2022 – Project Auckland: The turning point

The Herald’s Project Auckland 2022 publishes today as Auckland’s city centre reaches a “turning point”.

The report celebrates Auckland’s reopening for business after multiple lockdowns and constraints caused by the pandemic, and, takes a deep dive into plans to “reactivate” the city centre.

The plans are impressive, and as their authors — Heart of the City and Auckland Unlimited — reveal, there are multiple events ahead to draw more people back into the city centre to get its heart beating strongly again.

The city centre does however continue to face considerable challenges.

Foot traffic is still light and so too patronage of the city’s cafes, bars and restaurants. Office floors are spasmodically populated.

One task ahead of city leaders, including those from local and central government, is to delicately use their muscle and get their employees back into the city centre again. Auckland Council chief executive Jim Stabback is working with central government leaders on various strategies. But businesses also need to play their part, say city champions Matthew Cockram and Michael Barnett, to ensure more of their people come back to work in the Auckland CBD.

These challenges also fall on the plate of the Mayor of Auckland.

This year, mayor Phil Goff bows out after two terms. In an interview with Tim McCready, Goff says that his biggest regret is the impact of Covid which ripped $900 million out of revenue and meant Auckland Council couldn’t fully realise the dreams and ambitions the mayor and his councillors had. The challenge now falls to his successor.

Herald city reporter Bernard Orsman runs his ruler over the five candidates for what is said to be the second most powerful job in New Zealand politics excepting that of the prime minister. Orsman pulls no punches in his assessments.
Covid has changed the way we have lived, worked, and played since the pandemic began.

But it has also given us an opportunity to reflect on what we want from New Zealand’s largest city, particularly as the workforce over time returns to offices and makes use of the city’s sparkling new amenities.

There are suggestions Auckland should be a “loveable city” and also plans to develop multiple town centres across the city.

The impact of climate change is forcing a rethink on how transport is delivered. The controversial Auckland Light Rail project is designed to join the CBD and Airport. Transport Minister Michael Wood treads carefully over its future and National’s Simon Watts gives his insights into priorities.

We update with Kāinga Ora which is tackling some of Auckland’s housing issues by replacing old state houses with warm architecturally-designed affordable homes.

The pandemic and inflation have resulted in slower progress and higher costs on major infrastructure projects. Watercare boss Jon Lamonte, who is responsible for the Central Interceptor project, and City Rail Link’s Sean Sweeney talk through the impact of the pandemic on their projects and people.

The report also canvasses Auckland’s future with perspectives from Nick Hill (Auckland Unlimited), Mark Thomas (Committee for Auckland) and Sir Peter Gluckman whose think tank Koi Tū recently released a report — Reimagining Tāmaki Makaurau — giving nine scenarios to make the region better.
There is plenty to digest.

Enjoy the report.

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