Eke Panuku Development Auckland is driving the redevelopment of Northcote – and it’s a neighbourhood close to the heart of the organisation’s Chief Executive, David Rankin.
David recalls fondly growing up in Northcote in the 1960s. Many of these fond memories were shaped by his frequent visits to the town centre. It was around this time that development began on a central shopping centre for the up-and-coming neighbourhood, after the land was purchased by Northcote Borough Council in the late 1950s.
“To think back to those times shows me how much ground has been lost in Northcote’s town centre over the years,” says David. “It’s part of what’s been a typical story across Auckland, with the gradual loss of vitality around retail, leading to a lack of investment going into town centre buildings.
“Although there has always been an interested and engaged local community in Northcote, what we have seen is that the town centre has very much been left as a creature of previous decades.”
Eke Panuku is leading Northcote’s regeneration on behalf of Auckland Council, one of many local town centres in its portfolio. The future Northcote town centre will include new shops and eateries, a town square, a multi-purpose community hub, a larger supermarket, an upgraded Cadness Reserve and between 800 and 1000 warm, dry homes.
“The opportunity in front of us is to really look at how we get a town centre that meets the community’s future needs,” he says. “That includes the people who are already here and those drawn to the place, as they see the results of investment in the area from Kāinga Ora, who are building 1700 new homes in Northcote.”
A recent milestone was completing the acquisition of all of the town centre buildings. According to David, this will enable a development strategy encompassing the entire town centre.
“It’s going to maximise Northcote’s potential for more people, homes and businesses.”
In fact, underpinning the more obvious construction work transforming the town centre is a massive amount of other ‘invisible work’ that’s every bit as essential. This includes extensive masterplanning, and close work with other groups involved in planning new amenities and infrastructure: Kāinga Ora, mana whenua, Kaipātiki Local Board and wider Auckland Council whānau. One such project is Te Ara Awataha, Northcote’s new greenway, a large portion of which has now opened. Design is also underway for the new community hub that will see the existing library building refurbished and extended.
The town centre site is due to go on the market in the second half of 2023 and its development will be guided by an important agreement with the chosen development partner. The aim is to create a thriving town centre for those who live, work and play in Northcote.
Further community engagement will take place this year as Eke Panuku and Auckland Council work through the design stages of the new community hub. This will be a focal point of the new-look town centre that will evolve over the years, just as a living, thriving town centre should.