AAA Opposes Rezoning and Sale of Queen Elizabeth Square

The Auckland Architectural Association opposes the rezoning and sale of Queen Elizabeth Square to Precinct Properties and the privatisation of public space. Taking action AAA has lodged Environment Court appeals against private plan change 79 and a road stop proposal on the zoning of Queen Elizabeth Square.

We don’t believe the sale of Q E Square and its replacement with a narrow 5.5m wide “laneway” mall-style space full of shops will benefit the public. Not only that but building to 19 metres across QE Square to the edge of Lower Queen Street will shade it, increase wind speed, and curtail views of heritage buildings such as the Ferry Building and the old Central Post Office building. We also think with increasing densification in Auckland (both office towers and apartment blocks) that we have a duty to retain public space for the future.

And not just “hero” public spaces such as those on the waterfront, but small public spaces such as QE Square (like Freyburg, St Patricks and Takutai Squares) where people can pause, get a breath of fresh air, sit in the sun or eat their lunch without a long walk or crossing busy streets.

The Council say they will get nearly $28 million for the Square’s sale and are likely to spend it on already existing public space across Quay Street on the waterfront. We are worried we will lose that money to deferred sea wall repairs.

We know Queen Elizabeth Square isn’t great as it is, but believe it has potential when its built edges are redeveloped. We are also having discussions about a “half-way” solution where Precinct could acquire the “dark side” of the Square and the sheltered sunny side is retained.

Please be assured our actions won’t affect the Central Rail Link and are not aimed at stopping Precinct’s development. Its aimed at getting the Council to maintain responsible stewardship of public space.

We are supported by a number of urban advocacy groups who have joined the appeal as s.274 parties: Urban Auckland Incorporated, Civic Trust Auckland and Auckland CBD Residents Advisory Group (RAG) inc.

But we need your support too. In the next few days we will be posting plans and more discussion here and seeking desperately needed funds. We have legal counsel, who believes in this cause, working for us at a discount, and we have engaged the services of experts in statutory planning, landscape architecture, heritage planning and urban design, all of whom are prepared to work at discount rates.

The Environment Court has scheduled this appeal for its fast-track. Expert evidence will be needed for May and the hearing (a week or more) is likely to be in July.

You can read the NZ Herald article here:

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Alistair Munro