High Street businesses are embracing the second phase of a pilot project which is creating more space for pedestrians.
The project, which is a collaboration between the local community, Heart of the City and Auckland Council, is part of a trial which aims to create a safer and more vibrant environment for people by reallocating street space.
Covering the area from Vulcan Lane to Durham Street East, stage two sees a wider footpath installed on the west side of the street and designated loading zones on the east side of the street.
Unity Books Co-Owner/Manager Jo McColl is delighted with the project.
“We’ve been waiting for all the extra room for our book-loving customers to stare at our beautiful windows without jostling for space,” she says.
“I’ve been here 31 years and it feels like the city is returning High Street to the original community pride that we used to have.”
Trainers Manager Beau Jeffries says while he was initially apprehensive about the changes, he was proven wrong.
“I was sure lots of our customers parked near our store, so I was dubious about the impact of having fewer car parks outside,” he says.
“Then immediately, the first day of having wider footpaths, we had people come into the store who had walked past every day without noticing us. Suddenly people had more room to look at what was around them; they could stop without somebody bumping into them.
“I was happy to be proven wrong.”
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says since the High Street pilot was launched in October last year the streetscape improvement trials have been highly successful, receiving strong support from the public, inner-city residents and business owners.
“The upgrades have widened the footpaths and helped rebalance the street towards people rather than vehicles, making it a more pleasant place to spend time in for pedestrians and people shopping and dining in the area.
“Thank you to the business owners, members of the public, Heart of the City and others who have supported this trial and provided feedback to help make it work.”
The High Street pilot is also exploring how rubbish can be managed in the area to reduce the overall impact to the environment, with a shared waste bin being trialled in the street. The existing mobility carpark in the street will be retained through the pilot project.
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck says this is a really positive project.
“It proves the benefit of collaboration and given it’s a trial it’s a good way to test changes in the street without major investment or disruption,” she says.
“And best of all it shows off what a special place High Street is.”