Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Fixing Auckland

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  • Ana Simkiss, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It is one of the most striking things about the Viaduct area - apart from the apartment buildings themselves there seems to be zero evidence of people actually, y'know, living there. I don't really understand why - the apartments all have balconies or terraces, it seems very pedestrian friendly by Auckland standards, there is a commercial/residential mix in the area and it also has decent cafes and bars.

    Anyone know more about the topic than I do who can venture a guess as to why it is so dead?

    As to the residential mix to keep Wynyard alive, the newish intensive housing in the Beaumont Quarter will go some way towards that (and maybe Rhubarb Lane as well?). It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the beginning of Halsey Street from Ponsonby Road which gives a pretty good idea of how accessible it is already. The Jacobs Laddder walkway will improve access too.

    Freemans Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Let people sell stuff there?

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward, in reply to Russell Brown,

    In theory, yeah. But these residents seem to have no street life. Nothing happens there.

    Oh absolutely, my point was more that Wynyard Quarter will need some form of residential done right - mixed in with other uses properly rather than just all filled in behind the Viaduct etc. The overall urban design vision for the whole area (from Vic Park up) certainly includes that though...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1720 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts,

    I’m looking forward to visiting sometime this week, after cycling around on my way home from the OGB. (Great night, btw. Thank you Russell, and all the friendly people I met.)

    I’m hoping that these developments will rescue the Viaduct, which (imho) is overblown as a ‘destination’ but could be a useful component in the bigger plan. I like the less domesticated waterfront, and spaces you might want to visit for their own sake rather than for a beer/meal.

    Very good of them to provide cycle access right up to the viewing platform. ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Su Yin Khoo,

    I for one, am a resident of said apartments

    Really? I didn't think actual people lived there :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I strongly oppose the mixing of entertainment areas with residential apartments and my heart sinks every time I see yet another example of what is basically the council doing a favour for it’s developer mates. This is simply because our draconian approach to noise control combined with our shoddy building practices means the minute some apartments go up street life is killed stone dead. As has been noted, in practice the mixed use areas these apartment occupy seem empty most of the time.

    The idea is a fine one, but a typical apartment in Auckland is poorly built with little or no sound proofing or even installed air conditioning – and no one in their right mind wants to open a business where the most trivial noise complaint can send them broke.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1741 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Martin Roberts,

    Very good of them to provide cycle access right up to the viewing platform

    Handy for disabled, pram-pushing or elderly visitors too.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    What happens to all the goods that used to be / are transferred through those wharfs.

    Expansion options to the existing container wharf precinct were canvassed during the waterfront stadium 'process'. Easy enough to move the incoming bananas and cars elsewhere.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ana Simkiss,

    the apartments all have balconies or terraces

    exactly - private rather than public space

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Sacha,

    Where though? I suppose the freight could go to Tauranga or Wellington (where we seem to have the wharves in a natural industrial area up-harbour from the CBD).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4359 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Where though?

    An expansion of the existing modern container wharf, as I said. Not really that much coming across those older wharfs by comparison. You'll note they freed up Queens Wharf already.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Kate Hannah,

    we took the kids along to the opening day's festivities on Saturday - was delightful to see the huge numbers there, and the families in particular - we sometimes feel a bit like the only people with three kids who like to spend time in the city/at Britomart/etc. The range of activities, the public art, the design features of the Quarter as a whole - and the rightful focus on tangata whenua contributions - made us super positive for the future. (I'm a romantic, okay?) A friend who was involved in organising the waka and powhiri said that the 400-500 or so people who where there for the early morning ceremony were really moved and engaged - and that he's really looking forward to the waka coming in on September 9th for the RWC opening ceremony.... Big tick thus far from me for the revivification of the waterfront.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2010 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Sacha,

    the apartments all have balconies or terraces

    exactly – private rather than public space

    Oooh, that's not quite how I'd see it, at least potentially. It can be good for street life when private zones bleed into public ones. Perhaps I've been a bit brainwashed by the Jane Jacobs school of urban (non)-planning, but a theory is that residents' eyes on the street make it safe. Porches and so forth can be sociable in an urban neighbourhood. I don't think merely have oversight of a space privatises it and having people around who keep a neighbourly eye on things can even add public amenity.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2917 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    The Granny finally sees sense in regards to Prostetnic Vogon Joyce. The keyword here is centralisation - at the heart of the matter is that PVJ doesn't trust Auckland to set its own transit priorities. The de-regionalising of petrol taxation was a case in point. And the impression I'm given is that in an act of sour grapes for Banksie getting unseated, he's attempting to set up Mayor Brown to fail. Not quite the Greater London Council, but not that far off it either.

    Even former ACT candidates are backing 'Red Len':

    Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney said Mr Brown was right to be considering congestion charges, adding a discussion was needed about a range of modern funding tolls to deliver a better city.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4060 posts Report Reply

  • Ana Simkiss, in reply to Sacha,

    Good point Sacha, however there are plenty of cities in the world with similar configurations (medium or high rise apartments with private spaces) that nevertheless have street life. I'm thinking particularly of cities in Spain and Brazil but I am sure there are other examples. There must be a citlyplanning/zoning/demographic reason for it - I don't think it is purely weather-related!

    Freemans Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    private zones bleed into public ones

    I was driving through the viaduct area once and a resident, whether oblivious to the idea that there were people in the street, or revelling in that fact, was standing naked behind his very obvious second floor end window.

    Is that what you mean?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4359 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    World of Wharf Air...

    That includes the trams, which are vintage jobbies, hired from Melbourne for the Rugby World Cup period

    Why didn't they get Trams from Chch? - We've got several that won't be doing anything for quite some time! And others out at Ferrymead that woulda done the job, hell MOTAT probably has a couple that coulda be brought in - give the Money to Aussies why don't ya!

    ...apart from the apartment buildings themselves there seems to be zero evidence of people actually, y’know, living there.

    These aren't the apartments that people aren't allowed to dry their washing outside are they?
    I remember some flash new apartments going up somewhere that tenants weren't allowed to air their clean linen in - seemed a tad precious to me - when I lived in an old cottage backing onto the Council Apartments near Vincent Street I loved all the colour of the washing...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4555 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ana Simkiss,

    There must be a citlyplanning/zoning/demographic reason for it

    I'm echoing something Hamish Keith was observing about the contrast between the Viaduct and Wynyard. I'd also be interested in seeing the demographics of the area's residents and perhaps some surveying of their relative individualism. Space won't overcome motivation.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    end window

    ooh er

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Lott,

    I agree that the Wynyard Quarter has some real potential - a lovely space all up with some good ideas going in already. My threefold reservations:

    1) A VINTAGE tram that costs $10 for a day of going round a building site? Great to see trams going in, but will this really work as an advert for getting trams on the steets? $2 a head for the fun of getting on an old tram might be more like it. Nervous about the messages this sends out, as wouldn't it be GREAT to see trams/light rail running through the CBD etc instead of semi-functional bus lanes?

    2) All those bars and restaurants were VERY exposed to the weather. The Viaduct suffers from this to some extent - lovely on a summer afternoon, totally uninviting on a wet winter's evening. I think the trade will be very seasonal, and I doubt all of those spaces will make money and survive in their current format for very long post-RWC. What's plan B there?

    3) The lifting bridge, while rather nice in principle, seemed a bit small to me, for the amount of foot traffic it was taking. Also, it got stuck up for 30 mins as we were walking up to it, leaving pretty big and impatient crowds on either side, which then gridlocked the bridge when it came down again. It just looked like a place to get trampled in some unfortunate post-event stampede...

    Those reservations aside - let's hope this area finds its feet and thrives - it really felt like the city was starting to get in touch with the water!

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Shaun Lott,

    Those are all reasonable criticisms.

    The arrival of the SW change was fairly dramatic -- and I left before the rain, having read the forecast (headwind both ways, though - bah) -- it swept up the part of the site where the restaurants and bars are. But it is winter, and they seem to have reasonable shelter.

    They're going to have to manage the bridge very carefully during big events like Laneway.

    And we can only hope the tram tracks facilitate a longer-term plan. Nikki Kaye's push to get trams running to Grey Lynn and Ponsonby, for example. Imagine a tram way connecting Britomart, Wynyard and Ponsonby. That would facilitate some partying.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    That includes the trams, which are vintage jobbies,

    Ur, it's probably just my background, but 'jobbies' is a Scots dialectual term for - something quite else.

    On the other hand, maybe that's precisely what Russell meant...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Lott, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Imagine a tram way connecting Britomart, Wynyard and Ponsonby.

    How about Ponsnobby - Wynyard - Viaduct - Britomart - Queen Street - K Road and back around the loop?

    Waitakere • Since Aug 2009 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Curran, in reply to Sacha,

    I've got a friend doing a planning degree who was looking at that area late last year. Apparently there is, or was (I'm not sure) quite a strong residents lobby that in the past has jumped all over any application to hold events/markets that sort of thing as soon as they appear, combined with really strict noise control, pretty much kills any street life that tries to take hold.

    In other cities that do have that mixed environment, the residents don't really expect the streets to stay nice and quiet, noise is part of the city. Tis a pity, you would thing that markets open till early evening down the viaduct way would be grand, letting residents pick up their dinner stuffs on the way home.

    Since May 2011 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Shaun Lott,

    All those bars and restaurants were VERY exposed to the weather. The Viaduct suffers from this to some extent – lovely on a summer afternoon, totally uninviting on a wet winter’s evening.

    To fair, I can't say this is the time of year where al fresco dining is terribly attractive. Anywhere. If you're on the waterfront, I can't really see the point of not being exposed to your major point of interest.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

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