City Plans Endorsed - Maybe Queen St


Two key parts of the Auckland Plan have been endorsed and adopted for consultation by Auckland Council today.

Plans for the waterfront and the city centre will guide the development of these areas in the coming 20 to 30 years. The Auckland Plan and all its supporting plans now go forward for public consultation starting on  September 20.

The Plan has the City Rail Link Of National Significance as the number one priority.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says these plans unlock Auckland’s economic and destination potential.

It’s pleasing that the calls for Queen St to be turned into a pedestrian mall are finally being taken seriously.

The Shared Space concept has given a taste of what is possible - but I have argued Elliott St’s potential is shown to be limited until cars are banned from the main street.
I wrote about the Brisbane experiment enthusiastically earlier in the year.

We need it to look like Brisbane’s main street, also a Queen St, (below)which works well.

The Brisbane mall was refurbished in 1999 with its signature terracotta tile footpath replaced by a grey slate tile footpath, with the addition of art, trees and shrub enclosures and more seating.

In the last couple of years, it has been further extended and even a small lane has recently been added to the space.

You’ll be able to get details and give feedback on the Plan here and the Waterfront Plan here from the 20th

 Looking at the waterfront of a few years ago , we have made progress but we need to leap ahead in the next 20 years.




  1. Matt L says:

    I see as usual Dick Quax is sitting in a corner by himself thinking the best option is to keep sprawling outwards and is trying to link making the CBD better with forcing people to live in apartments.

  2. Mark says:

    @Matt L - it’s not sprawl if you never come in - it’s jusy where you live! I have friends down south, kids in local schools / jobs within a few kms’, and they wouldn’t come north of Manakau more than 3 times a year - on weekends / no congestion.

    many centrally focussed people lsoe site of how many people actually live. South Auckland is getting some great schools, and that’s where manufacturing is going ahead.

    yes some people will want CBD, and that’s fine. But they also need the “villages” around the region. even this plan recognozes “Satellites” as I understand it - when we get to see the detail anyway.

    LB says “up not out” - that will increase affordability for anyone wanting the 1/4 lifestyle for them selves and kids .

    It is ironic, that all the Councillors have wonderful suburban 1/4 sections! Maybe when they all move into apartments, I’ll start to believe they have the ability to ensure only quaility ones are built.

  3. Matt L says:

    Mark if we keep building houses on greenfields sites then it is sprawl regardless of who lives there or where they spend the rest of the time away from their home.

    I also agree with you that we need villages and satellite towns but that doesn’t meant we shouldn’t also improve the CBD which is what the two plans reported on here are about. Despite this Dick Quax thinks this is about trying to force people to live in apartments which it isn’t. It is about making the city a more attactive and vibrant place so that more people will want to visit it and work and live there.

    Another thing to remember is that not everyone wants to live in house in the suburbs but because the city and the various town centres have historically been let to run down and developed poorly they haven’t been attractive places to live so the only option for many is to live in the suburbs.

  4. Patrick R says:

    i have enormous appreciation of the desire to live with space and nature but the kind of development that we’ve had and that Dick Quax about doesn’t achieve this. Relatively compact villages separated by real countryside but connected by efficient transit is the better way to achieve real community and contact with space and thriving and productive countryside, but still allows real accessibility. Endless shitty and undifferentiated suburbia is both unsuccessful at either of these outcomes and incredibly expensive to service. Either way planning is required.

  5. Matt T says:

    Don’t forget that Brisbane’s Queen St Mall is smoke free. Auckland should copy Brisbane on that little detail too.

    Adelaide’s Rundle Mall has just gone smoke free too.

    We’re falling behind Australia on tobacco control.

    Wellington CC has announced Lambton Quay will not go smoke free saying there has been no call for it despite their own e-Petitions website having a petition with hundreds of signatures on it.

  6. Mark says:

    @MattL - To me it’s not “sprawl”. Sprawl has negative connotations, that people travel from one end to another causing problems eg congestion/fuel use etc. My point is that most do not. So there is no “harm” at all in people choosing to live say around Bombay, with 1/4 sections etc.

    I’ve never seen a survey that says most Aucklanders don’t want the suburban ideal ie bring your kids up in a 1/4 enviroment, grow your veges, have large gatherings around the BBq - all things you can’t do unde rthe build up not out mantra. And things that actual make our Kiwi culture

    Yes we need to provide choice - but that needs to be based on a factual basis of what people want - not what a planning or political philosophy wants.

    We must remeber that most of CBD apartments are actually student hostels for both lcoal but also foreign students (about to collapse with dollar). Almost no families - despite good access to schools. I noticed Economist linked high rating of Australian cities “liveability” on reduced density.

    For me this is not a theoretical debate - I live 50m from heritage villas that previous Council wanted to rezone to apartments, as it was near Kingsland station…..destroying heritage fabric, based on density drivers. We’ve seen everything Councils have done so far fail. The badly thought through Bus 4 zone change that gave us shocking apartments next to panelbeaters, and drove small businesses out - until later changed to “mixed use” - but for 7-8 years huge damage was done.

    We’ve seen Nelson st, Tamaki drive etc etc etc - you might be able to think of an example where Aucklands planners achieved a good rsult - I can’t.

    The only examples of what we all like, are where council by-passed the RMA and got involved, eg Britomart (we lost 30m in value to protect heritage/scale etc), CBD upgrades, and so far Wynyard - however even there, people will become dissappointed later when they realise the heights allowed, and the shading impacts…

  7. Max says:

    “We’ve seen everything Councils have done so far fail.”

    “We’ve seen Nelson st, Tamaki drive etc etc etc – you might be able to think of an example where Aucklands planners achieved a good rsult – I can’t.”

    I can, because I actually love many parts of this city. The fact that it is a complex beast with many parts that are sub-optimal doesn’t make it a bad city for me, only an interesting one.

    Bashing Council for every particular problem you have is an easy way out. Especially when our capitalist society and our government puts strict limits on Council powers - with what money and what powers do you think Council could have prevented, say, the wholesale destruction of Queen Street heritage in the 80s and 90s? Limiting government power and involvement and general de-regulation was so en vogue, and capital was so king (like in the 2000s, actually) that I am not surprised this happened, and I am not blaming the Council planners and politicians alone.

    Every Council has areas where things work, and some where they don’t. And since we don’t even have ONE set of criteria by which we declare success, it’s no surprise that city planning will always be hugely contentious. To go from that fact to saying “Planners are crap” is a very hostile attitude.

  8. Max says:

    Ah, and - go for it, Auckland Council!

    I have nothing against more rural / small town-style living. But it’s not the centre of our city - neither economically, socially or in terms of planning. A big city needs to think like one too. And there’s benefits in a better city centre for someone living in Henderson or Takanini, even if he rarely ever comes into the city.

  9. Ben says:

    So Mark and Max, to make the question simple in planning Auckland for the next 30 years - Do you see Auckland with a Centralised Core (the CBD) and the region supporting the core primarily (but not entirely); OR Auckland being decentralised (no core per se) and the CBD relegated to a secondary role with these urban villages the primary focus; OR through some kind of outside the square thinking a mix model.

    Once that simple question has been answered then all of Auckland can plan from there without distractions.

  10. Max says:

    Ben, *I* prefer a strong core, but it’s not me making the decisions. And these are not forever cast into stone - as much as I’d like to see this current Council’s ideas followed through, there is no perfect safety that in 5 or 10 years we might not have a Council that boots out all these ideas. That is democracy for you.

    Also, I pointed out that it is not a win-lose game (on some very specific paramaters it is, but not regionally speaking). I sincerely believe that a strong core benefits the region, by making Auckland more successful, and thus providing us (including the outer areas) with opportunities of various types. And I am not talking about the “I can go to a big new sports/events venue they built on the waterfront” type of opportunities. I am talking of encouraging a dynamic, lively, successful region.

  11. Mark says:

    I don’t believe it’s an either or question. Yes there will be an important CBD/entertainment centre.

    From a business point of view a CBD location is a must for high profile/international, naming rights type companies eg PWC etc. For them there is the prestige of CBD. But - you find and will find more, they spread their costs with support functions outside of the CBD - you want to see your PWC Partner in a flash office in town, but the junior doing the actual work can be out of town. This is one reason I don’t see CBD office growth matching population growth - which is also the past trend.

    the other driver for CBD location is availability of staff ie I can pick the best and they can all get to me. As we grow that is less of an issue, as the employee pool is bigger, and you will still get great staff north and south. That’s the key reason Albany has done well, is they tapped into the North Shore job market.

    The CBD supports the real economy eg the manufacturers in East Tamaki. if we double our population, we need double the manufacturing base - and there are a lot of support services around there. So I see a lot will decentralise. And people will go to “villages” around employment centres / good schools good lifestyles.

    So I guess my view is it should be a very specific Auckland mix. Built on what makes us good. ie personal family lifestyle - climate lets us out to play sport / socialise etc, our export businesses have 2 good ports, we have the size to warrant a quality CBD office base. I always use the example that you have to have high profile internationally linked Accountants/Merchant banks/ lawyers etc, or multi-national corporates won’t invest.

    but I think we’re well catered for that in future. In fact what we’ll see is same “office” cbd, but greater entertainment/residential.

    So it’s the wider area we need to work on. And I’m worried things like East Tamaki / AMETI etc will fall behind in a cbd focus.

  12. Max says:

    “you want to see your PWC Partner in a flash office in town, but the junior doing the actual work can be out of town.”

    That is not how it works, though, Mark. Offices of one company in one town generally congregate. Not only because that junior needs to report - in person, preferably - to his senior three times a day, but also because he’s constantly meeting with other people in the same and associated professions. If he’s based out in Takapuna, while everyone else is in the CBD, he’s at a real disadvantage.

    The virtual office and the telecommute has been talked about a lot for the last decades. It has been about as 100% successful as the paperless office, in my view.

    As one of my favourite authors said once: We are, at heart, social apes. We WANT personal meetings with our business partners, coworkers, subordinates… we may not delouse them anymore as a sign of trust, but we still like to hunch over a set of papers and a coffee.

    “This is one reason I don’t see CBD office growth matching population growth”

    That there is a discrepancy there doesn’t mean it is because of the above “office dispersal” - if offices leave (or don’t settle) in the CBD, then they tend to go “whole hog” out of the area, and congregate elsewhere. Newmarket for example has become a huge hub for engineering consultancies, many of which have moved out of the CBD.

    Yes, there is, and will be competition for “agglomeration” for the CBD. But the competition will be by OTHER centres in the wider Auckland area, not so much by “low density” dispersal.

  13. vostoklake says:

    “my view is it should be a very specific Auckland mix. Built on what makes us good. ie personal family lifestyle – climate lets us out to play sport / socialise etc,”

    Perhaps it’s different for the comfortable middle class out in The Wops who never come north of the Manukau, but around the young professional creative parts of the inner city fringe, we all hibernate over winter precisely because the weather is cold and rainy and there is no reliable efficient public transport to get us to our preferred entertainment spots in the CBD and city fringe.

    Mark’s vision of the future is the classic vision of suburbia which appeals to a specific subset of the population - coincidentally, those who have historically had most economic and social power in New Zealand. It’s not “Kiwi culture”, it’s your culture, not mine.

  14. Mark says:

    @Max - I realise the junior needs supervision - but he’s 4 rungs down! - but it will come down to cost, they may be in there now, but they will be moved out. I remember auditing NZI head office early 80′s large number of very basic clerical functions - first jobs changed ie Pc’s / typing pools went, and then call centres/clerical moved out. Also business model changed away from large centralised corporates.

    My concern is we want those jobs in Auckland at least - so we need to look after the satellites as much as CBD. I know one IT project currently where coding is done in India! design/test/UAT back here. Same with call centres.

    We need to make sure all types of jobs can happen in auckland, and that means supporting all centres.

    I agree Telecommuting is interesting. I do it myself in IT roles - online to clients constantly a few ph conferences a week, and maybe 1 physical meeting. It’s not for everyone, but is efficient and flexible.
    But we’re seeing a move to half-way houses - the work from home doing emails etc, and then coming in, or a day from home. We also see the major corporates moving to hot desking - again reducing need for CBD space eg Telecom.

    As I’ve said here before - the biggest issue for the CBD is how to deal with B and C grade offices. The businees world is passing them by - both in desired floor plate size, but also with drift to waterfront.
    vibre will only make that happen more.

  15. Patrick R says:

    My view is that full pedestrianisation of Queen is not best; rather a big shared space with PT, but also delivery vehicles [perhaps with time of day restrictions] and of course emergency access. So more like Melbourne’s main streets than Brisbane’s mall. I fear it would be too big and empty and impractical, and not as safe, here:

  16. Mark says:

    I think you’ve hit the heart of the matter - the young city fringe professionals - a very simlar group to Council planners. That is the group that is the minority grouping, and really has no understanding of how the majority live. It’s not K’rd cafes (did those in my younger days) - it’s kids sports all around Auckland by 8am on a Sat. It’s going from one kids sports to the next, picking them up from school productions at 9pm etc etc - taht’s how most peopel live. And the social groups around your friends and kids is hugely important - the get togethers - the wdier groups.

    These are key NZ/Auckland lifestyle issues that craete our culture. We have relatives bringing up kids in the UK - and they have a little bit of room - but their groups don’t have the room to go to someones house - their groups are very small.

    It’s not a middle class thing - it’s whether you are a family with chidlren, or retired - ie the majority of the population.
    It’s not an income thing - look at the wonderful old state houses that gave families the 1/4 acre dream. Go back and imagine the lifestyle that has been given to immigrants from the PI 1950′s to Somalis into Mt Albert - allowing large groups/families - now imagine if all we offered them was a 3 bedroom 50m apartment in a block on Nelson St - which would you pick?

    Compact city can and will only control the poor - the wealthy always have choice - of teh 10 acre block, or different cities or country.

  17. Max says:

    @Mark - sorry, but I think that suburban life is actually NOT conducive to family lifestyle except in one specific element - more greenspace (including more private greenspace).

    All other elements that favour a community and family-focused lifestyle are in my view actually easier to get in a denser and better urban-designed environment, for example because you don’t need a SUV to go to the sports fields, or to visit grandma or family friends - you can walk or cycle there.

    You seem to believe that densification is all about Nelson Street replicated. No, it is about getting a type of town centre (whether it a city fringe town centre, or a Henderson town centre) that has a liveable combination of local services, local businesses, local employment - and enough 3-5 story apartment buildings to support it all viably.

    Children all over the world grow up in city apartments - it’s making the city friendly to children and families, not about replicating K’Road or Viaduct bars & glass skyscrapers.

    “Compact city can and will only control the poor”

    A very narrow, and contradictory view - the wealthy profit much more from a sprawling city, because the costs of the infrastructure for the sprawl are spread much more widely among the ratepayers, rather than among those who initially profit from them by buying new subdivision houses. And poorer people are more likely to be able to afford a quality apartment than a quality house anyway.

    Urbanity. It’s not a dirty word.

  18. Mark says:

    @Max - do you have children?
    I suspect not. Have you lived/worked in english or European cities?

  19. Jeremy says:

    Do your kids play sport? So far this year I have been as to places Tuakau, waiheke, mangere - home and away kids sport, where the dreaded car was actually quite useful. Cycling all over the isthmus to the game on match day was not on the coaches list of pre match prep.

    Compact cities make land scarce and more expensive.

    I lived on a housing estate in the UK, it may have got torched last month. Terrible place for kids.

    Where are the quality apartments you say the poor are more likely to choose? Are the planners and councillors who want them living in them?

  20. Patrick R says:

    Jeremy I suffer these ridiculous kids sports schedules too. Really the tournaments need to be more locally structured, crazy burning that fuel to play teams from damn near Northland to the Waikato.

    But to your point, we will still use cars; just not only cars, we will still have houses; just not only houses.

    Building towards a more compact city is simply about incentiviving the development of all the underused sites within the city limits for those that do prefer a cheaper and smaller home, no forcing of more well off families into one bed apartments. Auckland lacks choice right now, choice in how to move and choice in how to live. It’s the reverse of coercion.

  21. Max says:

    @Mark @Jeremy - I have nieces, not kids. And please don’t make this about me or you. I don’t ask whether you have ever worked in the CBD either, and I don’t imply that you have no idea about that.

    Yes, I have lived in European cities. I AM from Europe, and have lived extensively in Germany and France.

    “I lived on a housing estate in the UK, it may have got torched last month. Terrible place for kids.”

    Please don’t twist my words, arguing that I am supporting “housing estates” or other high-density, urban-design-lacking types of cities. Gosh, I specifically said that Nelson Street is no place to live as a family (and I HAVE lived there for 3 years). Some Aucklanders need to realise that there’s enormous numbers of cities and urban quarters all around the world that work really well, that are a joy to live in, whether one is a kid or an adult. And they need to stop equating medium density with chicken coops.

    “Cycling all over the isthmus to the game on match day”

    Eh, who talked about that? Of course on match day you use a bus, van or car to transport the kids to where they need to go. But don’t tell me that that NEEDS to be done every weekend, especially if the city is dense enough that there’s enough kids living in 3km distance to form dozens of teams to play against. And before we get down that path - nobody is talking of limiting people’s ability to drive wherever they want. The point is to PROVIDE them with the CHOICE to do what they want to do, close by.

    “Compact cities make land scarce and more expensive.”

    Aaaaaand we are back at the “compact vs. wide-spread” discussion starting point. I don’t wanna rehash these points all over again. There are at least as many arguments why wide-spread suburban living is more expensive than medium-density urban living. But because the arguments require one to include the costs of about 10 different infrastructure and social and economic aspects, this argument will never be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction.

  22. Mark says:

    At the heart of this is the compact city ie sticking with MUL. And yes many of us have lived and worked in Europe and know the cities you mean. And we’ve chosen to return here - usually when we’re looking at raising families.

    While you don’t want to make it about “us”, it’s as good a place to start as any:).

    In my case I’ve done very central London, and have family with kids just outside M25. I’ve also lived and worked in Denmark, and worked in 1/2 dozen European cities - on 7-10 days duration.

    Agree we need choice - but once you decide to keep the MUL in place, choice is reduced. I worry that a lot of the CBD / density questions are well thought thru. People have a pretty picture about families living in the CBD as per a european city - but at 2006 census we only had 70 or so under 15 in CBD - they are a couple of train or bus stops to great schools. But Kiwis don’t choose that lifestyle. Developers know this - they build smaller apartments, and majority are for foreign students.

    Council can plan and spend as much as it wants - I can’t see that changing. In the meantime, that money could have been spent on sports fields etc.

    New infrastructure is actually cheaper - retro-fitting is much more expensive. Look at the damage intensification has done around St Lukes - we now have to wait for the Central Connector ($1.5bn) to take sewage to Mangere - in the meantime it’s in the fields and harbour.

    And as I said this is a very real debate - They have 1/2 a block of villas lined up to re-zone near me.

  23. Max says:

    Mark - I disagree that creating transport, water, sewage, power lines, schools, footpaths, public parks, libraries, community buildings, sports fields, etc… in, say, Kumeu, is cheaper than adding to the existing infrastructure needed to accommodate those same amount of people, say, in Henderson, or Te Atatu or Royal Oak.

    I can’t prove it (and as I said, it involves so many factors that people have been discussing this for decades, and not come to a fixed conclusion), but once you start to add in aspects like the added socio-economic-ecologic costs of travel on longer distances, reduced farmland, reduced natural environment etc… I think I have a good case when I consider sprawl more expensive than density.

    The problem is that the “price” question is being asked on a playing field that is not level. Developers do not pay for all local improvements needed by development levies, and once you get to the regional effects of new development (such as the need for a new motorway, or more bus services) you get even further away from the price of the house/land actually being the correct price to society.

    Recently somebody asked on this blog (or maybe it was on Auckland Transport Blog), in quite aggrieved tones, why people in Waiheke should have less Council services for their rates, and pay more (for the ferry) to get to work in town. Well, hey, you CHOSE (well, most modern-day Waihekans did) to live out there!

    Since user pays charges again only somewhat reflect the extra costs of new and “further out” development, the rest gets spread across everyone’s taxes and rates, subsidising, at great cost, the negative effects of going ever further out.

    I also feel that your example of St Lukes conflates some issues. Sewage has been dumped from stormwater overflows into the harbour for a very long, long time. In fact, in the good old days, it wasn’t even treated - it’s an old-style design that doesn’t comply with modern sanity expectations, as much, or likely even more than, a problem of intensification.

    “Council can plan and spend as much as it wants – I can’t see that changing. In the meantime, that money could have been spent on sports fields etc.”

    What money? Are you arguing that the money they spend on the planning process is wasted, or are you arguing they are spending it on the wrong things? Not sure what you are aiming at here?

    “People have a pretty picture about families living in the CBD as per a european city – but at 2006 census we only had 70 or so under 15 in CBD – they are a couple of train or bus stops to great schools”

    And those numbers are no surprise. But change can happen, and one of the intentions is to make the CBD friendlier to children. The original draft plan proposed a new school in the CBD, but I understand the MoE said “nope”.

    Also, we are not just talking CBD here, and the CBD will, I don’t doubt this, always have below-average levels of kids seen region-wide. No issue there. What I am saying is that I’d prefer that when we build NEW, we should be doing more this (looks a bit bare, imagine it with street trees):

    Rather than more this (the state house fact has no meaning for this discussion, could just as well been a market-built subdivision):,_Auckland,_1947.jpg

    And in the long run, we might want something more like this, at least in SOME of our suburbs:

    “And as I said this is a very real debate – They have 1/2 a block of villas lined up to re-zone near me.”

    And it would probably pain me too, to see them go, if they are pretty, old villas. But Council isn’t driving the bulldozer. The owners are.

    Above you complained that Council is doing too much / the wrong kind of planning. But hey, THEY aren’t forcing people to sell or redevelop their houses. And I think it is appropriate that where owners do want to redevelop, the planning rules don’t everywhere force them into the same quarter-acre style that was created when Auckland was maybe a fourth of the current size, and a sixth of what it will be.


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