Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Driven Aucklanders latch on to capital idea

Auckland City waterfront. Photo / Richard Robinson
Auckland City waterfront. Photo / Richard Robinson

A new lobby group is being formed to play a role in the development of the Auckland waterfront where public spaces are coming under pressure from private interests.

The group is modelling itself on Wellington's Waterfront Watch, which has had a big impact preserving its waterfront for the public and supporting good development.

The Auckland Architecture Association and interested parties met on Monday night to discuss waterfront issues and the lack of a bold and comprehensive waterfront plan.

They were concerned at proposals for Queens Wharf and Queen Elizabeth Square being negotiated behind closed doors and traffic engineers ruling over the vision to turn Quay St into a pedestrian boulevard.

"Show us the plans. This thing is going to be up for 50 to 100 years," one of New Zealand's leading architects said of plans to privatise QEII Square for a giant mall.

The New Zealand Institute of Architects urban issues group and Heart of the City are on board and other parties are being invited to join.

Urban issues group chairman David Gibbs saw a need for a Waterfront Watch-like group in Auckland to keep an eye on the area and be part of the planning.

Planner Joel Cayford highlighted the pressure from the private sector to dilute public space and access over the years, including the "gradual infill" of Princes Wharf.

Dr Cayford said overseas studies showed that urban regeneration in the 2000s combined public and private sectors with an emphasis on sustainability and community inclusion.

There was little to no public participation on the Auckland waterfront, he said.

Rick Walden, who heads a council unit set up in January to co-ordinate and focus activities on the waterfront and downtown Auckland, said that a downtown precinct framework would be completed within the next couple of months and made public.

Waterfront Watch
• Established in 1995 after threat of high-rise apartment blocks on Wellington waterfront.
• Supports development that enhances public space and usage.
• Questions excessive development that seeks to privatise and restrict public access, remove views, or introduce excess shading or wind issues.
• Says there should be public consultation on any waterfront development.

- NZ Herald

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