The body needs a strong heart
Last Friday Panuku Development Auckland (the Council’s property and development arm) released the Manukau Framework Plan that sets out Manukau’s urban regeneration program. You can read up on the release of the Plan (and the Plan itself) here: #ourmanukau Framework Plan: How Good Is It? Part 21 of the #TransformManukau Series.
In that post I gave the Framework Plan an ‘A’ with the Plan nailing the focus and subsequent need on getting the human elements right in Manukau after focusing on the physical elements for so long. The Puhinui Stream regeneration (Key Move Three) earned my reserved judgement depending on how Housing New Zealand comes to the party with their housing stock in Wiri when the stream undergoes regeneration.
In this post I will be looking at Key Move Two: Creating a Vibrant Heart and how it is critical to land this Key Move quickly for the rest of the Transform Manukau program to continue to stand on its own (and for the other Key Moves to reach full potential).
Creating a Vibrant Heart – Creating a Strong Body
In order to get maximum bang for buck in both investment and outcomes (social and economic) with Manukau (as heart of Southern Auckland) Manukau City Centre needs to have a strong vibrant heart. Without a strong vibrant heart the body (that is Southern Auckland) will be severely hobbled and disjointed in functioning effectively (if at all (without it being “chaos”)). So how does Panuku plan to set about creating this vibrant heart in Manukau City Centre?
Let’s take a look a Key Move Two first:
Key move two – Creating a vibrant heart
The focus will be to create a healthy and vibrant heart at the core of central Manukau that can radiate out to surrounding areas.
Key elements of the move include:
- supporting residential development
- enriching leisure and cultural destination opportunities including Te Papa Manukau and new hotel developments, along with improving the links between existing attractions
- improvements to the Civic Building and Kōtuku House
- expanding and diversifying the retail offer to include mixed-use development on the Westfield Manukau City car parks
- developing new commercial office space for key tenants
- reimagining the public spaces including Manukau Plaza, Putney Way as a main street, Osterley Way as a north–south link, Amersham Way as a hospitality-focused street, Hayman Park as a destination park and Manukau Station Road as a boulevard.
To create that vibrant heart we need to attract new residents into Manukau City Centre to create a critical mass that allows support of new commercial and leisure activities in the area. But before we can attempt to attract new residents into Manukau we need to back the bus up and take a look at the situation currently and some goals into the future.
First the current situation:
You can see Manukau City Centre both lacks cohesion, and housing intensity and choice for a Metropolitan Centre (in the Auckland and Unitary Plans).
But with challenges comes opportunities:
It will be the opportunities seen in the first of the two slides that need be leveraged in building up the residential population in Manukau City Centre. The opportunities in the second slide present themselves more as the population builds and can be leveraged effectively to strengthen Manukau’s natural assets, visitor economy, social capital and education successes.
With the opportunities in the first slide presented (and Manukau is blessed with very strong transport connections and its location (I would say better than the City Centre in some aspects) a goal needs to be set. This goal will need to realise the opportunities mentioned above as well as the goals of ‘Key Move Two.’
Goal One of the Our Manukau Framework Plan: Function – Manukau’s function in the Auckland region and for the people of the south
Our goal: A strong, permanent residential population in Manukau Central, allowing it to function as a vibrant and connected quality compact centre and place of manaakitanga, with an emphasis
on local as well as regional activities and identity, supported by new and revitalised adjoining healthy neighbourhoods.
Panuku envisage the City Centre area to house 10,000 residents with an extra 10,000 residents in the surrounding areas (mainly Wiri, Pacific Gardens and Rata Vines). While I believe you can easily get 25,000 people inside the Transform Manukau area the point is that 10,000 residents calling Manukau City Centre home backed by another 10,000 nearby would give the critical mass in allowing investment in commercial, industry, hospitality and recreation economically viable.
While Manukau moves to house an extra 20,000 new residents we also have to remember Southern Auckland also houses four of the five big heavy industrial complexes:
A manufacturing core
Despite the fact that manufacturing is declining across the Auckland region, Manukau has retained its manufacturing core and there is clear evidence of food and beverage and high-tech clustering in the broader Manukau area. Holding onto this role as a key hub for the manufacturing industry in Auckland and the wider upper North Island is of paramount importance for the future.
Source: Manukau Framework Plan – Part 1, page 41
The Wiri and Airport industrial complexes continue to both consolidate and expand while Onehunga’s complex is in the process of decamping (and moving south) and this must be acknowledged. While industry is not sexy compared to residential, commercial and open spaces (think ribbon cuttings) it is a major economic driver and employer in the South.
Manukau City Centre (the core of Southern Auckland) sits next to Wiri which is Manukau’s manufacturing core and will be such for a very long time. When designing residential spaces for new residents we have to remember where those residents might end up working. It could be very well the manufacturing core or supporting hospitality services which requires different connectivity options (plays into ‘Key Move Five: Enhancing community connectivity’) to a 9-5 office worker.
Meaning? For Manukau’s heart to be vibrant our residential spaces will need to be diverse to cater a heterogeneous working population.
How will ‘Key Move Two – Creating a Vibrant Heart’ be achieved?
The Our Manukau Framework Plan sets out a five-step program that aims to foster a ‘new functioning’ role of Manukau starting with the core City Centre area.
The new functioning role for Manukau being:
Our aim is that, in the future, Manukau Central will function as a lively metropolitan centre and transport hub of regional importance, while catering fully to the needs of its immediate community. The mana of the place will be clearly evident, and it will provide an important source of manaakitanga for the diverse communities of South Auckland. To achieve this, Manukau’s future regional role will have to be carefully balanced against the need to think local; to ensure it becomes an attractive place to live in, as well as to visit. Five roughly sequential steps, underpinned by Māori values and principles, will be important in shifting Manukau to this new functional role.
Source: Manukau Framwork Plan – Part 1, page 23
The Five Step Plan:
Step One and Two – Connecting existing activities up, adding residential space capacity into Manukau City Centre
Step One in connecting and complementing the islands of activity in Manukau City Centre fits right in with my #TransformManukau – Missing the Human Element. Part 8 of the Manukau City Centre – The Transform Series where you try to:
2) Bringing the Local to Manukau
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.
Connecting up existing spaces first and working with what we have lays the foundation for ‘Step Two’ – developing a critical mass of residential space inside Manukau City Centre. ‘Key Move Five’ (Connectivity) would also play a large part on ‘Step One’ leading into ‘Step Two’. Once Step One is underway then work can be done on Step Two in growing that residential community in the heart of Manukau (and wider area).
Indeed intensification or for that matter creation of new residential space in Manukau City Centre must be done well unless we want to create monolithic structures with little soul (thus creating vertical sprawl). To get best bang for buck out the land space while creating more vibrant spaces any new residential development that is mid or high-rise (four storeys or more with high-rise 8+) should be a mixed use development. That being:
- Ground floor: retail
- Level 1 (1-4 in a high-rise): office or community/civic
- Levels 2+ (the 3rd storey) (5 in a high-rise) residential of various sizes
This way at least one part of the complex is being utilised at any time of the day and you do not end up with dead space as you would with say a sole-use office block.
Once the residential population begins to hit critical mass in Manukau can we move to ‘Step Three’
Businesses whether it be commercial services (including retail or hospitality) or commercial office will be attracted to an area that has a critical mass of residential population. Whether that commercial is servicing the local area, wider Manukau, the industrial complex in Wiri or region-wide having that critical mass of residents living in Manukau City Centre will certainly be attraction. Why?
- High possibility of sourcing at least some of your workers
- If commercial services then an immediate catchment of consumers/buyers
- Agglomeration bonus of businesses and residents clustering together as seen with the main City Centre
With ‘Step Three’ secured then we can move to Step Four that has effects to the wider Transform Manukau area:
‘Step Five’ is being able to leverage Manukau’s geographic location for future investment especially on the commercial and industrial sides. But to do that first when need to get Steps One through to Three lined up and executed properly first.
Urban Design creating Walkable and Transit Orientated Developments inside Manukau
With Manukau accessible by rail and bus (Manukau houses the main South Auckland Bus Station and the Manukau Rail Station) creating walkable and transit orientated based development is straight forward. I will cover this more when I cover ‘Key Move Five: Enhancing community connectivity.’ For more on walkable and transit orientated developments see: Walkable and Transit Orientated Environments – They Attract Jobs #Part 20 of the #TransformManukau Series.
A short version relevant to Manukau though:
Good urban design = good community
Urban Design can do one of two things: it can either build a great community or it can create desolate spaces and NO community.
Auckland is not immune to the latter but in fairness has some great urban design that do promote community. Remember with urban design you are trying to promote the following:
- Social interaction and cohesion
- Physical and human environments
The Congress for the New Urbanism gave their top ten tips for urban design building communities:
Ten reasons to build community through urban design
We build cities that bring us together or push us apart. “Gated communities” are an obvious example of building to isolate, but other methods are also common. Streets that are too wide, with fast moving traffic, divide us. So do zoning codes that separate uses and housing types. Berms, buffers, setbacks, limited-access highways, and massive parking lots, when used routinely, put barriers and distance between people.
Mixed-use neighborhoods and great public spaces, on the other hand, bring citizens together in real communities. Here are the ten best reasons to design and build places that support community:
1) For freedom and choice in mobility
When you live in a place designed to keep people apart, you have to get around by motor vehicle. When you live in a walkable neighborhood, you can still drive if you want to. But you can also walk, ride a bike, hop on a bus or train, and often take car-share or bike-share.
2) To support social interaction
Humans are social, yet this primary fact of life is oddly absent as a core consideration in modern urban development regulations that separate uses and housing, notes Steve Price, principal in the firm Urban Advantage. Price has gathered impressive research on how land-use policies that bring us together can reduce loneliness and social deprivation.
3) For great public places
You know when you are in a great public place, and the pure joy that it brings is palpable. People flock to these places. There is nothing like great public places to bring people together, but activating such spaces requires people living and working in proximity—it requires the neighborhood model.
4) For healthy lifestyle opportunities
Places where people walk 10,000 steps per day as part of their daily activities have been proven to be healthier than those where people walk less, all other things being equal, notes architect Steve Mouzon. Living in a walkable place myself, I walk and ride a bike nearly every day for transportation. But I also run regularly, and the convenience of simply stepping out my door and jogging a few miles in pleasant surroundings contributes to my health. If I had to go to the gym, or drive someplace to run on a trail, I’d do it less and maybe not at all.
5) To reduce cost of living
The average car costs more than $9,000 a year. When you live in a walkable city, you drive significantly less or may even live without a car. Transportation costs are significantly reduced, which cuts combined housing and transportation (H+T) expenses. My analysis of the 25 largest US traditional cities shows combined H+T costs of 40.4 percent of median income—that’s 19 percent lower than the 25 largest sprawling cities (49.9 percent of median income). Living in a traditional city generates a lot of discretionary income to save or spend.
6) To protect the environment
Places that bring us together benefit the environment in several ways: Every trip on foot or on a bike burns fat instead of gas, keeping us healthier and the air cleaner, observes Mouzon. Also, when we spend time outdoors, he says, we get acclimated to the local environment so that when we return indoors we may be able to throw the windows open and leave the air conditioner off. Heres a graph that quantifies how transit-oriented neighborhoods reduce carbon emissions.
7) For long-lasting value and to build the tax base
Joe Minicozzi of Urban 3 has documented the productivity of American development patterns—and the most productive parts are mixed-use downtowns and neighborhoods. He has modeled scores of US cities and the data is clear: Single-use development has lower financial productivity. See below for the relative performance of Walmart compared to a downtown building in Asheville, North Carolina.
8) To reduce infrastructure expenses
Our cities are drowning in unproductive liabilities, says Charles Marohn of Strong Towns. One reason is that we built infrastructure inefficiently during the Age of Sprawl that is now requiring maintenance. See the graph below for the amount of fire hydrants and water piping in Lafayette, Louisiana, in 1949—when the city was compact and walkable—and today.
9) To reduce traffic deaths
When cities and towns are designed for separation, inevitably the thoroughfares are built for faster moving traffic. People have to drive farther, at higher speeds—multiplying risk for everybody on the roads, including those who must walk in difficult conditions. This costs lives. University of Connecticut researchers examined 24 cities in California, half built mostly before 1950—where people can drive less, walk, and use transit more—and the other half mostly after 1950. The 12 pre-1950 cities had traffic death rates of less than one-third those of the post-1950 cities.
10) To make your community unique
The more we build to separate, the more every place looks like every place else. It’s hard to distinguish between shopping centers, strip commercial corridors, subdivisions, and office parks in Virginia, Oregon, Colorado, or Connecticut. But when you build and revitalize mixed-use main streets and focus on placemaking, the unique qualities of community are enhanced. That gives people a reason to go to a community, experience something different, and invest.
Source, full article and all pictures: https://www.cnu.org/publicsquare/2017/01/17/ten-reasons-build-community-through-urban-design
As I began with urban design can either build or desolate communities.
Manukau City Centre, and Papakura Metropolitan Centre are two areas where urban design are not the best to build communities. Both miss the human elements (see below) and as I observed when I was doing a Public Life Survey yesterday in Manukau, people will treat both Centres as places to walk through rather than places of destination.
I know quite a bit of reading there folks. But if we are to succeed in Key Move Two – Creating a Vibrant Heart in Manukau then a bit of prep work needs to be done before we start turning sods on residential projects.
In the next post I will be covering Key Move Five – Enhancing community connectivity.