Bold new plans for Parnell streets

01:13, Jul 18 2012
VISION: The Parnell Community Committee has come up with the Tomorrow Parnell structure plan which suggests turning streets, such as Heather St, into a weekend pedestrian plaza.

Plans to turn Parnell streets into cul de sacs, put new buildings in the middle of narrow streets and create more pedestrian plazas are causing a stir.

Members of the Parnell Community Committee have combined their skills to put together a plan outlining what they believe is the best way forward for New Zealand's oldest suburb. 

The document has been submitted to Auckland Council and the committee is hoping it will be included in the unitary plan.

Council environmental strategy and policy department manager Ludo Campbell-Reid said his team was considering the proposal.

"It's a really interesting, intriguing piece of work,'' he said.

The plan, Tomorrow Parnell, suggests finding new construction sites in the suburb instead of knocking down buildings with heritage value in an attempt to intensify.

Parnell-based planner Jenni Goulding said many of the suburb's narrow streets were rarely used by vehicles and could instead be used for new buildings.

She has been working on the plan since her frustration came to a head at a meeting to set up a heritage society in 2005.

"I didn't want to just be involved in heritage. I think it's really important that Parnell moves forward. We're very proud of our heritage but want to revitalise and go forward with stunning architecture. 

"We want the whole suburb to be design-driven and we want community empowerment in design."

The plan identifies seven roads which could be turned into cul de sacs to create space for new development or recreation areas, including Augustus Tce between Fraser Park and Parnell Rd.

Architect Mike Blackburn has drawn up the concepts for the plan and said the many other entries to the area meant that section of Augustus Tce was rarely used.

"It allows that creative thinking. It opens up ideas and it breaks the mould of that stymied thinking,'' he said.

The plan also identifies streets that could be turned into pedestrian plazas and shared spaces.

It suggests Tilden St, Faraday St and the church side of Denby St could become permanent pedestrian plazas, while parts of Ruskin St, Heather St, lower Parnell Rd and Windsor St could become pedestrian plazas on weekends.

Streets like Falcon St, Bradford St and Gibraltar Cres could become shared spaces permanently or on weekends.

Goulding said changing the roads for the weekend could be as simple as moving a couple of pot plants or installing street-level fountains which are on a timer.

She said Auckland Council's policy of intensifying development around main roads often destroyed the character of suburbs. 

"We're saying it's better to intensify around a community," she said.


Parnell Community Committee
BRANCHING OUT: Parnell Community Committee members Mike Blackburn, left, Jenni Goulding and Rebecca Macky.

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