Business owners in Auckland’s North Shore would rather turn away Birkenhead’s $1 million upgrade, than lose seven car parks.
Kaipatiki Local Board voted on a design for the Birkenhead’s Highbury Corner upgrades at the April 19 board meeting.
The contentious plans to upgrade the area around the main roundabout, will shave seven car parks from the main street’s shops.
Birkenhead Town Centre Association chairman Pete Taylor said this result is really disappointing and concerning.
The association’s research found each main street car park is worth $3000, per week, to local businesses, and removing them would cost more than $1 million a year, Taylor said.
“We are talking around a million dollars in pure income per annum being taking out of the town centre’s revenue, for pedestrians and beautification, and I think that’s shocking,” Taylor said at the meeting.
“The members would rather the money was spent elsewhere, than to invest in something that will have a negative impact to local businesses,” he said.
Highbury Corner is where Birkenhead Ave, Hinemoa Street and Mokoia Rd meet at a roundabout.
Upgrades to Birkenhead’s Highbury Corner, follows on from the 129 parking space expansion to Rawene car park, and the building of lookout, Kaimataara o wai manawa.
North Shore Councillor Richard Hills said major community consultation was undertaken in the planning of these upgrades and showed 60 per cent of the public submissions were in favour of the upgrade plans.
Taylor said the objection against losing carparks has been consistent from the businesses from the start.
“In a survey conducted by the association, 54 out of 56 businesses say they don’t want any upgrades,” he said.
Taylor said that the design ignored expert advice and will damage the livelihood of businesses in the area.
Local board member Paula Gillon said she is “struggling” to see how this upgrade will be detrimental to businesses, with the amount of people it will encourage.
However, Taylor said the revenue lost can not be replaced by wide footpaths and trees alone.
“The extra parking added to Rawene car parks are not the issue here, as the businesses are concerned about main street car parks only,” he said.
Local board member Ann Hartley said the accusation that people won’t walk 100 metres from Rawene car park to the main centre is “nonsense”.
“Birkenhead does not have a parking problem,” she said.
“This is just a mess.”
OPTION ONE DESIGN
At the centre of a heated debate around the upgrades to North Shore’s Highbury Corner, stands a pine tree.
Alongside a loss of carparks, fears around pedestrian safety have also been raised.
Also, the decision to redesign the upgrade to include the tree has reignited the longstanding debate, between those who wish to keep the tree and those who don’t.
Option one, will increase public open space and seating areas, as well as introduce a new decked area at Highbury Corner.
Local board member Lindsay Waugh said the amount of effort the board had spent on keeping the tree is a “travesty of urban design”.
Equally concerned is Birkenhead Town Centre Association chairman Pete Taylor, who said that he is as worried about losing the seven car parks as he is pedestrian safety.
“The plans shows encouraging people to hop across the roundabout in an increasingly busy intersection,” Taylor said.
“I wonder when organisation members become liable for such decisions.”
Local Board chairwoman Danielle Grant said option one will deliver the main street its “much needed” facelift.
“These projects have been a significant part of the board’s focus for the past four years,” Grant said.
Option one will now go to tender and work is expected to start in June.
The final design vote was so contentious, members Ann Hartley and Lindsay Waugh abstained from voting.
Article by Laine Moger
Published 24 April 2017 > The North Shore Times – stuff.co.nz