Planned laneways for Wynyard Quarter
Much has been said about the waterfront’s role in the revitalisation of Auckland in recent years. The opening up of Wynyard Quarter and Queens Wharf with new public spaces, bars, restaurants and commercial spaces has transformed Aucklanders’ connection with the water’s edge.
A new commercial building proposed for Halsey St, Wynyard Quarter
When you factor in this is just the start of a 25-year project, we’re looking at a level of urban regeneration not seen before in the central city. This requires robust planning and stakeholder engagement, smart investment in public infrastructure, strategic land and asset ownership, and harnessed private sector investment, with a goal of building one of the world’s best urban communities.
The ability of our organisation to span public and private sectors has been instrumental to the work achieved thus far. The quality of plans, the sustainability and design elements of the proposed development and the public’s support, are all far higher than would have been the case if either the public or the private sector alone had been tasked with developing the waterfront.
The strategic use of public investment in infrastructure has played a critical role in this regard. By establishing public spaces and streetscapes to an outstanding level of design, sustainability and excellence, we have signalled to the investment market the type and quality of development we are seeking.
Projects such as Jellicoe St, North Wharf, Westhaven Promenade, Karanga Plaza, and Daldy St Park are demonstrations of how we envisage the entire Wynyard Quarter and waterfront developing.
The financial leverage of these investments in infrastructure is tangible. We have carefully structured partnership arrangements with our lead investors and developers in a way that will ensure Auckland’s ratepayers have a share of the value uplift as the surrounding sites are developed. Equally important are intangible benefits in how the public and private spaces will knit together.
Plans for apartments and townhouses in the area
That has not happened in isolation, as right from the start, it’s been recognised that activity makes a community as much as the hard infrastructure. That is why we emphasise place-making — ensuring that well-planned activities and events activate the wonderful public spaces that we are designing and developing.
This lays the groundwork for the community we are striving to attract and from that point it has been all about a preparedness to look at a new way of partnering with the private sector. This requires an allocation of risk and reward relative to the set of development tasks the partnership entails to ensure there is a fair and equitable return for the parties involved.
That approach enables us to look at areas of innovation in the progression of a more sustainable and liveable approach to the next phase of development which will include a new Park Hyatt Hotel, a range of residential living options and a commitment to a vibrant and growing hub of commercial space.
The new development partnership agreements include not only “essential outcomes” that developers must adhere to but also stretch targets. This results in developments that provide better liveability and sustainability than other comparable developments across the city. An independent design review process and new tools such as a custom Wynyard Quarter Green Star Rating tool have been developed to support this progressive approach.
Artists impression of Daldy St.
A quality assurance mechanism is critical too and as developments get underway, we will work with our investor/development partners to monitor their performance in achieving both the essential outcomes and the stretch targets.
To achieve the above requires strong leadership with vision at a governance and management level playing a critical part in building community participation and partnerships with business and stakeholders.
A commitment to international relationship-making to foster and open and collaborative exchange have helped in this regard by providing access to the best international thinking. A string of awards both locally and internationally in recent years has been a testimony to this.
There is immense interest and the potential now to reframe the Auckland Council’s role in urban regeneration for the region in the future, building what has been delivered on the waterfront in the last eight years.
John Dalzell is Chief Executive of Waterfront Auckland.