Last year the draft Ponsonby Road Master plan generated a huge amount of interest, lots of creative suggestions for the future development of Auckland’s iconic street and a number of queries about how the plan was coming together. Here is an update on the draft, the process so far and next steps.
The idea for a master plan came out of work started by the Western Bays Community Group building on previous studies, plans and initiatives such as the 40km speed limit. A working group made up of Waitematā Local Board members, the Ponsonby Business Association, community organisations, stakeholders, and Mana Whenua representatives informed the draft Master plan through a series of workshops. Auckland Council also commissioned a report on Māori heritage values and opportunities to better engage with relevant Iwi for the project area. The working group was assisted by Auckland Council planners, urban designers, heritage advisers, landscape and retail specialists, as well as transportation experts from Auckland Transport.
The working group approach was unique in bringing stakeholders around the table early on in the process and developing a draft from the grassroots up. It was big contribution from a group who volunteered their time. It meant we learnt a lot along the way, challenged “normal” Council processes but ended up with final draft for consultation reflecting a wide range of views.
The vision put forward in the draft is to develop Ponsonby Road as a vibrant, well connected place for people whilst protecting, enhancing and celebrating its unique heritage, reinforcing its role as a key entertainment and boutique shopping destination and improving the natural environment. The draft identifies specific outcomes to achieve this vision over the next 30 year and is framed around four themes – transport and movement, arts , culture and heritage, the natural environment and open space and land use.
The draft plan includes concepts for shared spaces, pedestrian improvements, cycle lanes, bus stops, native planting, street furniture designs, art works and the opportunities at 254 Ponsonby Road (the Nosh site currently owned by Auckland Council) to provide for a new open space.
Consultation on the draft took place over an extended period involving pop in sessions, a public meeting and draft concepts on display at the Ponsonby Community Centre. Almost 300 submissions were received on the draft which is an impressive number for this type of consultation. What was also impressive was the quality of the submissions and the comprehensive, thoughtful responses.
Overall strong themes emerged from the feedback that will inform how the master plan is finalised and what projects should be a prioritised for implementation. A full report of the feedback will be on the Board’s March agenda. It is likely that a final of the plan will be ready to be signed off by the Board mid-year. Updated concepts for the development of 254 Ponsonby Road will be consulted on separately.
The draft plan is available on the Auckland Council website.
This article was first published in the September edition of Ponsonby News
We all have a personal connection to Ponsonby Road. It is far more than just a thoroughfare. It is a celebrated destination and home to many residents and businesses.
Over the years plans have been discussed as to how to fulfil the potential of Ponsonby Road while protecting the unique character and heritage. There have been some notable successes with the lowering of the speed limit and the return of the symbolic Three Lamps. The“hippest neighbourhood” of Ponsonby was recently listed as the 8th reason out of 20 to visit Auckland by visiting Australian journalists. However the strip has suffered from a lack of people spaces, cohesive planning and transport choices.
A draft Ponsonby Road masterplan has been developed through a unique, collaborative process by a working group made up of Waitemata Local Board members, the Ponsonby Business Association, community organisations, stakeholders and mana whenua representatives. The draft seeks to provide a vision of how Ponsonby Road can be developed over the next 30 years as a key shopping and entertainment destination, vibrant and connected to people. The proposals in the plan are themed around Land Use, Arts, Culture& Heritage, Transport & Movement and Natural Environment & Open Space.
The draft has kicked off intense discussion and many passionate responses have already been submitted. One of the more debated aspects of the plan is over the options for making Ponsonby road safer for pedestrians and cyclists along its length. To achieve this outcome while balancing the needs of all road users, will require decisions around the prioritisation of the road space.
The transport experts have told us that 28,000 vehicles a day use Ponsonby Road. This is significant but it doesn’t tell the full picture. The number is actually dropping now that the north western motorway is connected to the bridge and per capita car use is on the decrease. Only 10-15% of traffic is actually through-traffic travelling the entire road from top to bottom. The large proportion of local traffic creates big opportunities. With most trips being less than 5km more locals might chose to leave the car behind if there was a frequent, reliable bus service and safe cycle lanes.
The draft sets out different road design options including a “Copenhagen” or separated cycle lane. Business owners have voiced concerns that cycle lanes are not good for business and is only for“greenies”. However all the most recent research demonstrates that bike lanes significantly increase economic activity. In New York after the construction of a protected cycle lane on 9th Avenue, local businesses saw a 49% increase in retail sales. In comparison, local businesses throughout Manhattan only saw a 3% increase in retail sales.
There is also a perception that there is very little parking serving Ponsonby Road. In fact there are thousands of car parks nearby (on roads and in car parks) that are currently very poorly managed. A residents’ parking scheme like the St Mary’s Bay one would overnight give priority to residents and free up parking to short term visitors coming to the area to spend.
At the public meeting on the masterplan the Freeman’s Bay girl guides gave their feedback on the draft. Their priorities: 1. A playground. 2. Bikelanes (and hire bikes) 3. More trees. It really could be this simple. We just need to listen to all the feedback and plan with a 30 year vision that develops Ponsonby Road for future generations.
This report covers my activities from 1 July – 31 July 2013.
Portfolios: Community, Transport- West
Positions: Grey Lynn Business Association, Newmarket Business Association (alternate)
Committees: Grants (Chair), Central Joint Funding
The community portfolio met the new Community Facilities team for the first time during July. For some time now we have been concerned about the standards at our halls for hire. It was good to hear that a new cleaning contractor has been in place from 1 July and that hirers are being offered the option of paying a service fee of $120 for cleaning.
We also heard from the Manager of Community Occupancy that recent hirer surveys have returned a satisfied or very satisfied of 89%.
We also raised our concern that Campbell Free Kindergarten building lease has still not been finalised due to the delay installing a new kitchen.
During the month I reported two lots of graffiti and was impressed with the speedy response. Within 24 hours Civic contractors called to confirm that the graffiti has been removed. Civic Contractors have recently won the contract for vandalism prevention for the Central area.
Environmental services are looking at how to work more effectively with community development on sustainability initiatives that have wider community benefits. During the month we had a workshop with the new Sustainability Programmes Manager and heard about a number of potential projects including “Sustainable Streets” that has been piloted by Albert – Eden Local Board and opportunities for Neighbours Day.
Anti- social behaviour in St Patrick’s Square
Residents of St Patrick’s Square have raised with Auckland Council their concern about the anti-social behaviour of skateboarders who find the Square a desirable place to skate.
These are clearly major issues that needs to be resolved. However the proposed solution of NO SKATING signs is not going to work and is unnecessary. It also adds visual pollution and reinforces negative behaviour.
We have asked the senior safety adviser to consider the international evidence that NO SIGNS are not effective and to look at other options. Such as making the square less attractive to skate and providing directions and a safe route to the skate park.
Regardless of whether a sign is in place, if anti-social behaviour does occur the Council can still act in accordance with the Nuisance by-law which prohibits the use of skateboards in a manner which may damage a public place or intimate or be dangerous or injurious or cause a nuisance to persons in the public places.
Auckland Transport’s quarterly report is on our agenda this month including an update on our Local Board agreement projects. Auckland Transport also reports on the main issues raised at our monthly catch up.
Central East- West Transport Study
Auckland’s City Centre has been diminished by the motorway “collar” and the volume of traffic travelling through the city. It is therefore great to see the work that is progressing from the vision set out in the City Centre Master plan.
We received an all of Board presentation on the study that has looked at the proposals for the key east –west routes. The proposals for Wellesley Street, Victoria Street, Quay Street and Fanshawe Street are particularly impressive and have the potential to make Auckland a walkable city where people embrace PT as the preferred option to get into the city Centre.
Auckland Transport announced in July that the St Mary’s Bay parking scheme trial would be extended for another year and the zone expanded to include Hackett Street.
A parking survey is going to Freemans Bay residents about parking concerns in their area.
Promotion of bike parking at events
Auckland Transport has a new initiative to take temporary bike parking to events and farmers markets over the summer. Last summer Auckland Transport discouraged ATEED from promoting active transport for “safety reasons” so it is great to hear about this new approach.
OTHER BOARD ACTIVITIES
July has been the month to read the extensive feedback on the Unitary Plan and to finalise the Board’s feedback (to be tabled at an extraordinary meeting on 8 August).
I have attended all of the Board’s workshops on the Unitary Plan as well as the all-day mapping workshops on 12 July and 2 August.
Release of the draft Ponsonby Road master plan
After many months of work by the Ponsonby Road master plan working group the draft Ponsonby Road Master plan was released on 26 July 2013.
The presentation speech is attached as ATTACHMENT A.
Feedback on the plan is open until 4 September.
Photos from the release event and the first pop in session held
Resource recovery centre
In July we received an update on the business case that is currently being prepared for the establishment of a facility that will provide a model for a future resource recovery network across the Auckland region. Progress has been made on identifying a suitable site that can serve the Waitemata, Puketapapa and Albert-Eden Local Board areas.
This is one of our key projects for 13/14 and is an exciting opportunity to create local jobs, minimise waste, teach new skills and make a significant contribution to the vision of Auckland becoming zero waste city. It is also complementary to the Council’s Waste Management and Minimisation Plan adopted in June 2012.
Over the last three years we have been treated to some amazing speakers as part of the excellent Auckland Conversations series. I have learnt a huge amount from the experts about design, planning, heritage, environment and socio-economics. All topics of huge relevance to the discussion about Auckland’s future development.
Of all the speakers, Harvard Professor Edward Glaeser who visited in July, was an absolute standout. The author of the Triumph of the City: How our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier he spoke from an international perspective about urban policy, housing affordability, road pricing, the environmental challenge and what makes a modern day competitive city.
Key points that I noted:
Future of NZ depends on Auckland thriving – Auckland has to work at attracting and retaining people which requires quality of life strategies
Cities provide pathways out of poverty. But should not ignore inequalities- the best investment is early childhood education
Government’s focus should be on providing educational and removing barriers to entry
It is for local government to manage the “demons that come with density” – such as contagious diseases, and clean water; crime and corruption; traffic congestion
Cities are the more sustainable way of living – allows for people to better protect the environment
Essential to get land use policy right to make the “magic” of cities happen
If you make it easier to build then there is less price volatility
I was particularly interested in his comments about transport infrastructure investment and road pricing. Professor Glaser’s view is that you cannot engineer your way out of congestion. You have to charge for valuable assets such as roads and it is in fact a “Soviet approach” to give away a valuable resource for free. He pointed out Singapore as the place to have got electronic road pricing right. Road pricing is economically sound and not regressive as some argue but actually a progressive approach if the proceeds are invested in PT.
With regards to the debate about how we can intensify while protecting heritage. His view is that every time a city says no to build up saying no to a family who wants to take advantage of living in a city. He advocates not turning cities into museums as this makes them unaffordable. Also if you freeze growth then Auckland will turn into a boutique town that won’t do its job of providing opportunities for a wide range of people.
He also cautioned against community led neighbourhood planning when it is used as a tool of NIMBYs to say no to development
(An interview by Geoff Cooper, Chief Economist and Professor Glaeser is available on shapeauckland.co.nz and the video of the event is on the Council website. )
In other Auckland Conversations Joris de Bres, former Race Relations Conciliator gave a challenge to Auckland Council to lead the way by understanding the % of employees of different ethnicities at all levels of Council and working out in the community and for Council engagement to be done in the community’s own languages. He has a vision of Auckland as a multi-lingual city and supports the IMSB te reo vision.
I attended the LGNZ confererence – Transforming Communities building a successful New Zealand in Hamilton from 21- 23 July. My conference report is attached as ATTACHMENT B.
Local Board Workshops and meetings
I attended during July
Key Stakeholder workshop on 1 July – way finding systems and design presented by the creators of Legible London
Waitemata Local Board weekly workshop on 2 July
Review of Local Board community centre funding for 2013/2014 meeting on 3 July
Relationship manager meeting on 3 July with Waitemata Local Board committee chairs to review best practice for next term
Resource Recovery Facility – business case update at Puketapapa Local Board office on 3 July
Meeting with Libraries to discuss proposed property and renewals programme on 3 July
Communications catch up on 3 July
Deborah White, presentation on Auckland Art Week
Neighbourhood Planning Task Group meeting convened by Roger Blakeley on 4 July
Quay Street quick wins workshop on 9 July
Waitemata Local Board business meeting in Grey Lynn on 9 July
Meeting with Jane Bennett from Housing New Zealand Corporation to discuss a possible redevelopment they are considering in Parnell
Ponsonby Road master plan fortnightly catch up with officers
Fairtrade Auckland meeting to provide an update on Council’s implementation of Fairtrade
Waitemata Local Board weekly workshop on 11 July
All of council all day Unitary Plan mapping workshop on 12 July at the Rendezvous Hotel
Media briefing – Funding Auckland’s Transport Future report of the Consensus Building Group
Local Boards Chairs Forum on 15 July
Arch Hill Residents meeting to discuss next steps to stop the Bunning’s development on Great North Road on 15 July
Waitemata Local Board weekly workshop on 16 July
Meeting to finalise the draft Ponsonby Road master plan and confirm engagement plan
Community Development and Partnerships monthly catch up with the portfolio holders on 17 July
Meeting to discuss business case for Pioneer Women’s and Ellen Melville Hall redevelopment
Meeting with Kaaren Goodall to discuss the workshop on apartment dwellers
Meeting to discuss the cleaning, maintenance and daily operations of Waitemata community halls
Transport portfolio monthly catch up with Auckland Transport
Extraordinary Waitemata Local Board meeting on 25 July regarding the board’s Unitary Plan feedback
Placemaking Workshop with Kaaren Goodall & Frith Walker, Waterfront Auckland
Waitemata Local Board Unitary Plan discussions with Auckland Plan Committee led by Shale Chambers on 29 July
Waitemata Local Board weekly workshop on 30 July
Meeting to discuss the Waitemata Local Board Unitary Plan Feedback on 31 July
Meeting to discuss options for dealing with the anti- social behaviour in St Patrick’s Square
Events and functions
During July I attended:
Auckland Conversation presentation with leading Harvard economist 2013 Sir Douglas Myers Visiting Professor, Edward Glaeser on 1 July
Auckland Conversation: WALK London, New York and Auckland on 2 July
The Annual Travelwise Awards at the Cloud on 3 July
Seddon Fields Artificial Turf Opening on 5 July
Auckland Conversations: Cultural diversity and race relations: Reflections after a decade as New Zealand’s Race Relations Commissioner
Bad Jelly the Witch production on 12 July at the invitation of Auckland Theatre Company