Town centre upgrade causes debate on Auckland’s North Shore

Town centre upgrade causes debate on Auckland's North Shore

A pine tree stands at the centre of a heated debate around pedestrian safety and main street car parking in a North Shore town centre.

Kaipatiki Local Board voted on the “option one” design for a planned upgrade to Birkenhead’s town centre at a meeting on April 19.

Option one increases public open space and seating areas, as well as introducing a new decked area at Highbury Corner – the junction of Birkenhead Ave, Hinemoa St and Mokoia Rd.

However, the decision to design the upgrade around the tree has severed opinions.

Kaipatiki Local Board member Lindsay Waugh said the amount of effort the board had spent on keeping the tree is a “travesty of urban design”.

Equally concerned is Birkenhead Town Centre Association chairman Pete Taylor who said he is as worried about losing seven car parks as he is about pedestrian safety.

“The plans shows encouraging people to hop across the roundabout in an increasingly busy intersection,” Taylor said.

“I wonder when organisation members become liable for such decisions.”

Highbury Corner’s upgrades follow from the extensions to Rawene car park and the building of Kaimataara o wai manawa.

Local board chairwoman Danielle Grant said option one will deliver the main street its “much needed” facelift.

“These projects have been a significant part of the board’s focus for the past four years,” Grant said.

Option one will now go to tender and work is expected to start in June.

Article by Laine Moger
Published 28 April 2017 > North Shore Times – stuff.co.nz

Seven car parks are worth more than $1 million say business owners on Auckland’s North Shore

Seven car parks are worth more than $1 million

Business owners in Auckland’s North Shore would rather turn away Birkenhead’s $1 million upgrade, than lose seven car parks.

Kaipatiki Local Board voted on a design for the Birkenhead’s Highbury Corner upgrades at the April 19 board meeting.

The contentious plans to upgrade the area around the main roundabout, will shave seven car parks from the main street’s shops.

Birkenhead Town Centre Association chairman Pete Taylor said this result is really disappointing and concerning.

The association’s research found each main street car park is worth $3000, per week, to local businesses, and removing them would cost more than $1 million a year, Taylor said.

“We are talking around a million dollars in pure income per annum being taking out of the town centre’s revenue, for pedestrians and beautification, and I think that’s shocking,” Taylor said at the meeting.

“The members would rather the money was spent elsewhere, than to invest in something that will have a negative impact to local businesses,” he said.

Highbury Corner is where Birkenhead Ave, Hinemoa Street and Mokoia Rd meet at a roundabout.

Upgrades to Birkenhead’s Highbury Corner, follows on from the 129 parking space expansion to Rawene car park, and the building of lookout, Kaimataara o wai manawa.

North Shore Councillor Richard Hills said major community consultation was undertaken in the planning of these upgrades and showed 60 per cent of the public submissions were in favour of the upgrade plans.

Taylor said the objection against losing carparks has been consistent from the businesses from the start.

“In a survey conducted by the association, 54 out of 56 businesses say they don’t want any upgrades,” he said.

Taylor said that the design ignored expert advice and will damage the livelihood of businesses in the area.

Local board member Paula Gillon said she is “struggling” to see how this upgrade will be detrimental to businesses, with the amount of people it will encourage.

However, Taylor said the revenue lost can not be replaced by wide footpaths and trees alone.

“The extra parking added to Rawene car parks are not the issue here, as the businesses are concerned about main street car parks only,” he said.

Local board member Ann Hartley said the accusation that people won’t walk 100 metres from Rawene car park to the main centre is “nonsense”.

“Birkenhead does not have a parking problem,” she said.

“This is just a mess.”

OPTION ONE DESIGN

At the centre of a heated debate around the upgrades to North Shore’s Highbury Corner, stands a pine tree.

Alongside a loss of carparks, fears around pedestrian safety have also been raised.

Also, the decision to redesign the upgrade to include the tree has reignited the longstanding debate, between those who wish to keep the tree and those who don’t.

Option one, will increase public open space and seating areas, as well as introduce a new decked area at Highbury Corner.

Local board member Lindsay Waugh said the amount of effort the board had spent on keeping the tree is a “travesty of urban design”.

Equally concerned is Birkenhead Town Centre Association chairman Pete Taylor, who said that he is as worried about losing the seven car parks as he is pedestrian safety.

“The plans shows encouraging people to hop across the roundabout in an increasingly busy intersection,” Taylor said.

“I wonder when organisation members become liable for such decisions.”

Local Board chairwoman Danielle Grant said option one will deliver the main street its “much needed” facelift.

“These projects have been a significant part of the board’s focus for the past four years,” Grant said.

Option one will now go to tender and work is expected to start in June.

The final design vote was so contentious, members Ann Hartley and Lindsay Waugh abstained from voting.

Article by Laine Moger
Published 24 April 2017 > The North Shore Times – stuff.co.nz

Panoramic viewing platform opens in Birkenhead

Panoramic viewing platform opens in the heart of the North Shore's Birkenhead

Construction has finished on the split-level viewing platform in the heart of North Shore’s Birkenhead, offering panoramic views of Le Roys Bush, Auckland City, and Rangitoto.

Kaimataara ō Wai Manawa held an opening event on September 3, which drew in a large crowd of local board members, councillors and community families.

A few finishing touches remain to be made on a cafe and public art display, but public are still free to enjoy their newest public asset.

Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Kay McIntyre says the “soft launch” was a way to celebrate the end of construction and acknowledge the name.

The name, Kaimataara o Wai Manawa, was gifted to the community by mana whenua.

Wai Manawa is the historical name for this part of Birkenhead. Wai Manawa meaning the “source of the water” refers to the basin nature of the Le Roys Bush area, alternatively Wai Manawa (maanawa – mangroves) refers to the collection of water in the mangroves at the base.

Kaimataara means both the purpose of a space as a lookout, and to be watchful.

Together it translates as “the Lookout of Wai Manawa”.

The 10-month long construction project was a part of the Birkenhead Centre Plan.

North Shore City bought the land in 2004, with the intention of creating just a platform overlooking Le Roys Bush.

In 2012, board member Lindsay Waugh formed a liaison group to reignite the original aspirations.

Key features needed a bit of rearranging, and Moller Architects drew the final plans.

Sustainability solutions were included for the project, such as a water tank placed under the deck.

“The rainwater coming off the roof will now go into this tank,” McIntyre says.

“Recycling this water will result in saving 105,000 litres per year of water.

“It’s a good sustainability initiative. We always have got to find ways to make our water go further,” she says.

Another addition to the project, was the look-out cafe.

“It became clear that this space needed a commercial operation to return money,” McIntyre says.

Now ratepayers don’t have to pay the renewals and upgrades to the same extent, because it self-generates a rent for the council, McIntyre says.

Bungalo cafe owner Chris Jones will open the lookout cafe around November.

Visit the lookout at 35 to 41 Birkenhead Ave.

Article by Laine Moger
Published 08 September 2016 > The North Shore Times – stuff.co.nz

High-rise plan revised

Highbury high-rise plans have been sent back to the drawing board.

A more integrated approach to planning the future of the town centre has followed a council decision on May 24 which was supported by the Kaipatiki Local Board.

Auckland Council regional development and operations committee agreed to withdraw the former North Shore City Council’s Highbury Plan Change which addressed building height limits within the business zone.

Committee chairwoman and local North Shore ward councillor Ann Hartley says the city’s planning framework had changed significantly since amalgamation and provided a more strategic and cost effective way forward.

“Highbury is a key part of our city and with better planning tools within our grasp, we won’t be dealing with height restrictions in isolation, she says.

“The aspirations identified in the approved Auckland Plan and the future Kaipatiki Area Plan will provide for an appropriate, informed variation to the Unitary Plan – the city’s resource management plan now under development.”

Mrs Hartley says the area planning process will result in a clearer view of Highbury’s future emerging next year and will identify what’s needed in the transport and related areas to unleash Highbury’s potential.

In February anxiety rang throughout the community as a leaked council document talked of Highbury, Birkenhead and Northcote, including heritage areas, being ripe for controversial highrise apartment blocks.

Around 70 people attended a public meeting organised by the Kaipatiki Local Board in response.

Local Board member Grant Gillon says the continued discussion focusing on the loss of heritage in these areas has renewed community concern.

“This highlights that there are two serious planning issues facing the community in Birkenhead: the push by planners for high-rise intensification in Birkenhead and the proposals to undermine our heritage areas,” he says.

Mr Gillon says he’s delighted that the board has listened to the community and rejected proceeding on the proposed plan change for Highbury.

The former North Shore City held many consultation evenings with the community over allowing higher buildings along Mokoia Rd and Birkenhead Ave, he says.

“The proposals under the former North Shore City would have had a negative impact on the local shopping centre and community,” he says.

But Mr Gillon says the plans to allow high-rise and intensivedevelopment in Birkenhead have not gone away, they have just shifted.

Officers advise that the proposals will be integrated with the Auckland Plan as part of a proposed Kaipatiki Local Board Area Plan development next year, he says.

Credits

Written by: LISA HONEYBONE
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Have a say on shopping centre

North Shore City Council is seeking public feedback on its $4 million makeover plans for Highbury Shopping Centre in Birkenhead.

Council principal planner urban design John Stenberg says the project aims to make the centre more vibrant, pleasant and more user-friendly for pedestrians and shoppers.

It is at the initial concept design stage and the council wants to consult the public over a number of options associated with each of the key areas for improvement – Rawene and Mokoia roads, Birkenhead Ave and Hinemoa St.

These were identified following a meeting with the Birkenhead Northcote Community Board, the Birkenhead Town Centre Association and the Birkenhead Residents Association.

Mr Stenberg says for Rawene Rd, the plan is to make it easier and more enjoyable for pedestrians to walk between the shopping area, Birkenhead Library and the Nell Fisher Reserve.

One option is to focus on narrowing the entrance to the road to create more public space and provide a seating area looking out towards the Waitemata Harbour.

A more comprehensive option involves creating a shared space for vehicles and pedestrians.

On Mokoia Rd, the council is looking at removing some car parks in front of the New Zealand Post and Telecom buildings to free up more space, install seats for pedestrians and carry out some landscaping to frame the space.

A number of options have been drawn up to improve the Birkenhead Ave, Hinemoa St and Mokoia Rd roundabout and make it safer for both motorists and pedestrians. One is to use the space outside 1-23 Mokoia Rd for a viewing area and installing a variety of facilities – median strips, pedestrian refuge islands and zebra crossings – to help people cross the road.

Another aims to emphasise the look and feel of the roundabout by having planter boxes and bollards to help define footpath and road areas.

The most extensive option involves removing the roundabout and installing three signalised pedestrian crossings.

There is also a proposal to convert the council-owned site on 35-41 Birkenhead Ave into a public viewing space with cafes or food stalls overlooking Ley Roys Bush reserve.

The project team will be at the Birkenhead Library on August 17-19, from 1pm-5.30pm to respond to any questions from the public.

Submissions, which close on August 27, should be mailed to North Shore City Council Transport Services, Private Bag 93500, Takapuna, 0740 or made online at www.northshorecity.govt.nz/highburymainstreets.

Credits

Written by: JODEAL CADACIO.
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times