Auckland Council getting sued over Queen St changes

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Words: Matthew Hansen
30 Apr 2021

A push from Auckland Council to make Auckland’s busiest street more pedestrian friendly by removing the amount of traffic from cars appears to have backfired, with businesses and property owners uniting to take legal action over the change.

A group of unhappy Queen St businesses and property owners — lobbying under the umbrella banner of ‘Save the Queen St’ — have filed a High Court action against the Auckland Council in the hopes of stopping its pedestrian trial reconstruction, arguing that the partially completed $1.1million dollar renovation is illegal.

Queen Str has been narrowed down from four lanes to two via a series of bollards and markers. Businesses claim that the amount of foot traffic and customers travelling on the street has reduced significantly since the changes occurred, with Save the Queen St barrister Sam Lowery describing the impacts as “profound”.

“Auckland's main street is a disgrace,” said Lowery in Save the Queen St’s memorandum. “For the last year, Queen St has resembled a construction site, cluttered with low quality, temporary road furniture including hit sticks, concrete bollards, road cones and multi-coloured road markings.

“The effect on Queen St has been profound. Foot traffic has dropped by almost half. Retailers have experienced a significant drop in revenue. There are more empty storefronts in Queen St than at any time in living memory. Auckland's 'Golden Mile' is a shambles.”

Support for the High Court Action has come from all corners. The clothing firm that owns Hallensteins and Glassons is on board, as is Uber and some 80 other small businesses spread around Queen St.

Heart of the City, a promotion group that helps some of these small businesses, has also thrown their support behind the incentive. Speaking to the Herald, its chief executive Viv Beck says that 80 per cent of its members oppose the use of barriers, adding that there was no consultation from the council over them being retained.

The Save the Queen St group wants pedestrian barriers to be removed until a better solution than the current $1.1million plan can be found.

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