Councillors at odds over wharf revamp
Tensions are brewing between Auckland city councillors over the redevelopment of Queens Wharf in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Several City Vision councillors feel the process around the wharf’s redevelopment is rushed and flawed.
After a city development committee meeting last Thursday, councillors say they “have grave concerns over the haste and lack of good planning”.
“The main objective is to maximise public access and enjoyment of Queens Wharf by Aucklanders and visitors,” says councillor Richard Northey.
“We should plan carefully to best achieve this and not be rushed or compromised in bringing this about.”
Councillor Leila Boyle says she is worried that the prime minister’s decision for Queens Wharf to be the Rugby World Cup “party central” is forcing Auckland to fast-track development.
She says Auckland has a perfectly good party central at Aotea Square.
The committee noted the economic importance of the cruise ship industry to New Zealand, because part of the development is expected to be a new cruise ship terminal.
One of the committee’s resolutions notes that the combined committee has allocated two-thirds of the funding for the redevelopment, up to $56 million.
Ms Boyle says: “Citizens and Ratepayers’ decision to fund $56m of the $80m project cost means 70 percent of the financial burden is being carried by Auck- land city ratepayers while the remaining $24m is, as yet, unfunded.”
Councillor Glenda Fryer agreed, saying ratepayers are already stretched.
But committee chairman and Citizens and Ratepayers councillor Aaron Bhatnagar says it is hypocritical for his opponents to complain.
“In 2006 in their longterm council community plan, when the rates revolt occurred, they proposed spending $150m on Queens Wharf and the waterfront.
“We are proposing $56m maximum.”
He says it may be less if the project reduces in scope because the council contribution is capped at twothirds of the cost.
“With regards to cost, it is a double standard on the part of City Vision to complain.”
The committee has endorsed a design competition where anyone can enter their designs for the project and there will be a two-week judging process where five designs and three teams are selected to proceed.
“This open process could receive designs and ideas from schoolchildren, graduates, small New Zealand firms to larger design firms with international experience,” says Mr Bhatnagar.
The competition is expected to run for about 10 weeks from the start of August, with the winner announced mid-October.
Mr Bhatnagar says this period will include a threeweek public input process and about five weeks for the design competition before the final decision.
An open day is being planned at Queens Wharf for the public.