Published: 11 April 2005
The plan will now be published. It’s one of a series of projects the council has been undertaking to upgrade the central business district, at the same time as another series of projects is under way to upgrade suburban centres.
Ms Webster said a number of issues were identified during the initial planning process:
Critical mass, need to create & maintain a critical mass of people and commercial, employment & other activity within the quarter, particularly pertinent given the current drift of commercial & entertainment activity to the waterfront
Pedestrian linkages, need to create better linkages throughout the quarter and between it & adjacent quarters â€“ getting across Mayoral Drive is seen as particularly difficult (my comment: jaywalking here has to be harder than on the Southern Motorway; this piece is on my journey between the city shoebox & ARC, one of numerous journeys around the cbd for which the only sensible travel option seems to be to walk). It’s proposed enhancing the bush flow down from Myers Park, under Mayoral Drive â€“ the link exists (picture above), but it runs into a parking lot at the back of old buildings fronting Queen St (pictured) and doesn’t link up with Aotea Square, the Town Hall or the Civic Administration building.
Mayoral Drive, need to seek ways to mitigate its negative, barrier-like impact, though it also clearly defines the quarter
Open space, the quality of the considerable amount of open space, squares & streets within & next to the quarter needs improving, which is likely to increase useage
Council-owned land, the council (headquarters pictured) owns more than half the Aotea Quarter so it can influence developments (my comment: just as it’s successfully influenced the area’s downgrading)
Active edges, the plan needs to deal with the high proportion of buildings which have no street-level connectivity or activity. Given that there are a lot of public buildings in the quarter and it’s 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
Night-time activity, need to create night-time activity & buzz. Currently the quarter has nothing happening after the theatres close. There are few opportunities, for example, for people to meet, eat, drink & socialise after going to the theatre or a movie
Reverse sensitivities, the plan needs to mitigate the potential conflict between residential, commercial & entertainment-based activity where noise can be a particular issue
Safety, this can be of particular concern at night, exacerbated by the lack of night-time activity & therefore lack of people
Parking, with one of the city’s biggest parking garages beneath it, the question was raised whether the quarter’s destination & entertainment nature would require more parking
Clustering arts activities, the quarter would cluster & house performing & other arts, which would add “texture & interest: this enables such companies to work, create, rehearse & perform from within a creative precinct (South Town Hall, pictures of existing buildings below the precinct sign photo)
Promotion, currently the Aotea Quarter isn’t marked as a destination for entertainment with a large range & number of events & activities
Identity & atmosphere, need to create & promote a strong identity & atmosphere
Civic & public activity, need to make more of the quarter’s civic nature. Despite its strong physical presence (in both the civic administration building & Bledisloe Building and the Town Hall, the Aotea Centre & Civic Theatre), 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”
Universities, need to create better links with the universities, strengthening relationships & synergies.
Ms Webster said there was general support for:
a bus station on Mayoral Drive behind the Bledisloe building (on this side of the door in photo)
the South Town Hall arts precinct, including the New Theatre Initiative
a night-time food market, and
real-time information screens.
No clear view on conference centre
She said there was no clear view on a convention centre or convention activity. Cllr Scott Milne promoted this when he chaired the recreation & events committee on the previous council, either as a stand-alone venture or with SkyCity Entertainment Group Ltd, which eventually went ahead with its own convention centre & hotel development on Albert St. Both are now open.
Conflicting views on residential
Ms Webster said views conflicted on the appropriateness of encouraging residential development on the quarter’s west side. She said architects & urban planners tended to support its inclusion throughout the quarter, but arts & entertainment groups and the public thought there shouldn’t be permanent accommodation around the Aotea Square half of the quarter
From consultation, she said there were suggestions that more short-term parking would be needed if activities were to increase both day & night.
Also out of the consultation, key issues were addressed. Ms Webster said the revised plan proposed:
updating the benchmark design & feasibility for a convention centre, and the cost for an Aotea or waterfront site, and developing a funding plan for it
landbanking the area behind the Aotea Centre as a possible convention centre until the council makes a location decision
clarifying the impacts of increasing arts & other activities in the Town Hall
exploring mechanisms to support arts groups
undertaking a study to assess demand for theatres or performance evenues
exploring options on how to get the best out of the library and its role in generating visitors
restricting permanent residential development to the east side of the quarter, away from Aotea Square, but permitting short-stay accommodation such as hotels & flats for artists in residence to be developed
The Aotea Quarter plan says: “Local people & international visitors will come to the Aotea Quarter to indulge their senses & speak their minds. Talented people & new businesses will be attracted to the cbd because of what the Aotea Quarter will offer in terms of lifestyle.”
It says the quarter “is accessible & affordable” for arts companies, but a feature of success is that the price goes up. The likelihood of that is accentuated in another paragraph on the quarter’s activity: “The Aotea Quarter will add value to the economy at the cbd, city, regional & national levels. Businesses want to locate in cities that provide good leisure environments for their employees and local & international visitors are attracted to exciting cities. The Aotea Quarter provides this environment to attract visitors & businesses. The convention activity in the quarter also brings in local & international visitor dollars.”
No mention is made there â€“ and none was made at either of the 2 committees which last week endorsed & approved the plan â€“ of the role the Britomart redevelopment at the foot of the cbd will play in:
drawing arts groups away from Aotea to its proposed arts-oriented new complex
perhaps, as an alternative, drawing enough interest to the city to actually increase arts groups going to Aotea.
11 April 2005: Success at Aotea Quarter no easy run
27 February 2005: Khartoum Pl upgrade designs wanted
11 December 2004: $4.5 million Lorne St revamp approved
2 July 2004: Aotea Quarter maps
1 July 2004: Aotea Quarter cultural precinct plan endorsed
1 July 2004: Plans to revamp Lorne Street area out for comment
Council website: Auckland‘s cbd into the future