A lesson on things not always taking the straight path
When the Unitary Plan recommendations came out on the Wednesday I did notice quickly that the Hearings Panel did not decide to carry my Super Metropolitan Centre zone concept forward into the recommendations.
As a brief recap: The Super Metropolitan Centre zone that would have applied to Manukau and Albany (both Metropolitan Centre zones in the Recommended Unitary Plan) as a new Centres hierarchy between the City Centre and Metropolitan Centre zones. The idea behind the Super Metro’s was to allow even more intensified development than a Metropolitan Centre but not as high as the City Centre zone itself. The Manukau and Albany Super Metro’s would then be in a better position to service their sub-regional catchments than a standard Metropolitan Centre could.
But the Panel has decided not recommend the Super Metropolitan Centre concept and I would not expect Council to reject recommendations to bring the Super Metro in (I rather they attempt a public plan change in five years time).
That would seem disappointing to me after five years of work and advocacy to bring the Super Metropolitan Centre for Manukau this far right? Well no. The path or journey continues and has few more curves and runs ahead of it.
For starters the Panel did accept submissions to expand the Manukau Metropolitan Centre west to incorporate the Manukau Supa Centre, Kmart, Bunnings and Mitre 10 sites that had been proposed as General Business Zone. This expands the Manukau Metropolitan area and gives more potential for apartments and small format retail than previously in the proposed version of the Unitary Plan.
That expansion has made Manukau the second biggest Metropolitan Centre by land mass (Albany first) but the biggest in terms of retail floor space at 152,800m2.
Another factor is how the hierarchy of the Centres and the Identified Transport Corridors play out in the Unitary Plan as well. As it is with the Unitary Plan you have the City Centre Zone, the ten Metropolitan Centre Zones, some smaller centres than the Identified Transport Corridor. This ITC as debated with the submitter and panel would use the Mixed Use or General Business Zone to form a specific and often specialised intensified developed corridor along an arterial road. Lincoln Road out in the west is identified as an ITC and there are three to four others recommended by the Panel.
The purpose of the ITC was to act as pressure relief values to near by Centres. So with Lincoln Road it was to relieve Henderson Metropolitan Centre. With Ti Rakau Drive ITC that was there to relieve Botany Metropolitan Centre.
Using the ITC theory I argued to the Panel that Manukau City Centre regardless if it is a Metro or a Super Metro is the pressure relief value to the main City Centre. That being Manukau acts as a compliment to the main City Centre as a pressure relief value while still servicing the geography of Southern Auckland. The diagram below shows the relationship in a basic manner:
Looking at how the Metropolitan Centre in Manukau was expanded and what Transform Manukau has in mind (see below) I conclude the Super Metropolitan Centre has not died but taken an unofficial form.
The Super Metropolitan Centre continues on
With the Metropolitan Centre expansion, Manukau acting both as a City Centre pressure relief value and as a hub to Southern Auckland plus the up-zoning to Terraced Housing and Apartments, and Mixed Housing Urban in the residential area south of Manukau the first steps towards an unofficial Super Metropolitan Centre are laid down.
The next steps which would give the unofficial Manukau Super Metropolitan Centre its backbone is master planning and physical works in Manukau itself. Remember #TransformManukau Update – Exciting Times Ahead? Well it seems Panuku Development Auckland through their 600 hectare Transform Manukau program have kicked things from first gear to full speed ahead (forwards).
With agreements falling into place, plans looking solid and the $72m initial budget approved by the Finance and Performance Committee being well utilised mark Transform Manukau roaring ahead.
Apart from the Manukau Transport Interchange, and Lakewood Plaza (both under way currently) we should be seeing the next phase of Transform Manukau under way with a bit of luck this upcoming Summer construction season if not the next at the latest.
Missing a Hotel?
Housing, retail, office, laneways and open spaces all coming into the mix for Transform Manukau. But as I was thinking and comparing to the City Centre I noticed something missing, a hotel. Manukau does not contain a large 4 or 5 star hotel like the City Centre does.
A 4 or 5 star hotel with a restaurant and hospitality promenade that could easily extend to say where Republic and Nandos are on the north-west flank of the mall would act as an anchor point and fulfil Auckland Council Property Limited (now Panuku’s) previous intentions (through the Auckland Plan) of sparking a hospitality and night life scene in Manukau City Centre. Such a hospitality scene would support the increasing amounts of residents living in Manukau as well as attract more visitors to the area.
Given the public transport and motorway system is in very close proximity to Manukau, transport to and from Manukau, its potential hotel and hospitality scene would not be a difficult exercise.
So a 4 or even 5 star hotel in the heart of Manukau would be a great ‘gem’ project for the Transform Manukau area.
The expansion of the Manukau Metropolitan Centre and Transform Manukau accelerating to top speed in plans, ideas and incoming developments. To me it seems we are seeing the works of an unofficial Super Metropolitan Centre rather than that of an official Metropolitan Centre as per the Unitary Plan. Time will tell how all this pans out
Manukau: (indeed fast becoming) The Meeting Place of the South