Brian Rudman: It's quite simple, Mr Politician, we want it all and we want it now

Add a comment

What a fickle lot we are. Auckland's local politicians have finally come up with a long-term plan for the redevelopment of the Tank Farm that isn't half bad, only to discover the rest of us have moved on.

All we want to talk about is the port company decamping from the finger wharfs at the bottom of Queen St so we can fill them with public pleasure gardens. But they can hardly blame us. Only last week, Auckland City Mayor Dick Hubbard and regional council chairman Mike Lee were falling over themselves to be first with plans for America's Cup bases on Queen's Wharf if Emirates Team New Zealand win in Valencia.

When you're promised a treat in less than five years, it is hard to maintain a state of visionary ecstasy about something that might happen 25 years hence.

Actually, if you want to point the finger at anyone let it be Sport Minister Trevor Mallard. He's the one who breezed into town wanting to plonk an enormous stadium next to the Ferry Building in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Crucially, the port company didn't say there was no room.

The issue for the port company wasn't so much space, it was the need for more time to build substitute facilities "without interruption of its service to customers". Having let that genie out of the bottle and got us all dreaming of new uses for Queen's Wharf, is it any wonder the politicians are now finding it impossible to get our minds focused on redevelopment plans for a distant corner of the waterfront a quarter of a century on?

Still, I will try. The obvious improvement over earlier plans is the trebling in size of the planned headland park - now to be 4.25 ha - and the purchase of port land under the harbour bridge and at the container terminal, to ensure they remain green open spaces.

As for costs, with the proviso that we're talking of 15 to 25 years on, Auckland City is claiming that 90 per cent of the council's projected $344 million development costs for the project will be paid for out of development contributions from the builders of the apartment blocks and commercial buildings.

This includes stormwater pipes, a landmark bridge linking the CBD with the Tank Farm, and a marine events centre.

The port company's plan to dub the area "kahurangi", Maori for "blue or precious jewel", has been quietly replaced with, I hope, an equally futile attempt to call it Wynyard Quarter. Why do they try so hard? I like its existing name. Like The Rocks in Sydney, it's that unique sort of identifier that PR men are paid zillions to make up.

One concern that came up in the public consultation and appears to have been fudged is the maximum height of buildings. A year ago, 66 per cent of submitters opposed allowing buildings up to 16 storeys south of Jellicoe St. Under that earlier scheme, a spine of buildings along Daldy St were to be 10-16 storeys high, with the rest tapering down to 4 to 6 storeys at water's edge. North of Jellicoe St, buildings were to be 4 to 6 storeys high.

The new proposal confuses by talking metres, but is proposing four buildings of 52m (equivalent to about 14 storeys) along Jellicoe St and another of this height further south. The rest will be 25m to 31m. North of Jellicoe St on the point, the majority will be 27m, which is a little higher than the six-storey maximum of the earlier proposal.

As for that museum of modern art or concert hall that columnists and other dreamers go on about, the politicians and planners have probably wisely, but frustratingly, left the page blank. It can go, they say, anywhere future generations want on the land allocated for the park.

On the other hand, by leaving it all up in never-never land, it drives the rest of us to dream of more immediate gratification. Like hijacking Queens Wharf, for example, and putting it there.

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf02 at 20 Dec 2014 15:30:56 Processing Time: 1740ms