Mall Decision: PT Ignored


A few weeks ago, I tipped that the giant St Lukes mall expansion has been approved by the independent commissioners hearing submissions on the plan - and would be announced this week.

It is on the Auckland City Council agenda for tomorrow night to get the final tick.

This is how the expansion will eventually tower over the existing mall.

How the mall will look

Unlike some, I don’t have an issue with the principle of the mall expanding to satisfy Aucklanders’ endless shopping appetite but I continue to be concerned about how un-pedestrian friendly the mall is and that public transport is woeful for a major shopping destination.

It’s disappointing that the commissioners have backed that as a fait accompli.

They conclude that St Lukes will remain a vehicle-oriented centre for two principal reasons:

  • “it is clearly not as well served by public transport as other large centres such as Newmarket and Sylvia Park
  • the nature of shopping is such that public transport is not an ideal means of carrying more than a handful of small purchases home”

The first statement is a fact and it’s such a shame the approval for the expansion was not accompanied with some requirement for better transport - even if it were, as a minimum, that the shopping owners, Westfield,  run a bus shuttle service from the Morningside train station. I know my hopes of having the train line realigned to be closer to the mall would never fly.

The second statement is a nonsense.

Of course if you have made a big weekly shop at Foodtown, you’ll struggle on the bus or to get to Morningside.

But I regularly see people on public transport carrying several parcels as I have.

This is a cop-out. What people need is for St Lukes public transport to be closer and more regular for them so they can carry their parcels home.

Sylvia Park owners financed the train station at their mall and it has proved to be a boon.

It is because of the success of the competitor that Westfield wants to expand St Lukes to be bigger than Sylvia.

New Lynn trains stop outside LynnMall.

I hope there is a councillor who tomorrow raises the issue of public transport before the big tick is given and the present council goes out of existence.

And how about cycle racks and easier access for pedestrians who walked to the mall and presently have to dodge cars reversing around busy car parks.




  1. LucyJH says:

    I agree - this is a stupid decision. They should at least have made them improve PT and NOT given them any more carparking space (that would have motivated them to improve PT).

  2. Sam says:

    If they think getting shoppers on to pt is hopeless ( which is clearly rubbish- look at how busy sylvia park station is- the only reason we have any half hour frequencies on Sunday), they should at least help other pt users which will be negatively effected By their extension: have them put bus lanes through that part of St lukes road and morningside drive, to increase capacity of these roads which are clearly already at capacity most of the time. Shuttles from morningside really do need to happen too though

  3. Matt L says:

    While I don’t acutally object to the mall expanding, it goes to show how engrained the car culture is with some people. I bet these commisioners haven’t caught PT at least in the last decade. One thing that they forget is that not only shoppers need to get to the mall, what about the workers need to get there who often don’t get parking provided so clog up the local streets?

  4. Jennifer Northover says:

    I agree.
    At the very least, a regular bus shuttle service connecting Morningside train station and Great North Rd (many bus routes) with the main St Lukes entry points should be a requirement. It’s time we started to cut back on carparking.

  5. ingolfson says:

    Having been involved with the planning process, I can at least confirm that the pedestrian situation IN and AROUND the centre is to be much improved as a requirement of the plan change.

    What Westfield opposed (and I have a certain sympathy for that) is any requirement for them to operate PT themselves. Silvia Park doesn’t run the trains either, its just next to a train station.

    Westfield will be paying millions and millions of development contributions to Council once St Lukes is actually being extended. If Council chooses to spend those millions on patching holes in their budget elsewhere, rather than improve PT at St Lukes, blame Council. THEY run and plan PT.

    Also, this is a plan change, not a resource consent. It sets a framework, but is not the absolute final form.

  6. Mark Donnelly says:

    ingolfson - the issue is that it is bigger than Sylvia park - and is effectively a “regional” Mall - without the access of other malls.

    For decades Councils and Community Boards have tried to get them to create a bus hub on site - and all they allow is a road side stop for a couple buses.

    While they may not want to run PT, in my view they are being short sighted. They have an opportunity to connect to Morningside - maybe even a short tram track? Not only would they then connect regionally, but it would be a marketing opportunity. It would open them up as a venue after Eden Park rugby - short walk to morningside - tram to St Lukes tram back after dinner/drinks and rail home……..gee even sounds like a modern city!

    The parcels arguement is largely a nonsense - a larger proportion of their customers are now there for movies/food etc. And majority of purchases would be 1-2 parcels.

    The roading network - is almost at capacity at weekends now - tailbacks to New North Rd and Sandringham the other way.

    If I was a prospective tenant, I’d look very hard at the short sighted approach, and be very worried whether the was in affect a “lid” on customer growth due to lack of PT.

    They are also putting themselves outside of a feasible PT weekend shopping system. If you wanted a day shopping /browsing (and I can’t imagine anything worse! - but I’m sure there are those out there who would view that as heaven…) the you have New Lynn / Newmarket /CBD /Onehunga all on a jump on and off a train - if I was a prospective tenant - that is where I would see my potential growth - and I wouldn’t risk betting on the dead duck option:)

  7. Mike F says:

    Plenty of bus services to St Lukes from all directions.

    Its only 800m from the Morningside train station ! Can people not walk these days ?

  8. Matt L says:

    Mark - You are bang on the money with your comments. Westfield worldwide are pretty car centric and doesn’t really seem to get PT, some would even go to say they actually work against it.

    A prime example is in Henderson. They have a mall right next to a train station and yet put a carpark entrance there meaning someone getting off a bus or train has to dodge cars to get to the mall. When the new station was built the council put a nice covered bridge over the tracks from Railside Ave to their new council buildings. Westfield could have easily paid for this to be extended a very short distance right into their mall yet don’t seem interested in doing so.
    They also should have encouraged and helped pay for the Manukau branch to be extended a short distance to be closer to them as that would help to deliver more people to their shops.

  9. BD says:

    It is a terrible place to put a mall, not only the shear size of the mall being the problem, being dominating to the existing neighborhood but the huge increase in traffic that the mall will cause.

    The existing roads around st lukes area are not designed to handle that much traffic, expanding the mall will only make things worse. Besides there are already heaps of Westfield malls all over the place.

    At least with Silva Park and Albany malls they are built in an area that is not residential and the roads are capable of serving it. Public transport is also better, as with Silva Park you have a railway station next to it and with Albany you have the northern busway.

    Scrap the idea now!!!!!!!!

  10. ingolfson says:

    “At least with Silva Park and Albany malls they are built in an area that is not residential and the roads are capable of serving it”

    Which shows how little some people think about the matter - being in a residential area is actually helping keep traffic down at St Lukes compared to places like Silvia Park. For a mall of the size, the walking percentages are actually pretty large.

    Building malls in greenfields only creates more car trips over longer distances, leading to more motorways. St Lukes is indeed badly placed for PT, but located perfectly for a huge residential catchment with much shorter car trips than usual.

    “The existing roads around st lukes area are not designed to handle that much traffic,”

    Which is why the Plan Change envisages a number of improvements.

    “Public transport is also better, as with Silva Park you have a railway station next to it and with Albany you have the northern busway. ”

    Which have actually not lifted the PT shares at either centre above that which St Lukes already has. See publicly available data for recent St Lukes and Silvia Park applications.

    “Scrap the idea now!!!!!!!!”

    Contrary to Auckland’s politicians, corporations are a bit more persistent. I guess the decision will be appealed (how could it not, being under the old RMA rules, and with hundreds of opposing submissions), but I think the most that will happen is some tweaks in resource conditions.

  11. Mark Donnelly says:

    “being in a residential area is actually helping keep traffic down at St Lukes compared to places like Silvia”

    that works for a retail premise thats size matches its resdeintial catchement - but in this case it is a full blown regional facility.

    I’ve had a chance to read the decision, and it really is appalling and has wide ramifications on intensification and PT.

    It relies on regional policy statement - but only in part as a “town centre”. The regional policy requires a structure plan - which would look at teh whole area - not one landowners site, and would look at PT etc. That is the whole point of any transport orientated development.

    But these commisioners decided to cherry pick the policy statement - that undermines compleletly all future planning - and would result in the absolute worst outcome for the region. It means you can get the intensification, without the PT…..

    The town centre is not just st Lukes - a full strucure plan, may well have decided the intensified use should be nearer the morningside station, and tapering off by st lukes. That woudl be the logical re-development of the area. And would allow prioper transport orientated developments.

    that is why Westfield jumped in now - to protect their investment. With that one site now acting as an “black hole”, it’s hard to see any other development in the area nearer morningside for many decades…..

    job done for westfield…..kept the competitors away, as a plan change, no sunset clause - could sit on it for years - and by getting in now, they’ve afforded any structure plan or commitment to PT.

    a sad day…..

  12. karl says:

    “that works for a retail premise thats size matches its resdeintial catchement – but in this case it is a full blown regional facility.”

    Which will still get the majority of the customers from the surrounding suburbs. Placing all the malls far away from the central city suburbs is the worst one could do.

  13. GJA says:

    If the residents next to Eden Park can complain, why want the residents next to St Lukes complain about the extra traffic (ALL the time) and the additional shade that the new extensions will cast over the residential area. It is too easy to hammer an icon like Eden Park.

  14. Mark Donnelly says:

    GJA - don’t worry I hammer both :)
    Karl - the point is what is the appropriate size and configuration of a growth town centre.
    Westfield see it pulling in a lot of people west of the site - with basically no PT.

    I’m not saying “regional” facilities need to be out at greenfields - but is this location ok for a “regional sized facility. the meag mall - biggest is best may work for Westfield - but does it work for the city. Why not compimentary sites eg St Lukes and New Lynn or others - with smaller catchements, therefore less travel.

    this is 15-20% bigger than Sylvia park. so all you have to do is crunch the numbers / car trips etc, and you’ve got major issues…..

  15. ingolfson says:

    Mark, they DID crunch the numbers, tons and tons and tons of them. These numbers were then assessed and peer reviewed by your own Council’s experts, NZTA and others. Its all publicly available.

    Your Council (and the commissioners) came to the conclusion that it works well enough. Please don’t make it seem like such major plan changes happen without expert analysis. Its your right to say “I disagree with these conclusions”, but to simply argue like there has been no analysis is taking that freedom way too far.

  16. Mark Donnelly says:

    Ingolfson - I’m not saying no analysis - but I can also point to many cases where traffic engineers/planners get it horribly wrong…
    but real issue, is that this goes to heart of growth forum/regional policy documents/coming spatial plan.
    when those documents say there must be a structure plan - then there MUST be a structure plan. This plan chnage doesn’t deliver that - so undermines growth options - and likely to set an Evironment precredent, that will damage regional planning.

    This takes us away from structure/master planning, and back to site specific isolationist planning - exactly what has got Auckland into it’s mess……


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