Open spaces play a big role in how Auckland looks and feels and contribute greatly to making Auckland one of the world's most livable cities. Auckland’s open spaces include regional and marine parks, sports fields, playgrounds, civic spaces and community zones. They can be the venues for sport and leisure activities, and for people to gather together as a community to participate in cultural events and festivals. They can provide opportunities to get active and stay fit or relax and escape from our busy lives. They can be places where our children and young people can have fun and learn. They can also be places where our native biodiversity is protected and re- established.
While open spaces add significantly to the quality of our lives, people in turn bring life into these spaces. Our clubs, community groups and volunteers activate our parks and help to improve them. Open space networks also function to link the city together, helping people get to their destinations and creating corridors for wildlife to move across the city. They also provide relief from housing, roading and infrastructure, and play an important role in improving the health of our environment and enhancing our native biodiversity.
Open space network planning is a priority for Auckland Council and is directed by the Parks and Open Spaces Strategic Action Plan 2013. So, what do planners need to consider when locating and designing open spaces?
What should it look like? How do we know?
Planning for open space networks is based on existing open spaces, but Auckland Council also needs to consider how the place and people of Auckland will change. Research and consultation into future needs and community preferences is required to identify how to improve parks and open space networks. Other important considerations include population growth and change in terms of proportions of different cultures and age groups, as well as the associated infill housing and greenfield developments.
Community consultation is paramount to develop successful networks of open spaces that satisfy the diverse needs of different user groups. Enabling Maori aspirations has been highlighted of particular importance in the strategic plan. Mana whenua have an active role to play in Auckland’s open spaces, including the maunga (volcanic cones), wahapū (harbour), motu (islands) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of our land and marine resources.
What makes a well-designed open space network?
Treasure and Protect - Especially volcanic landscapes, coastline, waterways, native biodiversity, our stories and histories.
Enjoy - Make the best use of our open spaces by creating opportunities to enjoy and expand uses and activities in our open spaces, create safe, fun and welcoming places, while balancing diverse demands.
Connect - Visually and physically and increase accessibility, by creating greenways across Auckland, linking with the transport networks so that people can move around, linking parks, streets, esplanade reserves with a network of walkways, cycleways and trails. Creating a regional trail network that encourage people to walk, ride and paddle. Connecting our natural areas allows wildlife to move through the region, protects our landscape, maintains Auckland’s hydrology and enhances our biodiversity.
Utilise - connect out communities build a green city infrastructure network, create attractive and healthy urban areas.
As you can see, there is a lot of thought and high level planning that needs to go into a well designed open network strategy. There are also a lot of different values, needs and wants from members of the community that need to be balanced. While the strategy is a Council planning document, it is one which needs input from the community; this is another example of where people should get involved in consultation processes and have their say!
Open spaces and resource consent applications
This planning really needs to be done in advance of subdivision; often it’s too late to get a good open space network, or even an addition to it, at the subdivision stage or once resource consent has been granted. Developers need to know Councils open- space aspirations before they spend money planning a development. We always recommend that clients speak to their local Council’s parks teams to ensure they have all the facts upfront.
For more information about the Auckland Parks and Open Spaces Strategic Action Plan, click here:
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Tracy is a Planner with an M.Sc. in Resource Management. Tracy has worked assisting Senior Planners with the preparation and lodgement of resource consent applications, as well as planning. She also provided support in client liaison, contractor engagement and general communications.
Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.