The Auckland seaside village of St Heliers is up in arms over safety improvements it fears will hit business hard.
"It will kill the village," says Sue Clark, who runs a property management and rental company in St Heliers, the last village along the city's famous Tamaki Drive.
She is referring to a plan by Auckland Transport for 13 raised zebra crossings, a new traffic island, widening part of Tamaki Drive and removing 40 car parks - all aimed to improve safety for people walking, riding bikes and driving.
The proposals sit alongside a separate proposal by AT for a 30km/h speed limit on Tamaki Drive outside St Heliers village.
"I have been here since 2000 and I have never seen any danger around here with pedestrian crossings. It's a village. People look after each other," Clark said.
Her colleague Annette Woodyear-Smith said AT's plans were ludicrous, totally unnecessary and being railroaded through.
Ayush Madeshia, who runs a small fruit and vegetable shop, said it is already hard enough finding a car park in St Heliers.
The loss of 40 car parks, he said, will mean fewer people shopping in the village and could lead to his business closing.
Two elderly shoppers who wanted to go by their first names were aghast at the proposed changes and the effect on businesses.
"Many people are elderly and need a park outside a shop," said Liz.
"We don't want anyone to touch St Heliers, thank you," said Marion.
One Glendowie resident, Alfredo Mujica, liked the idea of fewer car parks and cars coming to St Heliers, saying it would encourage people to walk more.
Sang Cho, whose family have run Annabelles Restaurant on Tamaki Drive for 21 years, said St Heliers needs more car parks, not less.
He was highly critical of AT's consultation, saying the council-controlled organisation had not spoken with the local business association before the formal consultation process.
"I am absolutely shocked at what they are doing. If they are arguing for public safety, where is the proof?"
Like a lot of people the Herald spoke to yesterday, Cho was attending a public meeting last night organised by the St Heliers/Glendowie Residents Association.
An AT spokesman said the changes for St Heliers were to make it safer for people walking, riding bikes and driving.
"There needs to be an easier way to connect the sea front with the town centres and we are proposing new zebra crossings to make it safer for people to get to their destinations around the centres more safely," he said.
He said AT is working closely with the community around their parking concerns, saying parking restrictions could be introduced to prevent all-day parking and allow a better turnover of parking for those wishing to visit the centres and their amenities.
AT said between 2013 and 2017 there have been 39 reported crashes which have resulted in three serious injuries and seven minor casualties. The crashes involved four pedestrians, three bike riders, one motorcyclist and one moped rider.
St Heliers/Glendowie Residents Association acting chairman Mike Walsh said the AT proposal is not evidence based, will do little or nothing to improve safety in the village and be bad for local businesses and shoppers.
He said most of AT's accident data was minor dings and there have only been three serious accidents in five years, only one of which could have been prevented by the proposed measures.
Orakei councillor Desley Simpson said St Heliers is a little village at the bottom of a hill and to remove 40 car parks will have an impact on business.
"Businesses know how the village works. If AT had a discussion with the business and residents' associations I think there would have been a better solution than the current one," she said.
Simpson said the St Heliers proposals and only giving the Parnell Business Association one week's notice about plans to close one lane of Parnell Rd from today for safety improvements showed a lack of respect.
"The way AT goes about communication and consultation needs huge improvement because it is simply not working," she said.
Auckland mayoral candidate John Palino has promised to put a moratorium on the removal of car parks across Auckland.
"Auckland Transport's practice of removing car parks is killing small business owners across Auckland who rely on the flexibility and convenience of local parking," he said.
Consultation on the St Heliers proposals is open until April 30.