Editorial: Don't let Queens Wharf fester on the backburner

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Happily, good sense has prevailed with the decision to abandon the Queens Wharf design competition. The project brief, a tight, unrealistic budget and, especially, a short timeframe produced a predictable outcome.

The task now should be to prepare the site for the Prime Minister's 2011 World Cup "party central", and to consider and complete a permanent development containing the wow factor soon thereafter.

Relatively little needs to be done to set the stage for the wharf to become rugby fans' preferred entertainment venue. Certainly, there should be no substantial structural changes that would compromise the final development. Big screens, temporary grandstands, places for outdoor eating, drinking and dancing, improved lighting, and canopies that provide shelter from often blustery spring weather would suffice. A centrepiece could be the 100 per cent Pure New Zealand rugby ball that has done the rounds of Paris, London and Tokyo. There is, of course, a danger when matters are placed on hold in this manner. The World Cup provided the catalyst for the purchase of Queens Wharf and the spur to turn it into a combined cruise-ship terminal and "party central" venue.

Now that motivation is gone, it is possible the development will go on the backburner, particularly if costs start to balloon. On no account must that be allowed to happen.

Architect Mario Madayag, who won the design contest for the Britomart transport terminal, has spoken glowingly of the potential of the Queens Wharf site. The design competition may have been fatally flawed, but this week's development has not invalidated his view one bit.

Mayor John Banks' "taihoa, step back, have a cup of tea" must not be the signal for drift and dilatoriness. A less frenetic pace should prompt greater inspiration, not the onset of lethargy.

- NZ Herald

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