Wide boardwalks, seating and native plants in planter boxes will soon replace the plastic sticks and temporary footpaths on Queen Street between Customs Street and Shortland Street.
New plans released by Auckland Council on Friday detail the removal of the emergency COVID-19 works in the area and the creation of a pocket park on the corner of Queen Street and Fort Street to add greenery and provide a pleasant space for people to linger.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says Queen Street is due for an upgrade.
“We want the street to be more people-friendly and attractive, and to become a place to visit, rather than just pass through,” he says.
“Last year, temporary measures were put in place by Auckland Transport to allow physical distancing during the pandemic. It’s now time for the yellow markers, stone blocks and painted asphalt to be replaced.
“Extended decking pavements, similar to those on High Street, trees and shrubs in proper planter boxes and decent street furniture will help change the look and feel of the area. These measures will be trialled before permanent changes are made once we receive feedback from businesses, shoppers, visitors and residents.
“The new CityLink electric buses will be cleaner and quieter and improve the ambience of the street.
“Queen Street has taken a hit from COVID-19, with the loss of tourists, cruise ships and international students,” Mayor Goff says.
“The changes proposed won’t solve all the problems. The council, property owners, businesses and residents will need to work together to help the area recover from COVID-19 and to become an exciting and vibrant place to visit and shop.
“The upgrade will build on the transformation already underway in the area, which includes the refurbishment of the Chief Post Office as a transport hub; the creation of Te Komititanga, the new public space outside Commercial Bay; and Te Wānanga, the new public space being built over the water next to the ferry building,” Mayor Goff says.
Aucklanders are also being asked to give their feedback on a proposal to create bus lanes on sections of Queen Street. The changes will improve bus reliability while more buses are temporarily using the street during the next phase of City Rail Link (CRL) construction, while maintaining access for deliveries to businesses and residential properties.
Consultation closes on 7 May 2021.
Councillor Chris Darby, chair of the Planning Committee says: “The pandemic certainly took the shine off Queen Street, with the absence of international tourists and students spilling out of hotels and apartments. This, combined with remote working, meant the number of people visiting our golden mile fell away more dramatically than elsewhere.
“We recognise that the past 12 months have been financially tough and we are working hard with business and the residential community to create a Queen Street that glows again.
“We want to attract people into Queen Street. Rather than a drive-through space, we are creating a go-to place, with social life as its anchor. Cities work best when they are created by and for everybody, so we have used a co-design process to understand people’s hopes and ideas for the heart of the city.
“The changes will be backed up by events and ideas to stimulate interest and activity in the newly-created environments, bringing much-needed life on the street - with people meeting, watching, engaging, enjoying and spending.
“These initial changes are just the beginning of the staged transformation of Queen Street. There’s more to come, as we reinvent and polish up our premier street, continue building the CRL and ensure delivery of the City Centre Masterplan vision,” Councillor Darby says.
Waitematā and Gulf ward councillor Pippa Coom says: “This is a significant step in creating the Zero Emissions Area (ZEA) proposed in the City Centre Masterplan and delivering on our commitment to the C40 Fossil Fuel Free Streets Declaration to procure only zero-emission buses from 2025 and create a ZEA in the city centre by 2030.
“Reducing private vehicles on Queen Street will reduce emissions and improve air quality. It is also exciting to see that by the end of April 2021 the CityLink fleet will be fully electric,” she says.
It is proposed that the transport network changes will be in place for the reopening of the Wellesley/Albert Street intersection and the closure of the Victoria/Albert Street intersection in mid-2021.
Submissions for your feedback will close on May 7, 2021.
Your feedback will help us identify any improvements to refine the network changes being made on Queen Street. We want to know of site-specific issues you think would affect the proposed network changes.
At a later date, Auckland Council will be seeking people’s feedback on the new streetscape improvements, through on-street surveys and an online tool.
To stay up to date with the transformation of Queen Street and follow progress, visit Progress AKL.