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Claudelands Subway building repurposing

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The photo below from 1965 [HCL_03581] ‘is taken from the east side of where the Claudelands Road traffic bridge starts. At the bottom of the pedestrian walkway is the Subway Buildings, with awnings. On the far side of River Road is a butcher shop. To the right of the butcher shop is Alf Ward Ltd, an IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance) store’

The original Claudelands Rail Bridge was repurposed to a motor traffic bridge, with footpaths on both sides. With reduced pedestrian traffic on the southern side, in time, the butcher’s shop and IGA land was repurposed to a car park. The subway shops were repurposed from Waikato Drycleaners to an opportunity shop and disco hire

Over time the subway buildings’ commercial activity value declined and parts were repurposed as ground floor apartments, which now in the 2017 district plan are a Non-complying Activity (NC) in business zones.

The subway building is an example of the cyclical process cities go through, like the old warehouses along the canal in Groningen being repurposed as apartments.

In the 1981 District Scheme, there is a rule, ‘5.1.3 Screening requirements – All zone boundaries, other than street boundaries, shall be effectively screened at all times to the satisfaction of the Council by a solid fence not less than 2m in height’. This seems an odd rule and maybe this is the reason the wall was built along the street frontage of the subway building.

Having a front fence of your choosing is fine, but if a solid fence is a rule, it looks unhealthy and unnecessary. The row houses alongside the subway building (179 River Rd) and the Groningen apartments are examples of good public surveillance of the street front. People’s desire for privacy differs, and people choosing to live on an active frontage are more than capable of managing their privacy using passive or solid screening of their choice.
A final note: if the River Plan Project is to ‘Create a wide and appealing promenade style river walkway … Provide an improved connection to Claudelands Bridge, to complete a river’s edge walking and cycleway circuit’ (link to post on Jesmond Park), the subway shops could again be repurposed as commercial, completing the cyclical process that is so normal in cities worldwide.

Category: News

Claudelands, Heaphy and Brooklyn plans

Since the turn of the century the population in Claudelands has grown at nearly twice the rate of housing construction in the area. There has been a 15.4% increase in people (2,649 in 2001 and 3,057 in 2018) and 7.9% increase in the number of homes (1,137 in 2001 and 1,227 in 2018).

The 2008 City Heart Revitalisation team explained the types of restrictions in place limiting further development:

‘Heaphy Terrace, although subject to the Claudelands West Character Area, is arguably degraded in certain points, which necessitates the need for a character review. Should this review determine that parts of Heaphy Terrace currently subject to heritage provisions are unjustifiably protected, support should be given to redeveloping these sites’.

The same City Heart team proposed building on the council land on the corner of  Brooklyn Rd and  Heaphy Tce, which presently only has a third of the land built on (0.4 ha of buildings, 1.3 ha total area)

The City heart revitalisation project was proposed in 2008. Now, a decade later, the city has the Event Centre and private investment has built The Roaming Giant. The Brooklyn Rd corner still has potential, but maybe there is a need to future-proof this land.

If you have ideas on where you would like the city to be in the next few decades, for the first half of next year the Hamilton-Waikato Spatial Planning team begin Community Engagement. They say that the mass transit network layer has the largest influence on development patterns.

‘Mass/Rapid transit forms the backbone of the transport network. It provides fast, frequent and high capacity services along corridors separated from general traffic and is therefore not affected by road congestion’

For more information, here is a link to the elected members’ briefing, 4 Dec 2019-12-09

Category: News