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

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