Turning a former State Highway into a human people space
Earlier in the Transform Manukau series I did comment and provide an alternative to Manukau Station Road (see: #TransformManukau – Manukau Station Road. Part 10 of the Manukau City Centre – The Transform Series).
Manukau Station Road is the old Wiri Station Road which use to be State Highway 20 to the airport until the South Western Motorway got built. Now that the motorway has taken over the SH20 duties what was a former arterial is now a wide four lane road through the southern end of Manukau that is extremely unfriendly to humans.
With Auckland Transport looking at bringing light rail into Manukau on its way to the Airport in the near future as well as Transform Manukau now under way it would be a good time to have another look and Manukau Station Road.
Manukau Station Road links the following all together:
- Manukau Mall
- Council buildings
- Rainbows End
- Medical Centre
- Manukau Bus Station
- Manukau Rail Station
- Housing (coming soon)
Manukau Station Road is thus both an important transit link as well as an urban spine in the southern section of Manukau City Centre. Given the high amount of civic, commercial and entertainment facilities long this spine as well as it serving as a major bus transit route (and later light rail) humanising Manukau Station Road should be the second project off the rank after the Puhinui Stream rehabilitation. That does mean Manukau Station Road gets bumped ahead of the Davis Avenue axis which would be third off the rank instead of the current second.
But it comes back to do we link up existing areas first or start with areas first to either maintain current users or attract new users to Manukau (see: #TransformManukau – Missing the Human Element. Part 8 of the Manukau City Centre – The Transform Series).
2) Bringing the Local to Manukau
One thing Panuku made very clear in their sit down is that Manukau is great with the regional stuff like the mall, large format retail, Rainbows End, the police HQ and the courts. But what is missing in Manukau is the local stuff that would make people want to stay, linger, socialise or even live in Manukau rather than this 9-5 transactional economy Manukau currently has.
As I quoted above we are great at the physical stuff (and often that is where the regional stuff is often placed) but we are lagging in the human stuff (where the local would sit) that humanises a centre especially a Metropolitan Centre.
So what is the local stuff needed to humanise the Metropolitan Centre that is Manukau City Centre (and its surrounds)? Well a critical mass of a permanent population base (whether it be apartments in Manukau City Centre itself or terraced housing in the residential estates south of Manukau City Centre) would be a good start as that critical mass attracts commercial development (viability) and further investment from the public sector (Council and Government). The commercial development especially if things like bars, cafes, and small format retail would give people a reason to stay, linger, socialise, and attract more people to live and work in Manukau.
A risk though in driving for that critical mass of a permanent residential population in Manukau is that the new residential population decide to go elsewhere to socialise and even work resulting in Manukau still losing out as a 9-5 transactional economy.
The question is though what goes first to attract people to Manukau in order to build that critical mass and bring that Local (the people) to Manukau? Do we go with the physical stuff first like big apartment blocks or even more offices followed by open spaces or do we go open spaces first THEN the apartment blocks and offices? If I put my Cities Skylines hat on we go open spaces first then the apartments and offices.
The reason for going for the open spaces first is two-fold:
- Increase the quality of the area already to existing users
- Make the area more attractive to new residents and workers
There is also a third reason being cheaper to lay down first rather than retrofit later on when the developments are completed.
Good open spaces right off the bat before the development for new residents and workers also gives reason for existing users of Manukau to socialise, linger and even purchase more services and goods. This in turn through Economics 101 acts as the catalyst to more wanting to come to the area in both living, shopping, working, and selling those goods and services. But remember the aim is to bring the local (the people) to Manukau.
Large format retail form good regional anchors and have a place in Manukau given Manukau is the regional hub for half a million people. But the encouragement is also needed on small format retail including hospitality to give the people inclusionary feel of a and in a large Centre (Manukau can be rather isolating to a person or a group of people). And to do this we need to understand both the people already coming to Manukau like myself and those already in Manukau like the businesses in order so that we can be good active front seat drivers to Transform Manukau (rather than a passenger steering out the window bored silly).
The below tweet would help fulfilling the open space requirement (humanising the area) to maintain existing users while attracting new ones before going all out with residential and commercial developments:
What Keesmaat has tweeted above suits Manukau Station Road perfectly. The middle transit lines can be fitted either for current busses or later Light Rail (although that would be elevated) so there will not be issues there. For the rest it humanises Manukau Station Road and connects both sides of that spine especially as people traverse between the stations, the mall and Rainbows End.
Humanising Manukau Station Road seems a good step on the social and transit side for #TransformManukau.