Nearly 30 years ago the now-extinct Takapuna City Council held a design competition for redevelopment of the Anzac Street car park. Developers submitted grandiose schemes for high rise towers – and nothing happened. Since then there have been plans and reports, and more plans; the idea of making more of Takapuna has been around for decades and exercised a great many political and commercial minds, to little effect. Until, perhaps, now.
“People have recognised there’s significant land that could be developed in a way that would bring life and a heart to Takapuna,” says Clive Fuhr, Project Development Director at Auckland CCO Panuku Development Auckland (the Council controlled organisation charged with managing and maximising the potential of around $1 billion of land and buildings that Auckland Council owns across the city).
Building on those past plans, Panuku is now “applying a 21st century view of what a town centre should look like”. Unlike the 20th century approach of tall towers and complete coverage of sites, the new approach, he says, is on a more human scale.
In March, Panuku released its high level project plan (HLLPP) for the Takapuna Town Centre Renewal; a plan that is potentially more realistic and in tune with Takapuna, its community and its sense of place. Panuku has responsibility to maximise the return to Council from two major and several smaller parcels of Council-owned land, but also has obligations to deliver “good public outcomes. We make a profit and deliver returns to council, but at the same time ensure developments and community outcomes are positive and sustainable.”
The message is clear: change will happen. Takapuna has been identified as one of Panuku’s three priority “unlock” projects, where Panuku “unlocks” development potential for others by acting as a facilitator. Though Panuku does not undertake development itself, with considerable Council-owned land in Takapuna, it has the power and the ability to make an impact on Takapuna’s development.