City Building: Auckland Transport’s “expectations” should not dictate our planning

An attachment to my March 2017 Board report

On 10 March I attended a joint Planning Committee and Waitematā Local Board workshop hosted by Panuku to discuss the extensive Waterfront and City Centre Work Programme.  Over the next year we are going to see the refresh of the Auckland Plan, the City Centre Masterplan and the Central Wharves Strategy and further work on the Wynyard Quarter Framework Plan.  The invite described the workshop as follows

Significant progress has been made towards achieving Auckland’s vision of our CBD waterfront as a world-class destination and economic driver for the region. The Council family is currently working together to build on this progress and refresh our thinking with respect to the changing context of the waterfront, so as to ensure that we continue to deliver on the potential for this crucial part of the city – from Harbour Bridge to Teal Park.

 You are invited to a workshop to inform the next stage of waterfront planning. The workshop will help you to fully understand the current state, interrogate the impending decisions, and provide guidance for the strategic refresh.

 This complex and ambitious development programme is being planned and delivered by an integrated taskforce from across Council, Panuku Development Auckland, ATEED and Auckland Transport.

After the workshop I wrote the following in a facebook post in reaction to one of the slides from the presentation:

Interesting to attend the Planning Committee workshop this morning on the waterfront and city centre work programme. What it really highlighted to me is how much of our planning is still being dictated by Auckland Transport engineers and their “expectations” and modelling of traffic volumes. The design of the city is a political decision. As we know from smart people like Ethan Kent (one of many international speakers we’ve been fortunate to host in Auckland) if we design for “cars and traffic we will get more traffic. If we design for people and places, we will get people” This is so clearly demonstrated on O’Connell Street. If we’d listened to the engineers the upgrade would have included car parking. Instead the politicians led by Shale Chambers set the vision for a shared space. It is working so well, especially while it is now temporarily closed for the developments nearby, the retailers would like it permanently closed to cars. As we move ahead into the next version of the Waterfront plan and City Centre master plan, Auckland Transport needs to ask what the vision is (e.g. a carfree city centre, a pedestrian first city centre, a child friendly city, low carbon city etc), the politicians should then confirm, after public consultation, the outcomes we want and we must then demand the city is built to achieve that vision.

O’Connell Street before and after (Photo Credit: Transport Blog)

Related reading

Council saves Linear Park from Auckland Transport’s clutches, Transport Blog

Auckland’s transport crisis: How it was made and why it will only get worse The Spinoff