History repeats itself

Tuesday 12 January 2010, 4:04PM
By Pead PR

Harbour side development needs longer term perspective.

By Alex Swney, CEO, Heart of the City Auckland

One day Aucklanders are going to wake up and realise you can’t plan a city
in single year increments.

Our legacy of the 1990 Commonwealth games is the little-used Mt Smart
Stadium where we long ago built over the running track. As we talk, we are
spending $90 million on patching up what was originally a four-lane
harbour bridge when it was planned for six, plus rail and walking and

Eighty million dollars is also being spent on shoring up the Aotea centre
car park.

And here we have it again today … a last-minute, knee jerk reaction to the
Rugby World Cup – history has a terrible way of repeating itself and we
never seem to learn from it.

When are we going to stop and take a longer term view on the way we
develop our city?

Sure, we all want an improved cruise ship terminal…but at what cost, and
why in time for the RWC?

A cruise ship terminal and all of its associated infrastructure – roading,
security, customs and MAF quarantine facilities – have the effect of
privatising waterfronts. A cruise ship terminal in the middle of our
waterfront is more “waterfront planning where we can’t get our feet wet.”
Why would we pull down the much maligned red fence only to replace it with
an equally formidable barrier?

Everyone talks iconic but let’s face it, this is never going to happen for
$54 million … or even $100 million. Aucklanders know it, New Zealanders
know it… and so should the politicians.

It’s hardly an auspicious start for a super city for it to be born saddled
with this sort of debt resulting from a wart in the middle of our

Our message to the rural reaches of Franklin and Rodney and to Manukau,
North Shore and Waitakere is that this is no longer just Auckland’s
problem – if you don’t say something today, it will be your problem…very
soon, and a big one at that – like a $100 million one.

Planning and politics just aren’t good partners down on our waterfront.

Only 10 months from the formation of a waterfront development agency and
22 months out from the RWC we need to save our money for the right plan –
a plan that results in ports rationalisation and the freeing up of
Bledisloe Wharf on the edge of the public waterfront - a far superior site
for a cruise ship terminal - and a plan that integrates the Wynyard
Quarter to the west with Queens, Captain Cook and Bledisloe Wharves to the

For now we need to acknowledge that to date we have got it wrong and that
we are late…far too late to build the right thing. We need to acknowledge
that last year’s architectural ‘beauty contest’ was flawed and that $54
million was never going to cut the mustard.

We need to no longer confuse party central with a cruise ship terminal. We
need to budget for a great party (without the $100 million hangover) and
commit to a visionary master plan – and some action – here in one of the
most beautiful harbour edge cities in the world.