I hope everyone is aware that today the Auckland Council has begun the total destruction of the Western Springs Forest by clear felling everything. This includes the regenerating native plants understorey. They started by cutting the surrounding native trees on the outskirts to put in a approximately 5 metre road across the whole site. The contractors will be back on Monday. Please go and see for yourself what is happening and if you don’t like what you see make your protest known.
A group of downtown Auckland businesses have lost their bid to temporarily halt work on a planned upgrade of Queen Street, due to begin on Monday.
In a statement, Save the Queen Street said it was disappointed an interim injunction to delay work was unsuccessful, but said members would continue to prepare for a more substantive court hearing, aimed at pushing back against the redevelopment plans.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the court’s decision, saying the redesign would make Queen St more people-friendly and accessible.
The council intends to improve pedestrian spaces between Shortland and Customs streets, limit traffic to a single lane each way with bus priority in the evening peak, with work scheduled for the next six weeks.
Save Queen Street, which includes commercial landlords and retailers, argued that ongoing trials of new arrangement could run for years, damaging commerce in an already struggling strip.
“The current arrangement of the street has caused economic harm – business are up against it,” their lawyer Sam Lowery told Wednesday’s injunction hearing.
The council’s lawyer Padraig McNamara said given Save Queen Street wanted to stop the improvements to the 2020 temporary arrangement of plastic sticks and concrete blocks, its injunction bid was “counter-intuitive”.
Businesses have been hit by the absence of foreign tourists and overseas students, and from more office staff working from home, the court heard.
Lowery told the High Court foot traffic was down 40 per cent or more, 90 of 345 retail shopfronts are empty, and part of the problem is the council’s treatment of the street over the past year.
In a statement released after the court decision on Thursday, Goff said the council would continue to work with all stakeholders to progress improvements to Queen St.
While the court decision means work can begin as planned on May 10, Save Queen Street has put forward 10 further challenges that will be heard at a substantive court hearing. A date for that hearing has not yet been set.
The redevelopment will see pavements widened with high-quality decking, new street furniture and vibrant green spaces with native planting and a new pocket park.
What do you think of the redevelopment plans for Queen St?
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Downtown Auckland is going through huge transformation with its various streetscape and transport projects. But in stark contrast, several plots of land worth hundreds of millions of dollars have sat as car parks since buildings were knocked down in the 1980s.
The Elliott St car park sits on a 4417 square metre plot of land, valued at $82.5 million.
The land has sat undeveloped as a car park - where an hour will cost you $19 - since the Royal International Hotel was demolished in 1987.
It was purchased by Singapore company NDG Asia Pacific (NZ) Limited for $53m in 2012, and in 2017 the company was given approval by the Overseas Investment Office to build and operate a 52-storey, five- star Ritz-Carlton Hotel, with 300 guest rooms, four floors for hotel facilities, six for retail and five for car parking.
The development is expected to cost $350m, with the start of construction dependent on the completion of City Rail Link. However, the resource consent for the tower is due to expire in October.
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