Plans for a major bus interchange on Auckland's waterfront have been scrapped and moves are under way to make Queens Wharf more people-friendly.
Auckland Transport and Auckland Council have reached the conclusion that a bus interchange in front of the Britomart interchange along Quay St is not in line with the vision for the downtown waterfront area.
At the same time, the body that keeps tabs on central city projects wants to make progress on Queens Wharf, which was dubbed the "people's wharf" 10 years ago but barely lived up to its name.
The future of Queens Wharf is currently being challenged by a protest group opposed to plans, backed by Mayor Phil Goff and a majority of councillors, to build a fixed gangway and two mooring structures, known as dolphins, to tie up mega cruise ships.
Several hundred people opposed the plans at a protest two weeks ago and this week the protest group, Stop Stealing Our Harbour, are sending a second letter to Goff and councillors calling for an end to the "incremental attack" on the Waitemata Harbour.
The letter is signed by all resident groups that surround the harbour, boating organisations, urban design, architecture, environmental and heritage groups.
"Auckland Council is about to spend over $10 million on a 90m concrete and steel extensions to Queens Wharf, just to dock a few over-sized, foreign-owned cruise ships," said Stop Stealing Our Harbour spokesman Michael Goldwater.
Plans to line the west side of the wharf with new ferry berths and run buses up the west side between the berths and the Cloud are also raising concerns.
The Auckland City Centre Advisory Board, which includes councillors, business and city centre residents, has called for a workshop on May 22 to look at the future of Queens Wharf, including making it more attractive for the public. It will be led by council's development agency, Panuku.
Queens Wharf was purchased by the former Auckland Regional Council and the Government in 2009 from Ports of Auckland for $40m to be turned into party central for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and become the "people's wharf".
Meanwhile, AT's bus interchange project team are going back to the drawing board after the decision to scrap the Britomart East bus interchange between Commerce St and Britomart Place to bring people from the east to the downtown area without entering the pedestrian-focused waterfront area.
The plan included a roundabout at the intersection of Quay St and Commerce St for buses to turn around.
It was part of two big new interchanges costing $36 million to be built in the run-up to the America's Cup and Apec conference in 2021. The other bus interchange on lower Albert St is proceeding.
Council planning committee chairman Chris Darby said he had some sympathy with the Britomart developer, Cooper and Company, which was critical of a wall of steel buses outside its businesses on Quay St.
He said it was time to press the "reset button" and look at other options for buses in the area, including Customs St and the status quo of running buses through the Britomart precinct.
Darby said most people taking public transport to the city travelled by bus, the numbers are soaring, and there is fierce competition for space while trying to provide great places and amenity for people.
"That's the challenge," he said.