Critical Mass Opportunity Rejected

Nov 28, 2013
Critical Mass Opportunity Rejected


This Herald story on Wednesday caught my eye for a number of reasons. 

  • The photo shows what a superb area of open space Ngati Whatua own in Devonport. The land has superb location, with a long frontage onto both Ngataringa Bay and Ngataringa Rd. This gives it a wonderful northern aspect and wide views across the Bay to the city. It’s a real gem.
  • The land is part of a Waitangi treaty settlement. When I came to Devonport it was occupied by shoddy 2 storeyed accommodation blocks for Navy wives, whose partners were often away on ships. How the world has changed! Our navy ships are now fewer and smaller and crewed by women, including wives of Navy personnel.
  • I’m heartened by Ngarimu Blair’s comments that more population means more people to use public transport. More use brings the propect of more regular ferries and bus services. It’s all about critical mass.
  • Even better, Ngarimu is putting out the message that future widening on Lake Rd will be for dedicated bus lanes, rather than more car capacity. Next up, Ngarimu, mention the new segregated connected cycle lane we want from Devonport to Takapuna
  • I’m saddened that Devonport residents continue to put their faith in cars using Lake Rd to service our peninsula. The road has been congested since I came here decades ago, and just gets worse as more families resort to driving more and fail to see the benefits of living in a community with good water transport. The funny thing is that no one sees themselves as part of the problem. (“It’s those cyclists who want a cycle lane ….. that car in front, that’s slowing me down….”)
  • I agree we need to be careful about design and scale of new buildings. As a planner I know only too well how often our architectural friends (and their masters in the development sector) get this wrong.

Residents’ concern about the Ngati Whatua project is part of wider public opposition to the Unitary Plan’s proposal to increase housing densities in the area north of Ngataringa Rd. ( These suburbs of North Devonport – Belmont and Hauraki Corner are newer areas, where heritage protection is not a constraint).

Outrage about higher density has consistently highlighted congestion problems on Lake Rd, the only road serving the Devonport Peninsula. Blinkered vision means no one thinks that this could be an opportunity to provide more patrons for public transport and more frequent services. What a different world it would be if Fullers Ferries ran to Bayswater and Devonport every 15 minutes for alot of the day. And if we had smart mini-buses serving these, to avoid the seas of parked cars that now extend along every road around the Devonport Ferry.

We have the busiest cycle way on the Shore on Lake Rd. It is disjointed and disconnected, but increasing numbers of people use it to reach ferries, schools and local workplaces. We have 120 bike parks at the Devonport ferry, and need many, many more. They are such an economical use of foreshore land compared with the unsightly expanse of parked cars on our prime waterfront space.Devonport bike parking

A shift in thinking is coming – slowly. I welcome Ngati Whatua’s move to be part of the innovation to help people in Devonport see that change is not to be feared and resisted, but may make for a stronger, more connected community. Roll on the critical mass and frequent bus and ferry services that will be part of that change.

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