Heart of the City Feedback on Wellesley Street Bus Improvements and Te Hā Noa Victoria Linear Park
Please find Heart of the City’s feedback on the draft designs for the Wellesley Street Bus Improvements and Te Hā Noa Victoria Linear Park.
The redevelopment of Victoria and Wellesley Streets presents a significant opportunity to support positive transformation and future investment in the midtown area of the city centre.
Success to Heart of the City for this area of the city would be a high-quality outcome and appealing destination where the operational and business needs in the area are well considered and met. There would also be a cohesive and clear strategic approach to access and people know how to get around.
The redevelopment will also be done well, with construction well managed and a programme in place to support business disruption. We also want to ensure this part of the city is a thriving daytime and night-time area, that is safe.
We have raised a number of the points outlined below directly with the Project Team through our discussions to date. We look forward to ongoing dialogue as the programme moves through the next phases of design.
Innovative, future proofed and flexible design for access and loading and servicing
- We believe that the current plans for the area will not meet the operational needs for businesses. In addition to the issue we have previously raised about the lack of provision of loading on Wellesley Street, we have reservations about the loading and servicing provision proposed for Victoria Street.
- The design for the street must take into consideration the number of accommodation providers in the street, hospitality businesses along with the ‘entertainment’ offering in the wider area, including the CIVIC theatre.
- The development of the Loading and Servicing plan for the Midtown Area is critical to ensure that these needs are identified and met through implementation.
- We understand that the plan will recommend changes to support the parking, servicing, loading, pick-up drop-off, mobility parking, waste collection and other kerbside activities, as well as potential off street opportunities and innovations to support the activities.
- We want to ensure that the design process is future proofed. The loading and servicing plan must be able to contribute to the on-street design for both streets.
- This could include a more dynamic kerbside that is flexible based on the needs and considers 24/7 use. This may see the use of this change over this period of time (for example from bus stops, to loading or rideshare drop off).
- We also note the proposed introduction of a bidirectional bike lane on the southern side of Victoria Street. Whilst supporting safe cycling in the city centre, the current design will mean no provision for loading/servicing on this side of the street, including waste collection. Further consideration needs to be given to how this activity can be supported.
- Auckland Transport have advised that the detailed and final designs for both projects will progress into 2022 and there is opportunity to refine the designs in response to the outcomes of the Loading and Servicing Plan.
- Given this, HOTC looks forward to ongoing dialogue on the plan as it progresses.
- Auckland Transport has confirmed it is currently investigating how to give priority to buses in the Wellesley Street area while limiting other vehicle movements to local access and essential vehicles only, and they will be undertaking further consultation with affected parties on the access, parking, servicing and loading arrangements over the next 12 months.
- HOTC wants to ensure that there is a strategic approach to developing access, and this must take a wider than Wellesley Street view. This would consider how to maintain important East/West connections across the city centre as well a well-considered legible access experience.
- Consideration needs to be given to the current and future needs for the area, including the land use and attractions such as the CIVIC theatre, and users needs such as mobility users access as well as for taxi and rideshare.
- We welcome ongoing engagement as this approach is developed over the next 12 months.
Space allocation for outdoor dining/street trading and other use
We have raised the need to consider the opportunities to accommodate space for activities such as outdoor dining and street trading in the designs. We believe it’s important that this is specifically planned for in the next stages of the design.
It is also important that Wellesley Street can maintain provision for outdoor dining. Whilst Auckland Transport has advised that they consider some parts of the street to not be appropriate for outdoor trading due to anticipated pedestrian volumes around the station, (with AT identifying the need to have clear footpath movement of 4.2m), HOTC wishes to work with Auckland Transport to explore how this can be achieved. The provision for outdoor dining is an important aspect of our city’s vibrancy and economy and must be maintained and supported.
It’s vital to ensure that Wellesley and Victoria Streets become “great streets”. The recent Lower Albert Street bus exchange has not delivered a high-quality street environment, with underwhelming amenity for bus patrons.
Some key considerations that have been identified by businesses in the area include:
Design of bus shelters to consider possible antisocial behaviour, and site lines into businesses. AT have advised that the shelters will be fully glazed so this will ensure that people can see through into the adjacent businesses.