Stop the sale of Queen Elizabeth Square in downtown Auckland
Architects, urban designers and planners take Council to court to stop the sale of Auckland's downtown civic square. We await the decision.
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.
The Environment Court has upheld the QE Square Road Stop, and declined the objections of Auckland Architectural Association. Parties are now finalising the conditions for Plan Modification 79. This means the way is now clear for Auckland Council to sell all of QE Square to Precinct Properties. Which is sad for Auckland. With the clarity of hindsight there was a strong case to argue for retention of the sunny side of QE Square, and the sale of just the dark side. However it was a difficult David and Goliath contest. Among the hard won gains for Auckland:
* the east-west laneway will be 6 metres wide (and not 5 metres as originally applied for)
* Auckland Council will consider the needs of CBD and passenger transport pedestrians differently and more thoroughly after this battle.
Thank you for your support.
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This page was created on 20 Jun 2016 and closed on 22 Aug 2016.