The Auckland Council has agreed to sell Queen Elizabeth Square to Precinct Properties for $27.2 million as part of a $550 million redevelopment of the Downtown Shopping Centre site.
Yesterday, Waitemata Local Board member Vernon Tava reminded councillors on the Auckland Development Committee about an agreement to use the proceeds to provide at least two of three identified potential public spaces along the downtown waterfront.
The public spaces are the ferry basin between Queens and Princes Wharf at the foot of lower Albert St, around the historic Ferry Building and the base of Queens Wharf, and east of Queens Wharf in the Admiralty Steps area.
But despite board concerns about the council dragging its feet on new public space being on the agenda item, committee chairwoman Penny Hulse said the matter was a side issue and not relevant to the issue of a private plan change for the square.
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The only matter the committee was dealing with, she ruled, was to accept or reject the private plan change.
Ms Hulse said it was unacceptable for elected representatives and staff to be discussing the purchase of downtown land in public.
The plan change, to rezone the 1892sq m square from public open space to provide development potential, was passed.
Discussions about a new public space was referred to a workshop behind closed doors on June 30 where councillors and Local Board members will be updated on a range of waterfront plans.
Mr Tava said the new public space had created intense public interest and discussions should be out in the open.
"This needs daylight. The bottom line is we are seeing the privatisation of a public space with no clear guarantees we are going to get an alternative," he said.
Mr Tava welcomed the decision to notify the plan change, saying it was a chance for the public to have their say.