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Stop the sale of Queen Elizabeth Square in downtown Auckland

Closed Cause page created in the Environment category by Auckland Architectural Association for "expert witnesses and legal counsel retained for environment court hearing"

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Given by 42 generous donors in 2 months

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Architects, urban designers and planners take Council to court to stop the sale of Auckland's downtown civic square. We await the decision.

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Our History Sustainability Conservation

We are taking court action to challenge the legality of Council decisions to sell Queen Elizabeth Square. Four other incorporated societies have joined the legal challenge: Auckland CBD Residents Advisory Group; Civic Trust Auckland; Urban Auckland Society for Protection of Auckland City and the Waterfront (which successfully stopped the Bledisloe Wharf extensions); and Walk Auckland.

We need your support to cover some of the costs of our experts who lent their time, knowledge and reputations to this campaign.

Downtown Auckland is woefully short of public open space for its existing residents, workers, and visitors. Takutai, St Patrick's, Queen Elizabeth and Freyburg Squares play their part, but even Council's assessments are that Auckland's inner CBD lacks urban public space.

Census projections are that Auckland's downtown population is increasing dramatically. This adds to the pressure for public open space for children, families, office workers, shoppers, commuters, tourists, and retired city dwellers.

Despite this Auckland Council voted to sell Queen Elizabeth Square for $27 million to property developer Precinct Properties. We agree with Council that the square has not been successful - because the 1970's downtown shops don't open onto the Square, and because the bus shelter divided the space.

But that's all changed. The buses have moved to Lower Albert Street. And Precinct already has consent (June 2015) to redevelop downtown with laneways and shops open to the square - all without taking the Square.

Queen Elizabeth Square, combined with Lower Queen Street will make a great downtown square. Like the picture postcard image of the 1990's, and consistent with Council's City Centre Masterplan.

Council says it will invest the $27 million from selling QE Square on other spaces such as the breastworks of Queens Wharf and the north side of Quay Street opposite the PWC building. We say those areas are already in public ownership. We also consider they are very different public spaces than the recessed, sheltered, safe and activated Queen Elizabeth Square. It's not a like for like swap.

We support the CRL tunnel. We support Precinct's existing proposals to redevelop downtown Auckland. But there's no need to sell Queen Elizabeth Square and increase the size of the shopping centre.

We believe this is an unjustified loss of public open space that is protected by the District Plan, is ready for improvement, and will be needed more and more in future. The additional retail buildings proposed if QE Square is sold would affect views of the heritage Ferry Building and Central Post Office Building, cause further shading, and diminish the size and scale of Auckland's premier civic space. (See the bulk and location effects in our Give-A-Little Updates).

Two statutory steps stands in the way of the sale. Plan Change 79 and a Road Stop proposal. Both have been appealed to the Environment Court by Auckland Architectural Association Inc.

Expert evidence has been exchanged. A five day environment court hearing started on Monday 18th July, and was largely complete by Friday 22nd July. We have raised funds and obtained the services of experts and lawyers at heavily discounted rates. Our experts include:

* Bridget Gilbert (Landscape Architecture)

* Graeme Scott (Urban Design)

* Jeremy Salmond (Heritage)

* Brian Putt (Planning)

* David Gibbs (Urban Design)

* Dave Serjeant (Planning)

* Brianna Parkinson (Legal Counsel)

Please support this public interest cause.

Latest donations

  • Jonathan Cutler

    Jonathan Cutler on 11 Aug 2016


    Well done Joel and team for putting up the fight. As a planner in Auckland in saddens me that the likes of the groups such as AIA need to challenge poor politically driven decision making like this. I have lost count of the number of times in the last 20 years we seen government agencies at all levels make such short sighted decisions for Auckland's long term future. Same old same old it seems ...


  • Chris

    Chris on 09 Aug 2016


    I hope for once we can beat CITY HALL


  • Ken Davis Architects Ltd

    Ken Davis Architects Ltd on 25 Jul 2016



  • Shelley Jones

    Shelley Jones on 24 Jul 2016



  • Guest Donor

    Guest Donor on 24 Jul 2016



Page created by

We are an incorporated society of Auckland Architecture and Urban Design professionals and students working for a better Auckland city

All funds raised benefit

expert witnesses and legal counsel retained for environment court hearing

Funds will be paid to a verified bank account of Auckland Architectural Association on behalf of expert witnesses and legal counsel retained for environment court hearing.

Got a question?

Ask one here.
“Thanks for all your hard work everybody”
“I'm a property developer - but this move would be a sad loss for the city of Auckland if it is not stopped.”
“Good luck with the case for preservation of community wellbeing in the CBD.”
“Joel Cayford supported the Mangawhai ratepayers at the court of appeal, where the New Zealand Judiciary endorsed and encouraged unlawful acts by councils. I hope you have better luck this time round.”
“Keep the ACC honest and transparent. I wonder about the future of downtown Auckland and Viaduct Basin with the predicted sea level rises due to global warming. So much development in the flood zone! Short term thinking indeed.”
“Strongly agree, the sale of square should not happen. And support what AAA and team are saying.”
“A far-sighted initiative by good people acting beyond their own interests. Thank you.”
“Good on you Joel, I'm sorry but I'm very much all mouth no trousers, but you're right, I care very much.”
“Voting to sell off Queen Elizabeth Square is one of the most short-sighted decisions Council's governing body councillors have made in recent times. The Environment Court challenge to the decision is perfectly timed for publicity in advance of the local body elections. Auckland needs this public space retained as open space - a fight worth fighting for.”
$6,435 of $20,000 goal

Given by 42 generous donors in 2 months


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