Auckland Council will put a new framework plan for an enlarged Aotea Quarter out for consultation next month, assuming committee approval on Thursday.
The original framework plan was for an area bounded by Mayoral Drive and down to Wellesley St. The new frame goes halfway up Myers Park & surrounding streets, across to Hobson St in the west, partway up to Karangahape Rd & Symonds St and midblock between Wellesley & Victoria Sts.
City centre design & delivery manager Tim Watts said in his report to the Auckland development committee it would be a non-statutory plan that presents a 20-year strategic vision & direction for the quarter: “It is intended to provide the context for council policy & strategy development, establish priorities for action, and will inform future investment & decision-making.”
The first plan for the quarter, by the old Auckland City Council in 2007, established a strategic vision & set of objectives which were translated into an action plan by the new council.
Under that detailed programme, the council delivered the new Q Theatre and the upgrade of the Art Gallery, Aotea Square, Queen St, Lorne St, Khartoum Place & Bledisloe Lane, as well as many ‘soft’ initiatives.
Next up are opportunities for development & enhancement related to underused council group-owned sites in the quarter core, most notably the Civic Administration Building & surrounds.
Mr Watts said in his report for Thursday’s meeting the city centre masterplan, approved in 2012, recognised that ongoing attention & investment were required in the Aotea Quarter to lift & rejuvenate the mid-city area and prepare it for the transformation set to occur as a consequence of building the Aotea Station on the city rail link.
Key factors identified in the 2012 masterplan include:
- identification of the area as a future development growth node associated with the Aotea Station, programmed to open in 2023, which would stimulate an additional 73,000m of residential net floor area (1825 more residents) & 249,000m² of commercial net floor area (12,450 more workers) in the quarter
- plans to enhance the ‘arts & performance’ offer in & around the Aotea Centre
- continued relocation of commercial office space from the Aotea Quarter towards the waterfront
- consolidation of many council staff at 135 Albert St and the associated examination of potential uses of the council’s holdings in the area, most notably the civic administration building site, the south Town Hall surface carpark accessed from Greys Avenue and the West Bledisloe surface carpark behind Bledisloe House
- ongoing investment in new buildings by the 2 universities (Auckland University & AUT).
Mr Watts said new factors affecting the quarter had also emerged since the masterplan was released:
- a new regulatory planning framework for the quarter through the proposed unitary plan, which deals with matters such as height limits & noise standards
- the need to anchor & grow the quarter as the enduring home of the arts, culture & entertainment activities in light of the Auckland Theatre Co’s move to the Wynyard Quarter
- application of Te Aranga Maori design principles
- rapid expansion of a residential neighbourhood populating repurposed office buildings on the fringes of the quarter, together with some new apartment tower developments peppered throughout the area
- a city centre transport framework which seeks to define the functional role & character of the primary streets through the city centre – Wellesley St as a civic public transport street and Mayoral Drive as an east-west connector
- investment in Myers Park as a green public open space, including the proposed upgrade to the underpass beneath Mayoral Drive, due for completion in mid-2016
- Recent proposals for light rail transit up Queen St, including at least one stop in the quarter on Queen St
- re-opening of the St James Theatre & occupation of 300 apartment suites
- development of a city centre place activation strategy to inform a programme of work to be funded from the city centre targeted rate.
24 May 2015: Council value capture an integral aim as Aotea Quarter transformed
8 May 2006: Clear South Town Hall options put up, but councillors dither
6 November 2005: Discussion paper released on 4 cbd quarters’ similarities & differences
11 April 2005: Aotea Quarter plan approved
1 July 2004: Aotea Quarter cultural precinct plan endorsed
Attribution: Council agenda.