The Aotea Quarter covers the area around Aotea Square bounded by Mayoral Drive, Wellesley & Lorne Sts and Khartoum Place.
Auckland City Council has come up with maps of how the Aotea Quarter & surrounding areas of the city’s central business district might change with development of the newly named quarter & related works. They are presented in a separate article, Aotea Quarter maps.
The draft vision is for “a vibrant, 24/7 centre for people, creative expression, activity & democratic expression.”
The committee also agreed to put out the draft concept plans for the $4.5 million upgrade of Lorne St for public comment (see separate story).
Committee chairman Cllr Scott Milne said the Aotea Quarter plan built on the history of the area & its current uses. He said the civic & heritage nature of the area would be enhanced along with the entertainment component.
“At the moment there are few places people can meet, eat, drink & socialise in this part of the cbd after the theatres close. We need to work with the private sector to encourage this kind of development.
“The council has already committed funding to a number of projects that will help realise the vision, such as the Lorne & Queen Sts upgrades, development of a cbd retail strategy, development & implementation of a public activity plan and the Aotea Square & art gallery upgrades,” he said.
Targeted consultation next step
The next stage is “targeted stakeholder” consultation. A precise timeframe for that hasn’t been established because it needs to fit in with consultation on other projects, such as the Lorne St cultural precinct draft concept design and the cbd streetscapes project.
The council developed its Aotea Quarter plan as part of the Auckland’s cbd into the future strategy of growing & consolidating the cbd’s international reputation as one of the world’s most vibrant & dynamic business & cultural centres.
Action that council staff intend to carry out in the next year includes:
capital works projects, such as the art gallery & streetscape upgrades
planning projects, such as the south town hall arts area, and
research projects, such as an investigation into the options & costs of establishing a visitor centre in the quarter.
Spending priorities are:
a pedestrian amenity study for the whole quarter
progression of the south town hall arts area
the West Bledisloe bus terminal study
a detailed art works site plan
a study of commercial opportunities for the whole quarter, and
development plans for vacant sites.
Project manager Judith Webster said the plan was focused more on activities & functions than on regulatory matters, making it quite different from the council’s first quarter plan, for the Nelson quarter (about providing an intensive inner-city living & working environment, still under wraps).
Ms Webster said the quarter plan addressed a number of issues identified during the planning process. Key issues included the need to:
maintain a critical mass of people & activities
create better linkages
improve the quality of open space
capitalise on high council land ownership
deal with the high level of buildings with no street-level activity or connection
create night-time activity & 24/7 buzz
understand & build on the role of convention activity
mitigate effects of potential conflicting activities
consider the need for additional parking
cluster & house the performing arts
co-ordinate marketing & promotion
strengthen the identity
make more of the civic nature of the quarter, and
create better links with the universities.
Key issues enlarged
Enlarging on some of those in her report, Ms Webster said key issues & challenges included the need to:
create & maintain a critical mass of people and a critical mass of commercial, employment & other activity within the quarter. This is particularly pertinent given the current “drift” of commercial & entertainment activity to the waterfront.
create better linkages throughout the quarter and between the Aotea quarter & other adjacent cbd quarters. Present linkages are seen as poor. Getting across Mayoral Drive is seen as particularly difficult.
seek ways to mitigate the negative, barrier-like impact of Mayoral Drive and build on any positive contributions it can make to the quarter. Mayoral Drive has the potential to isolate the quarter and force it to be very inward-focused. However, it also clearly defines the quarter.
improve the quality of open space, squares & streets within the quarter. There is a considerable amount of open space within or next to the quarter. However, the quality of some of that space needs improving. Such improvements are likely to increase usage.
capitalise on the high level of council land ownership. The council owns more than half the land in the quarter, providing an excellent opportunity to influence developments.
deal with the high proportion of buildings with no street-level connectivity or activity. Given that there are a lot of public buildings in the quarter and given that it is being identified as an area for arts, entertainment & activity, the closed-off nature of many buildings and the lack of activity at their street level is problematic.
create night-time activity and 24/7 buzz. Currently the quarter has virtually nothing happening after the theatres close. There are very few opportunities, for example, for people to meet, eat, drink & socialise after going to the theatre or a movie.
understand the role conventions & convention-related activity play in the quarter. The council has previously considered the development of an internationally competitive convention centre within the quarter. As a result of this process, the council acknowledged that such a convention centre would be desirable but that its provision was not the sole responsibility of the council, and recognised that issues of size & location still needed to be determined. However, a decision was made not to progress the matter in the immediate future. The challenge for the quarter plan is to protect the possibility of a convention centre within its boundaries until such time as a decision is made.
mitigate the potential conflict between activities (for example, between residential, commercial & entertainment-based activity where noise can be a particular issue)
improve safety. Safety is of particular concern at night. To some extent the lack of night-time activity and therefore the lack of people around exacerbate this perception.
consider the need for additional parking. The question here is whether the destination & entertainment nature of this quarter suggest a need for additional parking.
cluster & house performing & other arts. Housing performing arts companies within an arts, culture & entertainment area adds texture & interest: This enables such companies to work, create, rehearse & perform from within a creative precinct.
promote the area & its activities in a co-ordinated way. Currently the Aotea Quarter is not marketed as a destination for entertainment with a large range & number of events & activities.
create & promote a strong identity & atmosphere. The quarter’s identity needs to be made clear and reflected through arts, events & activities.
make more of the civic nature of the quarter. Despite its strong physical presence, the council & its activities don’t have a high profile in the quarter. Similarly, there are opportunities to raise the profile of the quarter, and particularly the square, as a place where people can express their political, religious & other views.
create better links with the universities. There are real synergies between the universities & the quarter. For example, students have their graduation ceremonies in the quarter. They also study in areas, such as visual, mixed media and performing arts, that relate well to the quarter. These relationships & synergies need to be built on & strengthened.
Website: Recreation & events committee agenda
Related story: Plans to revamp Lorne Street area