Busi­nesses call for O’con­nell St car ban

East and Bays Courier - - OUT & ABOUT - ADAM JACOBSON

Busi­nesses ini­tially op­posed a cen­tral Auck­land street be­ing turned into a shared space. Now they want to go the whole hog and make it pedes­trian-only.

A pe­ti­tion signed by 25 O’con­nell St busi­nesses is re­quest­ing Auck­land Trans­port (AT) ban all gen­eral through traf­fic from ac­cess­ing the street, while still al­low­ing en­try for ser­vice ve­hi­cles un­til 11am.

It was pre­sented to AT in late Oc­to­ber.

Ve­hi­cle ac­cess to the shared space was halted in Au­gust 2016 while Frey­berg Place was get­ting a $11 mil­lion makeover, but re­opened to traf­fic in Septem­ber 2017.

Wine Cham­ber owner Martina Lutz said it made sense for through traf­fic to be banned now Frey­berg Place had re­opened.

It would give busi­nesses and the coun­cil the chance to make O’con­nell St a more vi­brant and en­tic­ing place for shop­pers, Lutz said.

‘‘We could beau­tify the street more, it is still pretty bor­ing, it’s not al­ways clean and it’s not very wel­com­ing,’’ she said.

Safety was a con­cern, as close calls be­tween pedes­tri­ans and cars were in­creas­ing as more peo­ple ven­tured down the lane, she said.

‘‘Cars come rac­ing through the street and there is noth­ing there to stop them,’’ Lutz said.

Ja­son Books owner Maud Cahill said while the street was closed dur­ing Frey­berg Place ren­o­va­tions, busi­ness im­proved be­cause of the in­creased foot traf­fic.

Waitem­ata¯ Lo­cal Board deputy chair Shale Cham­bers said ini­tially busi­nesses op­posed the clo­sure of O’con­nell St back in 2014 how­ever, their change of per­spec­tive could be com­mended, Cham­bers said.

O’con­nell St had two op­tions un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act when opt­ing to be­come car-free, he said.

The first was to be­come a pedes­trian mall, which would al­low for lim­ited en­try for cer­tain ve­hi­cles, Cham­bers said.

The street could al­ter­na­tively give up it’s le­gal stand­ing as a road, per­ma­nently ban­ning all ve­hi­cle ac­cess, he said.

AT spokesper­son James Ire­land said it would as­sess O’con­nell St, to de­ter­mine if they should be­come pedes­trian only.

At this stage there was no set time­line to make the de­ci­sion, he said.

ADAM JACOBSON/STUFF

Wine Cham­ber owner Martina Lutz has op­er­ated restau­rants on O’con­nell ST for the past 13 years.

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