New Lynn, New Lynn

Home of retro cool Crown Lynn pottery, Paradice ice skating, the first ever American style mall in New Zealand, and the first ever Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in New Zealand.

My personal history with New Lynn is of it being a place to go for fun new experiences like skating and the movies, or the novelty of an under-age blue light disco. Catching the train there as a young teenager with friends made for some great adventures, far enough from home to be a new place, but not so far you couldn’t get home safe. Student years saw me occasionally at the pool hall and second hand shops. I’m thrilled to see the Paradice ice skating rink is still going. The big cinema has closed now, with competition in every mall, but in its heyday that cinema was a focal point, the first of its kind and size in West Auckland.

With this background in mind I went along to the Waitakere City Council open day at the New Lynn Community Centre, partly to check out the fantastic new underground railway station (more on this later), but mostly to catch up on the colourful future plans for New Lynn.

New Lynn TOD

The historical and vital Great North Road (in brown), and the Western train line (green)

New Lynn is the first urban centre to be re-planned around the principles of Transit Orientated Development. Basically Transit Orientated Development is a form of urban design that focuses city growth in walkable urban centres around high quality public transport routes. This is unusual in Auckland, outside of the central business district, where we tend towards motorway oriented development, encouraging sprawl, and further car dependency for every need.

Given that New Lynn is on one of the major transport corridors through greater Auckland city (36 bus routes, plus the train, and bike lockers) it is an ideal candidate to show some vision for urban New Zealand. The council has started focusing development around the train station and bus depot, with plans for new urban public space and opportunities to build for mixed uses all around this new ‘heart’. Residential and workplace development will bring more people into the centre, people who will support secondary things like cafes and restaurants. Now if people can linger, look at public art, maybe pause at a new local music venue, things will start to get really exciting: New Lynn will have street life.

But not only that – local centres can provide inspiration and also identity. Greater Auckland, like many cities, is a whole lot of smaller towns that have grown into each other and lost their identity, lost some of their own sense of place. Built environments that express something of local history, local landscape, and local people are more memorable and able to be celebrated. There is more joy in travelling to the town of New Lynn, home of Crown Lynn pottery and ice skating, than there is in going to, you know, that West Auckland suburb about 6kms from here.

So what would get me spending more time in New Lynn? If the greater transport system proves to be a reliable resource then that has plenty of pull on its own. (A bus to the airport maybe). Again I find it comes down to seeking new experiences and adventure. The interesting folk of the Sustainable Business Network are based there. New Lynn has places to eat, and the artistic library and community centre buildings nearby to arouse curiosity. If it had more things going on past 5pm, a good café, unique venues or opportunities like a dedicated local arts centre, then I’d be there often. I’d like New Lynn to become not just a destination in its own right, but multiple destinations.

Notes on street life:

People walking past each other, hearing what is going on, seeing where the world is at, this is street life. Human life you can see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Both innovative business and the arts thrive on this kind of environment. Ideas are fuelled by a diverse peopled landscape, full of different sensations, actions, mindsets, possibilities. It is also what makes certain neighbourhoods ‘hot’ to live in.

Notes on development:

Targeted development within the centre also means that the majority of ‘traditional’ suburban space need not be adversely affected by infill growth, back streets can keep their quiet, relaxed, out of the way qualities, while benefiting from new local services (jobs, entertainment, cultural opportunities, health care, learning etc). We all like choice, some of us prefer more convenience and diversity.

Ice Skating:
Paradice is about 15 minutes walk from New Lynn station, or 1.2km

Discussion (2) ¬

  1. Some more unique things in New Lynn:
    I later remembered New Lynn once had the only comic store in West Auckland, Mark One on Totora Ave. I made a couple of treks there with teen-aged friends.

    Also Kelvin of SBN advises me the The Eco Matters Trust is also based in New Lynn. A couple more like minded organisations and that’s a business cluster, ready made, just waiting to go ‘Silicon Valley’, right near the upgraded transport interchange.

Pings & Trackbacks ¬

Comment ¬

NOTE - You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>