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Walkers, riders to share space on revised promenade

Auckland Mayor Len Brown. Sarah Ivey
Auckland Mayor Len Brown. Sarah Ivey

Waterfront Auckland has won council approval for a trimmed walking and cycling promenade through Westhaven after being denied a larger-scale proposal for $10 million.

Auckland Council's strategy and finance committee yesterday voted for the cheaper version - costing $5.8 million - of a 2km link between the harbour bridge and Daldy St in Wynyard Quarter, minus about 500m of extra paths.

Up to 5m wide, it will form the western end of a 10km route to Mechanics Bay, to join an upgraded walking and cycling path beside Tamaki Drive.

A Waterfront Auckland spokesman said it would accommodate cyclists, pedestrians and other users "in a generous shared space made up of paths, suspended boardwalks and lower level boardwalks". It is due to be completed early in 2014.

Incorrect advice from the agency in May that the full plan had been approved in the council's 10-year budget, was hailed by cyclists as promising a vital link to a proposed $28 million tolled pathway across the harbour bridge.

The plan was in an alternative budget proposed by right-leaning Communities and Residents and independent councillors, but was voted down with the rest of the package by Auckland Mayor Len Brown and his majority council supporters.

That put the left-leaning mayor in an awkward position of having blocked a green initiative - which received more public support than any other project in a waterfront plan - while saying he remained committed "to turning Auckland into a cycling city".

Councillors quickly voted for a re-think, asking Waterfront Auckland to consider changing its priorities so the project could go ahead within the existing budget.

The council-controlled agency offered in a report to yesterday's committee meeting to defer other projects in return, mainly the redevelopment of public spaces around the tank farm section of Wynyard Quarter.

That would mean a small loss of public amenity while providing for "the critical direct walkway and cycleway route between the harbour bridge and Wynyard Quarter".

Removal of some parts of the original proposal, such as viewing platforms, and a reduced quality of landscaping, may prove "more temporary in nature with the ability to upgrade in the future when funding is available", the report said.

Loop paths around Westhaven marina structures including the breakwater at its northern end will also have to wait, although the report said the project would provide new infrastructure over or next to the sea wall where an existing footpath was very narrow.

Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell said after yesterday's vote that, despite its reduced scale,the new promenade could become one of Auckland's best-used public amenities.

THINK SMALL

* May 29: Waterfront Auckland says it has council approval for a $10 million promenade.

* May 30: Auckland Council tells its waterfront agency the project did not gain funding approval from Mayor Len Brown and a majority of councillors.

* June 7: Council future vision committee votes to ask Waterfront Auckland to consider changing its budget to rescue the project.

* Yesterday: Council strategy and finance committee approves a downsized project for $5.8 million.by Mathew Dearnaley

- NZ Herald

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