Wellington City Council has approved a business case to remove cars from the Golden Mile, but not without controversy.
One councillor suggested the move was "ruthless, dire and deadly" while another said she was "over" the Government trying to run the city.
The Golden Mile business case is one of many in the $6.4 billion Let's Get Wellington Moving transport plan.
Private vehicles will be removed to prioritise pedestrians and have buses running via a single lane going in either direction.
The approval of these preliminary designs by Wellington City Council and other Let's Get Wellington Moving partners will release money to begin more detailed design for the project.
At a Planning and Environment Committee today city councillors voted in favour of the business case with 10 votes to 4.
Councillors Sean Rush, Nicola Young, Diane Calvert and Simon Woolf were the ones who voted against it.
Young said change took time and the Golden Mile proposals should be done incrementally.
"The way to eat an elephant is to do it one bite at a time and instead we're trying to do it in one big chomp".
Young described the changes being made in one swoop as ruthless, dire and deadly, affecting an already distressed business community and hospitality sector.
"These proposals send a clear message to businesses that Let's Get Wellington Moving doesn't care about them," she said.
The only thing Young appeared to like about the proposal was removing the "ghastly slippery red bricks" along the Golden Mile.
Calvert agreed transformation could be done in bits, but not all at once.
She said the changes were not critical in the midst of a global pandemic, a housing crisis and the council's social housing arm's dire financial outlook.
Future changes could be made by the council without Let's Get Wellington Moving, she said.
"I'm over this Government trying to run this city and telling us what we can and can't do."
Calvert called on the deputy mayor and mayor, who sit on the Let's Get Wellington Moving Governance Reference Group, to stand up for their city.
Councillor Tamatha Paul cautioned her colleagues about sounding ungrateful for the transport investment from the Government.
"The only thing that will come from blowing it to bits and losing public confidence in this project is that we will lose it and it will be given elsewhere.
"Trashing the project and the people working on it does nothing for our city because we cannot continue the way that we are."
Councillor Jenny Condie thanked Calvert for a "glimpse" into the campaign season ahead of next year's local body elections.
She said more people working from home meant retail and hospitality businesses could not rely as much on commuters as customers.
To replace those customers, the Golden Mile had to be turned into a destination, she said.
Increasingly, customers would also be residents as higher-density housing was enabled, she said.
"The Golden Mile will become part of their backyard."
Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons said the council needed to stop relitigating Let's Get Wellington Moving decisions.
"We need to get out of the way and start making things happen. This meeting is an insight into what's been holding Wellington back for many years- it's a small minority that are very vocal and drum up opposition and it's not the way forward."
Deputy mayor Sarah Free said she and the mayor were standing up for the city by introducing the "exciting" changes.
She said customers would be delivered to the Golden Mile "in spades" via more public transport compared to the limited capacity of private vehicles.
Mayor Andy Foster said previous councils had put various decisions on the backburner too many times.
"We've got to make the city a place where people want to be."