It seem a while since Queen St was called the golden mile. These days only the one block boasts the high-end brand shops that would deserve the title. The rest is shabby and has been for a long time.

The council has put plenty of money into attempts to smarten it up. Footpaths have been widened, as have pedestrian crossings, new planting and street furniture has been installed. But it has not become the focus of urban life and pride that it could be.

Like the rest of the CBD, Queen St has been hit hard by the construction of an underground rail link. Traffic patterns have been disrupted and congestion increased. If all goes to plan, the rail link under Albert St will no sooner be completed than Queen St will be torn up for light rail. That is when Mayor Phil Goff thinks sections of the street can be closed to wheeled traffic.

It would probably have to be, tram stops would leave little room for cars to pass on the street that has been narrowed by the wider footpaths and sitting areas. Auckland planners have done everything to discourage driving in Queen St short of closing it to cars. Eventually they will make it a long pedestrian mall. Will that make it grand or merely quiet?

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Planning is not always the answer. Sometimes commercial hubs thrive better when they are left alone. Queen St's "golden block" was not a planners' creation. The street needs more of the commercial investment that gave it its former glory.