In a recent Local Board Business meeting I was proud to vote in favour of the new Takapuna Town Square design which is due to begin construction from mid-2021 onwards. Towards the end of June the public will be able to have their say on the design, as well as give an indication of whether they’d like to see the ANZAC cenotaph, currently located at The Strand, relocated there for our annual ANZAC commemoration.
It’s been a bit of a journey to get here with some strong public opposition to selling the carpark to make way for the development. Three of our Local Board members spearheaded this opposition and so it makes sense that they voted against the design. I still found this to be disappointing though, because it sends a signal that they didn’t think much of the design. I argue we couldn’t have asked for more. It’s also worth remembering that the decision to move forward with the development was approved by Auckland Council's Planning Committee and is going ahead regardless of Local Board views. To my line of thinking we need to put old battles behind us and do what we can to push for the best outcomes and work in a positive and productive way to support its success. This is actually one of the reasons why I stood for Local Board, as I didn’t think these views were being reflected by our former local board; Aidan and I always said we would stand for the silent majority.
Auckland’s Unitary Plan identifies Takapuna as one of 10 metropolitan centres to experience strong future growth. We can already see evidence of this as new apartment complexes such as The Maison, Alba and Sargeson have cropped up, bringing more people into the area, and creating a demand for a better-functioning urban realm that’s connected to the Lake and glorious Takapuna beach.
Panuku, AC’s development arm, has been working hard with stakeholders to propose something quite awesome for Takapuna. So awesome in fact, they were awarded a Green Star Communities rating for exceptional master planning. Takapuna is finally getting the investment it needs and I know how much people will love it. The new town square design has been workshopped with the Local Board and there has been extensive mana whenua input into how looks and feels, as well as its overarching Kaupapa.
In its current state Takapuna seems built around a large carpark that only experiences life on a Sunday morning when the much-loved Takapuna Markets commandeer the area. The new proposal will see about a 6000sqm area sold for commercial and residential developments in order to fund a fantastic 3200sqm town centre. This new town centre will offer easy access to the Takapuna Beach Reserve via Hurstmere Green, it will front onto the major bus terminus and connect to Shore City Shopping centre. It will be the absolute beating heart of Takapuna. It will be a beautifully designed open space that offers interesting event configurations to enable a range of activations, events, gatherings and purposes 7 days a week; not just on a Sunday morning.
The town centre concepts have been created by integrated design group Isthmus. Conceptually the design is inspired by ‘Whiria te tanga’ – weaving the people together. It will be a place where people gather, learn, play, create, connect and be inspired. The design itself speaks strongly to the coastal township, and material used will reflect the lava flows of Pupuke with the inclusion of basalt paving, seating that appears like coastal scoria flows, and a water feature in the sunniest spot and dining precinct (so parents can have a life too!) that reflect the ‘puna’ (spring) of Takapuna. Cutting through the area, creating an axis to the sea, will be pou, a line of cultural markers that lead the eye to Rangitoto. Close to the play area in Potters Park will be a new ‘whare wānanga’ – tree house structure for play and learning. Planting will offer shade in summer, colour, texture and cooling, to offset against the new buildings, and with links to Hurstmere Green and Potters Park there will be an abundance of green.
The existing market can continue to operate, taking the newly formed centre, the area at 38 Hustmere Road and spill across into Hurstmere Green. This will create better synergy with the existing retailers in the area and will inspire new opportunities for how we use the space. It must be noted, however that any market stalls that require a car, will not be able to be on the new town centre and may instead be relocated to Hurstmere Road. If utilized as an event venue, the area can accommodate 1600 people.
So as to provide a balanced report on what the design means for those that intend to use the space, some of the following concerns are ones that I’ve heard often, and so I thought I’d answer them as best I can with images below for clarity:
So, taking the above points into consideration, I have zero fear for this project. I only have great optimism and am proud to be in a position to back it. My kids and all their mates who will grow up in this area will be the ones that love it most. We’re creating a fantastic, vibrant, metro centre where job opportunities are abundant and we can all enjoy a better connection to our beach and reserves. We’re creating more opportunity for people to live in arguably one of the best areas in Auckland, and with it will come a town centre that will weave us all together. Whiria te tangata. Bring it on, I say.
Elected member of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board for the 2019-2022 Election Term.