Reclaiming the Laneways

During the 20th century of car-dominated movement, when streets grew wider and motorways fuelled suburban expansion, some smaller streets were completely forgotten. Traditionally providing access to the rear of buildings, these narrow lanes, or laneways, present a unique opportunity to extend, diversify and provide some inner city magic to the public realm.

Neglected service lane


Leftover from historic times where foot traffic was the sole option, the benefits of reintroducing life into laneways have been realised in many European and Australian cities. The intricate nature and human scale of such spaces, prioritises the movement of people. This increases the number of eyes on the street, and allows people to feel safer in their city.

Hardware Lane, Melbourne

Hardware Lane, Melbourne


Laneways have the potential to be a flexible network of spaces that support a dynamic local economy and adds vitality to the area. This network allows city dwellers to reconnect with their immediate environment. When given the opportunity, creativity, street art and entertainment connect allowing character and wonder to coexist in bustling laneways.

O'Connell Street, Auckland

O’Connell Street, Auckland


This reclamation of Auckland’s forgotten spaces has also occurred in Newmarket. The upgrades on Osborne St included widening the footpath, the introduction of new street trees and public artwork. Improved pedestrian accessibility and connections in the area support boutiques and eateries.

Osbourne Street Upgrade, Newmarket

Osbourne Street Upgrade, Newmarket

Keep it local

Laneways and shared spaces in Auckland shouldn’t be a replica of what has been happened overseas, but instead should celebrate and improve local character. The wide range of different spaces caters for people of all ages, and helps build a thriving community.

Federal Street was once a short-cut through the city for buses and taxis, with narrow footpaths and no public seating, few pedestrians stopped to linger. Its businesses struggled to attract customers. During July 2013 to April 2014, Federal Street was transformed into a shared space. New paving, street trees and furniture successfully accommodate both cars and people. Whether users of the street are working or relaxing, socialising or exploring, it has become a place of spirit and celebration, and most importantly, a destination.

Federal Street, Auckland CBD Before & After

Federal Street, Auckland CBD
Before & After


Teed Street links the Newmarket Laneways to the bustling Broadway. Previously used for industry, it is wider than most of the traditional laneways that we see in CBD. However, the widened footpaths and boutique shops create a pleasant place to walk, bringing something new to Auckland’s smaller spaces.

Teed Street Upgrade,  Newmarket

Teed Street Upgrade, Newmarket


In the Heart of the City

The narrow Durham Street East is an important pedestrian link between Auckland’s busiest street, Queen Street and the High Street shopping area. This area is a genuine laneway, in the heart of Auckland. Colourful shops, bars and restaurants have set up along the lane, and making it a unique and delightful place in inner-city Auckland.
As growth in Auckland accelerates, space within the city has never before been at such a premium, and it is not something that can be ignored. Laneways have endured since Auckland was first settled, through various stages of use and disrepair.
The revitalisation of these spaces attracts life back into the city, without the need for any new developments or significant changes to the city scape. It’s time to celebrate the smaller things in life, and in our city. Let the transformation continue.

Durham Street East, Auckland CBD Pedestrian Laneway

Durham Street East, Auckland CBD
Pedestrian Laneway


Article by Tara Hurley
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2 Responses to “Reclaiming the Laneways”

  1. Matt Ensor Says:

    What Auckland has done with Laneways is fantastic. Well done.


  2. Nicky Kendall Says:

    Such a pleasure to use. Many thanks for your forward planning.


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