The final tally is in, and the Mayor along with all the Councillors for the 3rd Supercity Council are now known, most were confirmed on Saturday, however the race for the second ward position for the North Shore went down to special votes, as Richard Hills was only 70 votes ahead at the time.
The final result for the two Councillor positions for the North Shore was
1. Chris Darby 19396 Votes
2. Richard Hills 12651 Votes
Grant Gillion who was 70 odd votes behind at the Preliminary count finished on 12523 votes, Richard Hills increased his margin after special voting was counted to 128 votes.
Richard Hills should be a good addition to the Council from a Transport perspective, he campaigned on in his words “Better public transport, cheaper fares, more walking and cycling initiatives including Skypath and secure Rail to the Shore,”
He scored an A+ on Generation Zero’s Scorecard & has served two terms on Kaipatiki Local Board. Along with Darby it looks like the North Shore have voted 2 very PT focused candidates with both advocating for Cycling, as well as Rail for the Shore.
As far as I am aware he ran a positive campaign, and like Chloe used Social Media to very good effect.
The Final Council make is now as follows with the final votes, Bill Cashmore is N/A as he was elected unopposed.
(Note ignore text below title, these are the final not provisional results)
The final turnout was 38.5% after special votes had been counted, and 18000 votes were made on the Saturday.
This is one of a series of posts I intend to do about about the city streetscape we ought to be able to expect as a result of the CRL rebuild.
This one will describe the Council’s plans for inner western Victoria St, around the CRL portals, because it seems they are not well understood, especially by some at Auckland Transport, based on the recent release of a proposed design from the CRL team that appears to completely ignore the agreed streets level outcomes. In further posts I will:
- Consider this problem; transport professionals dismissing place quality outcomes as frivolous or unnecessary, or as a threat to their authority, as a professional culture issue.
- Have a close look at some of the bus routes through the City Centre, as these are often highly contested by multiple parties, and have a huge bearing on road space requirements
Last week Councillor Darby sent me a whole stack of work done by the Council on the Linear Park, I will reproduce some of this here, but I urge everyone interested to follow the links below; there’s a huge amount of multilayered work showing how the proposal was arrived at and just how important it is:
- The Green Link
- Aotea Station Public Realm
The first point I would like to make is that I am talking here about the finished outcomes not the interim ones that need to accommodate work-rounds of the street disruption caused by the construction of the CRL. This is about the early 2020s; what is best for when the CRL is open and running, when the new buildings going up, and about to go up, in the city are occupied, and the pedestrian demands are many times greater than currently. It may seem a long way off, but contracts are being agreed now, and if we aren’t careful we will find ourselves locked into poor outcomes that will prove expense to fix. And, remember, this is dividend time; when the city starts to reap the reward of all the expense and disruption of building the CRL itself. This is an important part of why we are doing it: to substantially upgrade and improve every aspect and performance of the whole city as possible, including its heart. Transport infrastructure is a means to an end; not an end in it self.
Second is to suggest that it has been perhaps a little unhelpful that Council called this reclamation of city street a ‘Park’. I can see why they have, this is a repurposing of space from vehicle use to people use, and it does offer the opportunity for new high quality design elements, which is similar to what happens in a park. But I think this undersells the full complexity of what is happening here. There is a great deal of functionality and hard rationality in this scheme, as well as the promise of beauty and the city uplifted.
The place to start is the CEWT study [City East West Transport Study]. This set a very rational and ordered taxonomy of the Centre City east west streets, concluding that Victoria St’s priority will need to shift to a strong pedestrian bias, be the only crosstown cycle route between K Rd and Quay St, and enable a reduced but still efficient general traffic load:
Note that east west bus movements are kept to Wellesley and Customs Sts. This greatly helps Victoria St’s space location as shown below. It is becoming clear that AT now want to return buses here. I believe this is a very poor idea, and will unpack why in a following post. So many poor place and pedestrian outcomes follow directly from trying to get both buses and general traffic trough inner Victoria St, and it is still a very hard street to try to shove buses through in terms of their own functionality, and that of the other general traffic. As well as leading to the total deletion of the only Centre City east/west cycle route. Here is how it was shown in CEWT:
Now turning to the newer iteration from the docs linked to above. The key issue is that the sections of the ‘Park’ around the station entrances on Victoria are focussed on pedestrian capacity rather than place amenity:
Not a park as in a verdant garden, but largely hard paving for efficient and high capacity pedestrian movement under an elevated tree canopy. Very much an urban condition tailored to met the massively increased pedestrian numbers that we know will be here. Particularly from the CRL itself, but also from the rapid growth and intensification of the whole city centre as it builds up around them, and of course the considerable bus volumes on Albert and Bus or LRT on Queen St. At the core this is simply classical ‘predict and provide’ that surely even most unreconstructed and obdurate of engineers can understand. Meeting projected pedestrian demand; not just an aesthetic upgrade, though why we wouldn’t do that while we’re at it, I can’t imagine.
Because this station sits directly below the greatest concentration of employment in the whole country, as well the biggest educational centre, retail precinct, hotel location, and the nation’s fastest growing residential population, we can expect these entrances to immediately be very busy. The plan on opening is for there to be 18 trains an hour each way through this station all with up 750 people [or even 1000 when really packed] alighting and another load boarding, all milling a round; waiting or rushing. And mixing on the streets with all the other people not even using the system. This will make for a very busy place. Their will be thousands of people walking around here at the peaks. Many more than those that use the entire Hobson/Nelson couplet in their cars over the same period. This will need space. Furthermore urban rail systems are very long term investments, what may be adequate for the first few years of the CRL is unlikely to sufficient for the years ahead, let alone decades. There is a clear need for the space for this human traffic to be generous to begin with, to err on the side of spare capacity. This really is no moment to design for the short term, once built that tunnel isn’t moving.
So has any work been done to picture this demand? Yes. Though to my inexpert eyes this looks a little light:
In particular the pedestrian traffic heading north, ie crossing Victoria St looks underrepresented. There will be no entrance to the station on the north side of Victoria street. Everyone heading that way has to come out of one of the east/west exists and crossover at street level. The document above does at least point out the pinch points between the exits and buildings on Victoria. And it is these that AT must be planning on squeezing further to get four traffic lanes back into Victoria St. One lane comes from deleting the cyclists, and the other must be from squeezing pedestrians passing the stations entrances. Just don’t AT; therein lies madness, very expensive to move a station entrance once built. And frankly a 5m width here between hard building edges is already tight and mean. Somewhere in AT the old habits of not really expecting people to turn up and low use of the very thing the agency is building seem to have crept back up to dominate thinking, and all for what? Vehicle traffic priority. The most spatially inefficient use of valuable street space in the very heart of our transforming city.
The extra wide pedestrian space that the Linear Park provides doesn’t just have value immediately around the station portals. Stretching up to Albert Park and the University beyond to the east and up on the flat plateau of western Victoria St offering a good pedestrian route to the new offices and dwellings on Victoria St West and Wynyard Quarter beyond. But as the distance increases from the big sources of pedestrians then the condition of the amenity can become more place focussed and more planting and ‘lingering’ amenity can be added, yet it will still need to primarily serve these Active Mode movement functions well:
And it is important to acknowledge this is a ‘substantial change’ from present condition. The Council recognise, and it is impossible to disagree, that there is nothing to be gained by trying sustain the status quo here. The CRL is brings huge change to the city and how it is used and this needs to be reflected in very nature of our streets as well as in our travel habits:
The Centre City Cycle Network is hopelessly incomplete without some way to access both the Queen St valley and Victoria Park from the Nelson St Cycleway. And if not on Victoria then where? Not with all the buses and bus stops on Wellesley St.
And lastly, other than the never fully successful Aotea Square there has been no new public realm in the City Centre since the Victorians set out Albert, Victoria, and Myers parks. There are now many more people living, working, and playing in the city than ever before, and other than repurposing, or burying, motorways, or demolishing buildings, the streets are the only chance to provide quality space for everyone. This is so much more valuable than slavishly following last century’s subjugation to motor vehicle domination. We know better than this now. Vehicles will fit into whatever space we provide and people will flood the rest. And the later is the more valuable street-use for a thriving, more inclusive, and competitive, and sustainable urban centre to lead the nation this century.
Today Auckland gets a new Mayor and at least three new Councillors. As of the time this post goes up there’s only half an hour left to cast a vote. If you haven’t yet voted and still want to you better get moving fast. Results start coming through from 2pm and if it’s anything like last time, most outcomes should be mostly known within a couple of hours.
Voting returns as of yesterday are tracking at the abysmal level of just 35.2%, only slightly above the 2013 results for the same time. Voting is also tracking behind other major cities in NZ with results for Wellington City Council tracking at 40% and Christchurch City Council slightly ahead at 36%.
And here are this year’s results by council ward. Orakei currently has the highest percentage of votes returned at 44.2%. Voting in South Auckland is particularly low and currently below 30%
Once the results start coming through we’ll update this post to keep track of how things are going.
There will of course be some things we’re keeping a close eye on. A few include:
- Most expect Phil Goff to win and if that happens, just how big will the margin be?
- How will Chloe Swarbrick do, could she end up third?
- Will Mark Thomas, who has put in a huge effort in getting around the region, get fewer votes than Penny Bright as polls have indicated?
- Who will be the minimum of three new Councillors and will any sitting Councillors be voted out?
And a few predictions to be judged in a few hour’s time. There is nothing to base this on other than gut feel but some are much harder than others
Mayor: Phil Goff
- Rodney: Penny Webster
- Albany: This might be the hardest to pick of all races. I’m going to pick John Watson and Graeme Lowe
- North Shore: I think Chris Darby should win but the second seat is a tough one. Perhaps Grant Gillon will edge out the other contenders.
- Waitakere: I suspect Penny Hulse and Linda Cooper will be re-elected once again.
- Whau: Ross Clow to retain the seat
- Waitemata: I think Mike Lee will hold his seat but not by anywhere near the margin he’s had before.
- Albert-Eden-Roskill: The two incumbents of Cathy Casey and Christine Fletcher to retain their seats
- Orakei: Desley Simpson will likely easily win this
- Maungakiekie-Tamaki: Denise Krum to remain
- Howick: There have been some good new faces in the campaign but I suspect the existing Councillors of Dick Quax and Sharon Stewart will hold on.
- Manukau: Alf Filipaina and Efeso Collins to win the seat
- Manurewa-Papakura: The two sitting Councillors of Calum Penrose and Sir John Walker to retain their seats
- Franklin: Bill Cashmore has already been re-elected unopposed
Put your picks in the comments (before the results)
I’ll probably also keep an eye on some results from other locations – such as Wellington which is also getting a new Mayor and has had a lot of potential candidates standing, many of whom have stood on platforms of backing big roading investments.
Results are here.
Phil Goff wins by a large margin
Looks like we’ll have quite a few changes for the council with a few sitting Councillors being beaten. Peliminary results for wards are
- Rodney: Greg Sayers has tipped out Penny Webster by a large margin
- Albany: John Watson and Wayne Walker have both retained their seats
- North Shore: Chris Darby wins easily and Richard Hills is just ahead of Grant Gillon. It’s going to come down to special votes.
- Waitakere: Penny Hulse and Linda Cooper are both re-elected.
- Whau: Ross Clow wins again
- Waitemata: Mike Lee wins but sees his margin reduced.
- Albert-Eden-Roskill: Cathy Casey and Christine Fletcher both easily win seats
- Orakei: Desley Simpson was always likely to win
- Maungakiekie-Tamaki: Denise Krum wins easily, this was a close election in 2013
- Howick: Dick Quax and Sharon Stewart are way ahead in votes to their rivals
- Manukau: Alf Filipaina and Efeso Collins win the two seat
- Manurewa-Papakura: Daniel Newman and Sir John Walker win, tipping out Calum Penrose
- Franklin: Bill Cashmore who was elected unopposed
The City Rail Link is now under construction and will see most of Albert St dug up in the process of building the cut and cover tunnels. That presents Auckland Transport with a great opportunity on what is effectively a blank slate to reinstate it to a much higher standard than exists now. The Auckland City Centre Advisory Board (ACCAB) have endorsed spending $20 million from the City Centre Targeted Rate towards doing just that. A presentation to the ACCAB last week showed their latest design. But there are some major concerns about the design from the council and their comments suggest the CRL team have been operating too much in a silo.
Albert St has a bit of space to work with and as is 27.4m wide from Quay St through to Wellesley St, although that is narrowed by the lanes on the two blocks south of Wyndham St. At the same time there’s a lot to fit in there, especially as once the CRL is finished it will likely see a lot more people walking along it. It has also historically been the main route for buses from the western side of the city and while the CRL will reduce the need for some buses, the slots freed up will be needed for more services, especially from the Northwest as that area continues to develop.
So the first big issue that is raised in the presentation is the need to accommodate buses. There are two basic options discussed, inline bus stops where the bus stop is within the lane and offline bus stops where the stop is beside the lane so that it doesn’t block it, allowing for more buses to use the route. AT say the capacity of an inline bus stop is about 53 buses an hour while offline bus stops are limited by the number of stops that can be added. The trade-off is of course space.
AT say the predictions for bus numbers mean offline bus stops are needed along the corridor. That of course will impact on how wide footpaths will be. I’m not sure what the LRT scenario refers to.
The upgrade of Albert St will happen in two phases. The section north of Wyndham St (C2) will be build following the completion of the current works – which extend that far – while the section south of Wyndham St (C3) will happen after the main works, that include the Aotea Station, are complete.
The design for the C2 works are shown below and are more advanced than the C3 works later in the post.
The Lower Albert St section (north of Customs St) will be bus only.
There aren’t any detailed images for the section between Customs and Wolfe St but it appears the classic traffic engineers have got hold of the plans with dedicated right turn lanes and either bus stops or car parking narrowing down the footpaths.
Between Wolfe and Swanson St things get wider again and includes the addition of a number of trees.
Here’s a visualisation of the street here. The presentation talks about a number of the environmental and design features included.
Between Swanson and Wyndham the footpaths narrow again to accommodate the offline bus stops in each direction.
Next up is the section south of Wyndham, the C3 section which contains the challenges such as the split level lanes on the eastern side.
There are some good things happening here with one of the biggest being the lane that accesses Durham St West. I believe the historic Bluestone wall is actually being moved as part of the CRL project as is needed to create space for the tunnels. That has the benefit of allowing for a wider footpath up at the road level which AT’s plans suggest will be between 2.71m and 2.94m in width, currently it’s only about 1.7m wide. AT’s plans also seem to make it safer to cross to that footpath with raised tables. In addition, the two carpark bridges will be removed so they won’t be spewing cars out onto that footpath. An image of the narrowed lane suggests it could be a shared space too.
The drawing showing just north of Victoria St shows one potential issue though with ventilation for the tracks being built into the footpath, which itself is not all that wide. These could potentially be quite large and unpleasant for pedestrians and is a bigger issue given the constrained nature of this section of road.
On the other side of the Victoria St intersection there is the issue with the planned NDG porte cochere that I raised recently.
In the image above you can also see the space in the middle of the street, this is planned to be for skylights into the station. There will be seven in total referencing Matariki.
The section to Wellesley shows the eastern side next to the Crowne Plaza will be made much better for pedestrians although will still be narrow at the southern end thanks to the service lane exit and the dedicated right hand turn pocket. It’s not clear why this turning pocket is even there given how busy this area is bound to be with people.
Mayoral Dr outside of the main station entrance remains virtually unchanged.
The last part of this presentation to cover is Victoria St and it’s here where things get really concerning. The drawings show fairly narrow footpaths on the southern side for what will be one of the busiest people part of the city and it seems that has happened in the madness to try and accommodate four lanes of traffic. This is very much a case of cars being put before people.
Even worse is it appears AT are completely ignoring the formally adopted City Centre Master Plan which calls for Victoria St to become a linear park linking Albert Park and Victoria Park, the Governments Urban Cycleway Programme which shows Victoria St as a key east-west route and even their own internal studies on space allocation – which is shown below.
Hell even AT’s formal visualisations of the station entrance show this, as do these plans.
Given the plans presented to the ACCAB are meant to be the most recent it is very concerning.
Below are the proposed widths of the roads mentioned above.
The presentation notes feedback from the council and an internal AT review was expected to be due back before the ACCAB meeting. As such the Council’s Design Review Panel report is also included in the meeting agenda and it is extremely critical of the designs the CRL team have come up with. The report covers in a fair amount of detail the council’s views on the design and includes some fairly concerning comments, including that the CRL team have been working in a silo over the design.
Albert Street- between Wyndham and Quay Streets- has been through a rigorous design process, informed by a consulted Reference Design (ADO, 2014-15) and Detailed Design (Boffa Miskell, 2015). However, the current design developed since October 2015 has been developed without consultation external to CRL and AT Metro. The current design is a remnant of the former Detailed Design- but lacks design cohesion with long indented bus bays, turn lanes and an imbalanced single block of street trees.
However, of much greater concern for the Panel is the pending approval of the C3 Reference Design in the next month. C3 for Albert Street includes the section between Wyndham and Mayoral which was not investigated in Reference Design and Detailed Design process, nor sufficiently consulted. The structure of the C3 contract is a $1.6bn design-build, limiting Council’s ability to inform the streetscape design.
This is significant as this scope includes the two eastern side slip-lanes, the median skylight features, footpath train station vent structures, Crowne Plaza access and direct interface with two major developers, NDG and Sky City. However, of greatest concern is the interface design with Aotea Station and its resulting effects on the pedestrian space on Victoria Street and Wellesley Street. The plans depicted at the panel review are the first Auckland Council has seen the implications of AT’s preference for Victoria Street as a four-lane street. This is not a view supported in the 2012 City Centre Masterplan which is the council family and politically endorsed plan for the city that should be referenced by CRL. For instance the implications of shifting the Aotea Station closer to NDG requires further study. The 4 southeast “pinch point” at the Wellesley Street intersection is currently the city centre’s most dangerous. The Panel is not comfortable with the resolution depicted in the current design.
As mentioned, there is a lot more detail in the report. Overall they summarise their feedback as:
Despite an initially bold and collaborative design process, the current Albert Street design reviewed by CPDRP is underwhelming and requires effort to get back on track to avoid returning to the austere and utilitarian condition where the street started. Furthermore the design falls short on achieving many of the project objectives as presented in the briefing report.
The minutes of the meeting note:
- the CRL Project Director noted there will be plenty of opportunity next year (2017), once the Auckland City Centre Advisory Board has reconvened, to address any concerns in the public realm design, under both the C2 and C3 contracts
- the CRL Project Director invited the board to have 2 representatives to attend the monthly CRL urban realm steering meetings
That doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence that AT will actually make any improvements.
In August we celebrated as the Unitary Plan was finally approved by the council and then formally notified after a four-year roller coaster of a process. Even better was the end result was actually pretty good, far better than we could have hoped for back in February after the agreed to most of the changes the Independent Hearings Panel made. Things were looking up, that we might actually be able to start to addressing the housing crisis that has pushed people out of the city or even worse, to have to live in a car.
Unfortunately, yesterday the council announced the plan had suffered the same fate as car below after running into an Auckland 2040/Character Coalition shaped bollard (we could also do with some of those bollards in our bus lanes)
Following notification of the Unitary Plan on August 19, there was a 20 working day window for people to appeal the plan. Appeals were possible to the High Court on points of law but there were limited rights of appeal to the environment court “where the council either rejects a recommendation made by the Panel, or accepts a Panel recommendation that is identified as being beyond the scope of submissions on the PAUP” (Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan). In total there were 106 appeals, 65 to the Environment Court, 41 to the High Court, and eight applications for a judicial review.
Most of those only related to specific sites, such as a land owner complaining about the zoning of their property. But the council have deemed that a joint appeal by Auckland 2040 and the Character Coalition on the residential zoning has meant that the zones and the zoning and maps can’t become operative. Here’s what the council says about it.
However a joint appeal lodged by Auckland 2040 and the Character Coalition, which is broad in scope, has the potential to impact residential development across Auckland.
Because that appeal challenges certain zoning decisions, the zoning maps cannot become operative until that appeal is resolved. This may mean that applications for resource consent to develop a property will also need to be assessed against the relevant operative legacy planning zones and rules.
“Until all appeals are resolved, Auckland Council is required to assess all resource consent applications against parts of both the old and new plans,” says Ms Pirrit.
“Decisions will need to be made on a case by case basis as to how much weight can be given to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan versus the operative legacy district and regional plans.”
“In practical terms, this will add greater complexity and a degree of uncertainty for applicants while the appeal process is ongoing.”
So to get consent, developments will need separately pass the old and the new criteria. That sounds onerous and something bound to add a lot of cost to the process or could perhaps even stall much needed developments for up to a year until the appeal is resolved. This almost sounds like a nightmare and one of the worst case scenarios that could have happened.
It appears that even the Character Coalition were unaware of just how much impact their appeal would have, perhaps they got some bad advice.
At the same time, it wouldn’t surprise me if council are being overly cautious about this and are playing it conservatively to prevent further issue if it was perceived they weren’t taking the process seriously. Either way I certainly hope this is able to be resolved quickly because Auckland can’t afford any delays in trying to address the housing crisis that already exists.
For the parts of the plan that aren’t affected by this appeal, the council are holding their final governing body meeting of the term and staff have recommended they make those parts operative. This will also be the final meeting for Mayor Len Brown and Councillors Arthur Anae, George Wood and Cameron Brewer who are not standing for re-election.
Some good news last week with the announcement that the Council’s former Civic Administration Building – which was given Category A heritage status under the Unitary Plan – will be restored. To make things better, it will be joined by a number of new buildings filling in what is currently a dead zone surrounding it.
The iconic Civic Administration Building in Aotea Square will be restored and the surrounding area developed under a private sector proposal that will breathe life into a key part of our city centre.
The city’s urban development agency Panuku Development Auckland has selected Tawera Group to restore the Category A heritage building after an international tender process.
Tawera’s Civic Quarter proposal features residential apartments in the upper floors with food and beverage facilities on the ground floor of the existing building. There will also be a new apartment building on the Mayoral Drive corner, a new boutique hotel on Mayoral Drive and a building featuring a Whare Tapere performance space fronting Aotea Square.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown says Civic Quarter shows what is possible if we make the most of the opportunities we have with heritage buildings.
“With the population in the central city expected to double in the next 30 years, it’s essential we develop new accommodation options to make this a liveable city. This scheme is a fantastic way to achieve this. It’s all about making the most of the land and opportunities we have in a growing city.”
The mayor says Civic Quarter will bring a new edge to Aotea Square, with the hotel as well as the food and beverage offerings in the development adding vitality to this corner of Auckland’s arts precinct.
“And for Aucklanders the best news is that this partnership with a well-respected private sector developer will come at no cost to ratepayers.”
Panuku Project Director Clive Fuhr says after an extensive tender process it’s pleasing to announce the plans for a building that has remained largely empty since being vacated by the council.
“It was important to provide a viable commercial opportunity that would enable the restoration of a heritage building, the provision of more housing and the revitalisation of this precinct.”
Fuhr says Tawera was the lead tenderer from an Expressions of Interest and Request for Proposals process that attracted global interest and some impressive detailed submissions.
The Tawera proposal was selected with guidance from a panel of urban design experts and heritage advisors. Mana whenua were also part of the selection process, ensuring the Te Aranga Maori Design principles were incorporated.
“It was important we found the right partner to ensure both the heritage features of the building are protected and that it tells a strong Maori story. We were very impressed with Tawera who recently won the Property Council award for their Hopetoun Residences,” says Fuhr.
“Their scheme certainly gives effect to the objectives in the recently adopted Aotea Quarter Framework Plan.”
Tawera principal John Love says his team is excited to be part of this important development for Auckland.
“Civic Quarter is the kind of regeneration project that has won Tawera Group awards in the past. It will blend an iconic Auckland landmark with cutting edge design ensuring that the Aotea Quarter becomes a must visit destination for all.”
Auckland Council Heritage Manager Noel Reardon, whose team was involved in the selection process, says the Civic was the city’s tallest building when it was completed in 1966 and it went on to become an icon of local government.
“It’s great news to see such an iconic building being restored. The council’s heritage team will work closely with the developers to ensure the heritage features are retained and restored.”
The next steps in the development will be for Tawera to work through the resource and building consents, particularly in terms of the refurbishment works. Building is expected to start in mid-2017 and take three years.
This shows the expected layout of the buildings that are planned
As a comparison, most of this space is currently carparks and largely unused dead space
Here’s a video of what’s proposed, some of what’s proposed looks a little awkward but hopefully that can improve as the design evolves. I also hope a lot of care is taken with the design of those shared lanes. I do like that this part of Mayoral Dr will finally have some activation but that will also mean we need to ensure Mayoral Dr isn’t just left as a racetrack.
One thing that also struck me was how in some ways the Whare Tapere is a modern take on Tibor Donner’s original design for the area which included annexes on either side of the Civic Admin Building, as can be seen here. You can also see that image doesn’t include Mayoral Dr which was bulldozed through the area.
Voting papers have now started going out for local body elections. While the Mayoral contest understandably gets the most coverage, there is considerably less the further down the chain the position is and so the harder it becomes. In some cases at a Councillor level but almost certainly by the time you get to the local board level you’re likely to be voting on people you’ve never seen or even heard of before based on nothing more than a picture and a vague blurb – and it’s amazing how crappy they can be. And candidates for DHB and if you have one, a licencing trust take this to another level.
To try and help inform the public, our friends at Generation Zero have put in a huge effort to interview and score candidates for mayor, council and local board. Here’s what they say:
We asked every council candidate the same 14 questions on Transport, Housing and the Environment. We gave them points based on how well they answered and how well they matched Generation Zero’s vision for a liveable low-carbon Auckland.
One thing I really like is how much detail they’ve provided this time. They’ve explicitly list the questions they’ve asked and their marking criteria so that it’s clear everyone is marked by looking through the same lens. The 14 questions are grouped into the three categories mentioned above – with over half focused on transport – a fourth category is scores a candidate’s competency and is based on a number of different factors.
At a glance readers are able to see the overall score and the score for each category. By drilling down on a candidate you can to see how many points were scored for each question along with the markers thoughts on the candidate.
As an example, here are the five highest scores for mayor. John Palino scored the lowest of probably any candidate with a E overall.
Given Goff is the front runner in all polls so far I’ve used his result to show the synopsis and break down in his scores for the transport section.
What is interesting about looking through the various council wards is some have lots of candidates that have scored well to pick from – such as in Manukau
While in other areas people will to choose from candidates who have scored fairly low, one such ward is Maungakiekie-Tāmaki where the best score was incumbent Denise Krum with a C+.
As well as getting an A+ score, Manukau candidate Efeso Collins is also probably the first Auckland candidate in to have his own song. Perhaps it should become a requirement of candidates from now on?
Unfortunately, not all mayoral or council candidates have a ranking as it relied on Generation Zero being able to contact them and them being willing to be interviewed for this. Overall it’s a fantastic resource so thank you to Generation Zero for putting so much effort in for it.
In addition to the work above, if you’re looking for more information candidates the council’s official website has information too. And lastly, Vote Local has a quiz you can do which then compares your answers to mayoral candidates.
This week is shaping up to be an important one for the future of transport in Auckland with updates expected on both the government’s funding of the City Rail Link and the final Auckland Transport Alignment Project report due to be publicly released. Both issues are understood to have been discussed in the government’s Cabinet meeting yesterday. Tomorrow the council will hold a special meeting of the governing body behind closed doors to get updates on the decisions made so a public response can be made when the information is released, expected to be Thursday.
This meeting has been called to consider progress with central government on the City Rail Link and the Auckland Transport Alignment Project.
The above reports were not available at the time of going to print as the content is contingent on cabinet consideration that has yet to take place. The reason for urgency is to enable the council to respond quickly following that cabinet consideration.
While we wait for the Thursday, here are a few questions and thoughts I’ve had and will be keeping an eye on when the announcement happens.
City Rail Link
- Will the government fund 50% of the project?
- As we know the council are already funding ~$250 million for the early works on the project which will see cut and cover tunnels dug from Britomart to south of Wyndham St. This was needed in part so developments like Commercial Bay on the old Downtown mall site could proceed. Will any government funding commitment cover the entire project including a share of the early works or will it only apply to the rest of the project?
- If a formal funding announcement isn’t made, does that leave it up to the next council to agree on the outcome. Does that create a risk that if enough incoming Councillors are hostile to the project we could see delays?
- Will any funding be announced for other improvements to the rail network to enable the CRL to operate better, for example for more trains, more cross-overs, signalling enhancements, the much needed third main or a number of other potential upgrades.
Auckland Transport Alignment Project
The Foundation and Interim reports have given us a good idea of the kinds of things ATAP is looking at so I’m not expecting anything too radical to appear but you never fully know.
- Focus on the first decade – ATAP breaks future projects down by the approximate decade they will be needed. Given how rapidly things can change, the modelling gets more inaccurate the longer in the future something is so any project more than a decade out might as well be ignored. An exercise like ATAP is probably needed ever 5-10 years to ensure we’re on the right track and those projects can be reviewed and re-prioritised then.
- Road Pricing – Prior to ATAP, discussions around road pricing have existed solely as a way to try and raise additional revenue. Yet it can also be used to encourage people not to drive at certain times which can in turn have a big impact on congestion. The results in the interim report were very positive and as a result we saw the first signs the government were softening on the issue – Newshub reports this softening has continued. I don’t expect we will see specific details about any road pricing scheme but an indication of when one may be needed is likely. I also expect this will be the area most focused on by the media.
- Future Technology – whether it be the likes of Uber or autonomous vehicles, almost daily there is talk of role technology could have in changing transport in the future. ATAP has been looking at the potential impacts and the Interim Report noted there are potentially quite positive impacts, but the big uncertainty will be how much and when those impacts might be seen. I don’t expect this report to answer that question and again why this exercise is probably needed on a set basis.
- Government Funding the plan – Funding the CRL is one thing but with both the council and government finally expected to be on the same page around Auckland’s transport priorities, attention is going to have to turn to how we fund it. ATAP should give a better indication of both the quantum and timing of the funding needed. I hope we’ll see an initial response from the government at the same time as the report is released.
- Mayoral candidate response – The Mayoral hopefuls are out promising projects to voters. How will Vic Crone respond if ATAP says an additional harbour crossing isn’t anywhere near a priority or what about Phil Goff if light rail is in the same boat? Whoever is elected mayor is likely going to need to come up with additional funding to help pay for the projects needed. How will this sit with candidates promising to cap or cut rates?
What are the things you’ll be looking for with both the CRL and ATAP are made public?
Exactly five years ago last month, August 30th 2011, my first ever blog post ran on Transportblog. While I am astonished it’s already been five years, what’s really astonishing is what we, my colleagues here, you the readers, and the growing force of friends and allies elsewhere [shoutout to Generation Zero and Bike Auckland especially], and of course the many good people official roles, have helped achieve in Auckland in this time. We have certainly raised the discourse on urban issues and influenced some real outcomes, for the better. Exactly what we set out to do, and what we continue to strive for.
But there is one thing that has still remains unfixed and that is the subject of my first post, which is reproduced in full below.
Why Are There Cars on Queen St?
This is a Guest Post by regular commenter Patrick Reynolds and was originally published in Metro magazine
Queen St, from the water to Mayoral Drive, has an unusual and unexpected feature for a city street in Auckland. It’s easy to miss but it’s true: There is not one vehicle entrance to a building from Queen St. Not one car parking building, not one loading bay, not one ramp to an executive garage under a tower block. The only way to enter a building from Queen St is on foot. There are a few very short term road side parks among the bus stops and loading bays, but really every car in Queen St is on its way to and from somewhere else. And so slowly.
People often talk about traffic with words like ‘flow’ as if it is best understood as a liquid, when really what it is actually like is a gas. Traffic expands like a gas to fill any space available to it [which is why it is futile to try to road build your out of congestion]. There are cars in Queen St simply because we let them be there, like an old habit we’ve never really thought about. l think it’s time we did.
No traffic moves well on Queen St, certainly not the buses, it is usually quicker to walk from the Ferry Building to the Town Hall than to catch any Queen St bus. Emergency vehicles get stuck, deliveries battle their way through. It is clear why there is traffic on the four east-west cross streets of Customs, Victoria, Wellesley, and Mayoral. These are essential through routes to and from motorways and parking buildings. But they too get held up by all the turning in and out of the intersections with Queen St. Because as it is now the lights have long and complicated phases to handle every possible car movement and the growing volume of pedestrians.
It seems likely that simply by removing the private car from the three blocks from Mayoral Drive down to Customs St the city will function so much better. The intersections of Customs, Victoria and Wellesley, will be able to have much better phasing for both pedestrians and the cross town traffic, as well speeding the buses as they would effectively be on bus lanes all the way up Queen St. Air quality in the Queen St gully would improve immensely. The bottom of Shortland and the newly refurbished Fort streets will become the sunny plazas they should be. Inner city retailers should see the benefits of the Queen St becoming a more appealing place to be in and the cross town traffic flowing better will make car use more viable.
And there will the space to convert the smoky diesel bus routes into modern electric trams to really make the most of this improvement and speed even more shoppers and workers to and from the rest of the city.
If we’re brave enough to take this all the way up to Mayoral Drive we get the real chance to link the new Art Gallery, the Library, and St James area across the Queen St divide to Aotea Square, the Town Hall and the new Q Theatre. A chance to really build a cultural heart at this end of town.
Furthermore it could all be done with a few cones, signs, traffic light changes and a media campaign. At least to start.
And I still believe that AT/AC are not addressing this issue as well as they should. Waiting for Light Rail to improve our city’s main street lacks leadership and strategic focus, and may well even turn out to be risky to the approval that project. It will, I believe, help the argument for Light Rail here to show that Queen St isn’t a necessary or desirable place for general traffic, and that its continuing reduction is far from negative for commercial performance in the City Centre, by actively encouraging its departure. We know that the last restrictions had way better results than anticipated, halving the amount of vehicle traffic and boosting the much more valuable pedestrian numbers and economic activity, see here.
Since my post above AT have recently added partial bus lanes to the two lower blocks, which is good, but not much in five years. I would like to see these lanes continue through to Mayoral Drive. I really think this valley needs to be addressed strategically, and not just reactively, which after all has been well studied by AT, e.g. The City East West Study, CEWT.
Adding north/south of Queen St to this mix we get a hierarchy like this:
- Pedestrians in all directions
- Transit north/south on Queen and east/west on Wellesley and Customs
- General traffic east/west on Mayoral, Victoria, and Customs
And above all of this is the plan to remove all general traffic from Wakefield St north to be worked towards; to continue the current trend.
So improving the Queen St intersections by removing right hand turn options matches this hierarchy perfectly, in particular at Victoria St. This is now a more difficult idea since the Link bus turns from Queen here, but the turn could be made bus only. Victoria St is currently narrowed by CRL works, and will be permanently reduced in width by the Aotea CRL station entrance which will be in what is current road space. So getting drivers used to both the narrowed Victoria St and out of the habit of turning here is surely a strong plan.
Now of course AT are getting pressure from angry motorists over the CRL works, and seem to have responded to this by dropping the double pedestrian cycle from the big Barnes Dances on Queen. This is clearly counter productive to the strategic aims. Instead if they removed right hand turning at Victoria this would improve the adjacent Victoria St intersections for all users and enable either concurrent crossing on Queen or allow the double Barnes Dance phases to be restored. Then there is the festering sore that is lower Shortland St, which clearly has just been shoved into the too hard basket.
Oh and now I discover I have written about this in 2013 too: Clusterbus, Busageddon, Busapocalypse…
In short there are ways that AC/AT could be advancing their strategic aims in the centre city before Light Rail is begun, but they don’t seem to be doing this. I think they should.
Will I be banging on about still in another five years, or can the city grow up already?
‘…Five Years, what a surprise’
At 5pm on Friday the Unitary Plan was officially notified with this notice appearing in the NZ Herald.
The documents that were made available at 5pm included the final version of the plan the Council finished agreeing to earlier in the week. Also available from then were the minutes from that council meeting and so while we wait to see if there are any appeals, I trawled through the minutes to see which way the Mayor and Councillors voted on key issues and tried to put that information into a table. This includes both votes where a division was called and the Mayor and Councillors individually stated their position and votes where the resolution was passed but someone wanted their dissent noted.
A couple on notes about the tables.
- While most of it was fairly straight forward to follow, it can get a bit confusing when some votes are delayed or especially in the case of item 6.14.1 (which covers the zoning maps) it can be hard to follow who was at the table, who wasn’t and who couldn’t participate due to conflicts of interest.
- I don’t intend on posting all of the results as some of them are fairly boring technical matters where everyone agreed so I’ll just focus on a few key areas. You can click on the images for a bigger version.
- The outcomes as to whether a vote was good or bad is based on my judgment call based on what we’ve discussed in the past or the result that will make it easier to deliver more housing. On some votes you may disagree with how I’ve scored it.
- Green = Good, Red = Bad, C = Conflict of Interest and blank means they weren’t at the table.
- I’ve only included a small explanation of the items voted on but have also included the page number the vote appeared on in the minutes should you wish to scroll through to see more information.
First up a number of hot topics including heritage and viewshafts
Here are some of the items related to the City Centre and business zones. We were supporters of deleting the minimum dwelling sizes so most Councillors get marked down for voting to keep them.
And here are some of the residential zones. One odd observation is that Cameron Brewer supported keeping minimum dwelling sizes in the City Centre but opposed keeping them in the general residential zones.
There are obviously a lot more votes and as mentioned, many are fairly boring.
One of the reasons for pulling the data together was also to see which Councillors were the most or least supportive. The graph below counts the total number of red boxes from the tables above and the rest of the results. As you can see there was clearly one Councillor whose name came up more than others. To be fair not all votes are necessarily equal, especially some of the dissents which can be for fairly minor things but I think it is interesting none the less.
What do you think of the results?