The Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (ACCAB) has endorsed a staged approach to improvements for Freyberg Square, with vehicle access through the square retained in the interim to provide more flexibility for future improvements in the wider area.
Upgrades to Freyberg Square and the Ellen Melville Centre in Auckland’s city centre received strong public support when consulted on in September 2015, however some key issues were raised, particularly from local businesses.
The temporary retention of vehicle access – connecting High Street with Chancery Street – is the most significant change from proposals, and follows discussions with Heart of the City and business owners in the area. Other changes include the retention of four large phoenix palms, cycle parking, additional seating and moving some of the trees.
The vehicle access would provide flexibility for potential future improvements in High Street and the wider area, while a precinct plan is developed with the community and businesses. The plan will set out the direction for the area and inform future investment decisions.
There are currently no set proposals for what a High Street upgrade could consist of, however $15m has been committed from the City Centre Targeted Rate.
ACCAB Chair Kate Healy says: “Having a staged approach to Freyberg Square means we get most of the improvements now, while helping to keep options open for the area’s future development – as well as options for how we might minimise potential disruption. We will also work towards the vision for Freyberg Square, which had strong public support in the consultation.
“Many businesses in this area are excited about what the future will hold, but want to see a holistic approach taken for the district’s development. This underlines the commitment of the ACCAB and Auckland Council to listen to stakeholders and work together with communities to transform our city centre.”
It is expected that access through the square would be generally open but able to be closed for events. This would evolve over three to five years to become generally closed to vehicles, but able to be opened when needed.
The ACCAB advises on city centre projects and spending of the City Centre Targeted Rate. The rate raises about $21m annually – of which 96 per cent comes from city centre businesses and the rest from residents. It will fund the improvements to Freyberg Square and is also set to fund improvements to High Street.
Read the full feedback report of the consultation on the square and the community centre.