When a much-loved organisation heard that their customers would no longer be able to be dropped off at the Town Hall under Auckland Transport's plans for Queen St, they were gobsmacked.
I suspect there are many others who may not be aware of what lies ahead if good sense doesn't prevail.
Queen St is not any old street. It has commercial, civic, cultural and social functions and it connects with key parts of our city. Heart of the City would love to click our fingers and see Queen St pedestrianised and beautifully maintained like Britomart, with an organised approach for essential functions like deliveries.
The reality is that this is not something that can just happen overnight - for example, a whole lot more buses are about to hit Queen St due to City Rail Link construction. And it certainly won't be achieved by introducing a few bus lanes and leaving others to just work it out for themselves.
It is one thing to have a vision and another to deliver it well. A pilot of a concept called Access for Everyone was meant to be visionary, but one defining decision has made progress even harder.
It got off to the wrong start when Auckland Council overturned a promise to remove temporary Covid-related works. This was a fundamental flaw. It set the baseline for the design, instead of working with stakeholders from the outset to understand issues and requirements that needed to be dealt with.
The resulting plans are not good enough and too simplistic to meet Queen St's needs. And, given property owners and businesses would have to fund a significant portion of the costs, their needs should be taken into account.
Pretty designs for the lower end of Queen St are an improvement on what is there now, but some of the materials are unlikely to look good for very long.
And it will need to be well maintained if we want it to look like Britomart and flow naturally from the magnificently paved Te Komititanga.
There will be issues for essential traffic. The work needed to change how deliveries happen to support a plan like this has not been done (for example, working with industry and local businesses to change how and when deliveries are made).
Auckland Transport's proposal means that delivery vehicles will need to weave in and out of the different sections of the street that will be deemed bus-only, which will be highly inefficient. Some businesses will not have access for deliveries.
The plans give no thought to scooters or taxis and rideshare, which is contrary to contemporary kerbside planning. Imagine people with mobility needs battling in the rain if they can't get to where they want to go. This situation is an absurd mess.
Our city centre must provide effective access for those who need to be there. Any change to essential functions must be made with pragmatism and common sense, in view at all times.
Heart of the City is an active supporter of transformation. We know it's not always easy and we give credit where it's due. People love new spaces when they open and Downtown, opening soon, will be no exception.
But change needs to be done well: well-designed, planned, funded, built and maintained. Wynyard Quarter is a good example of this - an industrial marine area that's now a wonderful place with people living and working there, whilst retaining its heritage. This was achieved through good practice - conspicuously lacking in Queen St's case.
Albert St has not been managed well either. The City Rail Link will transform access to the city centre when complete, but businesses in its wake have not been treated well. The project sponsors seem willing to leave people in distress and close to financial ruin. We continue to battle for human decency by trying to get a hardship fund for the remainder of the project, but it should not have to be this hard.
This is an important moment for Auckland Council. If it were a private company, it would be accountable to its funders and poor performance would not be tolerated.
The debacle on Queen St over the last year is unacceptable and a clear demonstration that the performance and accountability bar must be raised. Sadly, it has taken a legal threat from the Save Queen Street campaign to get traction.
Heart of the City has made a big call to join this group because we believe there are serious implications for many Aucklanders, not just affected businesses. There are also key principles at stake about consultation and due process before key decisions are made.
There seems to be little disagreement about the benefits of pedestrianising Queen St. It's the nature and timing of the delivery that is key.
Heart of the City would like to see a fundamental change in how projects are planned, delivered and maintained so Aucklanders keep visiting and love spending time here.
Surely the famous street at the heart of our city deserves that?
• Viv Beck is the chief executive of Heart of the City.