Chapter 7

The first step: Creating an alluring town centre

The first step: Creating an alluring town centre - Onehunga

Eke Panuku will focus its initial efforts for change and transformation within Onehunga’s town centre. The town centre already has a good vibe and a distinctive character. Its main street, Onehunga Mall, is home to several heritage buildings, while a mixture of diverse land uses and community and business activities add to the centre’s energy and appeal.

We’ll build on this existing character to make Onehunga’s town centre a place where people want to visit and stay, live, work and play. We envisage an exciting variety of shops and eateries, attractive high-quality public spaces, improved community facilities and more recreational opportunities.

To achieve this, we will locate community facilities in a cluster between Church, Princes and Selwyn streets. Adding to the popular library and vibrant community centre with further community and recreational facilities will create a focus within the town centre – a community heart where all ages can meet and participate in a range of activities and events.

We’ll build on Onehunga Mall’s colourful street-based character by promoting new development and activities in the blocks behind it. By filling out these blocks, and creating attractive links between and within them, we will make the most of this space and spread the existing buzz of the mall into the rest of the town centre.

Quality apartments within and along the fringes of the town centre blocks will help provide more housing choice for Onehunga residents. Having more people living within the centre will also enliven the streets and support local businesses.

Focusing on improvements and redevelopment in Onehunga’s town centre will provide the critical mass of people and activity needed to support planned investments in transport infrastructure. Among the transport projects proposed for within the next decade that will enhance the accessibility of the town centre are light rail, the new East–West Link and more-frequent heavy rail operations.

How we’ll do it

Eke Panuku already controls significant landholdings, covering 3.8ha, in Onehunga’s town centre.

Together, these sites have the potential to deliver around 720 new residential units and 13600sqm of new retail and commercial space, as well as numerous upgraded and enhanced public spaces.

Our role is to lead change and investment through initiatives and projects that enliven public areas, deliver development and inspire other landholders to develop and participate in the transformation of Onehunga.

The importance of placemaking – getting the community involved

Placemaking is a fundamental feature of the Eke Panuku approach to regenerating centres. It is how we work with the community to ensure that any changes that happen in Onehunga are what the community wants and needs.

We work with communities to learn, test ideas and ensure regeneration fits with the characteristics of a place.

In line with this approach, one of our first initiatives has been to deliver the 312 Hub, a community artists’ collective, at an Eke Panuku site in Paynes Lane. The collective provides a space where local creative youths can congregate, create and share.

It is envisaged that the collective will provide ongoing local and artistic input into our placemaking and community engagement activities.

One of the first projects planned is to enhance the pedestrian lanes that connect Onehunga Mall with the blocks behind it. By involving the 312 Hub, we give young people and local creatives an opportunity to express their artistic talents in transforming the identity of Onehunga’s built environment.

The first three years

We have already completed preliminary design and development work for Eke Panuku-controlled sites within the town-centre blocks north of Neilsen Street. The outcome will be a combined 7200sqm of new commercial and retail space, with 240 new residential units on these sites.

The exception is the Station Block, which requires input from Auckland Transport, the New Zealand Transport Agency and Kiwi Rail, and will be affected by future transport infrastructure decisions.

The main development sites in the first three years will be within the Dress Smart and Waiapu blocks, at the northern end of the town centre. We are negotiating with key landowners in these blocks, who are looking to expand and redevelop their retail operations and are interested in participating in the transformation process.

We will work with private landholders to facilitate redevelopment. We will also support their investment by improving public areas and laneways within the blocks.