Major transformative development projects have been the feature of Auckland’s city centre for the past decade as plans to make it a welcoming and vibrant place to live, work and play have become a reality.
“The amount of change that’s been achieved in the past 10 years is phenomenal”, says Auckland Council’s Planning Committee Chair, Chris Darby.
“We have the shared spaces and laneways of O’Connell Street, Elliot Street, Fort Street and Federal Street. Freyberg Square has been completely reimagined and we’ve got award-winning amenities like the Ellen Melville Centre, the Art Gallery and Te Ara I Whiti Lightpath.
Above: Takutai Square, Britomart
“Precincts such as Wynyard Quarter, Britomart and Commercial Bay are unrecognisable from 10 years ago, such is the scale of the regeneration of those areas.
“Auckland Council’s City Centre Masterplan was a game-changer for Auckland when it was first adopted in 2012 because it gave us an agreed 20-year vision.
“What was unique was that the masterplan took an urban design-led approach and it signalled a new way of thinking about the kind of city centre Auckland could aspire to. It meant the council family and private developers could coordinate and plan projects that lined up to what Aucklanders said they wanted.”
Auckland Council looked internationally to seek best practice and used research such as the Public Life Survey to develop the plan. This helped the council to better understand how streets could be improved to deliver a better urban experience against a backdrop of rapid population growth.
Above: Federal Street
Reflecting on the changes in the city centre, Councillor Darby says that keeping an eye on the long-term goal is important.
“At the time the change feels hard because it’s disruptive and messy and there are plenty of sceptics around saying it can’t be done. But looking back now we can see it was the right thing to do and the pain was worth it, because we’ve got these beautiful places in our city for all Aucklanders to enjoy,” says Darby.
Waitematā and Gulf ward Councillor, Pippa Coom says the rapid growth of residents in the city centre has been another catalyst for change.
“More than 35,000 people call the city centre home so we it’s vital to continue improving the liveability and quality of the city centre to support a thriving community. The refurbished Ellen Melville Centre and Freyberg Place has become an attractive and welcoming community space for residents.
Above: Jean Batten Place
“The targeted rate that the city centre residents and businesses pay has enabled us to accelerate street enhancements, tree plantings and activation programmes. These have contributed to a much more people-friendly and appealing city centre that all Aucklanders benefit from.”
Over the next nine months, many of the projects that are currently underway such as Karangahape Road, the Silo Park extension, Westhaven Promenade and Lower Queen Street will be completed and Aucklanders will be able to enjoy the benefits of these new and improved places.
Above: Ellen Melville Centre and Freyberg Place
Mayor Phil Goff says that the original 2012 masterplan, and the subsequent 2020 refresh, set a direction for our city centre to become a place that all Aucklanders can be proud of.
“The development we see underway today around Quay Street was first set out in the masterplan to get better connections around the waterfront, so the work that was started at amalgamation is still delivering for Aucklanders”, says Mayor Phil Goff.
“Significant public investment in the city centre through projects such as the City Rail Link, the Downtown Programme, and upgrades to Karangahape Road and High Street is creating vibrant and attractive places for people. This will stimulate more private investment and attract talent to our city. When our city centre thrives, so does our region,” he says.