There is no sign of a new public space to replace the privatised Queen Elizabeth Square, says the Waitemata Local Board.
The Auckland Council has agreed to sell Queen Elizabeth Square to Precinct Properties as part of a $550 million redevelopment of the Downtown Shopping Centre site. The publicly-listed property company is due to pay $27.2 million for the 1900sq m civic space, with the proceeds going to a new or enhanced nearby public space "capable of being delivered broadly at the same time as the permanent loss of the existing space".
The Waitemata board, however, is concerned the council is dragging its feet on providing a new public space, while Precinct obtains the square for private benefit.
Board member Vernon Tava said the board supported the need to proceed quickly with the project, which combines the first work on the $2.5 billion City Rail Link from Britomart, under the Downtown Shopping Centre and up Albert St.
"Our concern is with the quid pro quo that if you are giving away a public space it is very important it is replaced with something of high quality," he said.
Rick Walden, who heads the council's city centre integration group, said work was progressing on a replacement public space.
Last September, the council suggested using the proceeds from the sale of the square for improving the waterfront between Princes and Captain Cook wharves.
Mr Walden said now that the council's new 10-year budget was in place, concept planning for the ferry basin could progress.
An initial concept design for the ferry basin, showing steps leading into the water, would involve public feedback.
Mr Tava said the options were on council-owned waterfront land where development plans already existed, saying the trade-off was for land the council already owned. There is no money in the budget to develop the ferry basin before 2019 - about the same time Precinct plans to complete a new shopping centre and 35-storey commercial tower on the downtown site.
On Thursday, the council's Auckland Development Committee will consider a private plan change to rezone the square from public open space to redevelopment use with a recommendation it be publicly notified. Councillor Chris Darby said the council was blindly repeating history with the loss of the square,saying it was taking an ad hoc approach without having an holistic view of the wider downtown and waterfront area.
•Precinct Properties set to acquire Queen Elizabeth Square
•Proceeds earmarked for new or enhanced public space
•Waitemata Local Board says no sign of new public space
•Council says ferry basin upgrade could replace the square