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Council green lights bold, new city centre plans

Published: 30 November 2018
Queen Street will become further pedestrianised with the introduction of Light Rail and public spaces

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Council green lights bold, new city centre plans.

Auckland Council’s Planning Committee unanimously voted for an innovative concept that paves the way to further pedestrianise Queen Street. One of three bold new proposals discussed today, Queen Street – Access for Everyone will further develop Auckland’s city centre into a vibrant public space for people.

Mayor Phil Goff says Access for Everyone will revolutionise the way Aucklanders and visitors experience and do business in our city.

“Today we discussed bold new steps for Auckland and Aucklanders. Pedestrianising Queen Street and introducing generous pedestrian-friendly areas within the historic Queen Street valley will return precious city centre space to our people," he says.

"We need to create places that people love, that improve accessibility, livability and economic viability – Queen Street will become a premier destination."

“Making Queen Street and adjoining streets a pedestrian and public transport zone underpins our desire to put people at the heart of our city centre and waterfront transformation. It is what a world-class city would do. As Mayor of Auckland, it is what I want to do.

“Access for Everyone is a bold step in the right direction. It is a creative urban design approach to complex challenges that will unlock the potential of one of New Zealand’s most iconic streets; it will transform Queen Street, High Street and others in the vicinity into a pedestrian haven with desirable destinations that people will enjoy and explore, allow businesses to prosper and provide a pathway to our beautiful waterfront.”

Two new concepts were also adopted for further development and public consultation by the Planning Committee, with a view to seek committee approval by July 2019. These include:

Maori Outcomes

As the world’s largest Māori city, Māori design has helped shape Auckland’s sense of place. Led by the Mana Whenua Kaitiaki Forum, Te Ao Māori, cultural practice and identity will be incorporated within the planning of the city centre.

Grafton Gully Boulevard

This focuses on the lower part of Grafton Gully; the vision is to create a new tree-lined boulevard to build greater connection and access to the port area and eastern suburbs. It will also improve road safety as well as better walking, cycling and public transport connections.

In addition, new recommendations were raised and agreed for further development that will add pace and respond to Aucklanders desire to see action and progress:

  • Trials and “tactical urbanism” initiatives to test and consult on the three new concepts – Access for Everyone, Grafton Gully Boulevard and Māori Outcomes
  • Trial ‘Open Streets’ initiative in the city centre and work with interested local boards to trial in other town centres
  • Consider an indicative programme of a rolling review of the City Centre Masterplan by July 2019; ensuring the development to the programme and vision is undertaken collaboratively across the council family and with external stakeholders.

Chair of the Planning Committee, Councillor Chris Darby says Auckland is changing rapidly, and we must accelerate the shift from a drive-through city centre, to a go-to city centre – and sooner, rather than later. 

“Today’s new ideas are bold and exciting, evolved from work already underway, that will take us into the future, shaping our city for the next 20 years. To really get things moving, we’ve endorsed the use of trials and tactical urbanism as a way of testing and consulting on some initiatives.

“The Planning Committee have requested trials of ‘Open Streets’ in the city centre, and to work with interested local boards on trials in other town centres. A trial will test an idea in a real-time environment – imagine a closed section of Queen Street and creating a welcoming place for people who can easily access all that it has to offer. We need to address the rapidly changing face of retail.  Food and beverage is now the new fashion on our high streets; imagine summer in the city with our streets thriving with people, sitting, talking and interacting, all while small businesses flourish. 

“We’ve heard ideas today that will create better public spaces, and healthier places too – Queen Street air quality is massively affected by emissions from vehicles.

"Access for Everyone has the potential to create the cleanest air of any city in the world.  That is significant. "

Access for Everyone concept
Image credit: LandLAB

“Today’s new City Centre Masterplan 2040 recommendations are fresh and stretch our thinking to consider what’s possible for Auckland in 20-30 years’ time. We don’t know all the details yet, but we now have a plan that will help with getting ahead of Auckland’s rapid growth.”

Auckland’s Design Champion and General Manager of the Auckland Design Office, Ludo Campbell-Reid says today’s new concepts have been co-created with a number of external partners and the community, to help reclaim our city for people.

“The Mayor and the Planning Committee tasked the Auckland Design Office to turn our city centre development challenges into opportunities for future growth. They asked us to be courageous and bold. How do you create a city centre that is running out of space, into a more accessible, more attractive and more prosperous place? Our City Centre Masterplan and vision created in 2012 still stands strong, today we’ve added new ideas that enhance it and are globally groundbreaking in their urban design thinking.   

For example, Queen Street - Access for Everyone concept will make Auckland’s renowned main street the most accessible place in the whole of New Zealand.

What’s happening now – transforming downtown Auckland

The current phase of regeneration is now underway – over the next 10 years Aucklanders will see a series of important city-centre and waterfront developments to reconfigure our Auckland’s waterfront into a more people-centric destination. 

Development will pick up pace quickly over the next two-three years to transform Auckland’s downtown areas on Quay Street, lower Queen Street and the waterfront in time for the America’s Cup.

The programme timeline to transform downtown Auckland is ambitious, and your input will help us get things right.

Through November and December, we will be popping up at different locations and events downtown where you can talk to us and see where we are up to with the Downtown Programme.

Visit AT.govt.nz/downtown for more information.