Auckland’s CBD Exciting 20 Year Vision

At last, a long-term vision for Auckland ‘s City Centre and one that is pro-public transport and pedestrian-friendly.
Auckland Council’s future thinking for how the central city should look envisages a city centre in touch with the surroundings and benefiting from a 21st century public transport system.

A draft 20 year vision for release in a few months for the CBD (to be now referred to as the City Centre) talks of:

  • Light rail corridors
  • Bus, rail and light rail connections between the city villages, the inner quarters and the wider city
  • The city (CBD) rail loop
  • An enhanced ferry system
  • Dedicated walkways and cycle ways (including a cycleway over the Harbour Bridge)
  • A major public transport hub on Wellesley Street
  • Hobson and Nelson Streets becoming 2-way
  • Pedestrian malling of some street areas, including further pedestrian improvements to Queen Street
  • An airport to city centre rail link
  • Boulevarding’ of Quay Street
  • A city centre divided into quarters and connected urban ‘villages’ (Grafton, Parnell, Ponsonby/Three Lamps, Newton)
  • Covering of sections of the motorway ring road with useful public space and mixed use  activity opportunities
  • New destination uses including a downtown Chinatown
  • Conservation areas to protect heritage
  • A series of waterfront plazas

We may copy Brisbane's Queen St pedestrian mall

More photos of Brisbane’s mall here

The plan’s objectives are to develop:

  • A well connected city centre – “a city centre in touch with the surroundings and benefiting from a 21st century public transport system.  A city centre with a high quality network of connections and a distinct street hierarchy.”
  • A waterfront city centre – “a vibrant and inviting waterfront as a key amenity capable of  attracting people to invest, live, work and visit and changing the image of the city as a whole.”
  • A lively and desirable city centre – “a city centre with a diverse range of uses and opportunities, an extraordinary urban environment with world class streets and spaces  that serve to make it one of the worlds premier business locations and destination for visitors and Aucklanders’ alike.”
The 20 year City Centre Masterplan (to be known as the CCM) is to “include a strong and  compelling vision and strategy for the city centre with a programme of transformational projects and actions identified under a number of strategic objectives.  The city centre will be broken into a number of quarters and urban centre ‘villages’ with the future role, function and form of each identified. “
The council’s Future Vision committee gets a taste of it at its meeting tomorrow.
An “Initial Ideas Document ” will be issued during March and April as part of the wider public consultation on the Auckland Plan.
This includes a draft vision statement for  the international city centre “which will be based on the Mayor’s vision of creating the worlds most liveable and beautiful city i.e. a powerhouse economy, an eco city, an accessible public transport led city and strong and cohesive communities.
It will also seek to capture how an international city centre can help deliver on the strategic place based directions being developed through the Auckland (Spatial) Plan.” After “stakeholder engagement and further concurrent analysis of existing, refreshed and new research data,” a draft city centre masterplan will be developed.
The draft city centre masterplan will be released in June and will include:
  • a vision statement
  • strategic objectives
  • outcomes and key performance indicators
  • strategic plans
  • transformational projects and actions
  • a delivery plan

The final CCM be adopted by Council at the same time as the Auckland Plan later in the year.

This is fantastic stuff progressing ideas that have long been kicked around and it’s especially encouraging to see an overall vision developed instead of the ides like Shared Spaces that tend to get developed in isolation to a commitment to an overall strategy.




  1. Kurt says:

    Oh my GOD, vision, a positive vision, not asset sales and more of the failed same. This council is the complete opposite of the central government.

    Of course it is only a vision at this stage but there seems to be some substance in the new Auckland already.

    One worry I have it making Queen St all pedestrian as it will kill it dead if they do it, there’s precedence in Auckland alone that prove it.

    A light rail link up up to K Rd and beyond linking the major cross roads would be a fantastic idea however to counter this.

    My other worry though is National will do its utmost to torpedo any hopes Auckland may have as for reason I opened with.

  2. Nick R says:

    Removing traffic from Queen St is a fantastic idea (one that should have been done with the last streetscape upgrade) but in my opinion totally pedestrainising it would be a bad idea.

    For one it is a very wide street, up to 34m from shopfront to shopfront in some places. I fear even Queen St’s pedestrain crowds would be diluted and empty feeling if the whole space was footpath.

    Secondly, it is a pretty key public transport spine and should stay that way. Public transport, pedestrians and shopping go hand in hand.

    Keeping to lanes down the centre for bus-only lanes (eventually to be laid with tramway) while pedestrainising the rest would be the ideal solution. This would also maintain access for emergency services, parades and would allow freight and trade vehicles to access the properties as certain times of day.

  3. Mike says:

    Queen St in Brisbane is pedestrianised. One of the things they have done is allow for cafe’s, restaurants and stalls to make the middle of the fairly wide street seem alive and dynamic. It is a great space.

  4. Scott says:

    Our current bus fleets emission’s make it unsuitable to run large numbers of them along our main retail street. This would need to be sorted first.

    Kurt, Im interested, what is the precedent? I get the impression the CBD shared spaces (such as Vulcan lane) are doing well.

  5. Kurt says:

    Scott, I am fairly sure Hurstmere Rd Takapuna was experimented with an almost totally pedestrian only model or at least they removed most if not all of the parking thinking shoppers would enjoy the freedom of no cars but they stayed away.

    Onehunga Mall was another closed to cars down in the shopping area and became pedestrians only and the same happened. Both are now car/pedestrian but to some extent Hurstmere Rd has never recovered.

    My point is if people can’t access shops easily, that is park near them they go to the big Westfield type malls and bypass the old style street shops.

    Queen St is very long, cold and windy more often than not, none to secure feeling at times as well for people and vehicles and is up hill which is difficult for some people.

    I avoid it for shopping unless I am there for another reason and taking the bus is even dearer than parking and less convenient as well.

  6. James B says:

    Meanwhile shopping malls are souless barns, filled with milling teenagers and chain shops. They have poor food options, no culture, no bars or restaurants of any quality. Whenever I have to go to a shopping mall I dash in grab what I want and dash out again. I spend as little time as possible lingering.
    Pedestrian malls do well overseas, why would they not do well here? Queen Street is not the same as Hurstmere Road. For one thing Queen Street is a destination in itself. There are several cultural institutions on or near the street that drag in people. It is also in the middle of the largest employment district in the country. I have yet to see anyone park on Queen Street, get out of their car and buy something from a shop. Most of those parks seem to be used by tradesmen and people picking up other people.

  7. Andy says:

    I agree we need transport such as the current LINK and City Circuit bus services running up and down.

    Hope this pedestrianisation creates a better environment for entertainers/buskers which help bring crowds of people in. I’m talking about proper buskers, there used to be quite a lot of good ones back in the day.

    However if the old bylaw that says that buskers cannot stay in the same spot for more than 30 minutes is still in place, it won’t be very inviting.

  8. Nick R says:

    Kurt, Hurstmere Rd Takapuna was never pedestrainised. They talked about it but the current arrangement was the final option and a bit of a “neither here nor there” failure in my opinion.

    I’m not sure if comparing Onehunga Mall to Queen st is valid either. One is a small (but lively) suburban shopping strip, the other is the centre of the largest CBD in the country that sees 50,000 pedestrains along it’s length on a typical weekday.

    As for “can’t access shops easily, that is park near them”… this is quite apt, except the assumption that driving a car is the only way to access a shop. Public transport users do shop too of course, and we must remember that slightly more than half the people in town on a typical business day got there by public transport.

    As for parking near Queen St, the key word there is ‘near’. There is almost no opportunity to park right on Queen St as it features an amazing grand total of, wait for it… 51 on street parking spaces. Compare this to 17,000 off-street car parks in public buildings within a few minutes walk of Queen St (not to mention a further 22,000 private office building car parks). The simple fact is that only a fraction of a percent of the shoppers visiting Queen St by car would have the opportunity to park on it.

    Almost everyone in Queen St either parked in a parking building, on a side street or got their by public transport. Car parks on Queen St are simply inconsequential to the CBD economy.

  9. Matt L says:

    Kurt - The big difference between Queen St and those other areas is that Queen St is surrounded by a huge amount of employment and residents. There are something about 80,000 jobs in the CBD at the moment and that it is predicted it could reach 200,000 jobs within 40 years. There are also expected to be about 100,000 people living in the CBD so there is plenty of people to use any pedestrian areas.

    Just for reference even now there are over 40,0000 people a day that walk along Queen St and there are less than 10,000 vehicles. I personally have never felt unsafe along there at any time of the day and more people using it is only going to help that.

  10. Matt L says:

    Nick R - Surprisingly someone had the hindsight to ban parking entrances from Queen St and amazingly that decision wasn’t overturned in the car crazed period of 1950 - 2000. If it wasn’t for that one decision it would have been impossibly to even consider banning cars from the street.

  11. Cam says:

    “Scott, I am fairly sure Hurstmere Rd Takapuna was experimented with an almost totally pedestrian only model or at least they removed most if not all of the parking thinking shoppers would enjoy the freedom of no cars but they stayed away” - I’m very sure that never happened, Hurstmere Road has never been pedestrianised.

  12. Roger says:

    As much as the thought of a public space bursting with people appeals, I fear that a Queen Street for pedestrians only would ultimately fail.

    I remember Onehunga well, it seemed so exciting to walk along the middle of a street where cars and trolley buses used to be. Slowly though, it choked and eventually appealing shops died and were replaced by crappy shops.

    It was only the re-opening of the Mall to traffic that sparked interest in the area for shoppers. It has some way to go until it is as interesting as say Mt Eden or Ponsonby villages but it is now heading in the right direction.

    There absolutely must be superior public transit along Queen Street and I don’t mean the current crop of bloody noisy buses! How do they ever get a COF? There’s no way a car making that racket would pass a WOF inspection.

    Low-floor trams and pedestrians would be a good mix, along with trade vehicles. People only would be a very expensive experiment.

  13. Matt L says:

    Roger - It doesn’t have to be expensive to try it, in New York they tried it by just putting down some planters to block the road off and putting tables and chairs on the road surface. It was so popular they then went and did it correctly. Doing it this way means we could test it for short periods of time perhaps starting with summer weekends.

  14. anthony says:

    January 31, 2011 at 12:33 pm
    Oh my GOD, vision, a positive vision, not asset sales and more of the failed same. This council is the complete opposite of the central government.

    Of course it is only a vision at this stage but there seems to be some substance in the new Auckland already.

    One worry I have it making Queen St all pedestrian as it will kill it dead if they do it, there’s precedence in Auckland alone that prove it.

    PS: Lets all have a celebration.

  15. Luke says:

    doing a summer Saturday/Sunday closure would be extremely cheap and easy. probably biggest cost would be putting signs up and adds in the papers!
    maybe closing sections for festivals at aotea square like laneway today would be good.

  16. Martin says:

    Very common in Europe, especially where there is public transport through the middle. Check out images of cities like Prague, Graz or Budapest.

  17. [...] AKT website offers this image of Queen Street in Brisbane as an example of how Auckland’s Queen [...]

  18. Luke says:

    very common everywhere apart from NZ!
    All 6 big aussie cities (canberra excepted) have pedestrian malls along a main st in the CBD.

  19. Nick R says:

    Actually Canberra does too! It has a whole pedestrian precinct in Civic, centred around Garema place and City Walk.

    Plus Wellington has Cuba St, and Christchurch has Cashel St, High St and Cathedral Sq.

    It really is Auckland that is the odd one out!

  20. DanC says:

    A tram from Vic Park Mkt under the motorway flyover to Britomart via Wynyard would be a great start.

    For Queen street keep the two middle lanes & some loading bays to create a bit of variety. Goods vehicles and low emission buses can use the lanes & bus stops / loading bays. It leaves part of the street open to future tram tracks & provides a variation in curb side area’s some spaces would be large for cafe style table and chairs & garden bars which queen street desperately needs.

  21. Patrick R says:

    I do think ‘Mall’ is sort of a misleading term. Clearly Queen St would still be quite busy with transit vehicles [Horrible fumey buses then, please, modern trams, plus delivery and emergency] and still bisected by the cross streets, Victoria, Wellesley, etc with traffic. It’s just that the humans would dominate. Fantastic. Also it is clear that surrounding streets would also benefit and run better. This is so overdue.

    Slight concern is doing this before the CBDRL is in place will put more pressure on to the inefficient bus system. But really we can’t wait for that or every other detail to be perfect or we’ll never get started. In fact it will help push for the case to properly sort the bus routes and build the rail.

    My prediction is that all most everyone will wonder why we waited so long. Except for the die-hard ‘people don’t buy things, cars do’ lobby.

  22. dave s says:

    When I read of the 20 year vision for Auckland it reminded me of a quote from an American astrophysisist ———Imagination (or vision) is more important than fact . Imagination is the bridge to the future.

  23. Nick R says:

    Patrick, I doubt there would be any additional pressure on the bus system. Queen st has a fairly negligible contribution to transport In the CBD. When there city has over 50,000 car parks and arterial roads like hobson and Nelson, dropping a couple of lanes and 51 parks from Queen St won’t even blip the radar.

    In fact, the removal of traffic and rationalization of traffic light phasing would greatly increase the speed of buses using queen st, which means an increased hourly capacity without a single cent invested in vehicles and staff.

  24. Patrick R says:

    Oh Nick I agree, I meant that getting the cars out is a great opportunity to get the transit moving properly with priority. Still such a shame that we are so dependent on cumbersome buses that make pedestrians life so degraded. Hard to see where AT can get the money to put trams in anytime soon…. And still no sign of the CBDRL underway to help reduce the quantity busses on the streets….

  25. Matt L says:

    Looks like the council has accepted the vision which is great news

  26. Nick R says:

    Patrick, I would argue that we are so dependent on cumbersome *cars* that make pedestrians life so degraded, and that buses are an improvement!

  27. Patrick R says:

    True Nick, and isn’t this fantastic news, I’m loving this council, now, where can we get a government that’s just as visionary?

  28. [...] Gehl. It’s also worth taking a look at what the new Auckland Council are looking with their 20 year vision for their inner [...]


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