Expert Gives Auck Report Card


World-renowned Danish architect and urban designer Jan Gehl gave Auckland City Council a report card this afternoon - and said Auckland’s streets generally fall short of the standards of an internationally competitive world-class city.

“Significant work and effort is required for Auckland to lift the bar,” said the report to the council’s city development committee.

A main emphasis was on removing street “clutter” which was called fundamental urban design strategy and closely aligned to the goals of making Auckland a more human, connected and beautiful city.

Recent transport plans, had very good, well-formulated intentions and principles but they needed to have a greater focus on the pedestrian environment and less on private vehicle capacity.

“The key challenge in Auckland is a change of mindset.”

But the report was greatly encouraged by the council’s latest projects which he said are of an international standard and hold great promise of a transformed city centre.

Those stand out projects include Queen Street, Vulcan Lane, The Viaduct and more recently, St Patrick’s Square, the soon to be completed Aotea Square and the four ‘shared space’ projects Open (Fort Street / Commerce Street, Lorne Street, Elliott Street and Darby Street) programmed for completion by RWC 2011 .

The redeveloped St Patricks Square

The soon to be re-opened Aotea square has trees

“The renewed focus on urban design and the quality of the urban space is significant and holds a promise for Auckland to become a world-class city.”

The report card said the experiment to reduce sign clutter in Kingsland village showed what could be achieved. The number of parking enforcement signs went down from 67 to 28 on New North Road, Kingsland, within a 280 metre length of the street.

This had produced benefits of increased visual amenity, pedestrian safety, improved business patronage and cost savings to ratepayers in reduced maintenance for street signs and other street assets.

Kingsland was awash with signs

Kingsland looks more tidy now with fewer signs

Ludo Campbell-Reid, group manager of urban design,  called for the formation of a “clutter-busting” taskforce to champion clutter removal, working with the new council, local boards, utility companies and the Transport Agency across the newly combined region.

The recent Newmarket upgrades in Teed and Osborne streets replacing parking with wider pavements for outdoor dining  were cited as another pleasing example.

Newmarket's backstreets have a European city feel now

He also said children needed to be better catered for- adding:  “Children are a litmus test. If you design a city for children, you create a city for all,” he said. “People not vehicles are the economic lifeblood of a successful, vibrant city.”

It was critical the city encouraged more cycle lanes, markets, playgrounds, skate parks and athletic spaces and that children were encouraged to visit the city centre.
Case studies from London, Copenhagen, Barcelona and Melbourne offered inspiring models of cities that have aggressively transformed from car-oriented cities to people focused cities through incremental changes that over time improve pedestrian amenity.

City Development Committee chairperson, Councillor Aaron Bhatnagar said the report showed that projects recently developed were contributing to a transformed city centre.

He called the shared space projects ground breaking in urban design terms and showcasing for the RWC “the best the city has to offer.”

The data gathered from the research will form part of recommendations to the new Auckland Council and relevant council controlled organisations (CCOs).




  1. Matt L says:

    When are the shared space projects starting, places like Fort St meant to start? They really need the upgrade.

    I really like the new St Patrick’s Square, I often use it during lunch and it is just a really nice place to be. If that’s the kind of design and quality we can expect from some of these projects then they will be really good.

  2. Jon C says:

    @Matt Four “shared space” projects – for Fort Street/Commerce Street, Lorne, Elliott and Darby streets – are due for completion before you guessed it Rugby World Cup 2011 which is one year away today

  3. Matt L says:

    That’s what I thought, they better get moving as its not far away now, we don’t want to be finishing the stuff 1 day before the event

  4. rtc says:

    Several of these shared space projects were supposed to have been started by now so I don’t know what the hold up is. I suspect they’re putting all their effort into Aotea Square so that they can trumpet that as proof they should be re-elected for the new council.

  5. Chris S says:

    ‘Designing a city for children.’ If Auckland can achieve this, everyone will be better off. What they need to do, is bring in light rail quicker, hopefully reducing the amount of cars, which then can lead to less tarmac needed.
    More artworks in parks and squares would also create a better feel. Another project which should be moved on is the waterfront project (Sea + City).

    I have to say, that the planters in Newmarket look very smart.

  6. Anthony M says:

    I’m starting to love the european feel that the council is doing, but how does the main streets of Newmarket look?
    that is where all the customers usually are,and I haven’t been to Auckland for a long time now.

  7. Andy says:

    If Auckland city wants more pedestrian traffic, as well as complete these upgrades they need to support people like buskers and merchants who bring culture to these areas. Last I heard buskers could not stay in the same place for more than 30 minutes.

    This is from years ago.

  8. Simon in London says:

    The first thing I was really struck by in London, when I arrived here was something I’d completely taken for granted in Auckland.
    Seating & Bins.
    As ‘street clutter’ goes, it was useful things to make my days (& nights) easier. Lamposts (so I can see at night), Seat (so I can rummage through my shopping or have a rest), Bin (to put my rubbish in). Lampost, Seat, Bin. Lampost, Seat, Bin.
    All very helpful & orderly.
    London on the otherhand, has a MASSIVE street clutter problem that is totally out of hand.
    Bollards in the middle of the pavement, a Pilon, an Electricity Main with it’s guts hanging out, empty cycle-racks, bollard, sandwich boards, icy puddle of tramp piss, tramp, another bollard, rubbish, pothole, random lampost, inexplicably placed white-cane paving, bollard. It’s literally a nightmarish obstacle course. None of it’s helpful. It makes walking in straight lines utterly imposible. And you’re forced to navigate it all shoulder-to-shouder with tens-of-thousands of other people who hate it every bot as much as you do.
    Nowhere is there a bin (due to Terrorist threats) and not a seat in sight. (No space left to put one, I would guess.)
    Want my advise, Auckland?
    Deport the crazy Dane. NZ01 leave for London twice a day. That’ll fix him!

  9. Doloras says:

    What the balls is that thing in St Patrick’s Square? Isn’t that from the cover of the Led Zeppelin album Presence?

  10. When are we going to be able to read this report? Is it online somewhere?

    I live in the CBD and while in principle I support Andy’s comment “they need to support people like buskers and merchants who bring culture to these areas”, they also need to monitor the quality of these buskers. Everyone enjoys a good busker but the majority of the buskers in Queen Street are just beggars that can play 3 notes on something, or people with loud PA systems pumping out recorded music whilst pretending to play one part of it. ‘World class’ it is certainly not!

  11. Andy says:

    @Unity - I definitely agree. They need to be monitored as I also lived in the CBD for 3 years and know exactly what you mean. I also knew one of the buskers and he told me how other buskers would bully each other for “their” spot.

    I just think 30 minutes is such a short amount of time, especially when you compare Auckland foot traffic to other cities around the world. I remember seeing such amazing busking around Sydney, would be interesting to know if it is regulated.

  12. karl says:

    “Several of these shared space projects were supposed to have been started by now so I don’t know what the hold up is”

    According to a Council presentation some 2 months back to the IPENZ Transportation Group, they spent a lot of time researching:

    a) how to make the shared space concept work for disabled (especially blind and poorly sighted people)

    b) reduce some of the construction costs of the initial concepts, trying to go for something less fancy without sacrificing quality

    c) making sure the surfaces can be maintained well in the long term

    Sounds like good things to me. Of course there could be unrelated delays, and we won’t know whether they have achieved a, b and c, but I am hopeful all things are going well. For a), they settled on a section directly against the buildings where cars will not be able to go after all, for b) and c) they apparently ensured that things like paving stones don’t use twenty different shapes, but rather create modularity with a few simpler base elements.

    “Want my advise, Auckland? Deport the crazy Dane. NZ01 leave for London twice a day. That’ll fix him!”

    That’s a very weird statement, especially after you just ranted on about how you hate London’s street clutter. Gehl is a serious philosophical uplift for a lot of those who want to change this car-crazy city. Too bad John Banks left his presentation after making a short “election-type” speech. But then, we know again where his heart really beats.

  13. Sam F says:

    “What the balls is that thing in St Patrick’s Square? Isn’t that from the cover of the Led Zeppelin album Presence?”

    Nice reference - I thought of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, except this one was obviously damaged in transit…


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