Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Approval for city masterplans

Artist Impression of Queen Street. Photo / Supplied
Artist Impression of Queen Street. Photo / Supplied

Turning Queen St into a pedestrian mall is gaining political support among the latest plans to transform the city centre.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is calling for a public debate on removing vehicles from the Golden Mile, which has had a big jump in pedestrian numbers since a $43.5 million makeover in 2007 and the introduction of measures to slow traffic.

Mr Brown said that 20 years ago Brisbane took cars out of its own Queen St, put people in the middle of it and never regretted it.

"Queen St in Brisbane is one of the busiest, most vibrant retail experiences in Australasia," Mr Brown told the future vision committee yesterday.

The full committee of the council gave a ringing endorsement to the draft city centre and waterfront masterplans, which are not being released for public feedback until the middle of the Rugby World Cup tournament.

The city centre masterplan places a strong emphasis on making the city more pedestrian-friendly, with fewer cars and more green spaces, while the waterfront masterplan has a mix of relatively inexpensive "quick hits", such as a $9.2 million walking and cycling boulevard the length of the city waterfront, and aspirational projects, such as a new island off Westhaven Marina.

Councillor Cathy Casey said the city centre masterplan was a "bit woolly" when it came to turning Queen St into a pedestrian mall.

The document called for temporary road closures for specific events, then at lunchtimes/weekends within three years, followed by a staged introduction of "shared space" in which drivers have to thread their way around pedestrians.

It said much discussion about the total removal of vehicles "might be an unnecessary and overly expensive step".

However, Mr Brown, Dr Casey and councillor Richard Northey were keen to revive the debate on removing vehicles altogether.

Mr Brown is also keen to run light rail up Queen St in the long term, and councillor Mike Lee made a plea to extend the heritage tram circuit around the Wynyard Quarter to Britomart in the three years set down the waterfront masterplan, not the three to 10-year timetable in the city centre masterplan.

Mr Lee said he had noticed a significant mood change in the past few weeks, with Aucklanders welcoming projects started by the previous councils.

"There is a 'can do' attitude that has returned to Auckland and with regard to the tramway let's do it now," Mr Lee said.

Another idea to gain support at the meeting was a new primary school in the city.

New look

* The city centre masterplan has a strong emphasis on making the city more pedestrian-friendly, with fewer cars and more green spaces.
* The waterfront masterplan includes a $9.2 million walking and cycling boulevard the length of the city waterfront.
* Other projects may include a new island off Westhaven Marina.
* Since the $43.5 million makeover in 2007 Queen St has had more pedestrians.

- NZ Herald

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