Auckland Transport are currently consulting on a makeover for Queen St with consultation closing this Friday. As I wrote two weeks ago, there are some good elements to the plans though we think AT should go further to prevent cars using the street. We also think more needs to be done to accommodate bikes and scooters rather than mixing them in with buses or pedestrians. But while the consultation is still going, the plans themselves could be up in the air with a group of business and property owners taking legal action over it.

A group of inner-city businesses and landlords is asking the High Court to urgently halt council plans to trial traffic restrictions and bigger pedestrian areas on part of the CBD’s main retail strip.

The group calling itself Save Queen Street has described the plan to start work in early May on the more pedestrian-friendly design between Shortland and Customs streets, as a “disgrace”.

It blames a makeshift reduction of general traffic lanes, installed during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, for some of the streets economic woes, with a large number of smaller stores now vacant.

Save Queen Street wants all changes of the past year scrapped, and a new discussion on how to best upgrade the street to begin, and will argue its case on May 4.

….

Queen St has been hit by the absence of foreign tourists, cruise ship passengers, the loss of foreign tertiary students, and more office workers opting to at least partially work from home.

However, the society argued retaining the temporary changes, had contributed to the street’s economic decline.

“The Emergency Works have contributed to foot traffic in Queen Street declining by almost half since March 2020 because they make Queen Street a less pleasant place to be and make access difficult,” it argued.

“The Emergency Works have contributed to a significant decline in commercial activity in Queen Street.”

The proposed upgrade to Queen St

There is so much about this entire situation, from both sides, that really frustrates me.

First, the suggestion that the current temporary measures are responsible for the downturn in fortunes of Queen St businesses is frankly ludicrous. It’s like these business owners have completely forgotten there’s a global pandemic that is still raging overseas resulting in a changing of work habits and a stopping of international visitors, likely a lot fewer local visitors too. That’s important because Heart of the City data shows that prior to the pandemic just under 40% of spending in the city centre was from international and local visitors. On Queen St this number is probably higher. By comparison, in other ‘competitor’ areas that number is around 10%.

Outside of lockdowns, pedestrian volumes on Queen St were sitting at 60-70% of the same time in 2019, though recently that has been improving and are now typically sitting at 70-80% of what they were in 2019.

While there’s little this opposition group can do about the government’s border settings, what I can’t understand is why none of them have done anything about trying to attract more people to the city to help change their fortunes. Where have been the calls for street events to bring people in or even just the promotion of businesses and the city as a destination? Perhaps they need to set up a business association which could be tasked with doing just that. We’ve certainly heard anecdotal stories of how the constant complaints claiming the city is ugly and hard to get to has stopped people from even considering visiting.

Perhaps also the owners of buildings on Queen St, instead of protesting the council, should be doing what they can to bring some life back to the city such as dropping rents and finding short-term tenants to fill any vacant sites.

Finally on this group, somewhat unsurprisingly for me many of the most prominent members of it were also the most vocal and disruptive at a number of workshops that were held to try and come up with a design, with them frequently trying to derail the process. I wonder what they could have achieved if the money they’re paying to the lawyers was instead spent on coming up with some a vision or solutions of their own.

The council and AT aren’t exactly blameless here either. Both organisations have dragged the chain on making changes and I understand the project has been bounced back and forth between the two a few times. And now they’ve finally produced something, it has been watered down from what it should be.

Part of the problem here is it seems none of the officials want to go out and say the goal is want to get the cars out of Queen St – in part because we hear rumours that a lot of the senior officials don’t want that outcome. It’s like they’re more too worried about what will be said about it on talkback radio than recognising the politicians have said they want this outcome.

And that is what makes me nervous about news late on Friday.

Court action over a planned upgrade to Auckland’s Queen Street may be averted after peace talks between a group of businesses and the council.

Parties are tight-lipped with the Save Queen Street group set to seek an injunction on May 5, but in a joint statement described Friday’s 90-minute meeting as “productive”.

“Save Queen Street, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport had a productive meeting this afternoon and are working together to reach a resolution,” they said in a statement.

….

Today’s talks were chaired by the Auckland Council chief executive Jim Stabback, with senior officials from both council and Auckland Transport, but without the mayor Phil Goff.

My fear is that behind closed doors officials will give in to at least some of the demands from these business bullys and further weaken these plans.

If anything, the thing Queen St needs saving from is the Save Queen St group.

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100 comments

  1. Why is all of Auckland beholden to the backwards views of the older male prejudices of ATs senior staff? Surely if they don’t follow the direction of the Council they shouldn’t be in their jobs

      1. Does anyone have the peak number of pedestrians on Queen street and the peak numbers in cars? My thoughts are at peak pedestrians you have to adjust you walk to get around everyone. Peak car would have much less people

        1. Someone has done this analysis before (I can’t remember where or who though) and you are quite correct, the number of pedestrians vs cars is incomparable. It seems utterly mad that anyone who has visited Queen street would think the cars are adding any significant amount of business to the street.

  2. I don’t really care what they do but it would be good if they could arrange for the city link buses to be faster than walking. Great that there electric now though.

    1. I’d say that you do care what they do, then, because the same holds for all the buses. Buses going to, and through, town have been unreliable and slow because of the traffic. Good traffic planning would’ve taken cars off Queen St, and lowered the volumes on other central city streets, years ago. This is a key consideration.

      What Council terms “Spatial Priorities” applies to all sorts of planning things, including Queen St. The geometry of Auckland means the city centre is, of course, at the nexus of a big chunk of our bus routes – and active mode corridors, too. Getting the cars out to let the other modes function shouldn’t have even needed CCMP to lay it out to AT so clearly. They should’ve simply applied quality transport planning.

      The dinosaurs in the community that hate buses have been unhelpful, but AT allowing their voices to stuff things up in this way has been the main problem.

      If they’ve negotiated away the best climate response, and the best, safest, Queen St for children and people with disabilities, they are being fully irresponsible, and clearly have not correctly identified where the strongest legal threat, with the biggest downstream costs, are likely to come from.

      1. If there is only going to be one lane then it has to be a bus or transit lane. If there are two then one can be cars. Which will make the buses quicker might be two. But then not so good for bikes scooters and pedestrians. One bus lane and no cars except for service vehicles is about the only option except for having a tram running in the middle with island stops but we are starting a out 20 years to late fo that. Which is why I don’t care will have to take the train to Aotea or K Road if they can’t sort it out.

      2. I have heard it stated that the tram up the main street of our towns and cities were always faster than the buses that replaced them.

    2. “I don’t really care what they do but it would be good if they could arrange for the city link buses to be faster than walking’

      Removing the cars that are choking up Queen Street, will help to achieve this

  3. Couldn’t give two hoots about Queen Street. If anything Auckland needs Saving from Queen Street. Business has shifted towards Wynyard Qtr, hospo and retail have shifted towards the waterfront. Perhaps if we spent better energy on the multitude of other streets that should make up a City Centre, Victoria Street is a joke, Wellesley not much better, Nelson and Hobson are horrific, yet these areas will get record numbers dropped off near Aoetea Station. Leave Queen Street as it was, its had lots of money and looks ok minus the weird cones and painting. Pedestrianise High Street completely, make some bold moves for other Streets. Sick of these Heart of the City business muppets.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. I took the kids into the city yesterday, Quay street is starting to look good, Britomart / Viaduct / Wynyard are great, why would you go up Queen Street? If it was a nice pedestrian mall we may have, but it is just a road with shops on each side, not of interest at all.
      Let those at Heart of the City have their 4 lane road that supposedly people love, and spend the money where people want to be. But these that continually stop progress need to be taught a lesson: you didn’t want to make Queen Street more pedestrian friendly, so don’t complain or expect anything when you finally come to your senses. Same with Takapuna, St Heliers, etc: you had your chance, you didn’t want change, sorry the budget went elsewhere.
      (Also I think AT need to acknowledge that Queen Street is not really the destination of choice for many people and make sure all buses get people to downtown. Having our bus drop us off at Wellesley and having to walk with kids down and up the hill is not making us want to go into the city as much. We end up driving to a train station and taking the train).

      1. (wish you could edit comments: I probably didn’t need to use derogatory words like morons and idiots)

      2. Have to agree. There is very little on Queen street that is interesting or revenant to me. Make high street a pedestrian mall- better and more interesting shopping. Queen street is only banks, $2 shops, fast food and the same brand stores as anywhere else plus a few icon big brand stores that I will never shop in. I think Heart of the City needs to look at what they are offering. Queens arcade and marbecks are the only places I visit on Queen street. Partly that because they are close to Britomart transport centre. Mid city is a dive and the Civic entertainment complex is in trouble. The Council would be better off fixing up the St James as a live venue for when Aotea station opens. But with the closing of the central library there is a lot of even coax you to go up queen street. With the price of petrol plus parking charges most Aucklanders are not going to go there for shopping. Especially with a number of good malls closer with easier parking. Letting the dinosaurs to die off might be the best thing for Queen street. Then it perhaps can evolve around light rail, CRL plus serving intercity apartment dwellers. The bottom of queen street can still serve tourisms with big brand chain/fashion labels stores. Re build mid city as an entertainment zone (including St James). But fast, effective and convenient PT is the only thing going to bring locals back to Queen st, plus offering a unique experience you can not get at the malls.

        1. Agree here except no one asks WHY?

          In winter this street is what it always was, cold, windy and miserable. It’s an alley in between high rises.

          Formerly the central business district of a provincial town that lived under no shopping on weekends, late night Thursday and 6 o’clock closing. It had electric light rail and was connected by electric buses (not made by slaves) and a decent ferry system. It had all the best retail and then some.

          Now it’s a ghost from the past.

          Times up, stop wasting ratepayers money on yet another tart up of Queen St. There is no point.

      3. “Also I think AT need to acknowledge that Queen Street is not really the destination of choice for many people and make sure all buses get people to downtown”

        Many people work in midtown, which is why many buses terminate there. Also over 100 buses per hour travel to mid town during the morning peak, or depart from mid town in the afternoon peek. There is not enough curb space “downtown” to accomodate them all. If you get off of a bus at Wellesley Street you can catch the CityLink bus either “up the hill” or to downtown. You can use the free AT Journey Planner, to plan your journey.

    2. I agree. A large part of the problem started years ago when shopping malls were established with lots of easy parking and access to the shops. People have come to expect this now and really never wanted to have to walk down a street when it is cold and pouring with rain. If the businesses in any main street want to survive then they along with the landlords need to get creative to attract people back to their area. Empty shops are usually because the landlords want the same rent as they were getting some years ago and this just won’t happen.

  4. This is normal behaviour.
    Recently in Hamilton we have comment like – ‘believed if the changes were made permanent it would slash about 30 to 40 per cent of the income from his business’. These retailers are linking to the ‘slash’ to the reduction in about dozen car parks. Like in Auckland it was these retailers that where at the table that planned the changes to ward street.
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/124776480/city-businesses-fear-for-livelihoods-if-plan-to-strip-street-of-car-parks-goes-ahead

    This was also normal in Groningen ’business said the same According to “small businesses” they suffered from “a decrease in sales of 25 to 40 percent” … Concerning sales, the Business people’s Association of Groningen estimated a decrease of 30 percent just after the VCP was introduced … Opinions from businesses: 51% of businesses regarded the VCP as “more or less negative”. Those businesses emphasised the negative effects of the VCP regardless of the facts … Compared to preceding two years, more businesses were located in the inner city, the number of vacancies decreased, and the term of being vacant became shorter … The VCP had drastically reduced cars in the inner city. This improved the environment there, and substantially contributed to facilitating the bustling, so-called ‘encounter function’ of the city centre.

    http://hamiltonurbanblog.co.nz/2019/09/groningen-%e2%80%93-introduction-to-traffic-circulation-plan-vcp/

  5. Let’s contemplate that this group is successful in court. Does that open the flood gates more broadly? Places like mangere town centre which have shit streets, could they also sue? Could bike Auckland sue for the failure to deliver the cycle network?

    1. Seems crazy to me that an elected body can’t make changes that are desired by their constituents without being sued; is that really a democracy?

    2. I don’t think their goal was ever to be successful in court. Their goal was to cause enough trouble that they would be invited to the table. I mean AT are the road controlling authority and it would be difficult to find any law that stops them controlling the road. At best a court can say a required process wasn’t followed, but it is hard to imagine any court deciding how a road should function.

      1. “I don’t think their goal was ever to be successful in court. Their goal was to cause enough trouble that they would be invited to the table.”
        Couldn’t have worded it better myself.
        Same tactics used by all the bike activists too. Just being used in the opposite context.

        1. The fact is that they HAVE been at the table for the last year. I can confirm Matt’s stance that these people have been “engaging” in the design & consultation sessions on, essentially, a “don’t change anything / get the cars back” basis.

          So this is bullshit. What they hope is to scare politicians and bureaucrats away from actually doing what they were elected to do / what they should be doing according to their own policies. Nothing better than legal uncertainty to REALLY put the brakes on change.

        2. Sorry, now that I think about it should be worded, “Their goal was to cause enough trouble that they would given a bigger seat at the table”, sorry miffy.

          “don’t change anything / get the cars back” basis…

          I would like to guage this further. Have they actually been saying they want the cars back and that they want people to be able to drive to their store? Or is it more griping about any sort of change, and that the changes are ugly?

      2. In response to Jack- yes , well at least one of the retailers – a dry cleaner -has said without people being able to park right outside my shop how am I to survive as a business.

        1. “without people being able to park right outside my shop how am I to survive as a business.”

          Solution. Offer a pick up and delivery service, like other dry-cleaning businesses do. Pick up from place of work by 4.00pm on day 1, deliver back by 4.00pm on day 2 ( or on day 3, for a discount )

  6. I wish there were more shops on the newly reinstated Albert Street – that’s a much nicer place to be than Queen Street.

  7. I walk down from K’Rd quite often to Britomart and not always taking the same route. I always enjoy the walk. Albert Park, the Art Gallery, Town Hall, Library, Aotea Square, Sky City, Commercial Bay, Many smart new buildings, chatting people and changing views. Offices of our many world leading companies. Sometimes a few people sleeping rough but they are no problem. Give some money.
    I think those who complain most about Queen Street actually never go there and never use our busses or trains.
    Did any of those people visit Wynyard Quarter during the Americas Cup or the new year celebrations along with many thousands of others?
    It’s sad that Queen St to many represents the battle lines between bikeways and cars and between pedestrians and public transport.

    1. “I think those who complain most about Queen Street actually never go there and never use our busses or trains.”

      Just on that note – It would be hilarious to see the people who complain the loudest spending habits … Do they actually shop on Queen St themselves?

    2. “I think those who complain most about Queen Street actually never go there and never use our busses or trains.”

      I wonder if folks like this are actually frightened of other people in some way. The idea of sharing space with strangers seems confronting to them.

      1. Often on the bus or train I get to talk to someone. Yesterday a man was explaining about his vey powerful 1600 Watt scooter that can do 70km/hr. He had a broken wrist after falling off his motorbike.

        1. Yes, walking, cycling, using public transport – all these modes increase social connection and improve people’s perceptions of social health and safety. Driving does the opposite; it increases people’s fears and negative perceptions about other people.

    3. I agree with most of what you say, but I don’t give the feckless professional beggars money.

      The irony is the lower part of Queen st particularly has massive potential. It’s crap now because of cars, not because it needs more cars.

  8. What is the plan? From the photo it looks like they will dump some concrete planters in the street and paint out one lane each side with more of the mushroom beige paint. I imagine they got a job lot of that stuff cheap.

  9. Naturally, the Herald’s letters section is giving huge amounts of space to people to bemoan the fact you can’t drive into the city. What are they expecting, angled parking on Queen Street? Hasn’t been a thing as long as I’ve been alive.

    The reality is despite what retailers say, Queen Street has sucked for years now. It’s an unpleasant place on a windy day. At night you will find yourself crossing the road to avoid drunken louts and without much of a visible police presence. And the situation is made worse by the laughable footpaths cramming everyone together because cars apparently must be allowed to use it as a thoroughfare – given they can’t park anywhere along it.

    I had high hopes that the rejuvenated CBD would mean more square-type areas, light rail and proper planted trees – ones that were well-suited to a central city instead of box ticking natives that offer little shelter. As soon as we take one step in that direction, the usual suspects start coming up with this rubbish. I was last at university a decade ago – as far as I can tell, nothing has changed, with the exception of more hostile people and the place looking even more run down than it did then.

    What a terrible indictment on a global city, to have the main street stagnate for ten years, with little prospect of meaningful change without significant resistance from the people with the most to gain from improving things.

    1. I struggle to see AKL or any NZ city for that matter as a “Global” city. Every time I come home to NZ it feels like I’ve travelled into middle USA 25+ years ago.

  10. This might seem trivial, but there are precious few cafes or bars actually on Queen Street. That’s a pity because having them spill onto an extra wide pavement would be a good way of illustrating the value of being car free. Can something be done to accelerate their development?

    1. This is not trivial at all, it’s actually quite important. You only have to look at Fort St (not car free enough but getting close) to see a bunch of hospitality venues spilling out onto a pedestrian friendly space. They demonstrate that:
      – There is demand for cafes, restaurants and bars in this area. So there’s no reason why it couldn’t work for Queen St.
      – Pedestrian orientated public spaces are much more pleasant to be in, which results in more people spending time there.
      – Even at night when it’s dark, public spaces feel safe if there are a lot of people around.
      – Hospitality venues stay open longer, and thus keep street fronts activated for longer, than retail or office space.

      1. Very good. There are now 40 000 people living in the rapidly growing area. They want to have entertainment, culture, cafes, restaurants, stations, sport, business meetings close to their apartments.
        Other people just want to drive home for hours to a distant suburb and take their dog for a walk and spend a few minutes with their children.

        1. I don’t think there’s many people who want to drive for hours – maybe if we had more realistic and affordable/trustworthy apartments then we’d see more people being able to afford family life in the CBD and central isthmus.

        2. I read the rents that are charged in Queen Street are so high that cafes and bars can’t afford to be located there.

    2. Bill, what if I told you the council has a specific ban on outdoor dining and tables on queen street.

  11. I would expect a downturn on Queen Street anyway even without COVID.

    It is not necessarily getting worse, but it is not improving either. Now we have things like Wynyard Quarter, or the lane behind Britomart Station. And now a new mall at Commercial Bay. So Queen Street will be left behind.

    1. This is exactly what happened to high street. In the 1990s it was the coolest location in the city, narrow and urban which attracted fancy boutiques, bars etc. But twenty years later it was still the same.
      Not worse exactly, but everywhere had got better.

  12. To compare Auckland’s Queen St with Wellington’s Lambton Quay:
    Both have suffered a large drop in foot traffic.
    Both have businesses closing down due to lack of custom.
    Neither have cruise liners in town for the last year.

    Auckland has temporary measures in place, Wellington has none.

    Clearly the issue is Covid, not the temp / permanent sidewalks.

    Incidentally, Wellington is really looking forward to making bigger, wider footpath space up Lambton Quay. Predictably, opposition is being faced from small petty retailers who insist that people need to drive to their store, which no one does anyway…

  13. Save Queen Street is code for offload blame for their own failure and surrender to more organised players.

    Quay Street just had its dawn blessing last week. Commercial Bay is open. Cooper and Co have fresh offerings with the hotel. The Wynyard Quarter retail is growing and growing. That says the east-west downtown spatial axis is now out-competing the north-south Queen Street one.

    And every further delay that Save Queen Street achieves is yet another win for Westfield and all the major suburban malls.

    Save Queen Street need to do their stated job.

    1. The east-west strip is a diamond in the rough. Sun, sea, views, versus the wind swept dark and looming Queen st.

      After a century of waterfront industry Auckland finally has a coastal centre. Imagine if the port car park is moved too.

      Barcelona moved their waterfront industry and simply boomed.

  14. Place-making in Auckland does not begin and end in Queen Street just like the world no longer revolves around the city centre.

  15. One of the tragedies of democracy is that you do have to listen to dissenting opinions, whether they’re progressive or conservative. I desperately hope that the voices for radical change in our city prevail and that we get a sustainable city where walking, cycling and public transport prevail, and where motor vehicles are kept as far away from the centre as possible. But if we want to achieve that we are better to try to persuade people than to dismiss them as Neanderthals. Just saying . . .

  16. It’s a shame that you can’t see past your anti car zealotry and realise that the state of Queen St is appalling. The Queen St retailers have some serious head winds which we all know about, but to then turn the place into something so unattractive and haphazard must be so soul destroying for them. The so called planned upgrade is well below what we should all expect our ‘Main Street’ to look like. It will be very interesting to see what these court proceedings reveal – I hope AT get roasted and return Queen St to how it was. Any future upgrades should be consulted on and works completed to a much higher standard.

    1. ‘It’s a shame that you can’t see past your anti car zealotry and realise that the state of Queen St is appalling. ‘

      Zealotry – lol!

      I don’t think anyone on here or otherwise thinks the current state is fine, all agree its a shambles, maybe you read the actual article Matt has written rather than putting your car defender hat on and jumping straight into the comments section.

      Easiest solution, make it an emission free zone, literally every notable City has already done this many many years ago. We’ve declared a climate emergency, then it’s no longer anti-cars, its anti pollution which is something I think literally everyone other than loons can agree is not a pleasant thing to have floating around your ‘prized’ Street.

    2. “It’s a shame that you can’t see past your anti car zealotry”

      Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      Please try harder.

  17. I live and work in the lower Queen Street area and there is no doubt that Queen Street has taken a blow during Covid. I am not a big fan of the temporary measures as they were not needed and they are ugly and looking very shabby. Closing Fort Street was good, however, lack of Police enforcement around Fort Street has made it rather unwelcoming at times.

    The only way for Queen Street to get some shine back is for the tourists, office workers, and foreign students to return. A coat of paint and some planters won’t do much.

  18. Lower Queen Street has actually improved over the last two decades, but the Covid decline in overseas tourists and overseas students, and the covid induced acceleration of a trend to much more working from home has reversed this increase in footfall over the last year.
    And what were the biggest drivers of that pre covid increased footfall?
    I suspect the two biggest drivers were the massive population increase of the CBD, driven in part by increase in overseas students, and also Britomart rail station with much improved public transport offering.
    Nothing at all to do with maintaining car access.
    Really the Queen Street environment is still really crap, and by far the single most factor of this situation is caused by overly prioritising car access and storage.
    Queen Street strip has been incredibly poorly served by its parochial representatives for decades, and this current spate is just a continuation.
    There is a huge lot more they could be doing to improve the desirability of Queen Street as a destination, and none of that includes protecting car access and storage.
    Our Council needs to much more powerfully assert the leadership role it is empowered to perform. It needs to push back against bullying by such narrow interest pressure groups. Groups that have a long history of active resistance to anything other then any token change.
    Radical change is now required urgently as the world has moved on vastly faster then Queen Street business grandees are capable of. Climate change is real and severly disruptive.

    1. Like the post says most/all of the downturn is COVID-19 related but also the newly opened Commercial Bay building providing all the great food outlets it does. I think the article or legal group over emphasise the temporary measures effects but I do agree with a lot the comments etc that they were pretty ugly, perhaps because they were done on a budget of $10.

      Yes Queen Street is it extreme mix of high-end tourist market and top end shops. Which I think would be shopped by locals in a car like the Lamborghini I spotted the other week parking in the 15 minute zone at the bottom of Queen Street. These surely are the rare car on street shopper types. Most of the top end stuff would be tourists that walk from cruise ships, hotels or would park in parking buildings if more local or other regional/wealthy tourists.

      Queen st should become a virtually car free entertainment and shopping mecca Drawing from all the best of the surrounding Viaduct, Wynyard, Commercial Bay, K Road, Ponsonby, & Parnell regions.

      It should cater for Every international food taste and style there is once we have international students again and more people live in the great apartments getting built now.

      Post Covid-19, Light rail, CRL, biking facilities would greatly improve this valley. Maybe there’s a lot of adjusting needing to be done businesses need to close and others open this is normal commercial reality.

      The council and AT need to stop fidgeting with gimmicky bits and pieces and get onto it properly

      1. Aghhhh it’s comment should be in the general area not in reply to you specifically.

        *While scrolling through the comments you only have to touch the reply and it pops open the comment window.

  19. The thing about Queen St is the severe gap between the actual city dwellers – a lot of students and low-cost / poor quality apartments – vs shops that cater for ultra-rich shoppers only (Prada, Dior, Gucci etc) – almost guarantee that none of the dwellers in Scene 1, 2, or 3 would ever use their services.

    Auckland is bustling with highly desirable apartment blocks being built, but these are mainly (or All?) being built out in the fringe – not the inner city. Contrast that with Melbourne and Sydney where the wealthy have cool apartments right in the centre (Eureka etc) – Auckland is, in effect, a doughnut city. Nothing too tasty in the main – hollow in the middle – and a small amount of crunchy goodness on the top. A brief sugar hit. Hmmmm. Analogy taken too far?

    Wellington, of course, is a croissant.

    1. I think your perception of the Auckland apartment market is uninformed at best.

      Waterfront apartments (between Fanshawe St, Customs St and Beach Rd) are pretty much all on leasehold land, which puts a price floor under them. Owning or renting one is very expensive. Even the leaky ones are rented at absurd prices.

      In the middle of the CBD there are expensive apartments in 100+ year old heritage buildings. Think 3m stud heights, real native timber flooring etc. Then there are also fancy new builds like Pacifica.

      For cheap apartments accommodating students and young professionals you need to look further uptown. Along Nelson St, Hobson St and uphill of Mayoral Dr.

      The ultra expensive shops in downtown aren’t really about meeting the needs of locals though. They’re targeting the cruise ship tourist and daigou markets, which is why they’re hurting so much right now.

      1. I had to go and look up “daigou” as it is a new word for me – but you’re absolutely right. Those luxury shops are certainly not aimed at “Aucklanders” – even though that is a broad demographic, the amount of shopping done in those ultra-$$$ shops by locals must be close to zero. Personally, I’d vote to let them go bust and be wound up. Its probably still at least a year before cruise liners return (hopefully never) and its the sort of hideous monied cringe that I personally could well do without. Surely the age of conspicuous consumption and display of obscene wealth is over by now? It’s 2021.

        So: if you want Queen St to thrive, then provide shops, retail and hops that caters for the market of people living in Auckland. Not for the fantasy tourist market who may never reappear.

    2. Haha, very good. I’ll take the hollow centre filled with the energy, diversity and creativity of young people over the stale and pale donut (even if it is deliciously presented with chocolate and sprinkles).

  20. Auckland could learn a lot from Brisbane where their Queen Street Mall is such a pleasant place to be and has been such a huge financial success. Pedestrian only, smoke free, shade trees, plenty of seating areas, large planted areas (not coloured plastic tubs!), artworks, quality busking, variety of shops, cafes and bars. Feels safe. Looks attractive. Low pollution. Be brave …….. time to make some bold changes. At the same time businesses might make an effort to clean their glass awnings, The Strand Arcade owners should be encouraged to restore it to it’s former glory, rubbish and recycling should be better managed, tenants should remove all signage when vacating a site and empty sites should be offered to artists as pop up galleries etc. etc. I am a frequent visitor to Queen Street and have been for many years and the worsening standards are a disgrace, the responsibility lies with more than a few and it requires co-operation from all (Council, property owners and business owners) to get it sorted!

    1. Yeah agree, see my comment below.
      It’s the superficial things that are mainly wrong with Queen Street. The bones are good.
      To be honest, the prevalence of aggro homeless people doesn’t help it’s feel…

  21. When they can arrange the ability to walk sheltered from the rain from Myers Park to Quay Street with continuous verandas these fatcat landlords can get back to me about their complaints.

  22. I find the whole thing rather amusing.
    Queen Street is nowhere as bad as it’s critics make out.
    It’s got great bones. Many nice old buildings still extant, a good human scale corridor, and the nikau are great.
    Pavement needs some work and calm the cars.
    The whingers are looking for scapegoats. There are much greater forces at play affecting their business than council’s actions. And that’s coming from someone- me – who doesn’t like the post things and the nasty colours.

  23. The CBD will remain disgusting and unsafe, with cars or without cars. It’s just overcrowded.

    1. Less to do with “over crowding”, significantly more to do with mismanagement, current construction boom, issues in society at large that are hidden everywhere else (no beggars in private malls because they just throw them out).
      The cars have more of an impact than people realise, but other things need attention too.

      1. It’s so crowded because there are so many tall buildings. Also most of this shared streets success is unfortunately an alcoholic economy with vine, beer and spirits. A reservation for students, tourists and childfree geeks as is, absolutely nothing to do for family kind of person. I spent a decade in CBD and so happy to be away from all this, the next step is to work out a plan to escape Auckland.

  24. did anybody read the headline letter in the herald on Saturday.
    The closure to cars in onehunga main st in the 90s was a prime example of the destructive policys’ of this council which turned that area into a absolute slum.
    These are failed policy’s of various councils worldwide ,I can quote the US with Los Angeles as prime example.
    Since this council has restricted cars in the central city the average pedestrian income has dropped from about $ 50000 in the early 2000s to $30000 approx 20yrs later
    The writer of this article is absolute idiot
    Rgds

    1. I have not read the article nor comment in specifics about it but I can comment about pedestrian malls in general
      There was a real phase of pedestrianisation late last century. I seem to remember a study from the US saying that the majority failed and were reverted because afterwards (and after a sustained period of years) a lot of the shops closed, and the areas regressed.

      This time round, at least where people advocate for in Auckland is all areas where already the majority of people come by public transport or active modes. Previously you were expected to drive to your local pedestrian mall which is a smidge crazy. That is the key difference and the reason why it would work this time around. Especially as we continue to improve these alternate modes in the city (albeit slowly)

      https://youtu.be/-Tg9IMCKa5M

      An interesting video that applies here too

  25. https://www.vienncouver.com/2015/01/aucklands-city-centre-shared-space-programme/

    I have just come across a series that compares the pedestrianisation of Vienna and Auckland. This should be compulsory reading for Heart of the City if they think cars on Queen St is the answer. (If Darren Davis is still with AT there is hope)

    Surely Mariahilfer Strasse is a shining example of what a main street can be when it is pedestrianised? But all around the world there are examples of the vibrancy that is brought by pedestrianised streets: the old city of Prague, Venice, the congestion free zone of Milan, the cross streets of Buenos Airies.

    As a boomer I am disappointed that the aging shop owners of Queen St look for inspiration from the past rather than imaging things as they might be.

    I managed two significant businesses on Queen St in the late 80s and early 90s. I don’t remember that Queen St with any fondness and if other say they do, respectfully their memory is failing.

    1. Share spaces are crap, worst of both worlds. You have vehicles driving very close to pedestrians, fumes, speeding and the general intimidation of large noisy vehicles constantly moving through what is supposed to be a calm respite from a busy road. Also with no demarcation you just get vehicles parking anyway they like, turning down one way streets, U turns, etc. And most cars do not obey the speed limits. Enforcement is next to nothing, instead you have groups of 4-6 AT officers just walking around downtown talking to each other – has anyone ever seen them do anything around enforcement?

      Increasing the number of pedestrians should not be the solution to make the shared space better. Why should we need to share with cars anyway and place them so close to us? I can’t think of any other aspect of modern life where you are required to share close proximity with something so opposite to a person. Cars and people don’t mix. Deliveries should be after hours only and severely restricted.

      1. Depends on how shared.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlXNVnftaNs
        The above is technically a shared space for example. It seems to work very well mostly.
        Design so there is no through traffic and making it annoying access is important.
        Elliot street is for example a bad shared space. There are 2 entry ways, and 1 exit. Cars use it as a thoroughfare, there is almost no disincentive to go through here, and cars still expect to be in the right. I’ve seen people honking at people walking in front. Crazyness. Bollards on queen street and Victoria street intersections would prevent this. Vehicles should be small, and be able to turn around in this environment anyway if they need to be there. No-one needs to bring a full on semi truck down there. And if they do they can contact AT to get the bollards down for them.

    2. It’s interesting that Oxford St in London is now experimenting with pedestrianisation – once the busiest (and wealthiest) shopping street in Britain (and possibly Europe), the street survived with massive numbers of pedestrians on narrow pavements, supplemented by a non stop string of buses, taxis, and of course the Tube lines below ground. I don’t recall ever driving to Oxford St in my life – nor would anyone try, as that would be pointless. Take a bus, take a taxi, jump on the Tube. There were cars there: I think they mostly regretted their decision to try that route. And yet, now, in Covid times (but starting before?) they are pedestrianising it.

      Queen St needs two things to make it work. Good systems to actually get you there – buses or taxis can work fine (OK – Uber for the new generation) but they also need to have shops and attractions that actually make you want to go there. It’s notable in Auckland how the perimeter shopping areas like Newmarket, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Wynyard etc are all doing well – they have both attractions, as well as having better transport access. Auckland has always been a cliquey sort of city – what is In this week may be passe the next. Parnell used to be hip place many years ago – now it goes through waves of dying off.

      The one good thing about Covid is that it may sweep away a whole swathe of moribund businesses throughout the city and give a chance for new, more desirable businesses to open and grow in their place. Harsh but true. We just need to make sure that we don’t lose Smith & Caugheys but gain a whole bunch of Kebab shops instead….

        1. Wow, London and Auckland look really similar when both countries are in a full scale lockdown.

      1. Queen Street and environs still has something a lot of places don’t have – culture. Theatres, galleries, and a couple of great bookshops. That’s why it remains a place that I gravitate to quite a lot.

  26. I’m sure with our brave mayor who tirelessly champions safety and active modes, we will get a great outcome. /s

  27. I am a regular cyclist in the city and must say the current state of Queens Street is dire. The recent emergency works are simply dangerous and confusing fot
    both pedestrians and cyclists. While I am no advocate for increasing cars in this space it was way safer before the current sticks and blocks Fiasco. lets not rush into another poorly thought out design with minimal consultation.

    1. Do the changes increase the danger of motor vehicles to cyclists somehow, Peter? How? My experience has been otherwise. Still not somewhere I’d go with a seven year old on a bike, but I see groups of young teenagers of bikes there now who wouldn’t have cycled on Queen St before.

      1. My gripe is that the. Current area allocated for cyclists being the old lane closest to the footpath is not safe for cyclists . It’s stop start confused . You simply end up cycling in the traffic lane .

    2. It’s definitely safer for cyclists.
      I just ride on the widened footpath that no pedestrians use lol

  28. Quite frankly, I’ve given up on the CBD. It is impossible to negotiate the streets. No right turn here, busses only down ther, separate lights for busses from cars, blocked off roads, narrowed lanes, closed streets. Honestly it’s enough to give you early dementia. It’d be easier to navigate a mine field. But I can walk my cat, I saw there might be alane for that. The customers have gone to simpler and less frustrating urban shopping malls with accessible and cheaper parking.

    1. Well it’s always there for you, Richard. It’s good that you don’t feel right driving into the city centre – there’s simply not space in city centres for everyone to drive, and it’s why thriving cities have pedestrianised areas, and great cycle routes as well as public transport.

      If you think about the malls, they aren’t places you drive your car through, either. There, people park and then walk; that’s what our city centre should’ve been now for a couple of decades, but Auckland’s been dragging its feet.

      With the climate emergency, however, driving to the mall is something many of us have reconsidered. Once we realise that taking the bus, or cycling, to the shops is lower carbon and more considerate to our children, the city centre often offers the best connectivity. I take the bus to a few different shopping areas, but more and more it’s the city centre because I can combine it with work or social meetings more easily.

    2. Lately its gotten easier to navigate the streets for the vast majority of users. So it would seem that its a win overall. If people that cant stop anyway can no longer drive down there then again, who cares? They weren’t going to spend any money anyway.

      1. https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/125033907/queen-st-roadworks-causing-economic-harm-to-auckland-businesses-court-hears

        “….most of Save Queen’s evidence related to vehicle movements, and not the impact of the proposed upgrade on pedestrians.”

        They also complain that emergency and delivery vehicles will get held up by buses, presumably not having read how the plan will speed up access for buses.

        These geniuses are just trying to maintain what hasn’t worked for Queen St and led to its death; prioritising the mode which can’t actually use the space to stop and shop, the private car.

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