As part of the works for the City Rail Link, Queen Elizabeth Square will be completely dug up however as we know it won’t be replaced, instead the square has been sold to Precinct Properties and will be developed. In its place the current road area of Queen St between Customs and Quay Streets – with the exception of a small access to Galway St and from Tyler St – will be created.

Lower Queen St Event Space

The council have also said the proceeds of the sale of QE Square would be used to go towards at least two of three new public spaces proposed along the waterfront and that the spaces should be delivered by 2018. An update to the council’s Auckland City Centre Advisory Board a few weeks ago gives an update on that with some useful information about what we’ll get. The three potential public spaces are

  1. new/improved space west of Queens Wharf on the water’s edge at the foot of Lower Albert Street
  2. improved space around the historic ferry building and at the base of Queens Wharf
  3. new/improved space east of Queens Wharf in the Admiralty Steps area.

Proposed Downtown Public Spaces

Of the spaces the third is tied up in what is currently the operational area for the port so relies on the outcome of study into the ports future. That means the two spaces being focused on are 1 and 2. The report says that within the ferry basin the plan will deliver a total public space of 4,700m² of which 2,100m² will be brand new space. To put that in comparison the area being lost from QE Square is about 1,800m². As you can see that will obviously require some changes to the current ferry piers.

Proposed Downtown Public Spaces - new space

The report highlights a few major issues related to budgets.

  • The council won’t receive the money from Precinct for QE Square till at least February 2018 which is about 6 months later than when they estimate they need to start construction and of course money is needed immediately for design, planning and consenting works.
  • A pre-requisite for the works is the seismic upgrade to the Quay St seawall however that isn’t budgeted to occur till after 2020.
  • It requires redevelopment of the downtown ferry terminal however that isn’t currently budgeted for in the 10 year Long Term Plan.

The minutes aren’t available to confirm what was agreed however the City Centre Integration team were looking for an agreement in principle to use funding from the CBD targeted rate to progress the investigation and design of project.

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  1. Item 2 is needed now as with the tables now in front of those areas the whole section in front of the Ferry Building is becoming very congested.

  2. I was there. From those who commented, I think many more questions were raised than answered and quite a lot of disquiet in evidence. Particularly around timing given the fact that so much of the work required (Seawall etc as you mention) is unbudgeted prior to 2020. Also a sense that precinct errr, got a really good deal from council. And that $10m of the payment for QEII square was being paid back to precinct for the sub ground rights for the train lines under precinct property
    And what is being proposed is a further reclamation of the harbour and what are the implications or risks there. From memory there was no agreement to support anything, in fact the motion was taken out with something about more info being required. The feeling I got was one of scepticism about what we will get at all out of the sale and loss of public space.

  3. One thing I enjoyed about Oriental Parade/Te Papa was that there was open space by the water. This wasn’t limited to walkways (although having space wide enough to run a race track through is a bonus!), the main attraction was actual usable space. It’s like having Victoria Park on the Waterfront.

    Public Squares are great but when you consider they’re usually unusable when it rains, they need to be as usable as possible when it’s dry. The image above doesn’t fill me with help – it’s full of people passing through, not actually using it.

  4. The ferry basin itself is near full capacity and there are at least two new ferries due soon. Area 3 needs to to be sorted as well. For instance if used for Waiheke service would allow Tourist buses closer access to ferry.

  5. The proposed areas in the basin actually diminish the ferry area and water and seems like reclamation although it may be on piers.

  6. Are there no light rail lines planned for this part of Queen Street? I would have thought it handy to have the LRV’s running by the ferry terminal, although I suppose a one block connection is acceptable.

    1. Running trams through the middle of the square out front of Britomart would work perfectly well, places like Basel do the same in front of their main station. It’s effectively a shared space without cars and instead trams with between people walking and on bikes.

  7. Um, yeah that pontoon in #1 is already being built:

    As for 3 being “tied up as an operational area”, PoA are using it as storage for parking of buses, earth moving equipment, etc. when they could move that stuff further along to the east. This area needs to be opened up to the people, as promised, to increase safety in this area by widening the pedestrian and cycle space for the hundreds if not thousands of people that move in this area every day. All I’m asking for is Queen’s Wharf to Captain Cook Wharf at the traffic lights. Currently the footpath and cycle lane shared space is too tight, and with the reduced visibility red fence, hop on hop off bus stop there with clueless disembarking passengers blocking things up, it is a disaster waiting to happen.

    1. Let’s hope the pontoon now being built is future proofed for the new use. But it’s actually a short term project and access is from the existing pier/steps/whatever.

      It sure looks to me as if this plan reduces the berths available for ferries.

  8. You’ve sort to got to accept that, in truth, QEII Square has been a failure as an urban space ever since they let Air NZ build their tower there and block off the sunshine back in the 60/70s. The tragedy is that they buggered up Aotea Sq up the other end of Queen St as well, so they may as well make the most out of areas 1 & 3 as they can.

      1. What’s wrong with Aotea Sq? I’d rephrase that question into what is actually right with it – it’s appalling. It’s a total failure as an urban space, and the recent works on the edge of it have made it even worse. Wellington’s Civic Square is not brilliant, as it also lacks any active edges but at least it’s an enclosed urban space. Aotea Sq can’t make up its mind – or rather, it’s designers can’t make up their minds, if it wants to be urban and part of the city, or whether it wants to be rural and pretend it wants to be part of Myrts Park.
        You know when a place is successful by the amount of people using it, day and night, as a meeting place, a natural draw card. I’ve never met anyone ever, who said “Let’s go to Aotea Sq”. It’s just a basket-case of unwanted dross.
        Makes QEII Sq look quite sophisticated by comparison!

        1. ‘the box’ or whatever it is renamed to these days is a very popular meeting spot on aotea sq. I see plenty of people meeting there who are not using the theatre.

    1. I think Aotea Square is quite successful since it’s been upgraded, always quite busy and works well when activated with the various events that take place there.

  9. “money is needed immediately for design, planning and consenting works.”

    Given the work won’t start until well after 2020 why is it sensible to start doing the comsenting and design now?

    1. The point is that they want to to happen earlier, and thus, design logically also must occur earlier. Its written from a perspective of someone who DOESNT want it left till way after 2020.

  10. Once again we are shown an image of a public space with clear skies although it appears to be cooler as many are wearing scarves etc. This area is rather dismal in inclement weather with the essentially useless concourse offering no realistic protection form the rain or wind.

  11. The square is a hundred times better now than it was in the 1950s. Then it was a very dingy part of town with old run down soot covered buildings. One my dad and I frequented was one selling pictures and post cards of ships. Dad was an artist and a great fan of the ships, and we used to bus in from Pukekohe and sit on the seats just west of the Ferry Building and spend the day sketching ships. In those days people were only too happy to see those buildings go and Little Queen Street behind it which was even worse.

  12. When Britomart railway station opened this back to the future proposal already existed. The problem was it displaced the CBD’s bus terminal and to partially compensate for that they reopened lower Queen St. So now these fools have sold off QE2 Square they’re going to close the road again? So just where are the buses going to go?

    We already have buses terminating and leaving all over the CBD now which is about as anti user as you can get and the complete opposite of a PT hub and the fact that several more routes will be displaced to somewhere random is unbelievable!

    1. only poor people use buses. And they don’t matter as much as rich people who need things like illuminated fake Christmas trees and trams.

      After all, it’s the bourgeoisie trappings that really make a city, rather the equality of opportunity that it offers to people of lower socio-economic status.

  13. Any news on Queens Wharf itself? The whole waterfront space there wiuld be dramatically improved if the Cloud was removed and replaced with grass, trees, some basic seating, etc. Perhaps a cafe at the northern end of Shed 10.

    The area is rather wasted at the moment. What happened to the previous plans for this space?

    1. Our glorious council have agreed to give over the public space at the end of the wharf in perpetuity to erect a large ‘artwork’ – namely a representation of a ‘traditional villa’. Children will not be able to climb on it, and presumably we ratepayers will be paying to stop teenagers from tagging it. I have no doubt it will make a great selfie stop, but that is about all. Barfoot and Thompson have contributed one million dollars to the project, which is cheap compared to getting their brand on the wharf in perpetuity. And very cheap when you consider how much they earn in real estate commissions each year (but at least they *are* contributing, not many companies do). I suppose it would be inappropriate to ask Bayleys or Harcourts to contribute the other $1.5m it’s going to cost ratepayers to erect this monument?
      I’m all in favour of public art, and I think this piece is fine but (about to be) located in completely the wrong place.

  14. The big question for me is what does the QE2 site look like between the time that CRL work is done and the office tower is built. I know it’s supposed to be right away, but financing an office tower depends on a lot of things, and there could be years until it goes up. What kind of space will it be in the meantime? Or will it be a big hole with a wooden wall around it?

    1. Yeah, it will look like a deep construction site with big fences around it. Looks like Zurich House and HSBC will get the best view of construction as they will stay

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