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Town square brings Takapuna’s future closer

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Terence Harpur - Chief Executive of the Takapuna Beach Business Association

Takapuna’s transformation has taken another big step, following a recent decision by Auckland Council to approve the layout of a large public town square.

The new 3,200sqm town square will provide our town centre with a much-needed heart and place for people to congregate. It will be a place focused around people - where people share stories, quench a thirst, share food, celebrate milestones, and where everyone can have fun!

Repurposing the Anzac Street asphalt carpark area has not been without controversary. For nearly a decade, it has been a hot point of contention. However, multiple surveys of the public and business association members alike have consistently shown strong support for its redevelopment into a high-quality mixed-use precinct.

With council now strongly coming in behind its urban regeneration agency, Panuku Development Auckland, we finally have formal agreement on new town square’s configuration

We’re also delighted it is larger than originally anticipated - growing to 3,200sqm plus laneways. That’s great for our growing centre!

It will be a massive improvement for Takapuna, with Panuku now tasked with delivering a $7 million public space for the whole community to enjoy. This is in addition to the $25 million being spent on the new multi-level Gasometer carpark building, $6 million on the Huron and Northcroft street upgrades, $3 million on the bus interchange, and $12 million on Hurstmere Road.

The precinct’s remaining 6,000sqm will be made available for commercial, residential and retail development from next year.

Developers interested in partnering with Panuku are currently preparing their designs which will be carefully assessed against strict urban design rules, including height restrictions, step-back rules as they go higher, as well as ensuring the quality of build and aesthetics.

In the end we will be delivered a much more people-orientated space, including new cafes and restaurants spilling out with alfresco diners, great space for events and markets as well as a dedicated area for our Anzac memorial and annual ceremony. There will also be new office space and apartments. Takapuna’s future is indeed looking brighter.

In recent months it has been well publicised that a few local figures have pushed to reconfigure the proposed town square. For the Takapuna Beach Business Association, however, the agreed configuration not only favours the one most popular with the wider community but maximises the benefits for the local businesses.

Importantly too, it has also had considerable input from Auckland Council’s design review team, as well as an external independent design advisory body, and Council’s Parks and Recreation Policy Unit.

The town square’s agreed configuration improves connections. This includes between the main retail areas of Hurstmere Road and Shore City Shopping Centre, as well as better linkages to the soon to be upgraded Lake Road bus interchange, nearby greens, and the Gasometer carpark.

The town square will also better connect the business district with Takapuna Beach - which is a key driver for the entire Unlock Takapuna project. This has been helped with a main street building at 38 Hurstmere Road recently being demolished.

Developing this precinct and creating a town square is vital to ensuring Takapuna grows into the metropolitan centre it has been designated. Takapuna is one of 10 metropolitan centres in Auckland - meaning it has been identified for long-term growth and intensification.

Being zoned a Metropolitan Centre makes perfect sense for Takapuna. It has good public transport links, employment, and is well placed to carry the wider area’s future commercial growth and development.

Now that the layout of the public area has been confirmed, Panuku moves onto designing the elements for the town square with the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board to best suit the community. It will also be receiving public feedback on the design.

It will contain varying spaces that are engaging and can be tailored to suit a range of public events and activities. It will maximise the sun, encourage the likes of hospitality and retail operators to have active edges, and importantly will it increase public safety and security.

With the repurposing of the Anzac Street carpark, some are quick to assume there will be nowhere to park. However, the Gasometer carpark building on Huron Street is less than 200 metres away, which Panuku is now constructing for 420 cars.

At the same time, the new precinct itself will come with some car parks as the Unitary Plan requires one car park space for every 30sqm of retail development. If say, 5,000sqm of retails/hospitality space is created, that will mean at least 167 car parks will need to be integrated into the development.

Upgrading Hurstmere Road is also key to Takapuna’s transformation. While its construction has unfortunately faced delays, it will be well worth the wait in creating an open, vibrant, beachside retail destination. As well as delivering long overdue streetscaping and infrastructure improvements, space for pedestrians will be prioritised and vehicle traffic reduced. It will also treat 100% of stormwater flowing onto Takapuna Beach.

While it’s a big milestone that the overall layout of Takapuna’s town square has now been confirmed, I encourage people to continue to be engaged and to have their say on the finer elements of its design over the coming months.

We need the people in our community to now come together, work collaboratively and help make Takapuna the best centre it can be - now and for the future.

www.ilovetakapuna.co.nz

Terence Harpur is the Chief Executive of the Takapuna Beach Business Association.

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