Wellington council considering banning cars from its CBD

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Words: Matthew Hansen
14 May 2021

As Auckland city continues to feud over the future of Queen St in the midst of changes that have angered local businesses, it looks like Wellington could be in for a similar clash.

Wellington City Council has voted 11 to 2 to consider a plan that plots to ban cars from its central business district by 2025. A verdict on the plan is expected by September, 2021.

The plan has been floated by climate change portfolio leader Tamatha Paul, and aims to make the CBD more friendly to foot traffic while conversely decarbonising it, in the hopes of making the area completely fossil-fuel free.

According to reports, councillor Nicola Young was one of the few to oppose the motion. According to her, improving the price and reliability of public transport should be the top priority for getting people out of their cars.

While shutting cars out of part of Wellington may seem extreme, it’s worth mentioning that the practice has had some success in other countries. Australia has car-free zones in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane. Similar moves have been popular in parts of Europe and Asia.

It’s also, conversely, worth acknowledging the legal fallout over changes to Auckland’s Queen St that are designed to reduce the amount of cars. The changes so far and the construction required, according to a large circle of business owners, have reduced foot traffic instead of increasing it.

It’s been so unpopular that the same group of business owners are suing Auckland Council over the changes; a high court action having been filed last month by ‘Save the Queen St’.

“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.”

 

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