Queen Street Emergency Works
18 June 2020
For immediate release
Needs of businesses not considered in Queen Street pilot timing decision
Auckland Council confirmed today that it intends to bring forward a planned Queen Street pilot that builds on emergency works put in during the lockdown without first understanding business needs in a post COVID-19 environment.
Heart of the City Chief Executive Viv Beck said that “This is the biggest economic and social shock our city centre will face, we have many streets under construction, and we are astounded at the lack of interest in hearing the needs of our businesses and property owners before making this decision. While there is support for a Queen Street pilot as part of a wider plan to improve access and provide more space for people to linger in the city centre in the future, the timing is not good for our businesses as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. Independent economic analysis indicates there are significant risks to GDP and jobs right now and the city centre is particularly impacted by the loss of tourism, international students, events and people working from home.
79% of businesses who responded to a survey asking their view about retaining the emergency works to start the pilot said they wanted them gone. Key issues include:
- the severity of impact of COVID-19 on city centre businesses.
- timing: there are so many construction projects already underway in the city centre. Access is already difficult and people think it’s just too hard to get there.
- the “look” is extremely poor and the temporary footpath extensions are breaking up.
- there are functional and safety issues.
“The rushed installation of temporary works to meet physical distancing requirements was less than ideal but we were advised that they would be removed when this was no longer required, as they have been in other areas. It was our expectation that the Queen Street pilot was going to be worked through in a considered way with the community, with an aim to be in place by March next year. What this would look like and what changes it would bring would be determined as part of the co-design process.
We think the pilot should be done properly to achieve the right result for one of the most significant streets in the country. Giving time for major construction to finish in the downtown and lower Albert Street area would help to address some of the concerns that have been raised.
“We want Auckland Council to reconsider the timeframe for implementing the pilot and remove the current works as promised by Auckland Transport. Unlike other cities that are using COVID-19 to initiate conversations about creating people friendly cities, we already have a masterplan for the city centre. This issue is about approach and timing.
“Our businesses need support and the opportunity to be a part of the conversation in a way that doesn’t add undue stress to them right now. It’s not the right time to push this through without strong support from those most impacted by these works,” says Ms Beck.