Federal Street shared space
An upgrade is planned for Federal Street between Victoria and Wellesley Streets and the plaza beneath the Sky Tower to make the area more attractive and user-friendly for pedestrians.
A period of consultation on the Federal Street project has concluded and public submissions are being considered. Final concept designs will be drawn up next year.
Federal Street is in the heart of the city centre and already an entertainment hub that attracts city centre workers as well as domestic and international visitors, particularly with the presence of the iconic Sky Tower. Around 5,500 people walk along this stretch of street daily but the pedestrian environment is not particularly inviting, with narrow footpaths, no public seating and a limited number of places to eat, drink and shop.
Federal Street is often also used as a short-cut by cars and buses and also acts as a long-term parking area for coaches. The plaza area around the Sky Tower is cluttered and features several barriers that block views and discourage public access and enjoyment of the space.
Auckland Council proposes to introduce a shared space and upgrade street surfaces, street furniture and vegetation to make this a high quality, vibrant and attractive destination that is safe for the public to enjoy 24/7 and where people have the priority rather than cars.
The estimated cost of this project is $10 million, which is being jointly funded by Auckland Council and Skycity.
The project objectives are to deliver a Federal Street that:
integrates with other city centre upgrade and transport projects
provides an intimate, high quality pedestrian-focused street that encourages pedestrian activity
supports local businesses and attracts investment by providing an appropriate level of vehicular movement and servicing activity
is a distinctive destination entertainment precinct with a unique mix of retail, cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues
provides a high quality, attractive, safe and durable streetscape
What is a shared space street?
Shared space streets are slow-speed streets where pedestrians have the right of way over vehicles and there is no long-term parking. The street is de-cluttered to facilitate easy pedestrian movement and kerbs are removed to create a single level of paving across the full width of the street. This encourages outdoor dining, street activities and events but also encourages a sense of caution in drivers through the area, naturally slowing them down.
An accessible zone runs along the building edge of both sides of the street which provides a dedicated pedestrian area for those people who want a more defined and definite separation from vehicles e.g. those with disabilities, small children and window shoppers.
A recent report on shared spaces in Auckland city centre showed a drop in vehicle speed by 25 per cent, an increase in peak hours of foot traffic by 50 per cent and a 400 per cent increase in hospitality spend. More information on shared spaces can be found on the Auckland Council website.
Transformations such as Federal Street are an integral part of the City Centre Masterplan and Auckland Plan objective of making Auckland the world’s most liveable city. The Council wants to create a stunning city centre that will attract internationally competitive jobs and opportunities and unlock its full potential to be one of the world’s premier business locations, the heart and ‘Engine Room’ of Auckland. You can read more about the City centre Masterplan on the Auckland Council website.
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The City Centre Masterplan sets out a clear vision for Federal Street and addresses its potential transformation as a future ‘High Street of the West’ and part of the east-west stitch breaking down the barriers between the western part of the city centre and Queen Street, the city centre ‘Engine Room.’ “.... over time, Federal Street will be developed as an intimate, high quality pedestrian-focused route from Mayoral Drive to Fanshawe Street and the waterfront beyond. A precinct will develop around it with a distinct mix of retail, cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues with the added
convenience of transport links along Albert Street.”
As such, the Federal Street upgrade is part of a wider programme of transformations that will create a walking route
and a sequence of public squares and gathering spaces from Aotea Square to the Waterfront.
Other projects that link into this upgrade include:
the Victoria Street Linear Park - a green linear park between Albert Park in the east and Victoria Park in the west that is highlighted in the City Centre Masterplan
the long term plan by Auckland Transport for Wellesley Street to become the main public transport route with buses and the proposed city rail link while Victoria Street becomes the main pedestrian route
a Regional Cycle link (on-road with wide kerb side lane) passes in proximity to the northern frontage of the Sky Tower Plaza and Tower Plaza and the entry Atrium to the SkyCity complex
A thorough assessment of a number of street design options including a pedestrian mall and a conventional street upgrade were made by urban design and traffic flow specialists in December 2011. They concluded that Federal Street has the necessary prerequisites for the successful introduction of shared space and recommended:
a shared space streetscape environment be introduced between Wellesley Street and Victoria Street
maintenance of the current one-way direction of traffic flow (south to north)
long-term bus/coach parking areas be removed
introduction of a signalised pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Wellesley and Federal Streets.
The proposed concept designs are therefore based on the adoption of these recommendations.
The transformation of Federal Street
The paving proposed for Federal Street will match that used in the other city centre shared space streets and is intended to highlight the pedestrian-priority nature of the street. Paving will consist of a mix of medium grey and light grey granite pavers of a small unit size suitable for heavy vehicular use.
A radial paving pattern is proposed around the base of Sky Tower, to be formed from granite pavers with feature limestone inserts.
It is proposed to remove all existing tree planters and provide where possible two groups of trees planted at ground level along the eastern side of the street. New tree planting will provide some greenery as well as ecological and environmental benefits. The use of a single native evergreen species is proposed - Karaka, Taraire and Puriri are all under current consideration. Green walls are also proposed, for example to improve the accent of car park entrances.
Street furniture will make the street and plaza inviting and encourage people to stop and spend time. Seats, bike racks, litter and recycling bins and wayfinding signage will be selected from the suite of items used in the other shared space streets in the city centre. These will be supplemented with ‘urban lounges’ - seating blocks along the length of the street and a raised planter/informal seating structure constructed of timber and limestone within the plaza.
New street lighting will be installed using a combination of pole mounted lights and catenary (overhead wires) mounted lights. This will provide security, safety and good visual guidance for people using the street. Imaginative use of feature lighting will emphasise and accentuate the unique character of the street, the Sky Tower and the entertainment precinct.
Parking, loading and servicing
It is proposed that all permanent parking areas be removed from the street and that loading and service delivery activities take place at specific locations on the street between 6am and 11am each day.
Most properties along the street have loading docks and porte-cochere facilities which will allow operations to continue as they currently do. The Federal Street upgrade team is working with Auckland Transport to establish other locations nearby where the displaced taxi and coach parking can be accommodated.
The existing vehicular activity that occurs within the Skycity Grand Hotel porte-cochere and the Skycity Atrium will be retained including parking for taxis and the pick up and drop off of passengers by tour coaches. Bicycle parking will be provided in small groupings along the length of the street.
29 October - 16 November 2012
Summary of public feedback compiled and feedback responses sent out
November - December 2012
Concept design finalised
March - June 2013
Preparation and planning for construction; discussions with property owners, residents and others on construction programme
Construction anticipated to commence
Construction anticipated to be completed