City centre residents’ survey sheds light on social disruption of last three years

Publish Date : 24 Jan 2023
The Civic Theatre In Auckland With People Walking Past OA Photo

Auckland Council has today, 24 January 2023, released the findings of its latest City Centre Resident’s Survey that highlight a continuing challenge around public safety in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Simon Oddie, City Centre Priority Location Director for Eke Panuku Development Auckland, the lead council agency for the city centre, says more than half of the residents surveyed said they liked living in the city centre.

“Many residents had positive things to say about the newly completed pedestrian-friendly spaces and streets the council has delivered, however, wider concerns around public safety were a common theme.

“Since the last resident’s survey in 2016, there have been significant changes in the city centre from numerous large-scale construction projects as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other cities around the world, the impacts of COVID-19 are still being felt in Auckland’s city centre,” says Mr Oddie.

Auckland Council commissioned NielsenIQ to undertake a survey in August last year to get an updated understanding of residents’ experiences of living in the inner city. Almost 1000 residents responded to the survey, leaving over 3500 comments. The findings are published at Knowledge Auckland.  

Waitematā Local Board Chair, Genevieve Sage, says while it is great that residents are overwhelmingly positive about the pedestrian and connectivity improvements the council has made to downtown, Karangahape Road and Wynyard Quarter, the survey results show there is still work to do.
“As a city centre resident myself, and a local board member, the results confirm what we have been hearing and I want to let residents know that they have been heard, and we share their concerns.  

“When it comes to issues of safety, as a local government organisation, some of these challenges are ours to solve. Many others require collaboration with or intervention from government agencies and the New Zealand Police. In these cases, our role moves to one of advocacy, so the needs of residents are at the forefront. 

“These issues are not unique to Auckland’s city centre, they also occur across the region. The pandemic has affected communities around the globe, and many are grappling with these same challenges. Now, more than ever, it’s time for all agencies to work together effectively and deliver a tangible improvement for the wellbeing of our city centre community and the region as a whole,” she says. 

Simon Oddie says supporting a feeling of community for residents is really important and has far-reaching impacts.  

“The city centre is home to nearly 40,000 Aucklanders who contribute greatly to its vibrancy and vitality. A thriving residential neighbourhood is a key part of creating and maintaining a diverse and sustainable city centre, and this has impacts on the whole of the region, with the city centre GDP making up 19 per cent of Auckland’s total GDP in 2021. We saw this first-hand through the pandemic, when it was residents who remained as the key contributors supporting local businesses.

“When the city centre is a great place to live, it benefits all of us, and so we want to use these findings to work with our city centre residential communities and other agencies to improve the city centre as a place to live and in turn a place to do business and visit,” says Mr Oddie.   

“The council whānau is working together to evolve the city centre into a world-class destination, with the City Centre Masterplan as our blueprint. We will continue to look at how we can create better public spaces and streets that prioritise people, something that residents identified they want to see more of.

“The survey results also reinforce we need to find better ways to do this work, in order to reduce the impacts on people living and moving around the city centre. The challenge is immense, but the potential of this city is even greater, and that is really exciting.”   

The main findings are

  • 63 per cent of residents said that access to shops and restaurants was a main reason for living in the city centre, and 56 per cent said to be close to their place of work (or their partner’s place of work). 38 per cent mentioned a key reason being the sense of energy and vibrancy the city centre has.
  • 55 per cent of respondents said they like living in the city centre these days, compared with 77 per cent in the 2016 survey.
  • 44 per cent of respondents said they feel excited by the changes planned for the city centre.
  • 45 per cent mentioned feeling unsafe as the main factor contributing to negative perceptions of city living.
  • Noise was the second most common reason people gave for why they dislike living in the city centre (after safety).
  • Putting more effort into reducing anti-social behaviour, crime and violence and increasing police presence in the city centre were the two key themes for improving city life for residents.

Find out more about Auckland Council’s work to regenerate midtown and the wider city centre. 

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