Auckland city centre’s revitalised public spaces will be ready to enjoy from this summer, despite the setbacks from COVID-19 on construction, Auckland Council announced today.
Construction teams are working hard to make up for lost time as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown period and restrictions and budget constraints.
“The delays from COVID-19 and the financial impacts of the Emergency Budget have been very challenging but Auckland Council and our construction partners are working hard to transform our city centre and deliver for Aucklanders new safer and relaxing public spaces to enjoy this summer,” says Councillor Chris Darby, Chair of the Planning Committee.
“The people of our city have been demanding for many years a city that is fit for the future and one that they can be proud of. Our new public spaces, together with the wider city centre transformations, will help deliver just that and inject an exciting new vibrancy into the city."
“More than half of all Aucklanders live or work in or visit the central city at least once a month which highlights the importance of making it a people focussed place, and developing it now so it can withstand our city’s future growth.”
Many of the new public spaces in Downtown will be available to enjoy from the end of the year, these include the opening of Albert Street between the Wyndham and Customs Street West intersections and the Lower Queen Street public space (between Quay Street and Customs Street). Most of Quay Street will be open with the exception of the northern footpath between Princes and Queens Wharf, which will be the final section to be completed in the first half of 2021.
“Aucklanders can expect to see a very different looking lower end of Albert Street when it opens in December. The City Rail Link project is creating a people-friendly place with wider pavements, bus lanes to support public transport, new tree plantings and street furniture which will make this part of section of Albert Street an attractive central city destination,” says Councillor Darby.
Te Wānanga, the new downtown public space in the ferry basin between Princes Wharf and Queens Wharf, is set to open in early 2021. It will be an attractive new place for respite and relaxation with seating areas allowing people to enjoy the harbour in a whole new way. This new public space was developed using the proceeds from the sale of what used to be part of Queen Elizabeth Square to Precinct Properties for the development of Commercial Bay.
Waitematā and Gulf ward Councillor Pippa Coom is excited by the changes happening in the city centre as new spaces begin to emerge from behind the construction fences.
City centre businesses, and retailers in particular, has been severely impacted by the loss of international visitors, workers and students as a result of Covid-19. The completion of the new spaces will help attract people back into the city centre and contribute to its recovery.
“We’ve been on a long journey to transform our city centre and create a greener, safer, and better-connected place for everyone,” says Councillor Coom.
“As you move around the waterfront, or along Karangahape Road you can already get an appreciation of the amount of new space being created for people, with wider footpaths and shared spaces. Many of these projects have been years in the making so it’s very rewarding to know that in summer we’ll be seeing people use the new spaces to sit and eat their lunch, meet up with friends, or just sit back and watch the world go by.”
The city centre programme is the largest infrastructure programme of this scale in New Zealand, encompassing the City Rail Link, America’s Cup base construction, the seismic strengthening of the seawall along Quay Street and major streetscaping works throughout the city centre, from downtown up to Karangahape Road.
The Downtown Programme, which incorporates six significant projects including new ferry berths, seismic strengthening of the Quay Street seawall, Quay Street streetscape enhancement and a bus interchange at Lower Albert Street, is approximately 60 per cent complete. Quay Street’s southern footpath was opened earlier this year alongside the opening of Commercial Bay.
Karangahape Road, which will incorporate a new cycleway, peak hour bus lanes and more trees, is nearing the halfway completion mark. Three sections of the road have already been opened, including a section of the cycleway from Ponsonby Road to Day Street.
Aucklanders can follow the progress of individual projects by visiting progressakl.co.nz