Council moves forward on transformative City Centre and Waterfront plan


Auckland Council approved the next stage to improve and develop Auckland’s city centre and waterfront for greater public use at yesterday’s Planning Committee.

The city centre accounts for 20 per cent of Auckland’s GDP. Around 45,000 people live there, and the daytime population reaches several hundred thousand with the daily influx of tourists, students and workers which continues to grow.

To cater directly for this increasing number of Aucklanders, a package of proposed projects includes plans for new recreational spaces along the water’s edge and a change in design for Victoria Street that will provide a more relaxed street environment to favour walking and cycling between Victoria and Albert parks. This is known as the Victoria Street Linear Park and will also link to the Nelson Street Cycleway and Auckland’s soon to be busiest commuter rail terminal - Aotea Station. A 4.5ha destination park for the Wynyard headland has also been approved for concept development.

As part of the overall improvements to the city centre, Auckland Transport has also proposed a new public transport network that will include better bus connections across Auckland’s Midtown and Downtown areas, including a new bus facility for Quay Street East, removing the need for buses to operate in the Lower Queen Street and central Quay Street area. 

This will also to make Quay Street more pedestrian-friendly between Commerce Street and the Viaduct, improving access between the city’s Downtown space and Wynyard Quarter. Scheduled seawall replacement along Quay Street also offers the opportunity for improved pedestrian access down to water-level terraces.

A new bus terminal adjoining the University in Grafton has also received initial approval, allowing Wellesley Street to become the main mid-town bus route. This frees Victoria Street to become the Linear Park.

These developments will be undertaken in conjunction with reconfiguring the piers in the “Ferry Basin” between Queens and Princes wharves, to allow for the increasing use of ferry services.

Dependent on negotiations with the Ports of Auckland, a transition of Captain Cook Wharf to include a cruise facility is also proposed for the longer term, to accommodate the growing number of visiting cruise ships and the increasing number of larger vessels that are arriving into Auckland year-on-year.

The plan builds on several years of planning for Auckland’s waterfront and integrates a forward-looking public transport programme to accommodate and support Auckland’s significant growth. It is the result of a significant collaboration between Auckland Transport, Auckland Council, Panuku Development Auckland, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA).

Options for delivery and funding of the proposed projects, as well as further public consultation, will be explored as the council works through its 10-year Budget which will be released for public consultation in early 2018 before it is finalised in June 2018.

Planning Committee Chair, Councillor Chris Darby, gave an impassioned speech which welcomed the council’s agreement on this ambitious plan. He re-iterated the cultural uniqueness of the city as well as the importance of delivering a resilient infrastructure that will continue to co-exist with the remarkable ecosystem that drew the first iwi to Tāmaki Makaurau.

Councillor Darby commented, “I am particularly pleased at the emphasis the plans have placed on creating a city that really works for our people. With an ever-increasing number of residents, students and tourists, it is important that we cater for a variety of purposes and needs, as well as ensuring that we create attractive and beautiful spaces in our city for people to simply enjoy.

Following their deliberations on the city’s waterfront and mid-town, the committee approved commencement of statutory processes for three plan changes. These are at Drury, Three Kings and Whenuapai. If successful, these plan changes open up development for up to 7,800 additional dwellings for Aucklanders. Mayor Phil Goff said “I am grateful to the committee for the careful pragmatic manner in which they are ensuring land-supply for Auckland's current housing needs. It is particularly gratifying to get community agreement and see the Three Kings Development finally resolved and proceeding”. 

The following is a digest of decisions made.

Items 1-8 were administrative items with the exception of public and local board input summarised below.

Item 5: Public input

Ian Free gave a presentation recommending New Zealand poetry in bus shelters; public transport; and other public places, and demonstrated how this has worked well in other cities around the world

Charlotte Fisher presented an alternative future for the Wynyard Quarter tank farms, with a concept called ‘the Tank’ by Simon Shepheard. 

Charles Maa and Helen Andrews gave a presentation regarding a private plan change in Drury. These developments include 330 affordable homes, 15% of the total number proposed.

Item 9: City centre and waterfront planning refresh

Feedback was received by the committee from the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board on the challenges, opportunities, strategic themes and focus areas of the proposed refreshed Auckland Plan.

The feedback focussed on key requirements for coping with Auckland’s population growth: transport complexities; integrated infrastructure; optimal use of open shared spaces and community facilities; docking facilities for cruise liners; America’s Cup planning; coastal erosion; water quality issues; the importance of Māori involvement and the strength of our diverse communities.

Waitemata Local Board Deputy Chair Shale Chambers also presented to the Governing Body regarding the city centre and waterfront planning refresh. 

All local board feedback will be considered as the next iterations of the Auckland Plan refresh progresses.

Item 10: Auckland Plan Refresh: Proposed monitoring framework

The committee gave in principle approval of the proposed monitoring framework for measurement of the Auckland Plan.

Approval was sought at a high level for further work to be carried out regarding measurement, specifically for two components of a monitoring framework to be investigated:

  • Selected measures aligned to Auckland Plan outcomes, strategic directions and focus areas that will measure ongoing progress across the plan, including measures to monitor progress against the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity (NPSUDC).
  • A small group of targets aligned to the measures that set priorities for up to a ten year timeframe.

A small number of example measures were workshopped with the Planning Committee to explore balanced score-card type reporting. Council staff have also been working with central government on the development of agreed measures, with a particular focus on housing, transport and the supply of business land. 

Feedback from these discussions will be used to inform the development of a final set of measures for approval.

Item 11: Auckland Unitary Plan (Operative in Part) - Private Plan change request from Karaka and Drury Limited – Auranga B1

The Committee received a request from Karaka and Drury Limited to rezone land in the Drury area west of State Highway 1 and north of State Highway 22 (currently zoned Future Urban in the Auckland Unitary Plan) to Mixed Housing Urban and Mixed Housing Suburban zones. The developer, Charles Maa, appeared before the Committee to provide information in support of the request.

Staff recommended that the change request be adopted and provided supporting information in favour. The Planning Committee agreed to accept the change request.

Item 12:  Auckland Unitary Plan (Operative in Part) – Private Plan Change request by Fletcher Residential Limited – Three Kings

Fletcher Residential Limited lodged a private plan change request to amend Auckland Unitary Plan zoning and the provisions of Three Kings precinct within the Auckland Unitary Plan. The private plan change refines, but does not challenge, the Three Kings precinct.

A High Court Appeal has been withdrawn, and the Three Kings precinct provisions within the Auckland Unitary Plan are expected to be operative by the date of the Planning Committee meeting.

Considerable information was provided to the committee regarding structure planning on the development.  A key part of the preparation of a structure plan is working with the community and landowners on shaping these future neighbourhoods and business areas to ensure that they integrate well with the environment and the entire bulk infrastructure is provided in an efficient and affordable manner.

Comprehensive consultation has taken place since the early stages of planning with local iwi in 2015 and this was warmly welcomed.

Staff recommended that the change request be adopted and provided supporting information in favour. The Planning Committee agreed to accept the change request.

Councillor Darby stressed that this decision was not setting precedent, and was being considered on the merits of the circumstances particular to this proposal.

Item 13: Auckland Unitary Plan – Proposed Plan Change - Whenuapai

This item was to publicly notify a change to the Auckland Unitary Plan (Operative in Part) to rezone land in the Whenuapai from future Urban to a range of residential and business zones, introduce a precinct for the area, address heritage matters and make other consequential text changes.

The proposed plan change was to enable the development of 4000 to 5000 houses and 113 ha of light industrial and business land in Whenuapai. It follows on from the Whenuapai Structure Plan which was approved by the Auckland Development Committee on 15 September 2016. The proposed plan change makes a significant contribution to the council’s commitment to release land for housing supply, and contributes to the next stage of the growth and development of Auckland under the Unitary Plan.

Staff recommended that the change request be adopted and provided supporting information in favour. The Planning Committee agreed to accept the change request.

Item 14: Auckland Unitary Plan (Operative in Part) – Proposed Plan Change – Administrative Plan Change

The Planning Committee agreed to publicly notify a change to the Auckland Unitary Plan (Operative in Part) to correct technical errors and anomalies.

This was necessary to correct technical errors and anomalies in all parts of the Auckland Unitary Plan (except for regional coastal provisions) which may cause confusion and ambiguity which might impact on the functionality and integrity of the plan.