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High St Crossing Fixed

You might remember a post from a while ago where Kent outlined a slightly silly situation at the top of High St. He noted pedestrians wanting to walk along Victoria St were forced to wait out a full cycle of the lights to cross with the Barnes Dance… even when traffic was behind a red signal and pedestrians could safely cross regardless.

Well I’m pleased to note that the crossing has been fixed. People crossing High St now get the green man at all times except the phase when traffic exiting High St has got the green. In other words, a parallel pedestrian green has been added to the main Victoria St phase when cars can’t exit High St anyway, and the regular scramble crossing phase still happens too.

Great work Auckland Transport, keep those quick wins coming!

On a side note, if there isn’t any High St traffic waiting that phase isn’t triggered, the Barnes Dance goes very regularly and the side crossing stays green the whole time. Maybe it’s time to shift the Victoria St carpark exit up to Kitchener St where the entrance is, and keep those cars off High St altogether?

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Photo of the Day: Lorne St

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A quick shot of Lorne St in front of the library. It appears Brobdingnagian gardeners have dropped by with some seriously big pot plants. I love them!

About the only criticism I every heard about the shared space in Lorne St was the lack of greenery. This is a fast and cheap way to inject some trees into the street, well done Auckland Council. Excellent “cheap and cheerful” New York style treatment. Hopefully there is a stack of these things stashed somewhere ready to be dropped in around the city as needed.

Improving K’Rd

Below is a plan developed by the Waitemata Local Board working closely with the Karangahape Rd Business Association to improve the area:

K'Rd improvements

This is their accompanying text:

Over the next few decades the Karangahape Road area will experience a dramatic increase in growth, especially in the wake of the completion of the Central Rail Link. This will encourage many more people to frequent the area for shopping and entertainment – the creation of an entrance to the Underground rail Station in Mercury Lane would for example enable people from Avondale, New Lynn, and Henderson to easily travel into K Rd at night to attend theatrical performances at the Mercury Theatre . More people will live in the area as well.

In years to come the area surrounding Karangahape road will be inevitably rebuilt with higher residential units. A higher residential population is to be welcomed from every point of view – it will benefit the area economically and socially as well as improving the general environment ecologically by reducing commuting times and pollution. The increase in the number of residents in the area will probably bring a greater mix of people; at the moment there are few elderly folk or children for example but that may change swiftly after the completion of the CRL and more residential units.

The perceived and real safety and visual attractiveness of the streetscapes will be a crucial part of any development for the K Road area. In particular the volume and speed of traffic will need to be addressed. Karangahape Road is an important traffic route and the Business Association would not like bus routes (for example) to be rerouted away from the area, but certain things should be examined. Some roads in the area are prone to high traffic speeds as they have become to be virtually treated as part of the On‐Ramps for the Motorway System. These areas are very pedestrian unfriendly and it is vital that traffic calming solutions be implemented sooner than later.

This is an good summary of the challenges for the urban form of the area and the ideas on the map above are really good.

K'Rd

 

As the local board are calling for ideas for both K’Rd and Newton it would be good to get readers’ feedback on the suggestions so I’ll start the ball rolling with a couple of thoughts:

~The main entrance to the K’Rd station is planned for the top of upper Beresford St, this will involve the permanent closure of this road to through traffic [already restricted to one way onto Pitt St] and the creation of a public square around the station building which will be great, so the lower part of Beresford St will provide the road access to the buildings of Beresford and Day Sts. I find it strange the Business Association seems to be ignoring this. Only mentioning a Mercury Lane entrance.

~The connection of the abandoned motorway lane to Day St behind the old Rising Sun pub as well as to the new Grafton Gully cycleway and cyclelanes on Nelson St is a great plan. Also I think that the connection of Day St to K’Rd for traffic should be removed and this lane two-wayed back to Beresford. This should also link west across to Howe St under the existing bridge for a more direct and alternative route for pedestrians and cyclists.

~The narrowing of the top of Howe St would only be possible if the 020 bus is no longer fighting its way up that street.

~I don’t shared the Association’s enthusiasm for removing footpaths for on-street parking.

~Always yes to more street trees. But please not only palms, although I think the Nikau already on K’Rd are great.

~This area will see a rise in both residents and retail activity and the streetscape needs to improve with these changes. The CRL station will completely change the area; this will be Ponsonby’s station too [and especially Auckland Girls Grammar's], so the pedestrian amenity over the motorway should be better than just the narrow paths on the Hopetoun viaduct and the quality and liveliness of the Ponsonby/K’rd block will become more important. There is already a new major apartment building under construction in upper Howe St with surely more to come so perhaps something can be done to the terrible design failure of the block between Howe and Hereford Sts.

~Keeping the Link and other buses moving through here needs to kept in mind too. People from Ponsonby and other inner western areas will use these to connect with the much more useful and import rail system at K’Rd post CRL as well as to head into the City and Grafton and Newmarket as they do now.

~More and better pedestrian crossings are required. The really big elephant in the room with regards to traffic volumes, hinted at in the copy, is the motorway onramp at the  K’Rd and Symonds St intersection. Without this ‘attractor’ traffic volume would surely be much more manageable through these city streets. I’m sure highway purists at NZTA would be happy to close this as the city onramps all affect the effectiveness of the system and its all important flow. These are signs of the strange hybrid network that is our urban motorway. Weirdly I guess the best chance for this being closed would be if the disaster of additional lanes across the harbour were built then pressures further into the system like this onramp would probably have to be cut simply to keep the CMJ from total infarction. What a horrible price that would be to pay however.

~ I like the ambition of caping the CMJ at the two high and narrow points, however I suspect the cost and difficulty of constructing the necessary serious engineering while keeping the m’way system below functioning makes these plans unlikely to be fulfilled. I do think however that cantilevering lightweight structures from the existing structures of the Upper Queen St, Symonds St, and K’Rd bridges on either side would almost certainly be both structurally and financially viable as well as architecturally exciting and offer interesting and useful commercial space; shops, cafes, and bars etc [great views- especially form the K'Rd bridge]. Like a 21st century version of the shops on Ponte Vechio in Florence or the old London Bridge! Or more prosaically like 21stC versions of the clip-ons on the Harbour Bridge. These would provide both weather and noise protection as well as interest for pedestrians and therefore go a long way to helping to repair the severance caused by the huge place-destruction of the motorway system.

~Great ideas on new parklets and re-forged pedestrian connections are to found on the map above too; these are necessary and affordable improvements that should be explored and made quickly.

~And AT really needs to come to the cycling party by giving over the outermost lane of the over-wide and over-fast Ian McKinnon Drive to connect Upper Queen St to the northern end of the new Grafton Gully route under Newton Rd. Here. Planters, maybe some barriers, a bit of paint, and a chat with their colleagues at NZTA to form the short connection under the Newton rd bridge with a two lane: Proper joined up off road network all the way from the sea to the heart of the west!

Let us know what you think.

Photo of the Day: Bilbao Metro

The Norman Foster designed Bilbao Metro is elegant and efficient. Not an easy business fitting metro access points into a old city, and the somewhat zoomorphic street entrances are about as discrete and unfussy as possible while remaining unapologetically contemporary and not without wit. The underground stations are pleasingly functional too with their sectioned concrete carapace. Calm and cocooning. It is, even more than the famously curved London Tube, like entering into the umbilica of some city-sized and recumbent and welcoming animal. The Basques, it seems, have their Taniwha too…

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Photographs by Patrick Reynolds.

Auckland Transport’s draft Statement of Intent for 2014-17

Every year Auckland Transport agree with the council a new Statement of Intent (SOI) with the council. It sets out their strategic approach, priorities and targets for the following three years. They are currently in the process of setting the SOI for the 2014-2017 period and there appear to be some quite concerning aspects in the documents - which are found in the various agenda items for the Council Controlled Organisations Governance and Monitoring Committee. My understanding of the process is that the Council send AT a letter of expectation outlining their key priorities, Auckland Transport are meant to incorporate that into a draft SOI which is then reviewed by council officers. The comments from them get responded to by AT and then goes to the council for a final decision.

Last year the biggest change to the SOI as the lowering of patronage targets, most notably for rail. It’s also something that backfired on them with the Ministry of Transport highlighting it their first review on the progress towards the CRL targets the government, suggesting it shows AT don’t believe rail can grow by the amount required.

So this year what do we see? The same thing is happening again with in some cases AT wanting to drop their targets for all PT modes. In the case of rail especially this is to almost absurd levels. For example in their current SOI their target is 11.4 million trips by the end of June 2014 (which they might meet if they keep growing they way they are) while by end of June 2015 they are expected to reach a total of just over 13 million. In their new draft SOI they want the rail target for 2014/15 lowered to just 12.1 million. The target seems way to low considering that:

  • We’re already going to be at ~11.1 million (as we hit 11 million before the end of March)
  • There’s 15 months to go before the end of June 2015
  • In that time electric trains are expected to roll out to the Onehunga Line, Manukau and Southern Lines

Here’s a graph to show how the rail SOI target has changed over the last few versions of the SOI and how we’re actually performing.

Draft 2014 SOI Rail Target

My guess is that we could potentially blow past the 13 million trip target and this isn’t something that should be changed. For the other modes there are similar outcomes. The targets proposed in the 2014/15 year go

  • Total patronage – 78.16 million -> 74.24 million
  • Busway (NEX) – 2.59 million -> 2.51 million
  • Other Bus – 56.63 million -> 53.70 million
  • Ferry – 5.90 million -> 5.94 million

So only the target for ferries goes up which is interesting in itself as they are the mode currently going backwards. Overall this seems like a cop out and the councillors shouldn’t accept this (especially no on the rail figures).

The issue of dropping patronage targets is something noted by the council officers and by Councillor Chris Darby in a memo he sent to other councillors which is also online.

Darby’s letter also highlights that many of the “Key Focus areas for 2014/15 for Auckland Transport” from the council’s letter of expectation are not simply not reflected on in the SOI. These include

  • A strategic review of public transport fares
  • Increased priority for pedestrians and cyclists, and improvement of walking and cycling facilities that improve access to public transport.
  • Identification of and reporting on the delivery of any improvements to the quality of urban design outcomes.
  • Effective management of hygiene factors in the public realm such as cleaning, mowing, and tree clipping.
  • Identifying surplus non-strategic properties for disposal in conjunction with ACPL

On the issue of cycling he notes that many of the timelines set for projects are quite at odds with the presentation AT gave the councils Infrastructure Committee just over a month ago on The Role of Cycling in Auckland. He highlights this in the following table

Draft 2014 SOI cycling issues

Lastly here’s the programme of works proposed in the SOI. Darby thinks that added to this should be planning and route protection for a North West busway along SH16, the Te Atatu bus interchange and the list of bus lanes that will be added. I agree with him.

1. Planning and route protection
1.1 Complete the Auckland Regional Land Transport Plan by June 2015
1.2 Undertake planning and route protection for major new transport initiatives, including:

  • City Rail Link.
  • South-Western Multimodal Airport Rapid Transit (SMART) network
  • Botany lo Manukau rapid transit network.
  • Mill Road corridor upgrade.
  • East-West Link (In conjunction with NZTA). including public consultation on the development and progression of a preferred option;
  • Penlink; and
  • Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI).

2. New transport infrastructure
2.1 AMETI:
Complete investigation and design of

  • Package 4 ( Panmure Roundabout. Lagoon Drive, Additional Panmure Bridge. Busway to Pakuranga, New Pakuranga Bus Station and car parking facilities, and Reeves Road Flyover) by 2017.

Complete construction of:

  • Package I Phase 1 (Panmure interchange) in 2014:
  • Package 2 (Sylvia Park bus lanes) by 2016:
  • AMETI Package 4 enabling works including local road changes and major utility diversions

Commence construction of Reeves Road flyover (to be completed by 2019)

2.2 Introduce new electric trains into service.

2.3 Local road improvements associated with State highway upgrades, including:

Complete construction at:

  • Tiverton Road to Wolverton Street upgrade by 2014 (Culvert upgrade by 2016); and
  • Te Atatu Road corridor improvements by 2017.

Complete design and acquisition for:

  • Lincoln Road corridor improvements by 2017.

2.4 Major local road improvements (over $5m). Including:
Complete construction of:

  • Dominion Road corridor upgrade Including dedicated bus lanes, 12 kin of parallel cycle routes, and 3 village centre upgrades by 2017:
  • Albany Highway North upgrade by 2017;
  • Murphy’s Road bridge improvement by 2016;
  • Brigham Creek corridor upgrade by 2017; and
  • North Western transformation protect (NORSGA) for the Northside Drive East, Westgate Bus Interchange, and Hobsonville Point Park and Ride by 2017.

Complete land acquisition for:

  • North Western transformation project (NORSGA) for Hobsonville Road by 2017.

2.5 Public transport Infrastructure, Including:

Complete construction of the following projects by 2016

  • Otahuhu bus/rail interchange;
  • Manukau bus interchange;
  • Parnell Station:
  • Pukekohe Station. and
  • Silverdale park and ride facilities stage 2.

Complete land acquisition and, subject to that acquisition, complete construction of:

  • Fanshawe / Albert / Wellesley streets bus Infrastructure improvements by 2017,

2.6 Complete construction of road safety Improvements at high-risk areas on the road network, including:

  • Great South Road / Bell Avenue Intersection ($09m) by 2014:
  • Piha Road by 2017 ($0.8m):
  • Ngapipi Road / Tamaki Drive Intersection by 2017; and
  • Whitford Road I Sandstone Road ($0.9m) by 2014.

2.7 Complete the construction to upgrade ferry terminals at:

  • Downtown by 2017;
  • Devonport by 2017; and
  • Half Moon Bay by 2016.

2.8 Extend the regional cycleway network. including:

Complete construction of:

  • Beach Road cycleway by 2017:
  • Dominion Road parallel cycle routes by 2015:
  • Northcote, Waitemata, Mangere. Mt Roskill, and Point England sate cycleway routes by 2017;
  • Upper Harbour Drive cycleway by 2016; and
  • Waterview cycleway connection (in conjunction with NZTA) by 2017.

Complete scheme assessment and preliminary design of:

  • Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive cycleway by 2017.

Federal St Shared Space update

The O’Connell St shared space is now getting started however relatively quietly many people forget about the other shared space currently being developed in Federal St between Wellesley St and Victoria St. Work has been going on for some months now and so here are some photos I took of the progress about a week ago.

The pavers are down at the southern end of the street although part of that has been blocked off for storage of construction materials and equipment.

Federal St Shared Space March 14

Further North (past the black fence in the image above) you can see the pavers have been completed on one half of the street up to roughly the porte cochere for the casino.

Federal St Shared Space March 14 2

Shared spaces work well in improving the quality of a street for pedestrians but won’t work if those streets are still flooded with cars. As such there are a couple of things that I’m worried about with this shared space. There are underground carpark entrances for Skycity, and the former ASB tower (now owned by council) along with the porte cochere for both Sky City Grand and the casino itself. Here’s the ramps into the Skycity carpark that have the potential to spew traffic onto the street. There’s actually quite a decent amount of space there so I wonder if Skycity could pull out the ramps and activate the street with retail/hospitality.

Federal St Shared Space March 14 3

And where the ramp exits with the corresponding exit from the council building.

Federal St Shared Space March 14 4

The porte cochere to the Skycity Grand Hotel always seemed filled with vehicles. I can see there being issues with people and especially taxi’s using the rest of shared space as a carpark or waiting area.

Federal St Shared Space March 14 5

Overall there’s some good progress that’s been made but there are a number of concerns I have and I guess only time will tell how well it turns out.

O’Connell St Shared Space starts

Some great news that the work to upgrade O’Connell St to a shared space is now under-way.

O'Connell St upgrade starts

Construction is expected to be completed in August later this year. Due to the road being too narrow for two lanes, it has been closed to all traffic and temporary measures are being put in place so the shops along the street can have deliveries/rubbish collection etc.

O'Connell St upgrade road closed

Wouldn’t it be great if after the upgrade it could be left closed to traffic permanently.

The work will happen in three stages,

  • Stage 1: the roadway north of Vulcan Lane,
  • Stage 2: the roadway south of Vulcan Lane
  • Stage 3: the footpaths

O'Connell St upgrade stages

The other shared spaces have also spurred a lot of economic development, perhaps that’s why the Minister of Economic Development was there earlier today.

O'Connell St upgrade Joyce

Photo by Nick

And this is what the street is expected to eventually look like

O'Connell Design

O'Connell St

Photo of the day: Eyelight Lane

Back in 2011 when the first stage of the Fort St shared space was being built the artist impressions showed a neat artwork installation on Fort Lane. Now a few years later it’s finally been installed. It’s called Eyelight Lane by Swedish artist David Svensson. I think it looks great and is a nice addition to the area, here are some photos of it.

Eyelight Lane

And here’s another version of it by Richard Wong of PhotosbyRichard.com

 

Albany Highway upgrade to start later this year

Auckland Transport have announced that they will spend $58 million to widen a 4km section of Albany Highway starting in September. The road is an interesting one in that some parts look like a typical suburban street while other parts don’t appear to have really changed since the road was a state highway. Here’s the press release:

Auckland Transport’s greatly anticipated upgrade of the northern section of Albany Highway is expected to begin this September.

The $58 million construction of the Albany Highway North upgrade involves widening a 4km stretch of the highway between Schnapper Rock Road and the Albany Expressway to accommodate four lanes of traffic and separated cycling and walking paths. The main aims are to cater for traffic growth, reduce congestion, improve safety for all road users and encourage alternative modes of transport, such as bus travel, cycling and carpooling.

About 15,000 vehicles, as well as cyclists and pedestrians, use Albany Highway every day, and it also serves the North Harbour industrial estate, five schools, Massey University and a cluster of residential estates.

The announcement is welcomed by the Upper Harbour Local Board, which says many locals are looking forward to the benefits the completed upgrade will bring to those living, working and commuting in the area.

“The local community – and in particular its 5,000 school students – can only benefit from improvements aimed at delivering safer and quicker travel options as this area of Auckland continues to grow,” says board chairman Brian Neeson.

The NZ Transport Agency is funding 53 per cent of the upgrade, which together with the agency’s current project to upgrade SH1 between Upper Harbour Highway and Greville Road, is part of a wider strategy to improve transport links on the North Shore.

The Transport Agency’s Regional Manager of Planning and Investment, Peter Casey, says: “This is a priority investment for the Transport Agency to help ease congestion and provide more reliable journey times for people in a very busy and growing part of Auckland”.

Features of the Albany Highway North Upgrade:

  • Four traffic lanes (with two general traffic and T3 transit lanes)
  • Signalisation of three major intersections (currently roundabouts) at Rosedale Road, Bass Road and Wharf Road
  • Signalised pedestrian crossings and wider footpaths
  • Dedicated cycle paths and footpaths, or shared paths where there is insufficient space
  • Stormwater improvements to reduce pollution from the road flowing into local streams
  • Relocation and undergrounding of main utility services (gas, water, telephone and electricity)
  • Construction of a new four-lane bridge over the Oteha Stream (Days Bridge)
  • Street lighting upgrade using energy-efficient LED lanterns
  • New bus stops with shelters

The upgrade is expected to start in September, once the worst of the winter weather is over, and take about two and a half years to complete.

For more detailed information on the Albany Highway North Upgrade, visit www.at.govt.nz/albanyhighway

The section that’s being upgraded is in red below

Albany Hwy Upgrade route

Like so many projects this one seems to have some really good aspects and some not so good aspects. One one hand $58 million is a lot of money to be spending on road widening, especially seeing as the NZTA is currently in the process of widening the motorway northbound between Upper Harbour Dr and Greville Rd.

On the other hand, from what I can tell it might end up being one of the closest streets we have to a complete street that caters for all users. I understand that Cycle Action Auckland have fought hard for dedicated cycling facilities which AT are saying they are providing – although only through shared paths in some places. For a busy road like this mid-block pedestrian crossings are also quite useful providing they’re frequent enough.

If we are widening roads, making the new lanes T3 right from the start is a much better idea than just creating additional general traffic lanes – providing the T3 lanes are monitored of course. This is something I think Auckland Transport should have done for the Tiverton/Wolverton upgrade too. For this particular road bus only lanes would likely have been overkill as even with the new network, there won’t be that many buses using it. An idea of what the layout will be is below:

Albany Hwy Upgrade layout

There are a number of before and after images on the AT website however they are quite small and hard to see the details of so I’ve not included them in this post.

Overall I do find the timing of this announcement quite odd as construction is still months away. We’ve seen the NZTA stealing the limelight recently with funding announcements for local road projects. Perhaps this is a case of Auckland Transport trying to announce the project before the NZTA does. Also worth noting is that this is a project we did list in the list of road projects that would still happen even if the CFN was adopted immediately.

Is High St a lost cause?

Over the last few years there’s been a lot of teeth gnashing over what to do with High St. The success of Britomart, the shared spaces and the emergence of Wynyard have started to drain it’s prestige (and high profile retailers). Hopefully work on turning O’Connell St into a shared space will start soon (although I’m not hopeful based on what I’m hearing). One of the problems with High St seems to be that there are a few noisy retailers that are so afraid of change – even change that will benefit them – that they oppose it.

Yesterday Metro has published an article that was in the magazine in November 2012 on exactly this issue and it really underlines some of the immense stupidity that some of those noisy retailers have. It starts off by highlighting some of the problems that High St has.

Here’s what happens in High St. First thing every weekday morning, service vans enter the street and fill up half the parks. They’re not delivery vehicles, they belong to tradespeople working in nearby shops and offices. They have council-issued permits to park there all day.

From mid-morning, a steady stream of shoppers drives into High St, which is one-way heading south, looking for a park. They turn left into Freyberg Place, left again into O’Connell St, which is one way north, then down Shortland St, turn once more into High, and on it goes. Many of them go round and round; a few get lucky, more don’t, and they give up and drive away.

High St is the heart of what is supposed to be Auckland’s premier shopping precinct, and it’s got problems. Parking, sure. And a whole lot more. Three high-profile fashion retailers moved out a few months ago and set up new shops in Britomart. Others, on High St and in the Chancery complex, have followed them out of the precinct and several shops remain empty. Earthquake strengthening is due for many buildings, which impacts on tenancy security and rentals, and the heritage status of some is also uncertain. The fast-growing student precinct nearby has changed the makeup of the local population.

It goes on. The recessed strip of shops and cafes under Metropolis and the council carpark at the Victoria St end is dark, dreary and under-patronised. The whole south end of the street is ugly and uninviting. The stonework in Freyberg Square (the square is the public space; Freyberg Place is the street running through it) is wearing away and needs to be replaced. O’Connell St, despite being home to several cool little boutiques and good restaurants, is bleak.

I would add to that list that the footpaths are too narrow and if you’re with someone it almost certainly means walking single file killing any chance of conversation or enjoying the area. I’d much rather stroll down a shared space that walk along High St and I’m guessing a lot of other people feel that way too.

High St

Cars rule in High St

The article contains a lot of are a lot of theories and finger pointing from retailers on what’s affecting High St from the economy to online shopping to that perennial boogie man of the large suburban malls like St Lukes. It’s even suggested that the fact Britomart (the development not the station) has valet parking is contributing to the issues (why can’t the High St retailers fund a valet service using the Victoria St carpark).

But what can be done to improve the area. The council is meant to be turning O’Connell into a shared space and upgrading Freyberg Square, the response:

Chris Cherry is not happy. “Fort St and Elliott St were dogburgers,” he says. “But High St isn’t broken and turning O’Connell St into shared space is the thin end of the wedge. O’Connell St is worthy of preservation as it is. It’s a point of difference.”

John Courtney disagrees with Cherry on this. “O’Connell St is a dark carpark. You still need to drive through, but let’s move some of the cars out.” He’s looking forward to the shared space and says the four restaurants there now, including his own, Kitchen in Hotel DeBrett, are all keen to create an Imperial Lane-style experience.

How anyone can suggest that O’Connell St is worth preserving as it is now is just crazy. Like High St it’s lined by cars but with even worse footpaths and it actively turns people and therefore shoppers away.

O'Connell St

O’Connell St

It continues

Any chance of a pedestrian mall, with service vehicles limited to early morning? Apparently not. Retailers, even after nearly 50 years of the successful experience of Vulcan Lane, are dead against them. Chris Cherry is so vehement, he says that if the vehicles-free zone of Vulcan Lane turned the corner into High St — that’s the corner his shop is on — he’d be “out of there tomorrow”.

Cherry, like most of the other retailers I spoke to, doesn’t like shared spaces either. “Show me a city anywhere in the world where they work,” he says.

To which, DeBrett’s Michelle Deery, who does like them, responds:  “Covent Garden.”

Cherry says Covent Garden is “different because of its scale — it’s got a whacking great Tube station right in the middle of it. And it’s got all those attractions.”

When I told Campbell-Reid about this, he kind of stiffened and looked away. “If you create shared spaces you can put in the attractions. Where do shared spaces work? Only everywhere.”

Including here. A just-released analysis of Fort St by the council shows pedestrian numbers up by 50 per cent, with consumer spending up by 65 per cent overall and 400 per cent in the hospitality sector.

Fort St has been an outstanding success but the other shared spaces have been successful too. As is pointed out in the article, perhaps part of the problem is actually the retailers themselves not being open at the right times. It’s the next part that really made me go wow.

To Chris Cherry, the biggest problem is those service vehicles clogging up the parking. And it’s an easy fix: all they need to do is give the tradespeople permits to use the council parking building.

Cherry, Murray Crane and Heather Gerbic share a strategic goal which is diametrically opposed to Ludo Campbell-Reid’s: they want to make the street more attractive for cars.

Elliott St, says Cherry, can have its shared space — it was “a dog” anyway. “High St’s not a dog. It needs protecting. People coming into High St are coming past Ponsonby and past Newmarket. They’re coming for that special old-fashioned experience.”

What he means is the ability to drive right into the street, park there and shop. Crane even told me High St should be a “thoroughfare”.

To be honest I can’t even see how you could make it even more attractive to cars. Also just what is the “special old-fashioned experience”? Even if you could get more people driving and parking in High St, it’s unlikely to actually have an impact on the businesses. This is because the figures from the councils study into O’Connell St – which I assume would produce similar results to High St – showed that most people shopping in the street got there by some other method than driving and parking in the street. Even more interesting was that of those that did park in the street, most were going somewhere other than O’Connell St.

I do agree that tradespeople can be an issue but they also need to be accommodated in the city and many have/need vans that simply can’t fit in carparking buildings (not that it means they need to be on High St)

As for the disagreement with the council’s plans:

Cameron Brewer relishes this. He clearly doesn’t see eye to eye with Campbell-Reid on the role of cars in the inner city and says he would “hate to see High St become a shared space. Part of its attraction is its European flavour. It’s busy with cars. Drivers have to play Russian roulette. It’s quite gritty like that.”

Really? We want a street for Russian roulette? Brewer reflects on this. “Perhaps it should be a kind of shared space. If you took away the kerbs but still allowed people to park there, that wouldn’t be so bad.”

Perhaps someone should have told Brewer that shared spaces came from Europe. The only people playing Russian roulette are the pedestrians who want to cross the road, even at the crossings, especially if a driver happens to spot a free carpark up ahead.

It’s not mentioned too much in this article but some people love to compare the plight of not just High St but the CBD and town centres to success of the suburban malls. They point out the masses of parking outside them and assume that to be successful that they have to have parking outside their shops too. What I find both comical and sad about it is that one of the things that makes mall so successful isn’t that people can drive to them but that people can’t drive through them. Ultimately malls are just the equivalent of pedestrian only streets. I suspect that in many ways malls were simply a response to us having turned so much of our CBD and town centres over to the movement and storage of cars.

Sadly despite this article being over a year old, I have heard that many of the views mentioned haven’t changed and the retailers are still fighting any change to High St as well as O’Connell St. If they get their way then High St will likely be a lost cause for some time to come because at the end of the day people buy stuff, not cars.

CCMP High St potential

A shared space idea from the Cty Centre Master Plan

Read the full story in metro.