Question: Can Southern Auckland house another mall without putting Manukau City Centre at risk?
Answer: Yes it can
Okay if that was going to be my entire blog post I could have fitted it into a Tweet or two.
But in any case with Southern Auckland projected to take at least another 200,000 new residents and some 35,000 new jobs at the minimum the South can support a medium-sized mall in the Drury area without harming commerce back up in Manukau.
I will touch on the urban geography and economics of Manukau City Centre and the Westfield mall further down in the post. For the moment I will look at the quantity of development south of Manukau and the catchment of the new mall in the Drury area.
Drury Mall catchment
As I have covered in my Auckland: The Donut City post Auckland is developing like a donut with residential developing on the fringe and the bulk of new employment at the City Centre (with some at the Airport). This creates pressures on both the rail and roading network at our choke points in Otahuhu, Mt Wellington and Mangere Bridge as people embark on their longish commutes to and from work rather than being presented with the option of being able to work closer to home.
Subsequently I printed up some maps and flags and embarked on an Urban Geography exercise on how Southern Auckland could possibly develop with the goal of presenting enough employment and leisure options to keep the South commuting within itself (majority anyway). The exercise can be seen in my Auckland Plan Refresh: Spatial Development Ideas for Southern Auckland that focused on Manukau and Drury as two major hubs servicing the South.
With Drury I had placed a transport interchange (road/rail) that had retail, office and medium density residential development placed around it while the Drury South industrial complex next door. This would allow Drury to become a fully fledged Town Centre with a catchment from Takanini to Pukekohe and some overflow into the northern Waikato.
An example of possible urban development options in Drury:
As can be seen the Drury South Centre where the mall would be located is accessible by transit (train and bus) and road or motorway. It is surrounded by medium density (well should be) residential dwellings and has connections back to Papakura Metropolitan Centre, and Manukau City Centre.
When I refer to mall I am not talking about your traditional American mono-use type malls that face in from the surrounding environment. I am talking about an open air mall that faces its surrounding environment and is multi-use. By mixed use I mean a mix of residential, commercial (retail and service) and office within the same site. The Unitary Plan allows for 27 metres of height which translates out to six storeys meaning the development would be mid-rise. Bearing this in mind this is how I would develop the mall:
- Basement: Parking
- Ground floor: Retail
- First floor: mix of retail, civic space and office
- Second floor: Office
- Third-Fifth floors (total of three floors): apartments of various sizes (studio to three bedroom)
Having green spaces and open plazas would be a must as well.
Remembering this new mall at Drury would be the size similar to Pakuranga Plaza which has a ground floor area of 42,000m2 (although it has several storeys from an office tower annex). As a comparison Manukau is 45,000m2 (in terms of letting area) and that to be honest is considered too small to service its Southern Auckland catchment.
A major benefit of a multi-use facility at the new mall is the reduction in long commutes for either shopping or work especially by car. The new mall would be next to the new Drury Transport Interchange making it accessible by bus or train for shoppers while apartment dwellers can access those same transit options to head north for work if need be.
The question is would a new mall harm Manukau?
The simple answer is no, a new mall next to a new transport interchange at Drury would not harm Manukau City Centre and its mall.
Urban and economic Geographies between Drury and Manukau are different as are their respective catchments.
The new mall at Drury would be set in a Town Centre environment while Manukau is set in a Metropolitan Centre environment. Town Centres (like Local Centres but bigger) are designed for a localised catchment where as a Metropolitan Centre is designed for a sub regional (or in Manukau’s case regional and inter-regional) catchment. The size of the catchment will ultimately determine the agglomeration bonus effects – that is what and how much will cluster together in mutual benefit of one another inside a respective Centre. The City Centre obviously has the largest catchment thus the largest agglomeration bonus benefits in Auckland (hence the clustering of services and high density towers). Manukau City Centre would be next on the list with its catchment all of Southern Auckland and the northern Waikato. Consequently from this large catchment it too has large agglomeration bonus effects Drury would not be able to reach (being a Town Centre it does enjoy agglomeration benefits but at a small-scale).
I would not expect to find Government department headquarters in Drury but would in Manukau is an example of catchments and agglomeration. Manukau through its catchment would attract more international offerings in terms of retail and hospitality hoping to cash in on the large agglomeration bonus Manukau provides where as Drury necessarily wouldn’t (would favour smaller and local based retailers). Simply put I would go to Manukau for very different reasons compared to going for Drury. Drury I would visit for the “local” shop and quiet catch up at a cafe or local green space. Manukau I would visit for the big retail scene, the wide hospitality scene especially at nights or the weekends, or the civic services clustered in the area.
Manukau is undergoing urban regeneration via Transform Manukau with the Metropolitan Centre zone allowing 18 storey residential or commercial towers. Ideally the Manukau Mall would double its size (by going up) to allow space for 400 retailers, a diverse and ethnic food-court scene, plaza space for informal recreation and allowance for residential and office towers above the mall itself. At least then the core of Manukau would be able to service its growing sub region of Southern Auckland more effectively than now. But in the end Manukau and Drury serve very different purposes to each other.
As for Papakura Metropolitan Centre? Apartments are slowly being built to give the place critical mass but a lot need to be done streetscape and retail offerings wise to bring Papakura up to its full potential.