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Massive mixed use regeneration proposed for prime waterfront land half way between the city and the airport

Quiz time. Guess which part of the city is being referred to

  • 20 June 2017
  • Author: Alistair Ray
  • Number of views: 185
Massive mixed use regeneration proposed for prime waterfront land half way between the city and the airport
Almost exactly half-way between the airport and the CBD – less than 10km to each.
Largely flat, or gently sloping, bounded on its southern edge by water, with several kilometres of water frontage (admittedly the water is to the south, but still, any views over water are now regarded as good from a real estate perspective).
An important part of the city’s historic fabric, with part of the site the location for what was once the city’s busiest port and working waterfront. 
Well served by rapid (non-road based) transit.
Also well connected by road, sitting right next to the city’s motorway network, including one of the city’s major water crossings.
Over 100 hectares of relatively low density employment (industrial, service and distribution) that does not really need to be next to the water, or utilises the rapid transit.

Can you guess where it is yet?
Given the above characteristics, it is perhaps no surprise that the area has been the subject of some major strategic planning exercises, and also no surprise that the conclusion is that the land is perfectly suited to a massive mixed use urban regeneration project! What? Are we making this up?

The project is described as follows:

Better Urban Planning?

  • 24 May 2017
  • Author: Graeme Scott
  • Number of views: 118
Better Urban Planning?
Not everyone loves cities.  This from travel writer Paul Theroux: “Cities look like monstrous cemeteries to me, the buildings like brooding tombstones.  I feel lonely and lost in the litup necropolis, nauseated by the traffic fumes, disgusted by the food smells, puzzled by the faces and the banal frenzy.”

I was reminded of this by a letter to the Herald a couple of months ago.  The writer complained about the new houses springing up around Auckland looking like over-scale sentry boxes pushed together, edging along streets barely spacious enough for cars, let alone decent sized trees.  

Her view is clearly at odds with the one most of us have as a way forward for the development of our cities, and yet she does have a point.  The intensive effort from the urban design community into the Unitary Plan in Auckland, which is now set to enable the vision she abhors, was necessarily restricted to a desirable built-form on private land.  The Unitary Plan is a prescribed instrument of the RMA; it could not have been otherwise.  The other supporting elements of the ‘quality compact city’ vision from the Auckland Plan were set aside while we grappled with the Unitary Plan beast.  

But we now need to focus on these supporting (or arguably fundamental) elements, and the top two in my book are public open space and public transport.  The quality compact city will fail if there’s no space for kids to play, for a big tree to grow, and when people have no realistic chance of reducing the number of cars in their household.

Getting this right takes money – lots of it – and while local governments of late have generally understood the needs of cities, the central governments assuredly have not.  It’s therefore encouraging to read the recently released final report from the Productivity Commission on Better Urban Planning.  It says “working well, cities are engines of economic prosperity”.  Quite a change from the ‘cities are just a drag on the agricultural economy’ sentiment of the last fifty years.

The report’s central theme is to create a new planning system to replace the RMA, and make a clear distinction between the management  of the natural and built environments.  It dwells extensively on marrying the provision of infrastructure (presumably including public transport) with urban development, and new funding mechanisms to achieve this. In doing so, it raises some ideas such as road-pricing, capturing the private land-value uplift resulting from public infrastructure investment for public good, and allowing local government to, in effect, sell increases in development rights. These are well-understood concepts in other parts of the world, but they’ve been summarily dismissed by central governments here up to now. 

Urban design gets a mention (on page 440!), where the Commission, after some predictably negative comments around the arbitrary and inconsistent application of urban design rules, notes that:

“Urban design assessments can be a valuable tool for enhancing the amenity of public spaces if they: 

• involve developers and designers in a collaborative process to find the best solution; 

• are proportionate in scope to the public amenity being considered; 

• take proper account of costs and benefits of alternative design proposals; an&

Auckland's Midtown Bus Route

Victoria Street Linear Park

  • 1 May 2017
  • Author: Duncan Ecob
  • Number of views: 213
Auckland's Midtown Bus Route
UDF recently responded to the AT consultation on the Mid Town Bus Route which has three options for the routes. 

The UDF response, below, calls for the retention of Victoria Street Linear park as one of the 2012 City Centre Masterplans Transformational Projects, and option 2 met this more clearly than the others.  Others have written about the Linear park most notably Generation Zero and Greater Auckland
and The Stuff

Sources tell us that over 1600 responses supported option 2.  We look forward to seeing the full response from AT in the very near future

As a central focus to the City Centre Masterplan, the concept of the Victoria Street Linear Park must be a significant element in deciding on the Midtown Bus route. The importance of the Linear Park to the burgeoning city centre as a place to do business, live, learn and play, for all ages from 8-80 must not be compromised. Only Option Two accommodates the concept of the Linear Park successfully.
Good urban design, as promoted by the Urban Design Forum, recognises the challenegs that need to be addressed and balanced in complex urban environments with a focus on high quality urban environemnts which are people focused. Linking Victoria and Albert Parks with an iconic public realm, the Linear Park will be one of the most important statements that the City can make about its citizens
         He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
        It is the people, it is the people, it is the people
The Linear Park will be a real and tangible declaration that Auckland takes the Te Aranga Principles of the Design Manual both seriously and as an embedded approach to all development that the Council is responsible for. Such a stament will have wide reaching effects well beyond the City Centre.
The Linear Park will bring significant value and benefits to the City Centre in many ways . It will provide economic opportunities to businesses in the immediate area through the 'sense of place' it will bring and provide the physical and mental health benefits to the new residents that the centre is attracting.  As an iconic walking experience it will also contribute to addressing air and water quality and by creating a good walking environment will attract more people which in turn benefits the businesses of the area.
We urge you to make the Linear Park the number one priority in deciding on the Midtown Bus Route.
There are other details I can pick up on such making all junctions more pedestrian focus (e.g. Oxford Circus London ) that all the bus facilities need to be safe, secure, accessible (ability, age and senses) plus informative and entertaining

and then specific detail e.g. as the Wellesley / Sale Street junction,

Will Thresher muses on transport and other issues

  • 4 April 2017
  • Author: Will Thresher
  • Number of views: 238
Will Thresher muses on transport and other issues
A few things that caught my interest over the last week or so. 
Bob Dey provided a heads up on the OECD’s state of the (environmental) nation review 
Having teased with this summary comment on the Urban Planning findings:
•         “broadening the scope of the national policy statement on urban development capacity to encourage good urban design outcomes & principles for sustainable urban development, …”
I was compelled to take a closer look at the document itself. The report discussions dense v. compact … and infrastructure ... (and urban planning a little bit).
It says: The review also looks at New Zealand’s fast-growing cities and suggests that a simpler urban planning system, less restrictive land-use regulations and better co-ordination between land, transport and infrastructure planning could help ease the pressure.
All of which made me curious - how were we doing with recent transport and infrastructure and planning - transport infrastructure in particular? 
A clutch of Transportblog stories helped enlighten me. 
On the subject of motorway infrastructure the Waterview tunnels shortly come into service however news that they will need light controls was a surprise , while perhaps the opportunity missed to provide continuous busways along SH16 was more predictable. Having said that, the urgent need for unanticipated SH20 widenings and local road improvements is another cause for at least mild astonishment - comments about the basis of running cost comparisons also make interesting reading. 
Miscalculations appear not to be limited to Auckland with Tauranga’s TEL provoking different questions.
On the enthusiastic adoption of (public) transport infrastructures (once provided) Auckland February public transport ridership is increasing beyond an average 200,000 bus and 70,000 rail boardings per day . How has your Mad March been?
What have we learned? Thinking about SH16 it has to be a concern if public transport connections are not optimised or created when transport links are at the planning stage. Looking at you NCI  and you EWL .
Good news that the need for a City Centre-Airport transit connection is

A curatorial architect: Sir David Adjaye

example of new typology for affordable housing?

  • 28 February 2017
  • Author: Stephen Olsen
  • Number of views: 319
A curatorial architect: Sir David Adjaye

Written on Thursday 16 Feb. 2017 - by Stephen Olsen

Of interest is the Sugar Hill, Harlem project that Adjaye Associates completed in 2012 and that has been lauded as a new typology for affordable housing.

The precast exterior, as chosen by the community, is tinted black and a local history of rose growing was borrowed from as the inspiration for a pattern of rose-like indentations on the outside walls to give a subtle light-shifting texture.

Adjaye explained that his approach to this remarkable multi-use vertical village for people at risk of homelessness was both site-specific but also a form of inclusive “city making”.



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