Victoria Street transformation

Between November 2014 and July 2015, we transformed the southern end of Victoria Street (between Dixon and Abel Smith streets) to make this part of the city a more attractive place to live, spend time and pass through.

This large development planned between Victoria and Cuba streets will include a new Whitireia and Weltec campus

This large development planned between Victoria and Cuba streets will include a new Whitireia and Weltec campus

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Victoria Street is one of the areas where we want to see more people living and working in future so we have given it a make-over to make it more pedestrian friendly. The upgrade is paving the way for this area to become a great inner-city neighbourhood.

Exciting things are planned, including new apartment complexes and the redevelopment of the Farmers/Deka site fronting Cuba, Dixon and Victoria streets that includes a new WelTec/Whitireia creative arts campus for more than 1000 students.

We support these plans and want to encourage other landowners and developers to invest here.

Project updates

Concept plan for Victoria Street improvements.

Concept design for the planned improvements

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Work completed

Improvements included:

  • realigning, widening and significantly improving the footpaths on both sides
  • retaining the existing road width to allow for future bus and cycling improvements
  • developing two new paved parks – one at the corner of Dixon Street (Volunteer Corner) and the other, Te Niho Park, near the intersection with Vivian Street
  • planting more than 55 street trees to give the street more of a boulevard feel
  • a new southbound cycle lane
  • a new left-turn lane onto Vivian Street
  • evening peak-hour clearways on both sides of the road between Vivian and Abel Smith streets.

This plan (left) shows the concept design for the improvements on Victoria Street. It includes the changes that were made to the central and northern blocks following consultation but not the kerbside lane south of Vivian Street, which was agreed later and is now being trialled. 

    Future improvements

    These may include:

    • peak-hour bus lanes
    • further cycling improvements.

    Timeline

    • Late September 2014– the Council agreed to proceed to detailed design and construction and to enter into an Alliance agreement to get the work done. Preliminary work began in the street to work out exactly where the underground services were. 
    • October – detailed design, cost analysis and preliminary work on-site continued. 
    • November  – construction work began.
    • July 2015 –  the upgrade work was completed.
    • August 2015 – the new-look street was blessed and officially opened and the kerbside cycle lane trial began.
     

    Background

    This project – which was essentially about improving the pedestrian areas – was outlined in our Central City Framework (2013) and 2040 Smart Capital vision (2010).

    Funding was budgeted in in the 2014/15 financial year (through our 2012 Long-term Plan) to do the design for one block (between Dixon and Ghuznee streets) and to do the upgrade work in 2015/16. No funding had been allocated to redevelop other sections of the street.

    We took the opportunity to upgrade three blocks of Victoria Street much more quickly – working as part of an Alliance. The Council’s Governance, Finance and Planning Committee – which includes all Councillors – unanimously agreed in mid-September 2014 to re-allocate some funding so this could happen. The decision was approved by the full Council on 30 September.

    The first of the boulevards

    Our 2040 vision and Central City Framework – which is a design blueprint for the central city – include plans to make Kent and Cambridge terraces, Taranaki Street and Victoria Street much more attractive places.

    They will all continue to be important north-south transport routes but in time we also want them all to be tree-lined, pedestrian friendly boulevards. Victoria Street is the first to be transformed.

    Trees and garden beds

    We have planted about 55 Italian alders like the ones growing in Manners Street and outside the Dominion Building in Mercer Street. They are deciduous so will lose their leaves to let light through in winter and provide leafy shade in summer. Alders are hardy, fast growing and do well in Wellington. About  two metres high when they went in, they will grow to a maximum of about 15 metres over 15 to 20 years.

    Four large elms, including the big one on the corner of Dixon and Victoria streets are part of the new-look street. However to create wide new footpaths, we had to demolish the existing garden beds and remove some trees. It was a difficult decision to remove trees but their roots were in planter beds that were being removed and would therefore have been above ground level. Even if we had attempted to keep them, root damage would likely have resulted in a slow death over time.

    At Volunteer Corner, a steel stair and ramp system was designed so we could keep the existing tree. We worked with Volunteer Wellington on the redevelopment of the corner to make sure it incorporated special features from the garden bed that was developed there in 2001 to mark the International Year of Volunteers.

    Victoria Street – past, present and future

    Victoria Street was originally created in the 1970s and 1980s by joining a number of streets together to allow cars to move quickly out of the city and onto the state highway. It is also a major route to Brooklyn and the Aro Valley.

    Because it was designed primarily for vehicles and building frontages weren't well aligned with the footpaths because some used to be on other streets, it wasn't a great place for people.

    We have changed that because it is an ideal part of the city for more residential and commercial development. It’s slightly higher than some central city areas, not on reclaimed land and has plenty of room for growth and development.

    We now expect there will be:

    • some 2500 new apartments
    • 200,000 sqm of new commercial space.

    Making progress 

    We wanted to make progress in the area quickly and working with an existing Alliance of companies gave us that opportunity.

    The benefits were:

    • we got more of the street looking great more quickly
    • doing all three blocks at once was more cost-effective than a staged approach
    • we have been able to make use of the skilled team that were brought together to build the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

    If the project hadn't been completed in this way, we would have had to fund and construct it another way. This would have delayed the development of the three blocks and likely meant that only the section between Dixon and Ghuznee streets would have been upgraded in the next few years.

    We've kept the roadway the same width, which means we can potentially alter the way the space is used in future as transport needs change. This could include the development of peak-hour bus lanes and higher quality cycle lanes – potentially separated from traffic.  This would require the removal of more parking and consultation would be carried out as part of the decision-making (traffic resolutions) process. 

    At this stage, we are keen to balance the needs of businesses and other users of the area and have retained as much parking as we can.

    There are always trade-offs and in this case it is maintaining a balance between providing on-street parking and cycle improvements.

    Cycle improvements

    As part of this project – which is primarily about improving pedestrian areas – we have made some cycling improvements. This involved installing a separate southbound lane where there wasn't one before. 

    Cyclists previously shared a lane (about 3 metres wide) with general traffic. After feedback on the concept design in early 2015 – including riding the route with a group of interested cyclists – some changes were made to the concept design and a continuous 1.7 metre wide cycle lane was developed between Dixon and Vivian streets. This is between parked cars and a traffic lane.

    Following consultation, we also decided to trial a kerbside cycle lane between Vivian and Abel Smith streets. This opened in August 2015.

    This is a new type of lane for Wellington and we want to see how it works in this location, particularly where it passes a bus stop. The lane is painted red as it passes the bus stop and cyclists are expected to give way to pedestrians getting on and off buses.  Bus passengers should take care and avoid standing on the red painted area when they are waiting for the bus.

    More cycling improvements may be considered in the future when we look at roading and transport changes through this area.

    Parking

    We had to remove some parking to create new public spaces and make footpath improvements. Overall the number of public, street-level car parking spaces available on or adjacent to this part of Victoria Street went from 141 to 107.

    Project cost

    The Council investment in this area was just over $11 million. The NZ Transport Agency, and utility companies that upgraded services in the area, have also contributed. The upgrade is expected to pave the way for an estimated $1.5 billion of private investment in this part of Te Aro.

    More information

    Contact the project team at the Memorial Park Alliance office, 175 Taranaki Street.

     Phone  0800 020 086
     Email  info@memorialpark.co.nz