Hamilton central parking increased cost by 15% in 1991

Posted on by 0 comment

Prior to the 1990s, businesses in the Hamilton central area were free to trade without controls over investment in parking.

This changed with the new 1991 City of Hamilton Town Plan – Section 4.0 Vehicles – parking, loading and access (page90)

Parking & Loading 19900s page90-5

And from the same Town Plan – Section 10.0 Central area commercial zones: Objective 5 (page 271)

Parking central area 1991 page271

This policy prohibited new investments in the city centre zone from trading without providing car parking spaces and promised to gift rate payer money to subsidize the doubling of this car parking spending (page 281)

Parking central area 1991 page281

Alternatively, the investor could gift the city council a payment in lieu of parking (page 92)

Parking central area 1991 page92

This is a step change in the cost of investing in the city centre, compared to 1990. The cost of land equalling 160m2 gross floor area (gfa) was about $80,000 in 1990 terms. The 1990s town plan increased the cost of new investment in Hamilton by 15% ($12,000) to $92,000.If we include the $12,000 subsidized parking the rate payer has to contribute to support central city businesses, the real increase is more like 30%, to $104,000.

What future, Hamilton CBD?

Decline_of_Detroit

At times one gets the impression that a large number of Hamilton residents would happily see the Hamilton CBD left to rack and ruin. This is evident not only in opinions given in comments in social media and letters to the editor, but in peoples’ apparent shopping preferences. Yes, we’re talking about The Base, which features an expansive car park ringed by shops and surrounded by a sprawling industrial area, far from any significant concentrations of residents; the would be new (and private) town centre without any townfolk.

Yet given its distance from people and amenities, why do so many shop at The Base and shun the CBD? One cannot ignore that recent low-density greenfields development in Hamilton’s northeast, served by big roads, puts many people in the newer and relatively affluent suburbs at closer proximity to The Base than the CBD. That The Base is shiny and new doesn’t hurt either. And if the abovementioned opinions are to be believed it’s that Hamilton City Council has the audacity to make people pay to use the public roadspace to store their cars on! That last one makes me chuckle, although without a doubt The Base’s hassle-free, no cost parking has real appeal, and especially so when a city has been so singularly developed to prioritise private motor vehicles.

Okay, so far, so car-dependent development of the type we Kiwis are well acquainted with. Retail and jobs far from where people live, necessitating heavy cross-town traffic and obligating most to own and operate private motor vehicles. That car ownership is expensive is nothing new, but when the alternatives are lacking and the city laid out so as to necessitate long distance trips, most readily overlook this drain on time and personal finances because the alternatives seem unthinkable.

Yet apparently Hamilton’s planners and developers see the future in further sprawling, car-dependent ‘burbs on the city fringes, such as Rotokauri and the area to be served by the eyewateringly expensive Southern Links project, which is projected to cost a cool $600 million. And yet, as private motor vehicles continue to decline in popularity at the expense of smartphones, bicycles, scooters, skateboards and shoes, the city may find itself hobbled by the myopia of the current leadership, with so many lifeless cul-de-sacs, congestion befitting a far larger population and the tyranny of non-motorised distance. One wonders if the powers that be think millenials and Gen Y’ers are something only found in other cities.

So what is to be done?

Hamilton’s CBD and The Base are alike in that they would both benefit from larger numbers of people living in closer proximity. Specifically within walking and cycling distance. From the perspective of the CBD, this sidesteps the parking issue and would bring a much-needed vitality to the city streets; I recall visiting Garden Place after having been in the UK for 5 years, and counting a mere 15 or so people in all directions. Admittedly this was January and many would have been on holiday, but the impression was of an overbuilt ghost town.

With so few people anywhere outside business hours, is it any wonder a small number of Hamilton’s increasingly visible homeless population have been able to intimidate passers by and drive even more people to shop at The Base instead? That drunken fights are a regular occurrence in the city streets during the wee hours? That we now need private security personnel and CCTV in the city’s heart?

So how do we get more people to live, work and play where the jobs and amenities are?

In the case of the CBD this means ongoing densification in the inner suburbs, served by safe walking and cycling routes, and apartments in an increasing proportion of its vacant office space. Mixed use development, as described in this excellent documentary from Canada’s CBC News (starting around 14:29). And of course Hamilton City Council also needs to decide what it is going to do with cyclists in the CBD – long overdue!

Meanwhile, The Base, being privately owned, could – if zoning allowed – develop apartments too, and although the distance from amenities might make it a less appealing prospect for many, I’m sure that with some mixed use development and some landscaping many who work there would be happy to live nearby.

And all of Hamilton would benefit from the reduced demand for motor vehicle journeys too. And as residential numbers grew, a busway linking the CBD to The Base would increase the appeal of living in both.

So why isn’t any of this happening yet? Well, in spite of most planners and developers’ apparent tendency to play it safe, to a certain extent it actually is. Some detached houses in the inner suburbs are slowly being converted to multiple-tenant dwellings (although not on the scale of what’s happening around the University), and new developments like The Village Quarter will demonstrate the benefits of mixed-use (homes directly above commercial space) over sleepy dormitory suburbs separated from amenities by long car journeys.

However, we still seem very far from the paradigm change that changing economic and technological conditions are inexorably leading us to. We can only hope that these trends will accelerate as refugees from Auckland’s housing afforability crisis begin to arrive in greater numbers.

Greenwood St traffic count statistics

Posted on by 0 comment

Greenwood St is home to telemetry site 97, one of 117 carefully selected locations around New Zealand that collect continuous data on vehicles per day, helping NZTA to understand travel patterns. This site has been showing year on year growth from when it was installed, the figures being: 2009 (20,099); 2010 (21,744 up 8%); 2011 (22,107 up 1.6%); 2012 (22,599 up 2.2%); 2013 (23,999 up 6.1%); 2014 (24,864 up 4.0%). This represents an average yearly increase of 4.4% over the last 5 years.

Greenwood st looking south 1

There are other traffic counting sites in the Greenwood Street area, some managed by Hamilton City Council and others by NZTA, which show both increases and decreases.

document1

NZTA has published predictions of growth as part of its planning for the Southern Links notice of requirement – NZTA Map Southern Links traffic flows 2041 created Jun 2012

Southern Links daily traffic flow in 2041

Southern Links daily traffic flow in 2041

These predictions estimate daily traffic counts, in 2041, between 36,600 to 39,800 for Greenwood St and 29,300 to 39,200 for Kahikatea Dr.

Past Post: Southern Links – Kahikatea Dr Ohaupo Rd – Sep 2014

Tamahere Allan Turner Walkway / Bridge

Posted on by 0 comment

AllanTurner Bridge Walkway

The walkway is located entirely within an unformed road reserve (Woodcock Rd & Fuchsia Rd) and is available for public use. It has room for two-way pedestrian and cycle traffic.

It will be known as the Allan Turner Walkway, named after the Waikato District Council staff member who championed community open spaces and walkways and who died in 2012.

More information – http://www.tamahereforum.co.nz/tag/allan-turner-memorial-walkway/