Groovy Kind Of Shared Space
Waitakere City Council (bless ‘em, rest in peace) always approached things differently from the old formulaic central council especially when it comes to infrastructure.
Being an eco city, the council thought hard and long about how structures affected people.
Acknowledging the rich local culture, the council always ordered some local art to be incorporated into any such development including walkways and bridges.
I was looking forward to seeing where New Lynn would go after the impressive development of the New Lynn transport hub which, thanks to the underground station, meant the train lines no longer crossed over the busy roads around it.
There are big plans to revitalise the tired old centre and these were given the go ahead by the Environment Court last month.
The venture plans to develop the area as a vibrant destination place typified by exceptional public spaces and streets and high quality architecture.
As a first step we see what has been done around Totara Avenue near where the old bus station was. The council’s project was inherited by Auckland Transport, which now owns it.
Opening at the weekend, the street has become a shared space.
As one would hope from the council’s legacy it’s not just very functional and feels like a slow-down vehicle zone, nice and feeling a little quirky leading to a reserve with art work.
Unlike the new central city shared spaces, it has 30-minute parking spaces available to keep local businesses happy.
That works. New Lynn is not always easy to find a quick park and for those businesses in the street, it’s fair customers can pop in and buy or collect something. The alternative is to sneak a park in the nearby Lynn Mall carparks.
At least that way, there will no repeat of the CBD curse in which motorists have been caught trying to park their car in shared spaces in the hope they don’t get ticketed.
The Todd Triangle Reserve at the end of the street features several brick artworks – a nod to New Lynn’s Crown Lynn and clay heritage – by renowned sculptor Peter Lange of the famous political family.
With the train lines underground and new bridges needed comes the nearby new Clark Street extension, which provides a heavy vehicle bypass of Totara Avenue between the Clark/Rankin intersection and Great North Road.
It too radiates a strong red visual which dulls the otherwise standard concrete feel.
With improved transport and the prospect of even more regular train services from February, New Lynn is a place that could become sought after.
The challenge for the area now is to move fast to shake off its rundown appeal. The library and community centre are already established parts of the area but the actual shops in Totara Ave inspire little to be a place where one would linger. Decent cafe anyone?
Auckland Transport says that by merging the footpath and road, by removing kerbs and using a single level of paving across the street, so people and vehicles share the space, there are now more opportunities for people to enjoy outdoor dining, street activities and events which enliven the area.
So let’s hope they find a way to make this happen in Totara where the town centre has suffered in the standard of businesses because of the ongoing growth of Lynn Mall which naturally appeals more to those who can afford rental space there and become the focal point of shopping in the area.
New CBD Shared Spaces Darby and Fort are nice to walk through but not a place where one can presently find a reason to stay awhile.
Hopefully as shop leases change, there will be better more inspiring quality places. Again a decent cafe helps provides a hub.
You can certainly feel the potential in all these places, including Totara so let’s embrace that as progress.
We got a taste of the European feel of Shared Spaces when Elliott St staged a special opening the other week. More photos of that great day here
The Gardner Reserve, adjoining the new Clark Street extension, is also being upgraded by Auckland Transport as part of the roading developments.
I’ll be keeping an eye one the exciting New Lynn developments ahead -which like Wynyard Quarter until last month – operate for years under the radar because the media don’t seem interested in the good news.
It’s worth reminding ourselves how far we have come in a couple of years from when the train tracks ran through the town – and the station was a typical makeshift suburban stop.
Auckland Transport and Auckland Council are now turning their attention to the redevelopment of the Merchant Quarter area (around McCrae Way) to further re-shape New Lynn into an accessible destination for people to live and work in and visit for entertainment and shopping.
Auckland Council is working in partnership with Infratil to undertake a $35 million redevelopment of the old New Lynn bus station (opposite the New Lynn Transport Interchange). The development will include a new 299 space public car park and a three-level accident and medical centre. Works are programmed to start in October 2011 and be completed by December 2012. Two other council-owned development sites either side of the planned new McCrae Way shared space are also being considered for redevelopment, with concept planning underway.
Meanwhile well done Auckland Transport – and thanks Bob Harvey and your council for leading the way.