close to the boats, for free shows, etc. The eastern viaduct is a busy working waterway for charter and fishing vessels. Neither pedestrians nor vessels are served by a bridge which will disrupt the free flow of either. A bridge should be built on a line from Custom St East to Madden St. It could be fixed and high enough to accommodate large motor vessels. Sufficient yacht berths could be provided on the seaward side of the bridge.
Development of the Tank Farm should proceed as quickly as possible.
The park at the seaward end with a raised large grassy cone to relax on and watch the passing parade of boats is brilliant. I believe the space at the South end of the park should have housed an iconic art gallery - especially featuring New Zealand and Polynesian Art, at least 3 times the size of the current Art Gallery, a Polynesian Institute and Performing arts centre, Fish Market, Farmers Market, Superyacht berths, Maritime Institute and commercial fishing area, as well as some apartments and offices.
The foregoing are some of my ideas to make Auckland a WORLD LEADING CITY. I WOULD LIKE TO ADVOCATE THEM WITHIN THE AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL.
What do you think?
HAVE YOUR SAY