Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Retailers concerned about Akl High St upgrade

Murray Crane says shop owners fear construction work could drive customers away. Photo / APN
Murray Crane says shop owners fear construction work could drive customers away. Photo / APN

Retailers in Auckland boutique premier shopping zone High St are worried about possible street changes, one saying he would prefer better rubbish collection systems and chewing gum removal than an upgrade.

Murray Crane, of Crane Brothers, said shop owners around him feared the street being turned into a shared space for cars and pedestrians because construction work could damage the businesses by driving customers away.

Ludo Campbell-Reid, Auckland Council design champion, said Crane was jumping to conclusions because there were no agreed plans to create a shared space. No budget was approved. The council had not decided to go ahead with an upgrade.

"This will need to be a decision made after we spend the next six months working with High St precinct stakeholders to work up a precinct plan for the area," Campbell-Reid said.

But Crane said many retailers expected the change and would oppose it because they felt a strong resistance and backlash towards the concept.

"Obviously the disruption is major and the council are good at making things take longer than they should. A few key retailers are opposed to changing the streetscape and feel that High St is one of the last strip shopping precincts in Auckland," Crane said.

Burst rubbish bags, spilling food contents around the Vulcan Lane area, footpaths paved with chewing gum and lack of rubbish removal on Saturday mornings were offputting, he said.

Better signage was needed to show tourists that Auckland had precincts such as High St and the waterfront, he said.

Campbell-Reid said he welcomed robust debate.

Most people liked shared spaces.

"They can see the benefits of what has been achieved on Wynyard Quarter and in the Fort St area and they generally back what we're doing," Campbell-Reid said.

"Our independent research on shared spaces shows overwhelming public support for them. Aucklanders love the idea," he said.

"They say they're more likely to visit [an] area after [an] upgrade. That's great news for any retailer who may have had doubts and for any retailer who wants more foot traffic."

- NZ Herald

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