• 03 Te Rimu sculpture
  • 02 Great North Road Grey Lynn Mural
  • 01 Our Hood

Expert backs bold vision for Grey Lynn’s Great North Road

A senior University of Auckland architecture lecturer has lent his voice to the call for Auckland Transport (AT) to listen to the community before rushing through any changes to Great North Road.

Bill McKay, a regular Radio New Zealand urban issues commentator, and leader of the MArch (Prof) Professional Studies courses in the School of Architecture and Planning, was among local residents and business owners who last month joined a discussion hosted by Grey Lynn Business Association on the future of the Grey Lynn section of the road.

A community-led proposal

The GLRA’s Brandon Wilcox and David Batten opened the evening with a Powerpoint presentation that summarised our association’s community-led vision for the future of the portion of the road that runs from Ponsonby Road to the Surrey Crescent shops. 

Beamed on to a white wall amongst the racks of striking silk-and-sequin designs of Grey Lynn clothing label Pearl, the presentation highlighted the community’s vision for a people-centred place with more shops, residences and businesses, and more access for pedestrians, bikes and buses – not just cars.

AT’s presenters began by outlining why roads in Auckland are a scarce commodity in a city that is growing up and out, and the urgent need to address the road safety crisis through managing speed along the ridge. Other AT priorities are removing 115 carparks to make way for buses, introducing a separated cycleway and increasing tree cover.

Prioritising a sense of place

While both parties agreed that they shared some common ground, Brandon summarised the weakness of AT’s plan as “addressing movement of traffic only – whereas what’s needed is a sense of place as well”.

David and Brandon said ultimately, the difference came down to dollars. They urged AT not to rush ahead with a plan led by budget constraints but to instead pause and get it right. 

Bill McKay added his voice in support, noting that Auckland is going through “an adolescent phase”, and pointed to the success of trials like the one in High Street, which he suggested would be a better way for AT to arrive at a solution that works for both road users and the community.

Making way for a generational shift

He also challenged AT not to be short-sighted about its plans: “There’s a generational shift going on at the moment – there’s a generation coming who do not want cars; to us they were freedom, to them they’re a burden.” He ended with a plea: “Listen to the people who are in the area rather than speeding transport decisions through.”

AT undertook to respond to the feedback and our proposal in person at a date and time to be confirmed. We await their update with interest.

Listen to Bill McKay discussing Great North Road with Kathryn Ryan on Radio New Zealand

Download the GLRA’s Great North Road Community-Led Vision 

Grey Lynn Primary traffic-calming trial

Street artwork being used in the Grey Lynn Primary traffic-calming trial was chosen by the school and weaves together Pasifika and Māori designs

Auckland Transport is about to begin a trial to reduce speed and improve the safety of students of Grey Lynn Primary School on Surrey Crescent. 

The trial changes will be rolled out from late June and could last for 18 months. They will affect Surrey Crescent, Browning Street, Firth Road and Selbourne Street. 

They include new pick-up and drop-off zones, street art, speed bumps, road markings and kerb build-outs to slow cars down, and planter boxes that the pupils will help to plant. 

If the trial is successful, it could lead to a permanent solution, which will take on board feedback collected from the community during the trial.

Construction is likely to start around June 8 and to be complete by late June. Construction will be well outside of school hours. 

The trial will be reviewed after the first six weeks and adaptations will be made in the first two to six weeks, based on school and community feedback, tube counts, and on-site observations. 

Residents can email AT their feedback via a Have Your Say page which will be live once the trial is in place. In the meantime they can email ATengagement@AT.govt.nz

The street artwork shown above weaves together Pasifika and Māori artwork. It was chosen by the school from a range of options. 

This trial is part of AT’s Safe School Speeds projects, which are focused on lowering operating speed around school to 30km. That speed has been identified as the survivable speed for an adult. Lower operating speeds in school zones also provide drivers with more reaction time when stopping.

There has been a serious injury crash on Surrey Crescent and the school reports a lot of near misses and concerns about vehicle speeds in the approach to school crossings.  

Cooper Street reserve on the chopping block?

We were disappointed to see that the Council’s property arm Panuku is proposing to sell the reserve at 36 Cooper Street, Arch Hill. 

The removal of this rare green space so close to the city, and in an area which is set for intensive ongoing residential development, contradicts the Council’s commitment to increasing tree cover and meeting the Climate Emergency Mitigation goals. It’s also at odds with Waitematā Local Board’s Open Spaces Network Plan 2019-2029.

We support the many apartment blocks blossoming on the ridge of Great North Road; they’re a pragmatic way to address the need for more housing options close to the central city. But liveable cities also recognise the importance of providing communities with walkable access to green spaces; the hundreds of future residents who are likely to live high on the Arch Hill border will not have their own gardens.

The Cooper Street site has been in “reserve” as a green space for city dwellers for many years. If sold, it’s likely it will be used for just a single residential dwelling which will change the face of a street that Heritage New Zealand says has high heritage values. As a pocket park, it could benefit many more.

We have made a supporting submission outlining our concerns and will keep you posted. It’s great to hear recently that the Waitematā Local Board is now recommending that Panuku not sell this reserve.

Take your pick: two revamped Grey Lynn playgrounds worth a visit

Building work is now complete on the playgrounds of two of our favourite local parks. 

The area near the Auckland Zoo/ Motions Road end of Western Springs park was completely transformed during last year’s lockdown and is now the ecology-themed Western Springs Lakeside Te Wai Ōrea Park.

According to the Auckland Council website, accessibility has been prioritised in the redesign to make sure wheelchairs, prams and those with impaired mobility can use the play area easily. 

Meanwhile, over in Arch Hill, the new Home Street Reserve playground also is now open. Originally proposed for renewal in 2014, our association lobbied hard over three terms of the Waitematā Local Board for a fit-for-purpose space for local children. 

Despite belated opposition to the upgrade by a couple of adjacent residents and cancelation of the Auckland Council-organised launch event, near on 100 locals attended a celebration to mark the improvements to the park, including cake and an impromptu appearance by Auckland Dream player Riana Rangi-Brown whose hoop shooting lessons wowed the attendant kids.

We hope the additional measures proposed by Waitematā Local Board, which include revised planting and the new safety surface, will ensure the park’s facilities can continue to enjoyed by all.

Both are well worth visiting if you haven’t already.

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