It’s essential that we create an overall strategic plan for the whole wharf area including Queen’s Wharf, Queen Street and Quay Street.
We don’t want the Government rushing in and saying they’re going to buy Queen’s Wharf on the basis that they’re going to build an overseas terminal there. Arguably, that’s not the best place for the terminal and a proper urban design analysis needs to be undertaken before a decision is made. Servicing large cruise ships requires large traffic volumes – bus movements, taxi movements and other service vehicle movements. Having these at a constricted point adjacent to the ferry building disconnects Queens Wharf from Queen Street and the rest of the CBD. When these ships are tied up there are embargoed zones. Public access is denied at the water’s edge and if there is public access it is blocked by the ships, which would constantly shade this important public space. Perhaps it makes better sense to put the overseas terminal further along on Bledisloe Wharf.
Auckland is notorious for being meddled with by politicians. Too long our waterfront has been a political football with politicians getting involved with no long term strategy. Trevor Mallard was first off the blocks with his idea to build a stadium on the waterfront. Now John Key wants party central there and Murray McCully throws his toys out of the cot if he doesn’t get his way in demolishing the sheds on Queens Wharf. It’s time everybody was singing from the same hymn sheet and working towards an agreed long term vision for this area. It’s time politicians deferred to architects and urban designers. It should be about what is right for the development of the city long term. The Politicians should be looking to a plan that puts people first.
Until someone comes up with a better plan, the sheds should be kept. They have an intrinsic heritage value. They are remnants of our recent maritime past, so much of which has been lost. Auckland has already lost too many beautiful old buildings. His Majesty’s Theatre, the Jewish Synagogue, Jean Batten Post Office, the BNZ, the list goes on. It’s ironic that the Historic Places Trust gets $12 million a year from the Government and Mr Mallard was prepared to spend $500 million on a stadium.
Party central simply requires bars, toilets and a large sheltered space with some big screens. The existing sheds work perfectly for this.
The city should have a long term vision about providing good public spaces focusing on the waterfront on our most expensive real estate. In my view it should be given a ceremonial and public connection to the harbour but at the very least a well thought out coherent vision for all that land north of the red fence.