Manukau CBD Concept – Update

The Concept is being actively considered folks


Good news everyone – of sorts. I can say that Manukau (City Centre) is under active consideration by the Unitary Plan team on what to do with this unique centre in Southern Auckland. It has been passed onto me ways are being looked around with Manukau and the possible change in its Metropolitan Centre hierarchy status (per the existing draft Unitary Plan). Those who have been watching the Unitary Plan commentary here at Talking Auckland know I have been “leading” a concerted effort in getting Manukau “upgraded” from its current Metropolitan Centre status to City Centre Zone status which will bring it on-par with the existing CBD. This in literal effect means Auckland will be running with two CBD’s rather than one.

I have not been the only one advocating away with the Manukau Central Business Association making concerted efforts and other replies being picked up in the recently released report for Auckland Council on the Social Media campaign during the Unitary Plan feedback process (now closed). Some of those replies included:


From the Report (Pages 34-36)

There was some discussion about the pros and cons of encouraging greater density within the Auckland city centre vs having a number of medium density satellite town centres, connected by good transport networks:

  • “”Can you name a single city comparable to Auckland in which your plan has worked?” I’d say most successful cities have more than just the city centre, they are all multipolar, with good transport links this can also be represented as a city and satellite towns. Think of New York with Manhattan, New Jersey, Brooklyn, The Bronx etc. The problem Auckland has is that all its current district centres are effectively full due to lack of building space and the limitations of the transport network. At least by building in centres a little more remote the only constraint is transport, not building space.”
  • “Auckland is currently struggling to cope with traffic chaos everywhere, not to mention the overloaded water and sewer systems. The sensible option would be to make Manukau and Albany city centres or CBD’s. Manukau and Albany should be allowed similar status with regards to building as the Central Auckland CBD, that is high rise office blocks along with high rise apartment buildings along with the associated retail complexes. By allowing Manukau and Albany to intensify would reduce pressure on the transport systems. These three CBD’s would be connected by high speed motorways and rail systems. A city that has done this is Tokyo there are three CBD’s connected by high speed railways and motorways.”
  • “You have this big emphasis on MORE CHOICE IN WHERE WE LIVE, what about More Choice in Where we Work. Auckland does need jobs and I have been studying Southern Auckland rather closely. While the Metropolitan Centres might not be up for debate I believe they should be and here is why as an example: With Southern Auckland containing 25- 34% of Auckland’s population (depending on which statistics). That is a significant proportion of Auckland and getting them on the move (via transport) would be a nightmare. While not keep our Southerners closer to home and where it is also a sense of place and space for the Southerners (Auckland) and make Manukau a fully fledged CBD. Would as a bonus be great for the environment in cutting down excessive cross city commuting both physically and socially ““”


The last comment was my own.

There will be no doubt more submissions on Manukau in the traditional manner to which have also attracted comments on them as well.


Manukau as a Super Metropolitan Centre?

With active consideration under way for Manukau via the Unitary Plan deliberations, what could it mean to upgrade Manukau from a Metropolitan Centre to a Super Metropolitan Centre rather than a fully fledged CBD? What the Council has in its mind over the new concept right now is unknown. Also as the concept has most likely only just come up it will be very fresh and raw thus subject to analysis and lots of refinement. Until the Council releases more information over the Super Metropolitan Centre concept it is pointless to speculate for the moment. However, we (the citizens) could think amongst ourselves and begin a new round of advocating back towards Council while the UP is under deliberations.


One of the main issues is around the language in the Unitary Plan between the definitions of the City Centre Zone and Metropolitan Centre Zone. The two zones are explained below with a short comment underneath it:

From my Feedback to the Draft Unitary Plan – Pages 75-76

City Centre zone – Zone description
the city centre is the top of the centres hierarchy and plays a pivotal role in Auckland’s present and future success. The zone seeks to ensure the city centre is an international centre for business and learning, innovation, entertainment, culture and urban living. To improve the vibe of the city centre environment, the zone permits a wide range of activities to establish in most parts of the city centre. The zone also manages activities that have the potential to adversely affect the amenity of the city centre. The Unitary Plan enables the greatest level of development in terms of height and floor area to occur in the city centre. Within the city centre itself, development potential is concentrated in the core central business district. Development potential reduces towards the ridgeline and transitions to lower heights on the waterfront and landward periphery.

The zone manages the scale of development in order to protect important historic heritage places, sunlight admission to parks and public spaces, and significant views to the volcanic cones and other landmarks. The significant height and scale of buildings in the city centre increases their visibility from many places, affecting the quality of both public and private views at local and citywide scales. In addition to managing the scale of development, the zone manages the quality of building design to ensure new buildings successfully integrate with the city centre’s existing built form and public realm to create an attractive and recognisable skyline. The city centre makes an important contribution to our sense of identity. Within the city centre are precincts and overlays, which have their own distinct features and character. Precincts and overlays may have additional management provisions.

Metropolitan Centre zone – Zone description
this zone applies to centres located in different sub regional catchments of Auckland. The centres are second only to the city centre in overall scale and intensity and act as hubs for high frequency transport within their catchments. The zone provides for a wide range of activities including commercial, leisure, high density residential, tourist, cultural, community and civic services. Zone provisions, in conjunction with rules in the other business zones, reinforce metropolitan centres as locations for all scales of commercial activity. Precincts and overlays, which modify the underlying zone or have additional provisions, apply to some of the metropolitan centres.

Generally, however, to support an intense level of development, the zone allows for high-rise buildings. Some street frontages within the zone are subject to a Key Retail Frontage or General Commercial Frontage overlay. Key retail streets are the focal point of pedestrian activity within the centre. General commercial streets play a supporting role. Development fronting these streets is expected to reinforce this function. Rules for the overlay are incorporated in the zone rules. New development within the zone requires resource consent in order to ensure that it is designed to a high standard which enhances the quality of the centre’s public realm.


Most Metropolitan Centres at the moment and in the Unitary Plan will be nothing but glorified large Town Centres in what they might become and who they will serve. The main difference between a place labelled Metropolitan Centre now and 2041 is the amount of people in them. The centres will still be doing the same thing in 2041 as they are now – more Town Centre than Metropolitan Centre. And in 2041 we will still have this over-focus on a CBD that drains the resources out of the rest of the city; all because of the focus on Auckland as a Mono-Centric Core with one large metropolitan area.


The point in bold emphasises the need for the language to be correct our centres as the language will affect both perceptions and outcomes of the development of a said centre. The point in bold again: “The city centre makes an important contribution to our sense of identity.

The Metropolitan Centre definition does not carry that bold part nor should they as they (the Metro Centres) play a very different role to a City Centre (zone). However, Manukau is a very unique exception here and hence the massive drive to get it initially upgraded to City Centre Zone status.

For starters as you approach Manukau check the signage, it states Manukau City Centre. No other place apart from the main City Centre itself (the CBD) carries that label. It is because in part of this Manukau CITY CENTRE label that an important contribution is being made to the sense of and our identity of Manukau. We identify Manukau and others identity Manukau as a CITY CENTRE! Manukau is not identified by the population it serves (Southern Auckland)  nor visitors as a Town or even Metropolitan Centre (Wikipedia says otherwise but that is Wikipedia), it is identified as a City Centre and is treated as such (although on a smaller scale than the main CBD).

My Manukau as a Second CBD document which is embedded in my UP feedback document continues to elaborate around this identity concept.


So if Manukau is to be moved to a Super Metropolitan Centre, the Super Metropolitan Centre concept must frame the language that accepts, allows and recognises that: “The (Manukau) city centre makes an important contribution to our sense of identity.”

Once this has been recognised and formalised in the Unitary Plan then the more practical and physical steps for Manukau can begin.

One aspect that a Super Metropolitan Centre should have is the same Unlimited Height rule as the existing CBD has now. Right now in the legacy plans Manukau has that unlimited height (although subject to airport flight path rules) but, that will be limited to 18 storeys under the Metropolitan Centre classification in the current Unitary Plan form. Answering goosid’s question; Manukau has two 18 storey apartment towers presently and demand for more of that height or even higher will grow as MIT opens at the Manukau Station as well as Southern Auckland in general as Auckland marches towards a million extra people. More so as market real estate prices in the existing CBD become out of reach for some due to supply pressure, there will be a natural spillover into less strained areas. Manukau being an existing “city centre” would be the first to take up that overflow being so close to the airport and major transport routes. So allowing Manukau to be either Super Metro or City Centre zoned and have unlimited height will allow the market to place what ever high towers needed to cope with demand.

With the critical mass already realised in a Super Metropolitan Centre (Manukau) the agglomeration  effects currently only seen in the main CBD can begin to occur. Clustering of support industry and commercial services, civic institutions and facilities, as well as social and physical infrastructure (that would also be greatly encouraged by the sense of identity language attached) would occur bringing economies of scale in investment and conducting business. Again as Auckland marches towards another million people the Manukau Super Metropolitan Centre (Manukau City Centre) would be ready to take the brunt as a vital and bustling hub servicing not just the rapidly growing Southern Auckland but also wider Auckland. As I have said many times before, Manukau would be complementing the main CBD especially if it shares the load – rather than competing against it.

As @eyeonauckland said – let economics decide. Oh they will – in favour of Manukau being a Super Metro Centre if not City Centre in itself. It is just good business.


The Plans?


If Council decides to take Manukau up to either a fully fledged City Centre Zone or compromise back to a Super Metropolitan Zone then some serious planning is going to need to be done. At the minimum a comprehensive Area Plan and Economic Development Plan would have to be carried out. This would be with the main Council, planners, Councillors of the Manukau and Manurewa/Papakura Wards, the Papatoetoe/Otara and Manurewa Local Boards (for which Manukau straddles), key stakeholders, and residents of those in the two previously mentioned Council Wards. This could be tacked on the Southern Initiative but I am not so sure if that is floundering around right now and Manukau would just overwhelm it. But if the Initiative can handle it I see why it can not be tacked on and be part of the processes.

Changes would also be made to the Unitary Plan as the Business Zones classification changes as you would get the following:

  • City Centre Zone
  • Super Metropolitan Zone
  • Metropolitan Zone
  • Large Town Centre (was submitted on)
  • Town Centre
  • Local Centre
  • Neighbourhood Centre

So a Super Metro Centre would only be second to the main City Centre itself. Any centre placed in the Super Metro Centre Zone could easily rival the main City Centre Zone if the free market allows so one needs to watch that otherwise you run the risk of cannibalising the main CBD.



Where next?

Advocating and frequent communication with Council over Manukau continues to occur (it was how the idea around Super Metro came to light yesterday). But, right now we need to wait for Council to flesh out this very new and raw concept around the Super Metropolitan Centre before we (the city) can advance further. Needless to say an email has been sent to Council on initial thoughts of the Super Metropolitan Centre but, as I said we just need to be patient and wait for the moment.


More as it happens


Feedback to Draft Unitary Plan

Unitary Plan Social Media Summary


An idea of Manukau City Centre being rezoned

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