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Newmarket Station Square

Four years ago the wonderfully upgraded Newmarket train station was reopened after being transformed from a run down and sorry excuse for a station to gleaming masterpiece that’s worthy of being our second busiest train station. Before and after photos below thanks to Craig:

Newmarket Before

Newmarket After – There are of course wires through here now too

However there has always been one big disappointment and that is the ongoing saga that is Station Square – the barren and soulless attachment to the station. To be fair at least there has been some minor improvement with the square. The Waitemata Local Board invested just over $50,000 to improve it by adding some trees and tidying up the very worst bits of the station access out to Broadway. All up 9 planters with attached seating have been added to the square with Magnolias and Nikaus planted in them. When I was there were at least some people hanging around and relaxing in the square which is positive and something wouldn’t have happened in the past.

Newmarket Station Square Feb 2014

While planters have helped the centre of the square a little bit, it’s a lot harder to do anything about buildings that surround the place. In particular the low roof heights that help to give almost a claustrophobic felling. At least most of the shops seemed to have been let out – although many weren’t open despite it being mid-afternoon when I was there.

Newmarket Station Square Feb 2014 2

As well as the trees the other small positive improvement is that the ugly back of the building out to Broadway has been covered up. You can see what it used to look like in this post from a few years ago.

Newmarket Station Square Feb 2014 3

That trellis is only really a short term solution though and the exit from the square out to Broadway is still far too narrow (and ugly). The lane isn’t exactly inviting from the other side either.

Newmarket Station entrance 2

A few years ago the council were meant to have been in negotiation with the owners to buy the building on the left in the image above (right on the image before that) with the goal of demolishing it to make a proper entrance from Broadway. When I asked the council a few months ago about what was happening they refused to tell me anything, they wouldn’t even say when they might be able to say something. The thing that annoys me is that this isn’t a new issue, the problem has been known about for 4 years and yet still nothing seems to be being done about it.

Further while this sits in limbo nothing has been done about making the station more visible from those walking along Broadway. The only thing that points to the station is the sign in the photo below which is difficult to read unless you’re standing directly under it. Even the car park has bigger and easier to read lettering than the train station (Newmarket station is on the top blue strip on the sign to the right of the Politix store).

Newmarket Station entrance

The council need to get moving and sort this station out. It is the second busiest station on the network and Broadway is the main street of Newmarket yet for someone walking along Broadway it is almost impossible to find – and if they did find it you might think twice about walking down that alleyway. Rail passengers and Newmarket deserves better.

61 comments to Newmarket Station Square

  • Fred

    What a disgrace. And a disgrace for so damn long.

    Who needs to be fired so we can sort out a proper entrance from Broadway once and for all?

  • TimR

    Horse. Bolted. This all went horribly wrong at the design, consenting and contracting stages. To me this is a fine example of the RMAs inability to require good urban outcomes.

    As I write this I’m standing opposite the other entry to the square, on remuera road. Even where a link has been created here to a suitable width, it’s a failure due to its wierd alignment, awful character and atrocious finishing. No one wants to take up a tenancy here.

    Just about everything about this development is wrong. Good to push for the fixes that can be secured now, but I really don’t see chance for anything more than lipstick on the pig. Auckland collectively needs to ask some really hard questions around the processes that let this happen.

    • TimR

      Ok. Just been back through here again on the way home; feeling slightly more focused on the product of design rather than the process. Also some great comments below that helped provoke these thoughts:

      AT and AC need to work with the complex’s owners and fund design fixes, as I would be amazed if the private owners will do anything to remedy this without intervention.

      1. Remuera Road arcade link. Straighten the alignment to make the square visible from the road, by buying permanent leases and remodelling walls. Replace all of the finishes, lighting, shop fronts with some quality design, remove the detritus such as fan outlet vents that have been permitted in the middle of windows(!).

      2. If the owners of properties on Broadway won’t play ball shut them out. Build wall linings to hide their side walls; build an artful canopy that protrudes out into Broadway in a really visible way- the more structural and sculptural gymnastics the better. Go for broke with colour and lighting, materials and textures.

      3. Fix the oppressive loggias with new finishes and all-day lighting.

      4. Let some of the units nearest the rail line along the northern side grow outward into most of the loggia. Wasted space otherwise, and the vista when walking along the access way is hardly photogenic, meaningful or a destination. Focus closely on how people move through the northwestern corner of the square and how a remodel can direct them towards the station entrance more heavily.

      5. Provide artful glass canopies that relate to the new entry canopy all around the square on building fronts, in the zone that people may want to occupy.

      6. The tree. Big, in the middle. Cut a hole in the floor(s) like Patrick says. Throw out the fake trees.

      7. Grass. Pinch it from Takutai Square if necessary.

      8. Seats. Lots of them, round the edges particularly, moveable, fixed, benches, a la Whyte.

      9. Water, preferably moving and designed to create calming, soothing sounds and humidify the microclimate.

      Enough?

  • Well there’s a lot that’s poor about Newmarket Station Square, but there are aspects of it that I like and that I think can be made more apparent with work [but so much here is intractable].

    I like its enclosed somewhat hidden nature, though it desparately needs to be opened up to Broadway enough so that it actually engages with Newmarket, I’m more than happy with the height of the surrounding buildings- although their form is extremely poor. It’s a real city square without any vehicles, it’s not too big; it should be good.

    The biggest problem, and one that is very hard to fix without demolition is the miserable height of the ‘loggia’ [haha] shown in the 4th shot. The proportions of this space are appalling. Oppressively and miserably low, and far too deep. Essentially what could be a good real urban space is ruined by the very mean and greedy buildings that surround it- that should have been sent back to the developer by Council staff and told to fix before any approval.

    I am really keen on Public Art, but the placement of a hard steel and glass sculpture into this context is a mistake. It really really needs one big tree. There must be a way that a parking space or two below good be taken for a decent tree could be given enough soil to thrive…. And the current work needs an equally contrasting context; ie a park. Failing that can we at least bury the sorry buildings in the most aggressive creeper around?

    But this brings us to the whole problem here; what were the council offices doing when this passed through their desks? Were there no designers in Council? Is it just full of planners obsessed with minimum parking regs and building height and no one who can actually read a plan and section and visualise space?

    And the worst of this development is actually below this disappointing space; the insanely vast carpark that even has it’s own traffic lights and road sized crossing into a high pedestrian shopping part of Remuera Rd….

    Vast governance fail by the old City Council and its staff. Please can we have more focus on building and place quality than on more measurable but counter productive old rules of dispersal: parking mins, setbacks, heights….

    • Lianne

      I go to the Newmarket station often for work, and I find the carpark to be way too huge. It’s never full, at any time of day, even when I’m there on weekends. Also, the first time I tried to find the train station while walking on Broadway I couldn’t find it, and only found it because of the sign for the carpark.

    • The hight of the ‘loggia’ on the southern and western edges isn’t as bad as the one on the north. as they aren’t as deep. What’s even worse about the one in the fourth shot above it’s there to provide more space for car parking above it. I wonder if it would be possible to loose a few car parks and cut the floor back?

      • john smith

        To improve the proportions of those ugly ‘loggias’: alternatively, maybe bring the shopfronts forward, then replace the covered ways by attaching some sort of tasteful awnings, with appropriate ceiling height, to the outside of the buildings. Structurally easy; also helps break up the ugliness of the upper facades. Losing a few metres of open sky on either side of the square would be hardly noticed.

        • Loraxus

          Doing that (bringing the shops forward) would further screw the pedestrian entrance from Broadway, which directly points into this space.

          The Remuera entrance in my opinion mainly fails due to the mean-spirited lack of footpath width. Kick out those carparks!

  • George D

    The entrance to Broadway feeds to a pedestrian refuge. Every day people scatter in front of cars, hoping not to be bowled.

    • A nice match to the pedestrian tenpin bowling alley right outside 277 Broadway – cars roaring into the one-way street from two directions at once, whilst pedestrians try to work out why the footpath has suddenly been sliced in half with no concession to them to cross. I don’t know what injury rates are at that spot but if they’re not significantly higher than average I’d be amazed.

      • Glen

        +1 to that, Sam – I cannot understand why there is not a zebra crossing on the entrance to Morrow St… I can only imagine the high priests of traffic flow said that right-turning traffic from Broadway must not be impeded. Or something.

        I am frightened by that crossing as both a driver and pedestrian. Accidents always seem only a moment away. That, the lack of a proper crossing outside the station Broadway entrance, and many other things about Newmarket frustrate me terribly.

        There have been some positive changes for pedestrian amenity, such as on Osborne St. All of the Newmarket side streets should be such, or better (e.g. fully shared spaces). Broadway should have more actual pedestrian crossings with lights. The area should be a haven for pedestrians, the most pleasant shopping area to walk around in Auckland (even if you can’t afford to shop at the boutiques). But instead it is left frustratingly part-done. A real waste.

        • That is one half of a one-way couplet feeding the motorway. The ability for cars to roar in from two directions at once is exactly the intended design. Floooooooooow!

        • JohnP

          “high priests of traffic flow” that is excellent Glen! Do you mind if I put that on my business card?

        • OrangeKiwi

          On the Newmarket side streets, a streetscape upgrade for Teed, York and Kent streets seems to still be on the Waitemata LB’s wishlist. Major opportunities there, Kent St is currently completely given over to cars and car storage with tiny footpaths that barely fit one person, and all that with at least two carpark buildings nearby. Tiny York St is full of hospitality businesses and has only a carpark as its biggest destination to service, the state of the road surface in Teed is abominable and like Kent St it is completely given over to cars and car storage (notice how many perpendicular parking spaces there are). All of these streets are non-arterial with seemingly enough space to be fit for purpose as shared spaces or a similar upgrade, they’re just off Broadway and Khyber, Kent and Teed are hugely underdeveloped at their western ends and with the new uni campus and 277 expansion nearby, and better trains soon, this area just oozes growth potential. So if not now, surely there have to be adequate links between the station, Broadway and its hinterland in the future..

          • Glen

            Couldn’t have put it better. There is so much off-street parking in Newmarket that abolishing the on-street parking on all those streets and turning them into shared spaces etc. (ideally with no on-street parking allowed) would make negligible difference to the parking stock available and massively increase the area’s desirability. It just makes so much sense.

            Isn’t a Waitemata LB member a frequent visitor to this blog…? :)

      • Loraxus

        Having worked professionally proposing alternatives for said crossing over Morrow Street entrance, I can say that the injury rates are… pretty much nil. It has almost no safety issues, presumably because it is so crap and weird that everyone is a bit more careful than unusual.

        Only serious injuries at that intersection (at least within the 5 years I looked at in the late 2000s) were people crossing Broadway (no crossing facilities at all), not Morrow.

  • Dom

    I remember coming back from overseas for a holiday here 4 years ago and decided to check out the new station. Walking along Broadway I simply could not find the entrance. I walked up and down the street several times attempting to find an access access the plaza. Amazing. Eventually found it. eventually.

  • Molly Woppy

    That lane to the station is awful. Couldn’t they at least add some kind of colourful mural to the wall? That sign proclaiming “Food and Fashion” seems a little sad and desperate. Frankly it doesn’t look like the sort of place I would be comfortable walking at night.

    • Martin W.

      What is needed is a proper signage to all the rail and RTN entrances, not tiny signs like “trains”. The M in Paris or Moscow or the Tube signal in London, the subway sign in NYC, or the White U on Blue in Germany. Some stations like Kingsland have the old MAXX logo outside on the road, but that does not tell of the quality of the transport options. A unique identifier for the rapid transit would be needed applicable to the trains and the busways.

      • Martin W.

        sorry that should be an add on to Dom’s comment about the entrance.

        • Christopher T

          Be prepared for a rash of rainbow-coloured AT logos around Auckland in the not too distant future. They won’t be differentiated to indicate different modes and they’ll be in addition to all the other logos and liveries that we find on our trains and buses so the sum result may be a little confusing. You’ll know it’s happening when there’s an outbreak of AT marketing department all-over vehicle decals on trains and buses comprising photographs of lots of smirking people trying to have as little as possible to do with trains or buses.

  • Rob Mayo

    Canopy covering from the Station Square building to Broadway with appropriate signage and clever use of lighting throughout, would go quite some way to improving access to/from the mainstreet end, without the need to demolish structures on either side of the current walkway.

    That plus canopy shelter from Newmarket Station to the buildings on either side of Station Square, gives continuous all-weather covering for those key access points – baseline customer service provision for any interchange level RTN facility.

  • jonno1

    For completeness, there is a third access point to Newmarket Station via Joseph Banks Tce. http://goo.gl/maps/4Wgld (As this is a private road, the Google Maps view is from Middleton Rd). No signs that I recall, but lots of foot traffic so obviously well known. Some of the foot traffic is Grammar boys passing through.

    • I am not sure if that access point is legally able to use Joseph banks Tce or not,(although I suspect anyone who goes that was uses it) but they appear to have gone to a lot of trouble to build a legal accessway that runs all the way from that entrance to the legal road that exists at James Cook Cres and then subsequently also links back to maui cres

      http://goo.gl/maps/cXUqU

      • jonno1

        You’re right that the walkway to James Cook Cres (public road) is council-owned, although the one down to Maui Grove is private. However, a condition of private roads such as Joseph Banks Tce and Maui Grove is that they remain accessible to the public, ie can’t be gated (LG Act I think). The owner can of course apply and police parking rules.

        So pedestrians from lower Middleton Rd use Maui Grove as their entry point, but there is less foot traffic on Joseph Banks Tce, being close to Remuera Rd.

        The ramp to the station was privately owned, but I understand has been gifted to AT in exchange for maintaining it in perpetuity (not sure of the precise arrangement). Broadway Park also owns a “tunnel of air” between Joseph Banks Tce and Broadway. This was previously represented by the old footbridge, but now follows a more circuitous route through the station and Station Square. This is gated at the top of the ramp after hours, as well as the station being locked down, which suits Broadway Park. The former Auckland CC wouldn’t allow Broadway Park to gate it; something to do with the resource consent.

  • Tony L

    The whole project is criminal in its avoidance of best practice urban design and as Tim suggests above is an outcome of a broken process. Without addressing the processes by which public money is invested in the built environment we are going to continue to procure a broken product. If a designer can be liable for a leaky building then they should be liable for lack of responsibility in the use of public funds. It may not be a leaky building but is one that avoids its urban context and creates a legacy of ugliness and poorly conceived public space. I would suggest jail time in this instance.

  • Waspman

    If there is any future for that square then it needs some form of roof minimum, as its a horrid place in winter. But I don’t know if spending anymore money would be worth the effort Similarly the tribute to the communist party building next to it doesn’t help either the square or Newmarket in general. I have to agree with TimR, the horse has bolted and furthermore died of old age.

  • Dave B

    From a railway perspective, the station footprint is too confined. With the proposed 10min freq services, this 3-track station will be a hotspot for conflicts. It should have been 4-tracks but at some stage during the years of re-modelling, too much land must have been given away for development. Retaining the former temporary station at Kingdon Street would have helped (effectively giving Newmarket two more platforms and avoiding the inefficient reversal of Western trains), but too late for that now. Hopefully the addition of the CRL will de-congest this station.

    • Linz

      “… at some stage during the years of re-modelling, too much land must have been given away for development.”

      For that we can thank the robber barons Fay & Richwhite who purchased NZ Rail for about sixpence and made hundreds of millions selling off its land, while running down the core assets into rust and craptitude.

    • Waspman

      You are right Dave B and to be accurate it is pretty much high tide mark now at peak hours for Newmarket. Trains are frequently held outside Newmarket on all three approaches as it is, either waiting for a platform or because of conflicting movements. More services will only exacerbate the problem into a worse gridlock situation. The only solution I can see it to establish platforms about where they were on Kingdon Street for the Western line (albeit superior examples to what we had) and have some form of pedestrian connection between them and the current platforms. It will in the least get rid of the ridiculous turnaround time for Western line services that ties up platforms for extended lengths of time and speed things up over all. This cannot be ignored if more services are planned.

      • Steve N

        I’ve always assumed the 3 minutes wait time at Newmarket is to allow the driver to walk to the other end of the train for the “reverse” leg – is there another reason?

        If there was a genuine will by KR/Transdev (whoever supplies the drivers) to speed up the Western Line service, they could swap drivers at Newmarket e.g. train 1 arrives; Driver A exits one cab, Driver B simultaneously enters other cab and takes control, points change, whistles blows, you’re off. Train 2 arrives; Driver C exits one cab, Driver A simultaneously enters other cab, etc.

        • Waspman

          The 3 minutes is for the driver to change ends but the whole concept of turning a train around like this to compensate for Newmarket’s offset junction position is so inefficient. And I recall they tried shuttle drivers as you suggested but it was too expensive having a driver sitting around waiting for a train. And trying to synchronise drivers with other services to achieve the same just isn’t workable. When the temporary platforms were in operation at Kingdon St it worked a whole lot better but the downside was for transferring passengers where it meant a hike across Broadway over to the southern platforms. Hence I suggest a link walkway perhaps locating the platform partly under Broadway/Davis Cres.

  • aa

    The entry from Broadway width isn’t the main problem. It’s the height of the colonnade that you have to pass under to get into the square. Rather than buying buildings adjacent Council would be better (and cheaper) to buy whatever the space is that’s above the colonnade for the first few bays and demolish that (leaving structure in place as required). A high narrow space with a canopy and decent finishes leading right into square would be ok. The entry to the, semi-private, square at 160 Broadway would be a similar width, but it’s high and has decent materials so feels fine.

  • Ak-Sam

    So many valid design interventions have been raised already that it’s almost embarrassing to suggest any more…..!!

    O well….
    How about dressing up the horrible car park wall which is adjacent to the station?
    How about a widened footpath immediately outside the Broadway ped exit? (why does Broadway still have on-street car parks?)
    How about some creepers on a pergola, or a green wall? I guess a water-sculpture/fountain would be out of the question.
    Maybe the expansive station building (upper level) could be opened out into the square, with a kiosk or two inside?
    Perhaps the shops adjacent to the Broadway ped entry might have some glazing (eg Durham St East)? The Politix store could work very well as a 2-fronted shop with a mezzanine.

    The real problem is that Newmarket has such a lack of public space. The Green is nice (and very popular post-rennovation) but where else is there? (don’t say “277 foodcourt”)

    • Luke C

      Newmarket Lumsden Green is pretty good. Newmarket Park is very close but poorly integrated with the centre. Really should have been access over the railway triangle, and through the apartments there, but that has been blocked by development now.
      Other issue with Newmarket is the total blocking of beautiful views east over Hobson Bay. Just go up to the 5th floor carpark above Event Cinemas and you it will surprise you with a stunning view.

  • George D

    Though the entire station is the opposite of future-proofing, once you actually find your way inside it’s rather nice. It will be even nicer when quiet electrics pass through, and we get to stop ingesting carcinogenic black carbon. That should happen some time in the next few years.

    However, since it’s suggestion time: at the _very_ least Auckland Transport could put a large round AT sign above the entrances. Surely that isn’t too hard for the organisation?

  • mv

    Get some street art in that alley way! that will definitely liven it up a bit

  • Our Chair, Shale Chambers has been on the case of Station Square ever since the Waitemata Local Board was elected in 2010 and discovered the budget for widening the walkway through to Broadway had disappeared. We had to get this re-instated through advocacy to the governing body. Since then there have been a range of issues with buying the building fronting Broadway (mainly to do with not having a willing seller). However the project is continuing. In the meantime the Board has supported and funded various “activations” for the square such as Tai Chi, pop up galleries in the 2 shops owned by Council (ready for the widening) and added the planters. We also got the private security guard removed who was telling students they would be trespassing if they stayed in the Square longer than 10 minutes!

    The Newmarket Business Association is also looking at various options such as holding a market in the Square.

    The Square is definitely improving but unfortunately it is going to be very hard to fix the serious design flaws with the whole development that was signed off under a C&R/Banks Council.

    • Greg N

      Who employed the private security guard to “police” a public space and on what council authority?
      I noticed private security guards at the eastern exit to Britomart the other day too – are they there to kick “loitering” students out of the station too?

    • jonno1

      That’s interesting re the security guards. I’ve also noticed them preventing people from merely crossing through the station to the square (ie not actual train users). Polite, but officious.

      Pippa, your last few words are a bit harsh – do you really think that the council and mayor at the time personally approved the design of the square? My guess (it’s only a guess but is based on experience with council officers) is that some graduate town planner would have ticked it off. Further, I would expect you to be apolitical in your role given that you represent a diverse area. Or maybe you just forgot the /sarc tag.

      • Luke C

        I also saw security guards a few weeks ago telling people there were no trains to Newmarket, and that people had to catch a rail bus.
        Unfortunately this was the week after rail-buses had finished on the Britomart-Newmarket section!

      • Steve D

        You expect an elected councillor to be “apolitical”? What exactly do you think politics is, Jonno?

        I expect councillors to actually engage in politics, and for a City Vision councillor that should bloody well include – at least – slagging off the shitty track records of John Banks and C&R. If anything, I think councillors in general are too apolitical. Relevant: http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2013/10/apathy.html

        • jonno1

          Steve D, you and Idiot/Savant seem to be confusing local with central government. Parliament consists of a government and an opposition; council does not. Granted, it’s useful to know the political leanings of a prospective councillor, however, once elected said councillor (or local board member) should act in the best interests of all his or her constituents. Having worked with Pippa on several projects (although not recently) I am in no doubt that she indeed does so, and that her C&R/Banks comment was a throw-away line, albeit factually correct. That’s the problem with lawyers! [Joke]

          • Luke C

            haha tell that to Quax, Brewer et al.
            Agree its good that local govt is not split on every issue, and also those splits can change depending on the issue, but can’t pretend people don’t have opposing views on some issues.

          • Steve D

            Wishing away political differences doesn’t cause them to not exist.

            All politicians (well, we hope) act in the best interests of all of their constituents. But they disagree about what those interests are, how to achieve them, and how to handle tradeoffs between differences. There’s no technical, objective answer to many questions: those are questions that have to be settled politically. That’s true in central government, but it’s just as true at local government, for example in deciding how to balance the interests of developers and business with the interests of shoppers and station users.

      • I try to be very cautious pointing the finger especially when I wasn’t around at the time however I’ve heard from many people directly involved with Station Square that the whole process was very dubious and politically driven. The head planner pushed it through. I also understand it could have been even worse with the original design having no access to Broadway.

  • Sonicantz

    How about putting up a cafe in the middle of the square similar to the one at the bottom of QE2 Square? With awnings and seating and planter boxes, quick food like panini and great coffee

  • KLK

    Where is the grass?

    If there is one thing That encourages Aucklanders to linger in a public space when the sun is out, its a slab of grass. And it baffles me how this is missing on any new-ish public space. Not only is it obvious and simple, its cheap and easy.

  • Christopher

    The person responsible was not re-employed by Council when the new super city came into being. That person was employed by Auckland City Council at the time when the buildings and the “square” that make up Station Square were built.

    • Alphatron

      My understanding is that the original resource consent for the O & Y apartment development at Newmarket had no provision for a square or public space and the ACC planning officers had to negotiate with the developer after the resource consent was granted to get the square and access provided. Although what is there now is lacking in may ways, it is a much better outcome than what might have been built. It certainly facilitated the current railway station design and configuration.

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