Good For BusinessIn November 2012 the Waitemata Local Board in association with AECOM organised a Good for Business Seminar with Dr Rodney Tolley director of Walk21. He spoke about the economic benefits of investing in walking and cycling based on his report “Good for Busine$$” prepared for the Australian Heart Foundation.   Following on from Dr Tolley’s presentation Pippa Coom gave the following update on the Waitemata Local Board’s “Good for Business” priorities.

Update on the Local Board’s “Good for Business” priorities for the Waitemata area 

I first heard Dr Tolley speak in December last year at a Walking seminar . I was completely impressed with his presentation and his very simple message backed up by compelling evidence.

Dr Tolley provided the economic justification to the people- friendly improvements we have started to see in Auckland (in particular the shared spaces ) but also for the priorities of the Waitemata Local Board that are set out in our 3 year  Local Board plan.

Dr Tolley got me thinking about the “Good for Business”   role of the local board and where we can best direct our influence for the greatest economic return and widest community benefit.

Today I would like to outline briefly our Local Board role in the Super city structure, our priorities that our “Good for Business” at the seminar last year I took a look around some of the initiatives happening in each of our seven business association areas.

We have a direct role  as local place makers to create an environment that is attractive to people. This is in the wider context of our local responsibilities for local facilities, parks, and events  AND significantly for the first year we have a new Local Board capex fund of $10m a year shared between all 21 Local Boards (giving us approx. $450k a year)  that as we  will see is going to be directed towards streetscape investment.

Across all of our 6 priority areas in our LB Plan are initiatives that are “Good for business”

To quickly run through some examples. We are working to achieve a high-quality built environment that recognises and enhances the distinctive characteristics and heritage of our area. We have included the needed for quality street design as a key consideration in all transport- related plans and projects.

Within our priority “Connected, health transport options” we want to ensure our street environment is constructed in a way that allows safe and easy movement. Just some of the city centre proposals we are supporting under this priority include the expansion of shared spaces, and making Hobson and  Nelson Street and Quay street more pedestrian friendly

As I will cover in more detail we have a number Good for Business initiatives under this priority.

Under Strong, vibrant, engaged communities priority we are championing accessibility recognising that at any one time 20% of the population is suffering from some form of disability. We need to make sure our built environment provides for everyone (as Dr Tolley mentioned this is increasingly going to include the aging baby boomers who are demanding a more walkable environment)

I am sure many of you have heard about the “Accessibility dollar” – we plan to arrange a seminar for businesses on the economic return of making our city accessible which is related today.

Our Places for people priority is about providing attractive public spaces for people to enjoy with projects such as improving access to Station Square and connecting Myers Park to Aotea Square.

I’ve touched on  innovative economic hub  priority with regards to our support for the Waterfront Plan and the City Centre Master plan . We also support the Economic Development Strategy by playing our role in local place making and shaping to create an environment that is attractive to people and  a place where people want to live, work, study, play and visit

And of course by taking a Good for Business approach that encourages more walking and cycling we are meeting our priority area of  Respecting and enhancing natural environments of our area though reduced carbon emissions, less pollution, improved air quality and more resilient communities that are less car dependent

So now I am going to skip through a few specific examples of “Good for business” projects we have on the go or in the pipe line.

Starting in Newmarket I have already mentioned Station Square. With the support of the Newmarket Business Association we are now working with Auckland Transport to continue the successful investment in Teed Street and Obsorne Streets with a proposal for new wider footpaths, new kerb and channel, planter boxes, improved streetlighting, and seats on Kent Street and York Street and the extension of Teed Street.  This is potentially going to be funded from the new Local Board capex fund.

On Broadway and Khyber Pass Auckland Transport is undertaking a Corridor Management Plan which take a multi-modal approach, looking at all forms of transport and travel demand management, as well as seeking to integrate land use.

We are advocating for an approach whereby transport arterials serve a placemaking function. This is going to be essential to facilitate the development of the Brewery site by the university and to unlease the retail potential on Khyber Pass. The street must be designed for walking in a business or retail environment, rather than just for arterial vehicular movement.

At the top end of Khyber Pass in the Eden Terrace business association area we are looking at funding – again from the capex fund – pedestrian improvements to the intersection with Symonds Street.

Ponsonby Road crossingOn Ponsonby Road you will all be familiar with the conflict between the street as a pedestrian friendly shopping environment and the volume and speed of traffic. I took this photo on Ponsonby Market day in September when people were literally falling off the kerb outside Ponsonby Central.

We are in the process of setting up a Ponsonby master plan working group with key stakeholders to work on a master plan that incorporates urban design, the road corridor, landscaping and best balances safety, multiple users, parking, heritage impacts, and retail needs.

Personally I would love to see wider footpaths and cyclelanes as part of the master plan to create a truly great shopping street.

Also on Ponsonby Road there is a nice little project underway by AT  with the support of the Business Association and the Board to create Auckland’s first on -street bike corral . This will add substantially more parking to Ponsonby Road

Ponsonby_Bike_Corral_Photomontage_In San Francisco there is a back log of applications from cafes wanting corrals because of the economic benefits. I think this one on Ponsonby Road – due any day – will provide a similar catalyst for Auckland

To continue the theme of parking for customers , the K’d business association got behind trialling these rather beautiful mini rakks in 6 locations on K’rd . The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

There was also a buzz on social media about these rakks. I would like to share one comment that was posted on Facebook

“When I pull up to a business or government office on my bike and I wander around and can’t find anywhere to park, I really feel something. Unwanted? Second-Class? Neglected? It’s something not positive, and it does not put me in the mood to buy. So, probably a good move for merchants to support bike parks in front of their shops”

The KBA has also been instrumental in the design and build of the K’rd overbridge creating a much improved pedestrian environment.

In Grey Lynn the business association there has done wonderful advocacy work to secure funding for footpath renewals at the Surrey Cres shops . Also for Richmond Road there is a local board project to work with AT to achieve safety improvements along the Road especially in the shopping areas and school zones that take a “complete” street approach to slow the traffic down and provide for greater streetscape amenities and safe places to cross.

We have heard Mathew Rednall from Auckland Transport mention today that Parnell already has the ingredients for a good walking environment.

I think our Greenways project (linking open spaces and parks) has the potential to significantly increase visitor numbers with safe and attractive connections through to the new Parnell Station and the Domain and Wellesley Street. But there is more to be done in identifying the needs of retailers in Parnell.

park let SFAnd back to the city centre where we began – remembering that our role is about local placemaking we have put out the idea that High Street would be the perfect place for Auckland’s first “park-let” providing additional people space.

I’d like to end with two of our Board’s major projects that are going to make a significant contribution to the walkability of the city centre with benefits for visitors, residents and workers

The proposed Myers Park upgrade which the KBA has been involved with includes the connection between Myers Park and Aotea Square and the development of the car park behind the Basement theatre. As we saw during the RWC, Myers park has the potential to be a major active transport corridor between K’rd and Queen Street .

Pioneer Womens Hall redevelopmentAnd lastly a sneak peek at the proposed upgrade to Pioneers women’s hall to be incorporated into the renewal of Freyberg place and surrounding streets.

We are proposing the development of community hub with strong connections to the street environment . This is exactly where as a local board we can add value to the fabric of urban living and the built environment which is “Good for Business”.