The British and Irish Lions didn't manage to clinch the test series, but it was a close run thing in Auckland on 8 July 2017. The arrival of the 20,000 fans in the city certainly added to the vibrancy and activity of the streets and squares with 'pop-up' fan zones, bars and restaurants adding to the excitement. An indicator of how major events can affect the perception of a city.
For NZ urban Design a more relevant sporting event and result was the winning of the Americas Cup. This has the potential to change the face of Auckland and boost the economy by over half a billion NZ dollars. The first time the cup was in Auckland, in 2000, it led to the regeneration of the Viaduct Basin in a mixed use quarter of homes, entertainment, retail and employment. It is has proved to be a relatively successful model for the regeneration of the city and its suburban centres as the 'quality compact city' that the Auckland Unitary Plan aspires to. And the cities design teams haven't been slow in spotting the opportunities that such an event would offer. The local free 'urban' magazine Paperboy ran an article with eight design companies exploring these opportunities.
Whilst most of these are based on the Waitemata Harbour, other city infrastructure would benefit from further investment, in particular a light rapid transit network that includes linking the city centre to the airport. Currently this is a hit and miss coach service too often caught up in the congestion of the city. A recent government report has said it should happen, but put a 30 year time span on it, a ridiculous length of time considering the city will be pushing a population of 2.5 million by that time. Added to that the Airport has its own expansion plans during that period to have a second runway and over 40 million passenger per year and becoming a key employment hub of 90,000. The opportunities that such a movement system would bring through Transit Orientated Design and intensification of the city's southern suburbs seems to good to miss. A multi-agency approach will be needed to grasp these opportunities so that schools, health and other community infrastructure is planned alongside new homes, places to work and the regeneration of the suburban centres turning them into the beating hearts of the neighbourhoods they serve rather than the bland retail centres many are.
In an election year we wait to see if any of the political parties have the foresight to take the lead in promoting long term sustainable development that addresses the economy, social equality, environmental quality and cultural opportunity, easing the growing pains of the city.