Auckland Council is on a journey, which began in 2004, to transform the city centre into an internationally successful centre for business and culture. This includes upgrading key inner-city streets and open spaces to international standards. Over $100 million has been spent to date on creating well-designed, world-class, people-friendly streetscapes.
In 2008, four key streets began the journey to be transformed into shared spaces, they were Fort Street Area Stage 1 (Fort Street, Jean Batten Place and Fort Lane) | Elliott & Darby Street | Lorne Street (Separable Portion 1 of the Lorne St Upgrade, Stage 2 Project).
A 'Shared Space' design approach was adopted in order to best respond to Auckland Council's objectives of integrating the area into the surrounding street network; providing greater pedestrian priority; creating a distinctive public space and provide opportunities for the area to be a popular destination in the city centre; creating a space that supports businesses and residents and provides opportunities for a variety of activities, as well as providing a high quality, attractive and durable street that contributes to a sustainable and maintainable city centre.
To achieve a cohesive streetscape environment there were a number of challenges to overcome, including: ensuring a ‘customer first' approach with stakeholders to ensure they were engaged throughout the process; addressing accessibility (the team undertook extensive consultation with Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind and disability groups) and development of shared space controls & regulations that didn't exist in the NZ road rules or road signage regulations.
The streets which are among the first in New Zealand to be designated as ‘shared zones' were officially opened by the Auckland Major and local dignitaries in 2011, and recently received the Maccaferri Excellence Award for a Medium Road Project at The Roading New Zealand Roading Excellence Awards 2012.
Post-construction comprehensive evaluation of the Fort Street area has been undertaken by Auckland Council. Following the update in 2010, 91% of users were highly complementary about the Fort Street area compared with 17% of users in 2009. Pedestrian numbers have increased by 54%, while vehicle volumes have decreased by more than 25%. 80% of those surveyed felt safer in the area now, especially at night time, while 75% of property owners saw value in being located near or adjacent to a shared space.