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Report back and decision set for August
This morning I was at the Auckland Development Committee listening in on the debate around what to do with Queen Elizabeth Square in downtown Auckland. The debate was pretty good although some not necessary outbursts did mar the overall quality of the debate. I take my hat off to Councillor Cameron Brewer who articulated the main points around the Square debate very well today – as did Councillor Fletcher. Hopefully Councillor Brewer will get one of his fabled releases out as it will be a good one to see (for once).
Full commentary will be up tomorrow but in the meantime from Auckland Council:
First steps taken to redevelop downtown Auckland
Auckland Council has agreed in principle to negotiate the sale of Queen Elizabeth Square to Precinct Properties New Zealand Ltd in return for proceeds being used to provide quality downtown public spaces.
The square and the Downtown Shopping Centre sit above the route of the twin rail tunnels that will form part of the city rail link.
Precinct Properties proposes major redevelopment of its shopping centre and surrounding properties which it owns.
Proceeds from the commercial sale of the 2000m2 public square could be used to develop an alternative public area, such as Admiralty Steps on the Quay street waterfront.
A plan by Precinct Properties for the comprehensive redevelopment of its property holdings in the area has also opened an opportunity to reintroduce aspects of historic Little Queen Street which was lost in earlier redevelopments.
Council staff believe Precinct Properties’ plans will also link with council proposals for the transformation of Quay Street waterfront.
“We are in the very early stages of proposals for this area,” said Deputy Mayor and Auckland Development Committee chair Councillor Penny Hulse. “With the city rail link tunnels running below Precinct Properties buildings, it makes sense to align the tunnel construction with the company’s development programme.
“Working with the company will produce the best outcome for all parties, including new public amenities at no cost to ratepayers.”
Note that Queen Elizabeth Square has NOT been sold. However, the Council through today have made their intent known that they do wish to sell the Square back to the private sector.
A decision at the Auckland Development Committee in August will decide whether to actually sell the Square or not.
Full commentary tomorrow
The Abridged Version of Why Te Papa North Should be In Manukau
Note: This is the abridged version of my earlier commentary on this matter.
It seems Te Papa North (Manukau) has stirred up some criticism towards fellow Aucklanders by fellow Aucklanders. One of the most recent and harshest criticisms came from The Listener’s piece: “Editorial: the right location for Te Papa North“ (12/9/2013)
The reasons the person gave in that editorial piece were “interesting” to say the least. In reply I will outline why Manukau is the right location for such a museum.
Starting with the direct and indirect benefits of the facility being in Manukau; these economic and social benefits have to outpace the monetary costs of the facility. This in my opinion can be easily done.
The Economic Benefits
- Employment in the facility whether it be the curator, the cafe owner or the cleaner
- Visitors spending their money inside the facility which has flow on effects
- Contractors contracted by the facility to carry out whatever task it maybe – this has the flow on effect of contractors hiring more people
- Visitors spending money in other areas of Manukau
- Research committed by the facility
- Urban Renewal projects carried out in the surrounding area owing to the facility being in THAT area
- Investment attracted by both the Art elite (the patrons of Te Papa Manukau) and by others either in support of the facility or through other investments like urban renewal
The Social Benefits
- Education/Research; conducting and equipping those with knowledge advances society and reduces inequality amongst the population. Think of the knowledge this facility could part on to our population here in the South which (and I pull no punches here) is socially deprived compared to the Isthmus. Te Papa Manukau will also complement the MIT and AUT campus sites both in Manukau too
- Morale: Jobs and education mean less inequality which means a better functioning society through higher morale. A population that has a higher morale is a population less likely to feel the ill-effects of deprivation and everything that goes with it (crime, disease, health, low life expectancy). While Te Papa Manukau is not the silver bullet to our ills, I am pointing out a cog that will have more benefits in lifting South Auckland up
Of course those benefits do trickle across the wider city as well.
As for Te Papa North being inaccessible in Manukau rather than Wynyard Quarter, that is a load of rubbish. By 2018/9 when the Museum would be due to open you would have the following options:
With the City Rail Link near completion (by the time Te Papa North opens), the new EMU trains moving at usually 10 minute frequencies, and with some luck the Congestion Free Network under construction it would take you approximately:
- 25-30mins from Britomart to Manukau by train
- 1 hour (should be reduced when the City Rail Link opens) from Henderson to Manukau by train
- 20-30mins by bus from the airport
- 13 minutes from Papakura to Manukau by train once the Manukau Rail South Link is open (this would operate under 20 minute frequencies for the direct services)
- 30-35mins from Botany to Manukau by bus
- 75mins from the North Shore to Manukau (needing a mix of train, bus and/or ferry there until the North Shore Line is open (should allow the journey to be cut down to 45mins by then))
For those inclined to take the car Te Papa Manukau is very easily accessible by both State Highways One and Twenty (including using the Western Ring Route). Travel Times are approximate owing to differing levels of congestion – but apart from Papakura to Manukau, just use the public transport times and minus it by a third if going by car.
Thus accessibility is not a problem except for maybe those who live on the North Shore (who are relatively disconnected to the bulk of Auckland anyhow). So the transport card won’t fly with me.
The Proposed Te Papa Site in Manukau
As for Wynyard Quarter being close to such places as “Shops and eateries, farmers’ markets and recreation such as cycling and skating naturally flourish, that has already occurred in Auckland’s once-controversial Viaduct Basin.”
Well Manukau has shops (the mall you can’t usually find a park in the weekend), the Otara Market on Saturdays (the biggest in Auckland if not New Zealand), places to cycle and participate in recreational activities, Rainbows End, even the Botanical Gardens where you can enjoy long walks and a bite to eat at the cafe . Manukau might not be the Ritz here but it is still enjoyable
With urban renewal also coming to the Manukau (Super) Metropolitan Centre the place is only get better.
- Hamish Keith: Almost, but not far enough for museum (nzherald.co.nz)
- Let’s Try This with Manukau (voakl.net)
- Te Papa in Manukau (voakl.net)
- Editorial: Waterfront better than Manukau for Te Papa (nzherald.co.nz)
Start Small – Then Work to Large
As we know, Manukau is in the pipeline for receiving Te Papa’s Auckland facility after a joint announcement by the Minister of Arts and the Mayor of Auckland. Interestingly enough the harshest of critics towards the facility in Manukau would be the ones who would naturally support – although apparently they prefer Wynyard Quarter.
However, their claims can be easily refuted by either (or all of) one of three counter-claims:
- Perceived inaccessibility at Manukau compared to Wynyard Quarter– when they have no qualms in travelling to malls and beaches from far-flung places in the sprawling city. And travelling cross city should be efficient and seamless once the Congestion Free Network is up and running (also see Point Three in regards to independent tourists who love to explore entire cities – not just the CBD Tourist Trap)
- People seeing South Auckland in a negative light – e.g Auckland’s poor “ghetto.” Umm no. South Auckland is a culturally rich and diverse place with great people. Yes some are less well off than others monetary wise but the South as noted is one cultural melting pot. I also live in South Auckland and have no qualms being here.
- Concentrate everything in the CBD at the detriment of the suburbs. For heavens sake there is more to Auckland that the CBD and as both experience and Geography have taught me, Free Independent Travellers (locals and tourists) travel. So when they travel – they will naturally trundle down to Manukau to explore because that is what FIT’s do – EXPLORE!
I have further commentaries on the positives of Te Papa coming to Manukau in my respective three posts:
- Te Papa Coming to Manukau – Auckland
Just a reminder to readers that the Te Papa North Facility is not just housing Te Papa. It is in fact a joint facility with: Te Papa, Auckland War Memorial Museum, and The Auckland Art Gallery all operating out of the Manukau facility. I also believe there will be storage and research operations carried out at the facility as well.
So with Te Papa North on the way to Manukau this might be a good time to really start looking at restoring the love to the Manukau City Centre area.
Urban Renewal in the Manukau (Super) Metropolitan Centre – One Step at a Time
Those following the Manukau Super Metropolitan Centre concept commentary know that there are active efforts (from my end at least) to bring the Manukau City Centre out from its 1960’s auto-centric past, into a 21st Century people-centric city.
Te Papa North is another cog in the great machine to “restoring the love” (as Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said) to the heart of Southern Auckland and my home (probably why some of the more astute readers can see an emotional attachment from me here).
But no amount of urban renewal in Manukau will work until we get the place flipped over from ‘Car-First’ to ‘People-First.’ By that I mean making the streets people (and cyclist) friendly.
To flip streets over into people friendly shared spaces can be done in small steps on bit at a time. Auckland Transport are already starting with Davis Avenue in making that pro-people (rather than pro-car).
The Auckland Transport Davis Avenue Project
Once Davis Avenue is done my next recommendation would be Ronwood Avenue that runs east-west through the heart of the Manukau City Centre Area.
This gallery shows what I am referring to:
You can see narrow lanes going each way with on-street parking and very wide grass centre medians on Ronwood Avenue. Traffic volumes vary depending what is going on at the two roundabouts at the west end and in the centre of Ronwood Avenue.
Basically what you do is transplant what Auckland Transport has done to Davis Avenue over to the entire length (except for the small piece at the Great South Road end which can stay as is) and drop the speed limit to 30km/h. If you go one step further you could turn the pieces of this upgraded Ronwood Avenue in to Shared Zones like Fort Street in the CBD. One thing though is that depending on the new bus routings from Auckland Transport, Ronwood Avenue might need one or two bus stops to allow buses to exchanges passengers who might not want to go to the upcoming Manukau interchange.
Once Ronwood Avenue is complete with its upgrade my next choice would be Sharkey Street that connects to Ronwood Avenue (and Cavendish Drive). After that then we can look at some of the rat-runner roads like Cavendish Drive and Lambie Drive and get them more transit and people friendly then they are now. After that I think we start hitting some of the existing building sites in the Manukau City Centre area and bring those sites into the 21st Century as pro people not pro car sites.
One small step at a time. While others might have abandoned Manukau for flights of (elitist) fancy such as Wynyard Quarter and dumping literally everything of worth and value in the CBD, small steps are being taken in restoring the jewel in the crown of Southern Auckland – the place its people call “home.”