The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
November 24, 2008

Mauled Mall – Bus Route

As you’ve probably noticed, the WCC is canvassing for opinions on the proposed change to the bus route through Manners Mall.

mannerssunshaft.jpg

We’re a bit surprised how little public dialogue there has been so far on the proposal – and so we thought we’d open up a place for your informal dialogue and discussion to go. The picture above is of Manners Mall, taken on the corner of Cuba, just a few days after mid-winter. Its a little after lunchtime, and so the afternoon sun is streaming into the mall, keeping those pedestrians happy. Seems  like a nice place to walk, no? Or better as a route to drive a bus down?

The premise is simple: buses to be re-routed so that they no longer do the dog-leg through Mercer-Victoria-Wakefield-Cuba-Manners-Courtenay, but instead they’ll continue along Willis a bit longer, and take a turn straight down Manners to Courtenay.

mallplan.jpg

Simple on the face of it, but what is behind it – what is it really for? The Council is very keen on connecting up the 2 parts of the Golden Mile – at present it is a little disjointed – and they commissioned a scoping report earlier (the Jones Lang LaSalle – Spargo report), that had this to say:

There would be a substantial cost in resources and time in redevelopment of the current streetscape… a large proportion of the funding for this would ultimately come from the community. Therefore, robust and defensible analysis on the impacts to change the current status quo will need to be undertaken to mitigate any negative public feedback……  Proposed bus stops … could cause congestion…. Pedestrian flows and retail spend … may not organically increase… incentives for people to actually stop in the area will need to be investigated…. Noise, possible pollution from diesels… may diminish the existing amenity value of premises in Manners Mall.  

None of which greatly add to its attractiveness to be sure! However, on the more positive side, the report noted that:

The number of ‘impulse buying’ retail premises in the precinct could change if transport networks are changed or introduced… The adaptation of current bus routes through Manners Mall provides a quicker and more practical route though the CBD. This could reduce transit times for commuters… The proposed changes on introducing buses through Manners Mall could be beneficial for future introduction of light-rail.  

Now that’s interesting. That’s the first real mention of possible Light Rail we’ve seen since the white wash report that is the GRWC Ngaraunga to Airport rubbish ‘consultation’. There’s also a lot in the report regarding Malls Re-Opened to Traffic in Australia:

approx 48 malls were constructed during the 1960s and 1970s, mostly in NSW. Since that time, 10 malls have been removed and the future of others is under consideration… Comments included: Increase in property values, increase in retail turnover, reduction in crime, vacant sites decreased dramatically, etc.  

That intrigues me – I can imagine those being valid concerns if indeed Manners Mall currently had low Pedestrian counts, but at present it has the distinction of having the second highest pedestrian count in the whole of Wellington (Lambton Quay counts for 4 out of the top 5 spots in wellington – and indeed, Lambton Quay has the highest counts in the whole of New Zealand). And indeed that comes to the nub of my suspicions: Manners Mall, although it may be full of baby-goths and mock-punks, fluoro-emos and squealing teens, is still a fantastic traffic-free zone for pedestrian perambulation. It enables Wellington to have the enviable position of being able to get from Parliament to the top of Cuba St without crossing any streets: from Bowen, along Lambton and Willis, to Manners with narry a crossing (Woodward doesn’t count). Trams used to run this way before, so buses will be able to run this way again, although it certainly doesn’t feel like it is wide enough. But trams even went up Cuba St once, apparently. Hard to believe, I know, dodging the Bucket fountain and all. Joking! Enough already. More info at the Cuba Street Memories Project if you’re interested.

manners_street_postcard.jpg

Is the real reason the Council is proposing this: to rid the street of the emo crowd who hang out in front of the Burger King and the Regent Cinemas? Surely not. Is the real reason to save us a 2 minute extra slot on our ride home? Despite a cost of millions? Feedback to the Council is needed by Friday 5 December. Click here for WCC.Or you can post your comments here if you wish.

But what do the pedestrians of the city get back in return? The Mall would be turned into a bus only 2-way street, so no cars allowed – not even taxis. And the existing part of Manners, opposite DoC house (the old Mid-City) would convert to being 2 way as well. Which means therefore that the crunch point comes back to the corner of Boulcott, Manners and Willis. The corner’s a nightmare now (well, that’s overly dramatic, but it’s certainly not a highpoint of any bus trip through town).

It would be nice if Dixon St was converted into pedestrian only in return for losing Manners Mall, and in a way, it would be a better swap for the city. Imagine if Te Aro Park only had a road on one side of it, instead of the ridiculous wind-blown wedge that it is now. Take away Dixon St at that point and have trattoria opening out onto the sunny pavement, on the edge of a small urban park! The Dixon St Deli, Wishbone, Subway, Hope Bros, Bambalina, Habebe, 4 Kings, Curry Club, etc etc are there waiting – even the Santa Fe stripclub could get a leg up in life, instead of just a leg over.

And Terry Serepisos and his hideous mirror glass Disney castle on the old Deka site – even that could get a sunny pedestrian site (and hopefully a do-over) before they start. Just one thing of course: the cars. They’ll have to go too – my pick is Wakefield St, or Ghuznee St, but let’s get them out of Dixon St. So: comments please! Or better still – could someone with great photoshop talents whip up a quick rendering of Dixon St as a car free zone? Aren’t all the landscape students sitting around twiddling their thumbs at present? Any volunteers?

down_cuba.jpg

Monday
24 - 11 - 08

I’m not so wedded to Manners Mall. From a pedestrian perspective, I actually prefer Manners street—it’s more intimate and leafy, and it feels more active (like the gushing river that flows into the lake, if you will–though perhaps I do not see enough of either in action outside of mornings and weekends to pass judgement).

That said, the loss of pedestrian only space does need to be compensated for, and I’d vote (still in that election mindset) for your Dixon street option. It would tie into the successful Cuba Mall in a way that Manners never could and it would have the sun that Manners never will.

My only real concern in the changes to manners mall how to resolve the conflict between pedestrian thoroughfare and waiting bus patrons. For example, Lower Cuba is a similar sized street and doesn’t provide a decent pedestrian experience whilst at the same time providing a space to wait for buses. Maybe it’s fun for people to play street tango with each other?

The bus stop vs. pedestrian flow isn’t a problem at the end of Courtenay or at points along Lambton Quay, but this is thanks to segregating the two with the large amount space available. I’d be interested in some options on resolving this in a cramped environment. It’s Wellington—we should be able to do this no sweat!

Kaihuia
24 - 11 - 08

Manners Mall a “fantastic traffic-free zone”? I don’t think so. It’s a dismal failure as a pedestrian street; utterly charmless, treeless, with the ‘street life’ of a suburban shopping strip. The current street furniture looks like it’s from a supermax exercise yard, and the coloured lights in the paving are as classy as the sequins on a pair of Shoe Warehouse vinyl platforms. Why is it so bad, when Cuba Mall (more or less) works? Even the lowest part of Cuba, just around the corner from Manners, is strangely better. Perhaps it ‘s just the trees. Perhaps it’s that Manners Mall is almost completely lined with shit architecture. Whatever the reasons, it doesn’t work, so let’s get rid of it so it doesn’t continue to undermine the case for developing more pedestrian streets where they might work (e.g. lower Cuba, Blair and Allen streets).

It’s a good idea to look at the potential of Dixon St. At some point, surely, the council will have to acknowledge that Te Aro Park is a design disaster; a makeover is well overdue and it could incorporate more of the street space on Dixon. (In my dreams, the council buys the Oaks, tears it down and creates the central park that Wellington sorely lacks …). The council, however, wants to use freed-up space on Dixon St for carparking; 45 angle parks, to be precise, which they think will bring in $250K a year. The fact that we don’t need any more street parking downtown – that we should be dissuading people from driving into the city centre, rather than soliciting them – will probably be overlooked for the sake of ‘offsetting’ the redevelopment costs. I for onw will be submitting against it, but we all know how much attention they pay.

Alex
24 - 11 - 08

I definitely like the idea, but I certainly would like some pedestrian compensation somewhere else. Either Mercer St linking to Civic Square but would prefer Te Aro Park with a demoished Oaks.

That bus route dog leg is really crap, it’s not 2 minutes, it’s sometimes 10 seconds and sometimes 5 minutes heading towards Willis. Where as heading towards Courtney I actually walk from Lambton Quay to Lower Cuba and board there as I can’t stand sitting in stationary traffic in a bus with the windows painted over by advertisments.

The benefits are so obvious IMO while I quite regularly walk through Manners Mall I don’t ever stop and sit there. But I’ve got to admit there’s a lot of foot traffic, it would alter what sort of businesses work it certain areas and some people will loose out, but it would benefit public transport.

rondo
24 - 11 - 08

Well yes, the pavement and the lights don’t work – ok – are a total failure, but the key thing is that the orientation of the street is perfect for late afternoon sun – one of the few spaces in Wellington that face that direction, and so it has a sun aspect that is different from other places. Surely that is not enough to condemn it to bus-dom? Wouldn’t it be worth keeping it as a pedestrian place?

greenwelly
24 - 11 - 08

Manners mall’s main problem is that region of town is not a destination, but more of a corridor that you pass through, (on your way to Lambton, or Courtenay, or Cuba, It it mainly a meeting point, but rarely do you stay there.
Ever since the closure of the Mid city cinema, and the slow death of the regent, it has essentially stagnated.

I actually think that re-opening it to bus traffic will improve the vibe, it will concentrate the “active edges” to the footpaths rather than having it dispersed over the whole street. yes it will remove some public space, but on the whole I think that it will be worth it. The council spent millions repaving and installing the “street furniture”, and it has not changed the atmosphere much.

It might also encourage some of the building owners to fix the leaking verandas too :)

DeepRed
24 - 11 - 08

Kaihuia: Agree on Te Aro Park and th e Oaks Complex, they haven’t stood the test of time very well.

If the Regent goes under, maybe the Rialto will have an opportunity to re-enter the Wellington market. They got displaced by the Watermark Apartment development, and tried to find an alternate Welly venue to no avail.

Maybe the Michael Fowler end of Cuba St should be pedestrianised, in keeping with Cuba Mall.

Robyn
24 - 11 - 08

Manners Mall is a good pedestrian space, but it’s just not as much fun to walk down as Cuba Mall is, yet somehow the other bits of Manners Street are fine. So ultimately I wouldn’t be sad if Manners Mall was opened back to traffic.

I just rang up my mum – her first job was in the ANZ on Manners Street (where that kebab place is now) back in ’57. I asked her what it was like back then. She said there was much less traffic on the road back then, and, of course, there was no Victoria Street cutting through. Ah!

I like the idea of Dixon Street being converted to pedestrian traffic, but what would happen to the non-bus traffic that normally goes down there? But if this did happen, I don’t think the Oaks should be demolished and turned to park. Doing that would leave that side of Cuba Mall open and exposed, killing the intimate street mall environment. Rather, I’d like to see the Oaks renovated or totally rebuilt as shops/restaurants/etc that fully engage with the street and surrounding park.

richard maclean
24 - 11 - 08

This posted on behalf of Councillor Andy Foster, the City Council’s Urban Development and Transport Portfolio Leader:

I agree with your correspondents who say the Manners Mall ‘doesn’t work’ – but I must stress, in response to some suggestions, that the Council isn’t proposing such a comprehensive revamp of the area just to get rid of a bunch of emos and other teens. Even we’re not that petty and pathetic.
The real reason is about contributing to the steady upgrade of bus services through the CBD. Most people heading to and from the suburbs on the bus during rush-hour know that it’s probably as fast to walk from Lambton Quay to Courtenay Place (and vice-versa) on many days as it is to go by bus.
We all know that parts of the Golden Mile are narrow – particularly the Manners and Willis Street sections – and the dog-legs and traffic lights and uncontrolled pedestrian crossings and conflicts with other traffic make the going frustrating for bus drivers and passengers.
Rerouting the buses back into Manners Street will help speed up the route and streamline some of the choke points like the Manners/Willis/Boulcott intersection (which is a nightmare for northbound buses and general traffic alike).
Every improvement we can make will help speed up buses through the CBD and hopefully convince more people to use public transport rather than brings cars into town. Critically these improvements will help make the service more reliable – so the 5.35 to Island Bay doesn’t, for example, end up as the 5.55.
There was a mention about how the route might be suitable for future light-rail. This is true – and trainspotters will confirm that trams used to glide round the corner (past the glorious old Duke of Edinburgh hotel) from Willis into Manners – which is a more gentle bend than Willis into Mercer Street or Wakefield into Cuba Street.
The light-rail debate is on another level altogether than the debate over whether to run public transport through Manners Mall. While it would be great to replace noisy diesel buses with sleek, silent trams that could potentially sweep people out to the Airport, there is of course the matter of cost – and how such a system would itegrate with the bus routes from suburbs not served by light-rail.
Would I, for example, still be able to get the No 3 bus from Karori and ride it all the way to Lyall Bay – or would I have to jump off at Bowen Street and then wait for a light rail train/tram? And what would be the priority for light-rail spending? A route to Newtown? Or to the Airport? And would people rushing to the Airport want to get on a tram that would meander its way through the CBD and Newtown, stopping every minute or so?
I must admit I like the discussions about a possible reuse or pedestrianisation of Dixon Street. It is sunny and, dare I say it, it might allow the Council to take another look at Te Aro Park. The plans do include widening footpaths and softening up Dixon Street – and it would certainly be a more pleasant place without the buses. They also include more pedestrian space in Cuba and Mercer streets and helping pedestrians by closing the right-turn from Victoria Street into Manners Street west. However a complete closure of Dixon Street to cars would obviously have implications for cross-town traffic – so we’d obviously have to do the numbers on how other streets might be affected.
I detect a certain amount of cynicism among one or two of your correspondents regarding the consultation exercise on the Manners proposal. I get the impression some punters think we’ll pay no attention to their views. This is just not true.
We do think that allowing buses back through Manners Street is very much the best option available to improve services through the CBD. We are also anxious to improve the pedestrian environment as a whole across the CBD, and in this instance there’s also the rare ability to provide more on-street shopper parking. That won’t often be the case when combined with public-transport/cycling improvements.
The more feedback the Council gets, the more we like it – especially if it’s coming from people who are energised by topics like transport and public urban design. So please get your feedback in to us.
PS congratulations to the people behind Eye of the Fish. It’s a great forum for the dissemination of views on important issues that don’t always manage to get a decent run in the mainstream media.

Councillor Andy Foster
Urban Development and Transport Portfolio Leader
Wellington City Council.

Celia
24 - 11 - 08

Great to have the discussions on Manners Mall and the bus route possibility. Tonight (Monday 28th Nov) Living Streets Wellington is hosting a meeting (6 p.m. at Wellington City Council Committee Rooms) on this very issue. We’ll look at the plans and if the weather is encouraging, walk along the Manners end of the route! Do come along!

PLEASE have your say by 5th December – http://wellington.govt.nz/haveyoursay/publicinput/golden-mile-2008-11.html shows the proposal and background info!

erentz
24 - 11 - 08

Awesome to see some feedback from the councillors on here. :)

I’m a little dissapointed to see that this option has lept forward as the only option, as opposed to say, simply closing down some parts of the existing routes in order to speed up bus services. Something like that could even be trialled for a few weeks with some simple barriers and signs in order to see the benefits before actual construction work was carried out.

It *appears* from this proposal that public transport is being improved at the expense of pedestrian space, because there is an unwillingness to achieve the same aims via a reduction in vehicle traffic instead.

In fact, the proposal is traffic inducing, with the extra 50 car parks, making the traffic situation in the CBD worse. Not to mention, if intended as a compromise, imaging just how much more difficult now it is going to be in 10 years to remove those car parks!? You don’t cure a junkie’s addiction by upping his/her dose.

Worse still, vehicles will not be prohibited from Manners Street!

It may well be that the proposed route is the best route for a public transport, but the public/pedestrian space it supplants must surely be replaced elsewhere to an equivelent level (if not for a net gain). Instead the proposal is to take from pedestrians so there can be more car parks.

Also, surely it is best to look to the future, identify and plan for the public transport routes through the city, any difference in routes used by busses or LRT, and then over time build towards that vision so there is less going back and rebuilding as the routes/requirements change. Instead this feels very ad-hoc. Would rather see consultation about the public transport corridor in general and a plan for that first before such a change as this.

KLK
24 - 11 - 08

Have to agree erentz – I fail to see why we need to give an incentive for more people to drive into the CBD, by virtue of 50 additional street carparks.

DavidP
24 - 11 - 08

If it is faster to walk from Lambton Quay to Courtenay Place than to take the bus, then why not let people walk? Walking is far more environmentally friendly than vehicles… either ones that puff noxious gases out their exhaust or ones that generate their pollution at a remote site. I’d prefer planning that made Wellington a pleasant city to walk around, rather than one that encouraged people to speed around in buses.

But, having said that…

I love the idea of pedestrianising/landscaping Dixon Street. I’m rather fond of Eva and Egmont Streets which strike me as very Melbourne-like and could be incorporated in to a scheme. You could also extend a park around the corner in to Taranaki Street and clean up the tatty area where the bungy gadget is.

If you bulldozed the Oaks, then you could locate a couple of single story cafes in the park area with alfresco seating for fine days.

Maximus
24 - 11 - 08

Very nice indeed to get some comments from the WCC in here – i know they’re reasonably frequent visitors, good to have the comments. Thanks Andy and Richard and Celia. Do come again.

It’d be good to have some comments in here from the goths and emos as well, although possibly they communicate via mobile phone only. I wonder if they could text into here? Its good to hear that the Council isn’t doing all this just to get rid of the teens. After all, you could do the same just by playing Country and Western music real loud….

But more seriously: Vans. They’re up and down the street / Mall at present, parking on the pavers with their hazards flashing. Presumably therefore they have no back entrance to the retail outlets on Manners at present. Therefore, as Erentz notes, vehicles will still be allowed in the Mall (aside from buses). Now i haven’t gone out there with my measuring tape, but the street looks narrow – it may have taken 2 trams happily (as shown in the postcard above) but the modern buses are much wider. And really, seriously, there isn’t going to be much room for any delivery vans to stop in there at all. But if they have to deliver any goods, they’ll be there, flashing away, holding up the traffic, stopping the trolley buses with their pesky little red vans. And never mind the 44 tonne 18 wheelers that delivers burgers and buns each day to the following big three: McD’s, BK, and KFC. Nom nom!

Do i taste a traffic jam coming up?

Maximus
24 - 11 - 08

Oh – and: one more thing. Wellingtonista have just announced the finalists for Best Public Space.
http://www.wellingtonista.com/the-tawas-best-public-space#comments

And guess what is on the list….? Do check it out!

greenwelly
24 - 11 - 08

Maximus, The KFC in the middle has fled, only leaving the BK and McDs both of which can be serviced by their respective side streets, But I agree with you on the Vans, it seems to be the place to be if you are a courier wanting a cup of coffee before 8am on a weekday

DavidP
24 - 11 - 08

Max>Its good to hear that the Council isn’t doing all this just to get rid of the teens.

I don’t see anything particularly emo relevant in the mall to attract them. So I assume they’re there by habit, and will be happy to move around the corner to Cuba Street.

Either that or a bus will squash one, and anyone lucky enough to film the event will get millions of hits on YouTube.

Robyn
24 - 11 - 08

If you look at the photo that illustrates the Wellingtonista post, you’ll (faintly) see another group using Manners Mall: South American football kids. They were having a jolly kick-around on Sunday!

Where will they play football once the mall is gone?

DeepRed
24 - 11 - 08

KFC has just closed their Manners Mall branch, so the goods loading may be less of an issue. It’s possible that Christeson Ln, off Dixon St, is a service lane for the southern side of Manners Mall. And possibly Cornhill St for the northern side.

Google Maps – Manners Mall

fog
24 - 11 - 08

I love the idea of Manners St becoming the bus route again. But I do not support Dixon being pedestrian only.

What I’d like to see is the Oaks dropped and Pigeon / Te Aro park being extended to Cuba St. The resulting space would be a real city square.

Kaihuia, apparently the city already owns the Oaks and I understand extended its lease for 20 years only a couple of years ago (can someone from WCC confirm this?).

Philip
24 - 11 - 08

I wonder if a European-style shared street would be appropriate for Manners – a way of minimizing the harm to pedestrian activity, while also allowing bus access. By this I mean that the area is kept largely as it is, with paving at a consistent level and material (but perhaps with a colour to roughly show the lane widths, and with the street furniture shifted slightly sideways).

It seems that the amount of bus traffic through the space would be relatively minor, perhaps not enough to prevent pedestrians crossing easily (especially during the bus-light weekend periods). For example you rarely need to wait to cross on Dixon st, and thats with both bus and car traffic present.

If this would be the case, pedestrians could maintain a fairly intense co-habitation with the buses. Although it would seem that removing that which flags a space as a road (asphalt, change in level etc) would lead to safety hazards, it is often found that the opposite is true (people are more cautious in such atypical settings).

Dixon st as car-free seems desirable, but its hard to picture it becoming a thriving public space without the redevelopment of Te Aro park, and a slight change – or addition – to the retail stores present.

RE: landscape students, thumbs, twiddling…. I’ll see what I can do. Will need to rely on flickr to find a decent photo though, as I’m out of the city. Also, students arent the only portion of academia that are (supposedly) thumbs-a-twiddling.

Maximus
25 - 11 - 08

DeepRed – I noticed that KFC had ripped their fitout out, but I presumed that was just the first stage of an expansion into the ex-Lotto shop. Have they really gone, never to come back? That’s a loss of a really captive market…

Philip – the women on the Council explanation stall the other day said that the intention was for the lower part of Cuba St, and part of Dixon St, was to become more like “Blair and Allen St” ie a more pedestrian and restaurant friendly part of town. Which is probably an admirable suggestion, except that to me those streets seem more car-friendly than pedestrian friendly. The cars are everywhere, noses hanging over the supposed pavement edge making it difficult at times to walk there, and if you walk down the middle of the street they don’t like that much either. It mostly works, but not totally. Less cars would help a lot.

One thing that would be good from our ever-helpful Council watchers: some commentary on the post about the proposed Fly-Over. Feel free to comment – it would be interesting to know an official take on it: http://eyeofthefish.org/no-fly-zone/

M-D
25 - 11 - 08

Allowing traffic through won’t make an iota of difference to pedestrian flows through the mall, as, unless other ways are developed (and even then its doubtful that you will drag people from the shortest route), people still have to walk there to get from a to b. It is the congregation spaces that will be affected, but in my view the existing ones are appalling anyway: Manners Mall was a much better pedestrian environment before the most recent refurbishment, which seemed to be designed to prevent loitering – even the seats are so designed as to not encourage group sitting – a purpose-designed pedestrian transit zone if you will…

But I have to admit, that while Manners Street between Victoria and Willis has a nice to feel to it, however, those diesel buses foul that up with their fumes and racket. Working on the ground floor of that street (as I have) is not a healthy working environment to say the least. If the Council really want to make a difference, then they could ensure that as few diesels as possible use the inner city routes.

So, I have no objection to them converting the Mall to allow buses, but only because it won’t offer any disadvantages to the current poorly designed space – and there are even environmental arguments to be made in favour of it. But, a more thoughtfully designed public space would be more desirable though.

rondo
25 - 11 - 08

M-D, you may be right (i may be crazy), but Dixon may just be the pedestrian route you’re looking for. If they put buses through Dixon, I’m not going to walk this way.

M-D
25 - 11 - 08

rondo – much of the pedestrian traffic through Manners is heading to/from the Cuba Street buses, or on to Courtenay Place. I’d suggest that these punters would continue to use Manners no matter what parts of Dixon were pedestrianised (and certainly if it was the Te Aro Park part, then that is not even a route replacement option in those terms). You may get some of the pedestrians who are heading up to Cuba, but that would depend a lot upon the legibility of the alternative route, and currently, the part of Victoria Street between manners and Dixon is pretty weak. I think it is a pretty dangerous move to put a pedestrian mall in a traditionally low foot-traffic area – I can’t think of any successful examples (but I can think of a lot of unsuccessful ex-malls having been put back into streets – apparently quite the thing in Australia at the moment).

If you could make it work, that option would remove a component of foot traffic from the Manners/Dixon part of Cuba Mall also, making it of questionable viability.

Changes to networks have to be pretty well thought through, and my position is that what WCC are proposing doesn’t actually affect the network to a great degree – so is not that bad as an option, given the benefits to the PT network.

While I appreciate that there is a lack of pedestrian only public space in Wellington (aside from the Waterfront), I don’t see the need to replace Manners Mall with a pedestrian only zone either. It has to be remembered that streets are public spaces, and I for one would like to see much more attention paid to creating high quality pedestrian environments in our existing streets than to return to 70s experiments (with low success rates) in pedestrian mall planning…

Think of the difference between Paris’s network of beautiful boulevards and streets (it really is the street environment that makes Paris for me, not it’s squares, malls, plazas etc…) – great for wandering around the city as an urban flaneur, discovering new things in new places, etc, etc. Compare with Copenhagen’s Stroget pedestrian only spine – for maximised high street shopping efficacy – where stepping of the golden mile is rarely done, and with so little reward to make it worthwhile…

electric
25 - 11 - 08

Part of the problem with Manners Mall is the east-west alignment- most of the year it is in perpetual gloom even on a sunny day. Cuba Mall is much better in that regard. More trees would not help matters any.

As a bus user I feel the money would be better spent on priority signaling for traffic lights and repositioning bus stops to lessen congestion. This would massively speed up the bus route through town.

Also if we do lose Manners Mall as a pedestrian zone, there MUST be a quid pro quo.

Mello C
25 - 11 - 08

I sent a proposal to the WCC asking them if they’ve considered monorail.

Maximus
25 - 11 - 08

Aaaah, Electric – i beg to differ with you on that. Sun depends entirely on time of day. Therefore, while Cuba is much better at lunchtimes, its not so good at, say, 3, 4 or 5pm. That’s where Manners comes into its own. And arguably, that’s where the current District Plan falls woefully short.

Currently, open spaces (of which there are only a few, protected spaces), (and not counting roads, because despite them being open, they’re not really spaces for people), are protected for sun shine only between the hours of 12 and 2. That’s an incredibly blinkered way of thinking in today’s much-changed world. The rule was made when living in the city was unusual, or unheard of, and today we have over 10,000 people living in the city. Often with flexible working hours, and certainly who may like to sit in a reasonable outdoor space in the weekend. At any time of the day.

The problem with this is that developers planning developments near open spaces can get their architects to show that no shade is caused by their building between 12 and 2. The new Duel on Vivian is such a case: the top floor was reduced in order to guarantee the sun into Cobblestone Park between 12 and 2. But compare that with the proposed Columbard (21 stories high?) which is meant to one day sit at the end of Manners Mall: not a drop of shade between 12 and 2, so the height isn’t affected, but a massive potential shading problem later in the day. Much the same, I understand, as the proposed Athfield-designed tower on Customhouse Quay: at about 5 minutes past 2, the shadows start coming over the new Kumutoto Plaza on the waterfront. Now arguably, Manners, Cobblestone, and Kumutoto are all examples of good all-day outdoor areas. And we should be more mindful and careful of that.

M-D
25 - 11 - 08

Re: quid pro quo – despite what many think, one of the best aspects of Cuba Mall is that it is bounded and intersected by automotive traffic routes – thus providing round the clock natural surveillance well into the mall from each end. Pedestrianising Dixon Street would potentially raise issues be decreasing this surveillance, especially outside of business hours (and I mean the night business of the mall as well). It is real easy to say quid pro quo, but a little harder to think through all of the consequences…

maximus: “and not counting roads, because despite them being open, they’re not really spaces for people”

…and that is exactly my point – until we can accept that roads (well, streets actually) are public spaces – spaces for people, including pedestrians, then we will be stuck relying on squares and malls where and when we can get them, and awful pedestrian environments in between. My quid pro quo demand would be better street environments, which adequately recognise and celebrate the public space nature of our streets…

A.J.Chesswas
25 - 11 - 08

“Is the real reason the Council is proposing this: to rid the street of the emo [“baby-goths and mock-punks, fluoro-emos and squealing teens”] crowd who hang out in front of the Burger King and the Regent Cinemas?”

To be honest, Manners is the oesophagus of Wellington City, and the aforementioned crowd certainly don’t make it any prettier. Wellington City does not need a playground, but as long as the mall space is there that is all it will be. If this is WCC’s only reason for transforming Manners Mall then I think good on them.

Seamonkey Madness
25 - 11 - 08

It may have slipped peoples minds, but if the great unwashed want two-way electric PT (it whatever mode it may come) through there, they will have to put up with the set of overhead wires that comes with it.

Some won’t mind (they may even encourage and love them), but others won’t want their unspoiled viewshaft changed not matter what the benefits.

Just sayin’ is all… ^_^

rondo
25 - 11 - 08

M-D : as far as i am aware, there is only one person in Wellington who accepts that a road is an open space for enjoying… and that’s Blanket Man. If you want to dress like that and jiggle around in a loincloth on a traffic island, you’re welcome to it. The rest of us, I believe, will leave roads up to the car, and keep the parks and playgrounds for the people…

M-D
25 - 11 - 08

I’m not sure why you keep referring to ‘road’ in preference to ‘street’ – either you are (perhaps mischievously in terms of supporting your argument?) referring to just the road carriage-way part of the street, or are you simply observing the city from a car yourself? Either way, streets have always been included in any definition of public space, whether they happen to carry automotive traffic or not…

rondo
25 - 11 - 08

road? street? its all the same to me. No mischief intended mate. avenue, close, crescent – whatever: its all tarmac and asphalt

Mello C
25 - 11 - 08

AJ: “To be honest, Manners is the oesophagus of Wellington City, and the aforementioned crowd certainly don’t make it any prettier.”

I’d rather have scene kids in my Manners St than cars in my mall. If the redevelopment discourages them from being there, they will find another place to go.

gary
25 - 11 - 08

AJC: I can’t believe you’re being so mean to the emos. Don’t they already have enough problems? Like their sexuality AND their pimples? Not to mention their parents and the other kids at school. Its like the whole world is against them. Keep on like that and you’ll give them a complex, like they’re being persecuted or something, and they’ll have to give up their piercing fetish. And then they’ll go all postal with a BB gun or something.

DavidP
25 - 11 - 08

>Like their sexuality AND their pimples? Not to mention their parents and the other kids at school.

Having to write sad self-pitying poetry can’t be easy!

Nathan
25 - 11 - 08

Hey, don’t talk you understand them.
NO-ONE understands emos (not even themselves).

Robyn
26 - 11 - 08

Wellington City does not need a playground

Quite right. The city is far too serious for such events as playing.

I propose that Wellington city be a protected area, allowing only the following activities:
buying things
going to work
making organic meals
drinking coffee
looking for a car park

Anyone wanting to “play” should go to Lower Hutt or Porirua.

SBK
26 - 11 - 08

Firstly, 38 comments and counting has to be a good thing. I have been so happy over the last few years to see an increase in public (at least bloggingwise) comments about such important issues. In Wellington as much as anywhere the wrong/ill informed decision may take 50 years+ to rectify. So thanks again to EOTF and the previous WellUrban for helping this along

Like many commentors I am happy to see Manners Mall sensitively designed into to a PT only street. The only real downside I see is the potential loss of access to street with good sunlight (I did a few sun studies years ago and it really does have ok access to sun for a Wellington street) however given the way the street is used as such a thoroughfare without many people stopping to enjoy, this can not be a bad loss?

Perhaps making Manners and Dixon the same type of street – pedestrian priority rather than pedestrian only with access to PT on Manners and regular traffic on Dixon is the way to go?

However none of this solves the quality of building fronting the street and the activities within that have just as big an impact (often more) than the quality of streetscape and size of footpaths….

If the wish list gets extended (and I have no real hope of this) Then accepting the total failure of Te Aro Park (aside from whatever artistic merit it has -which speaking to a few artists and curators may indeed be high?) and to create a building[s] over Te Aro park (think NYC Flat Iron but well integrated to the street perhaps with through links) And then demolish the Oaks for a large Central park, protected but with excellent access to Cuba Mall. It would also be a good link to the chain of small public spaces along the golden Mile –think the small spaces along Lambton Quay, Victoria St, Cuba Mall, Courtenay Place Park, end of Courtenay Place etc?….

Maximus
26 - 11 - 08

SBK – nice to see you here and thanks for the comments. I’m interested that there is quite a bit of support for the demolition of the Oaks and the revamp of Te Aro Park, but you’re the first to suggest that we build a FlatIron type building there. I’d agree that is a fantastic building, but for me, personally, it would be a shame to build a large structure on the park. And while I know that lots of people say Te Aro Park is awful, but its been there like that longer than I have – what did it look like before? It was called Pigeon Park – so presumably no recognition of the Te Aro Pa remains below. Can anyone direct me to images of its previous incarnation?

The redevelopment of the Oaks and the Te Aro Park are perennial favourites up at the schools of Architecture and Landscape Architecture – the exhibition is still on by the way on Vivian St – and several people have had a go this year at a new design or building on the site – none with a great deal of success in my humble Fish eyes, but all of them worthy because of the interesting proposals they raise.

Maximus
26 - 11 - 08

One of the interesting things about helping run this website, is that we get to see who posts to it (discretion assured), and links to it (thanks Blackbird and Poneke), aside from having to clear out the spam every day (over 3400 spam since we started – and now it has moved on from Nigerian to Russian, but the quality of their spelling is just as bad – and who ever knew that people would want to do that with their… never mind). So: a recent link to the Eye of the Fish is from a group in Italy, and they’ve got a nice urban design scheme up on their page at the moment: http://skyminoshouse.blogspot.com/2008/11/milano-porta-nuova-lifestyle.html

M-D
26 - 11 - 08

SBK – “However none of this solves the quality of building fronting the street and the activities within that have just as big an impact (often more) than the quality of streetscape and size of footpaths….”

I like the cut of your gib – and in terms of your extended wish-list, think your general concept is sound and admirable. Nevertheless, I too would be sad to lose Te Aro Park (although I agree that it is a much better art installation than a public space. The Oaks complex is a dog of a building, and rightly belongs in a Christchurch suburb rather than a central city location (thanks WAM) – I’d have no remorse to see the end of that. A flatiron type building is an evocative concept, but given the scale of our city, would probably look oddly truncated – part of the building’s x-factor is its proportions rather than just that angle…

rondo – “road? street? its all the same to me” – there’s a discussion not worth continuing…

Alex
26 - 11 - 08

By Flat-Iron building I assume you just mean an attractive building built on the triangle of Te Aro park (With The Oaks becoming a new park).

We already have good examples of this in Wellington in the MLC building in the city and the ‘triangle’ building in Newtown. I was thinking that I have little faith in modern developers to replicate something as good and we’d just end up with something crappy like a triangle shaped Oaks that ages 100 years in just 20. But then I had an epiphany and remembered the Summit Apartments in Thorndon, so I have faith that it could be done.

So, you’ve convinced me to change my mind from earlier agreeing with a large Te Aro Park with an Oaks demolished.

erentz
26 - 11 - 08

Here’s the gist of what my submission will be, in case the ideas help anyone else making a submission.

*Relocated bus stops* – Rationalise the existing Manners St, Dixon St, Cuba St, St James, and Courtenay Central bus stops to new bus stops on Manners St alongside Te Aro Park. Fewer bus stops will provide faster bus flow. The location alongside Te Aro Park allows room for busses to pass each other at the stop. This removes obstructions to pedestrians, suchas bus shelters, from what will be a very narrow footpath on the re-designed Manners Mall. The extra room at Te Aro Park would optionally also allow for allocated bays for different routes, further improving the efficiency of bus movements. This could be done at Courtenay Place too.

Optionally (ideally in my opinion, though they doubtlessly don’t have the scope/money to go this far), close Willis Street to general traffic, turn Victoria Street into two way general traffic. Relocate the Willis Street bus stops further south to between Manners St and Mercer St to even out the spacing between bus stops (with the rationalisation proposed above).

*Reducing speed limit* – No brainer, yes. But also on streets that intersect the Golden Mile which pedestrians cross, e.g. the section of Victoria St between Wakefield and Dixon, Cuba St, Tory St. Dixon St should also become 30 kph (at a minimum between Taranaki St and Victoria St).

*Loss of pedestrian space* – There is a net loss of pedestrian space with the removal of Manners Mall. This must be reestablished elsewhere as part of the project. If Willis Street were closed, and Victoria St reverted to two-way as suggested above, Mercer St would become available. Alternatively lower Cuba St should be turned into a mall, connecting Cuba St to Civic Square.

Dixon St should be traffic calmed, and kerb bulbs should be installed allowing increased pedestrian/public space for the likes of cafe seating. In particular the crossing of Cuba Street should be narrowed.

*Traffic on Manners St & Courtenay Plc* – The N2A study promises a dedicated public transport corridor during peak hours. This should be adhered to in the design, and at a minimum traffic should not be allowed on Manners St or Courtenay Plc. Ideally this would extend to all hours. Removing traffic from the bus-way is in alignment with the proposals original intention to improve public transport throughput.

*Utility tunnels* – As part of the manners Mall reconstruction a utility tunnel should be installed. This should be done along the golden mile whenever major works such as this are carried out. This allows services to be installed and maintained without disruption to the busway or pedestrian movement, or damaging the quality of the paving. It facilitates any future option of installing light rail.

*Paving/surface treatment* – High quality pacing — etc. Might fish out some nice examples from overseas for this.

Manners Mall is significantly unlevel. The reconstruction should be high quality, and even the level and camber of Manners Mall as much as reasonable. The central roadway should be level, and allow future conversion to light rail. The footpath on the south side can angle down slightly, the north side up slightly. Over time the south side can be leveled as new building entrances are constructed. (Maybe I’m weird on this one? I just find these kinds of wonky streets really cheap and ugly, and don’t see it done so much overseas.)

*Light rail* – The future placement of light rail should be considered in any construction work.

erentz
26 - 11 - 08

Oh and:

*Parking* – There should be no net gain in parking as parking induces traffic. The new car parks on Dixon St should be offset by the removal of the car parks on lower Cuba St when that is converted to a mall to replace the loss of Manners Mall.

M-D
26 - 11 - 08

Heh – better pavers – what, you don’t like the new Lambton Quay pavers?

Copy “pavement Barcelona” into Google image search, and see how Gaudi did it – they are actually really effective in real life, much more so than the images suggest…

Or check out these Flickr images:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ohchiik/375898649/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/geo-hill/230925165/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rockstro/242728588/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/splodge/1386922355/ – (image by SplodgusMaximus – any relation?)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/goandgo/376820988/ – (not Gaudi)

JJ
26 - 11 - 08

Everyone commenting on the Oaks complex (and rightly so)! However, if one checked with the owner of the complex, I think one would realise that the Oaks is here to stay and unlikely to be redeveloped in the future (as I think the returns could be healthy enough even in its poor state), so we may have to live with it.

fog
26 - 11 - 08

I understand that the City owns the land that the Oaks is on, and that the ‘owner’ JJ mentioned is merely a leaseholder. Can anyone confirm this?

Maximus
26 - 11 - 08

The Oaks was rumoured to have been built as just a temporary building (to last around 10 years or so), same as Dukes Arcade, when the 80s sharemarket / property crash happened. Before my time – anyone care to substantiate that?

But certainly its no beauty, and has a very poor maintenance regime – plus the top floor is a failure, with a massive waste of space occupied by (so rumour has it) just a sex shop, architects office, karaoke bar, night club and a noodle bar. Curious combination – not sure how they are related. So it is worth at least discussing if there are better ways of doing things – if, and likely When, the Oaks are re-developed.

greenwelly
27 - 11 - 08

The Oaks pretty much died when the James Smith Department store vacated the corner site across the road and the walkway over manners street was removed.

I would guess that its future direction (along with most of the area) is fairly much tied to what ever happens to Mr Blackmore’s James Smith’s corner buildings (anyone heard if he did manage to sell last year?)

If they can attract more larger tenants like rebel sport across the road then the Oaks might have a retail future, but if James Smiths has to rely on small owner-operators then I think it and eventually the Oaks site will get apartment-ized in the next property cycle

Robyn
27 - 11 - 08

I think [James Smiths] … will get apartment-ized in the next property cycle

That would be a pity – I like the ramshackle, markety feeling of the building. It reminds me a bit of Affleck’s Palace in Manchester, another old department store that’s been turned into a sort of street market but indoors and on many stories.

I wish it could operate more an an inviting cave of delights.

rondo
27 - 11 - 08

Roger Walker did a scheme a few years ago – maybe 3 years? maybe more – for Blackmore – of some pretty crazy looking apartments. Another 4 stories or so – maybe more. Pretty damn hideous I thought – the master must be losing his touch. But I think they may still have got a Resource Consent – that was in the days before the Council had a Urban Design unit with teeth. Nowadays it would be thrown out – I hope.

I mean, you’d never be allowed to build crap now would you?

Maximus
27 - 11 - 08

Well well ! Someone, at least, feels strongly about something in Manners Mall:

“Rampage in Wellington’s Manners mall”

By CLIO FRANCIS – Stuff.co.nz | Thursday, 27 November 2008

http://www.stuff.co.nz/4775033a11.html

“A man in his 30s went on a rampage through a central Wellington mall today, smashing shop windows, throwing stock and pinching jewellery. The incident happened about 4pm in the busy Manners Mall. At least four shops had their windows smashed.

Michael Hill Jeweler worker Reese Dixon said the man smashed windows in his shop, grabbed handfuls of stock and then threw it across the mall. He estimated the stock to be worth a couple of thousand dollars. Members of the public later returned the jewellery which they’d found in the mall. Another witness said the man smashed the windows of Dick Smith Electronics, went inside and grabbed computer monitors and tossed a laptop out the door.

The witness – who phoned 111 – said the man then left but was “taken down” by three passers-by – aged about in their 40s. He was silent during the rampage.

The police then arrived and took the man away.”

DeepRed
27 - 11 - 08

Rondo: you’re not thinking of the Cuba-Dixon bling bomb?

rondo
27 - 11 - 08

No – definitely on James Smith corner. That bling bomb is pretty heinous though… and that render is so refreshingly free of context…

Lapsed
1 - 12 - 08

Rondo: yes, you’re thinking of the James Smiths building. A consent was issued under the more lenient pre-PC48 regime, and lapsed earlier this year. The applicants applied for an extension, which was turned down because it would have a more than minor effect under the new Central Area rules. The applicants are pushing ahead with their request for an extension, and I believe it’s going to a hearing this very day.

rondo
1 - 12 - 08

I’m happy to testify under oath how minging the proposal is !

DeepRed
1 - 12 - 08

Anyone have a render of the James Smiths proposal?

Robyn
3 - 12 - 08

Back to the topic, some posters have appeared around town urging people to “Save Manners Mall Today!

I was also thinking about one of the council’s aims in the Manners Mall project to “strengthen the Golden Mile”. Wot? It doesn’t really mean anything. It just seems to refer to how nice it would be if the Golden Mile ran straight, rather than bumping out around Manners Mall. A bit feng shui, if you ask me.

erentz
5 - 12 - 08

Yeah the “restoring/strengthening the golden mile” thing seems like a bit of bulshytt (for anyone who is a neal stephenson fan).

emo kid since 1993
4 - 08 - 09

stop talking about us like you know how we feel. We hang out there beacuse it is fun if you change that we will end up hanging round on the streets or somewhere else, we wont go away itl just make it worse. stop hating on us we do actully have feelings. This bus route is going to pollute our air

Maximus
5 - 08 - 09

emo kid – hooray ! you’ve found the posting – and thank you for your comment. Feel free to stay a while and chat – cos there are some things I’ve never understood. You say you “hang out there because it is fun” ? I’ve never understood why that particular corner is more fun than others. Seriously – I would like to know.

emo kid since 1993
12 - 08 - 09

its just fun if you have nouthning to do you go there and at least 5 of ur friends will be there. so if this corner goes away we will just have to change the place where we hang out not just go away and not do anything

The City is Ours
30 - 12 - 09

December 5 2008 submissions received 722 question what do you think of the idea of running buses through Manners Mall: 74% said NO
20% said YES
6% said don’t know

And the winner is……………………………..?

An informed opinion
9 - 01 - 10

http://number1.co.nz/js-apartments/

Here are some renderings of the proposed apartments for James Smiths. Plans may have been updated somewhat. I think you’ll find James Smiths is to once again become a mecca for all of Wellington to visit.