Tamaki Transformation Strategic Framework Released

The Tamaki area is one with so much potential yet so far has failed to live up to that. There have long been talks about redeveloping the area and it seems that something might finally be about to happen. Almost a year ago the government and the Auckland Council formed an urban redevelopment company to oversee the transformation of the area. Today the company is released a draft strategic framework for how they plan to do this. The herald reported this morning.

Auckland’s low-income suburbs of Glen Innes, Pt England and Panmure will roughly double in population under a draft plan for more intensive housing to be unveiled today.

The urban “regeneration” project, which could add up to 6000 new homes to an existing 5050, is expected to be one of the first “special housing areas” with fast-tracked resource consent processes under a housing accord signed last month by Housing Minister Nick Smith and Auckland Mayor Len Brown.

The target of 6000, included in the accord, makes it the biggest housing development scheduled in Auckland and twice as big as the 3000-unit Hobsonville development.

It covers the area between West Tamaki Rd in the north and the Panmure Basin in the south, including 2880 Housing NZ homes, about 1160 owner-occupied houses and just over 1000 private rental properties.

The area covered in the Tamaki area is huge, to show the size of it and its relation to the city the transformation company have produced these maps

The Herald continues:

Unlike other developments, the draft Tamaki strategy also includes 11 other social, economic and environmental elements, as well as housing, designed to make the area more liveable despite doubling the population density.

The area is among Auckland’s most deprived, with a 2006 median income of only $20,000 and an employment rate of only 52 per cent, compared with 65 per cent across Auckland. Sole parents make up almost half the area’s families.

But the strategy sees opportunities for more jobs and training by attracting new businesses, redeveloping under-used land along the existing railway and encouraging training agencies such as Manukau Institute of Technology, Unitec and Te Wananga o Aotearoa to take over parts of Auckland University’s Tamaki campus, which the university plans to sell as it develops a new campus in Newmarket.

The strategy says private investors have expressed interest in redeveloping an area next to the railway line where containers are stored, including possibly reopening the former Tamaki station between Glen Innes and Panmure.

The plan proposes a mix across the redevelopment area of market and affordable housing, likely to be developed by private developers, community and iwi organisations.

I’ve said before that I’m not keen on the idea of reopening the Tamaki station, to me it is just too close to both Panmure and Glen Innes and I think it would be good to avoid turning the inner parts of the eastern line into a slow crawl like the inner western line is.

I have only read through a few parts of the document so far however like most things, it sounds good but will really come down to the implementation. For example the strategy talks about redeveloping housing to provide better quality dwellings and more housing choices but gives no firm indication as to just what that means i.e. I assume they mean a mix of dwellings from standalone houses through to terraced houses to apartments in the town centres but there isn’t really an indication of what mix they are aiming for. You can read the entire thing is here.

I think it’s also worth pointing out some of the history behind the area. It was one of the first post war suburbs built and was done so right at the start of our period of our auto dependency, at a time when cars were promoted as the future. Thinking that is highlighted so well in this video from 1960.

NZ On Screen

Do we need to re-open the Tamaki train station?

One of the proposals that is floating around at the moment and something that is being pushed fairly strongly by the  Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board is the idea of a transit oriented development (TOD) at Tamaki centred around the re-opening of the Tamaki train station. This was also highlighted in the CCFAS supporting documents looking at large scale development that is being planned along the rail corridors. At first the idea makes some sense as the area is both fairly close to town thanks to the train line and is an old industrial area that has large lots and that is ripe for redevelopment. The map below shows the area that is being talked about for a TOD. The council/AT own the land in red due to the AMETI plans while the light orange is one single land holding.

Tamaki TOD Land

But while I like putting more people right next to the rail line, I think there is a major flaw with the idea an it is to do with the idea of reopening the Tamaki train station which is intended to be right in the centre of the development. The issue is its proximity to the two stations that would surround it, Panmure and Glen Innes as it would only be around 800m and 1.2km away respectively (to/from roughly the centre of the platforms. That may seem like a lot but for a rail system it is pretty close and means the trains start to lose some one of their big advantages over buses which is their speed. It means that the distances between stations in this section end up similar like the horribly slow inner western line stations and by my calculations such a station could slow down trains by as much 1½ minutes. That would affect anyone who used the trains from south of the station and while it might not sound like much, making savings of that level across a large number of people is what is often used to justify large transport projects like motorways. In effect there would have to be massive amounts of additional patronage to justify the addition of a station here.

Tamaki Station location

The proposed station would only be ~900m from Panmure and 1.3km from Glen Innes 

So what are the alternatives, well most people generally tend to be ok walking up to ~800m  if it means access to a really high quality PT option like a train station with frequent services and 800m from the northern end of Panmure is right smack in the middle of this proposed development. Further it would be a nice flat walk taking most people somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes depending on how fast they walked. Those with a bike could go even faster and cycle the journey to Panmure in just a couple of minutes, even at a leisurely pace and by my reading of the AMETI plans, dedicated cycle lanes are going in alongside the rail line/ new AMETI road.

AMETI walking and cycling improvements 

Perhaps the only redeeming feature is that it would also be the closest station for those living in Stonefields or in the older housing developments to the east of the area but even then most would probably still find it just as easy to get to either Panmure of Glen Innes as they would getting to this station. Building the station could also have other unforeseen consequences, in particular the neighbouring Orakei local board have been pushing to get another station added between Glen Innes and Meadowbank. AT have already dismissed that as being to costly with not enough patronage however this development could see them reignite that debate adding more political pressure on to AT. I think looking at the plans so far, it simply doesn’t seem worth it to put a station in here as the existing ones in the area already serve the potential development fairly well.