The Albany Super Metropolitan Centre

Oh what to do with Albany


Recently a discussion on Twitter cropped up about (legacy) planning (so pre Unitary Plan) and the negative consequences it has had on Auckland. The discussion then led to Albany located at the northern urban periphery on Auckland’s North Shore.

The debate was about how Albany Centre – a Metropolitan Centre under the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan was a planning disaster and in need for some serious love.

“Serious love”; now where have I heard that expression before? The remark was from Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse in reaction to my presentation last November on the Manukau City Centre in Auckland’s south. Manukau (also a Metropolitan Centre under the Unitary Plan) is a legacy of 1960’s auto-centric planning and is in need of an upgrade to bring it into the 21st Century. Hence the concept of the Manukau Super Metropolitan Centre was born as a major advocacy project to bring Manukau into the 21st Century.

Albany Centre is a legacy of 1990’s planning, the same planning that has in my opinion condemned Flatbush and in part Botany into auto-centric places. However, when the Super Metropolitan Centre concept was first designed by me it was always intended that there would be two such centres in Auckland. Manukau is the first and eventually Albany would be the second Super Metropolitan Centre. Your Super Metropolitan Centres acting as tier two centres (so behind the main City Centre but in front of the Tier Three Metropolitan Centres) which are regional hubs that also have links to their respective region next door (so Manukau for the Waikato and Albany for Northland).


A Recap on the Super Metropolitan Centre

Below is two extracts from my submission to the Proposed Unitary Plan earlier this year. The first extract contains the context of the Super Metropolitan Centre while second extract is the change requests to the Unitary Plan to allow the insertion of the Super Metropolitan Centre


The Regional Policies and Objectives – Super Metropolitan Centre extract


How the Super Metropolitan Centre would fit into the Unitary Plan – Extract


How Albany moulds into the Super Metropolitan Centre Concept

While my submission did focus on the Manukau Super Metropolitan Centre, the actual Super Metropolitan Centre concept itself is designed for both Manukau and Albany. The Albany Super Metropolitan Centre would begin by drawing on material from the Auckland Council Property Limited submission to the Auckland Plan which you can see here and is in part in the first extract above. From there (with Albany being very different from Manukau) new work would need to be done to haul Albany from the 20th Century and into the 21st Century as Auckland’s second Super Metropolitan Centre. Mind you looking at the Geography of Auckland that will be no easy feat relative again to its southern cousin.

Lets take a look at some comparison maps of Albany and Manukau City Centre

Manukau City Centre and its immediate surrounds:

Manukau City Centre Area
Manukau City Centre Area


How Manukau sits under the Proposed Unitary Plan as a Metropolitan Centre

Manukau Metro UP map revised
Manukau Metro UP map revised


The Manukau Super Metropolitan Centre “breakdown”

Manukau SMC Zone MK2
Manukau SMC Zone MK2

Renaming the Residential and Business Zones in Manukau and Manukau City Centre

Relief Sort Map Reference Replaces existing Draft Unitary Plan Zone
Super Metropolitan Centre Zone A Metropolitan Centre
Mixed Use Zone B General Business Zone(flanking Canvendish Drive between Lambie Drive and Great South Road, and Great South Road between Te Irirangi Drive and Gladding Place)
  • Residential Intensive Medium Density Zone,
  • Residential Standard Medium Density Zone
  • Residential Classic Medium Density Zone.
B Mixed Housing Suburban Zone
Residential Classic Medium Density Zone and existing Neighbourhood Centre Zone C Mixed Housing Zone Suburban
Mixed Use Zone D General Business Zoneand Light Industry at northern end of Manukau


Note: All other zones within the four Manukau Map References including existing Mixed Use Zone on the previous map remain as is.


Albany as it sits in Proposed Unitary Plan

Albany Metropolitan Centre
Albany Metropolitan Centre


Aerial view of Albany

Albany Metropolitan Centre
Albany Metropolitan Centre


As I have not done any work in Albany yet I can’t show you a breakdown of the Super Metropolitan Centre concept work as I have done with Manukau.


Some points of Difference between Albany and Manukau

Manukau Albany
Linked by State Highways 1 and 20 Linked only by State Highway 1
Linked by several arterial roads in all directions Linked only Albany Expressway, Albany and Dairy Flat Highways, and Oteha Valley Road which all converge at one point to the north west
Rail Station and Bus Interchange to the south west Bus Station to the north which is not connected to the Northern Bus Way
Grid street pattern with arterials around the outside Circular street pattern with seven access points connecting to one of the above roads
Events Centre in south-east flank Sport Stadium in north-west corner
Flanked by Heavy Industry (Wiri) in West and South West. Other heavy industrial complexes such as East Tamaki and Highbrook are 10 minutes to the east and north east No heavy industry nearby. Nearest light industry is to the south
AUT and MIT campuses within Manukau area Massey University Campus on the western border but not inside the Metropolitan Centre itself
Land developed Land not fully developed
Core area has two lane roads with wide grass medians Core has 4 lane roads with narrow grass medians
Not surrounded by Terraced Housing and Apartment Zones Not surrounded by Terraced Housing and Apartment Zones
Metropolitan Centre surrounded by Mixed Use Zones and General Business Zone to allow expansion Metropolitan Centre surrounded by either Business Park Zone, Special Zones, or Residential Zones thus limited transitioning and expansion
Developed Land is 67% surface car parking Developed Land is 67% surface car parking
Mall is a centre point of activity Mall is centre point of activity
Contains Civic Functions such as Council service centre, Courts, Police and police area HQ, Civic Building housing Council and Auckland Transport staff as well as Civic room for hearings and functions Does not contain civic facilities of the same extent Manukau does to my knowledge
10 Minutes to the airport At least 45 minutes to the airport

I forgot to mention Manukau has Hayman Park to its west, I believe Albany has no such parks or even open plazas and pedestrian mall strips.

So in short Albany compared to Manukau is in a spot of planning bother. What makes the bother worse is that Albany continues to grow under its legacy plan rules (so more of the same) with the Unitary Plan not kicking in until 2016.


The question ultimately lies with what to do with Albany here now and in the future.

While I did mention Albany should become a Super Metropolitan Centre and even brought under the City Transformational Unit the same as Manukau there was a debate around timing. With Manukau going first (the main City Centre is already under way) of the Metropolitan Centres I did not plan to begin the same level of work until 2021, five years after the Unitary Plan became operative and (well with hope) the Super Metropolitan Zones in effect. The main reason what resources being tied up in the South with Manukau as well as extensive dialogue and planning alongside North Shore and Rodney residents for Albany (Manukau is effectively ready to go as a comparison). The course of the debate eventually came to the conclusion that Albany should be done at the same time as Manukau which is basically immediate.


I am struggling to see how that could be done (the immediate) with Albany with the level of foundational work (dialogue and planning) given Albany’s current state. Unless a pile of resources was flooded into the North Shore (current whispers from the Long Term Plan 2015-2025 workshops is suggesting the bulk of funding is heading for the Isthmus and South) I can not see Albany being undertaken for renewal led by the Council so soon. That said there is nothing stopping someone from the north who would have the same level of passion to undertake some pre foundational work with Albany as I am with Manukau. So the challenge for the Albany Super Metropolitan Centre is wide open.


Later on this year I might take a look again at Albany and see what I can come up with . You never know it could have mini metro centres within the Albany Super Metropolitan Centre as well as a Sky Train in the future – the same as the Manukau Super Metropolitan Centre.

Manukau Mall Station and the Sky Train Line
Manukau Mall Station and the Sky Train Line Reference for the Sketch Up Pocket Park: