Revitalising the Waterfront -
This is the heading for the part of the Auckland CBD MasterPlan draft (voted on by Auckland Council at its Future Vision Ctte meeying on August 31st) that deals with the waterfront.
Interesting that this is given advance airing on this agenda. Before the Waterfront Development Agency has said much publicly. Or released its own draft plan. A sign perhaps that Auckland Council is tightening its control of its CCOs. Apart from Watercare.... Not necessarily a sign of conflict. But certainly a sign of control...
I have looked through the various documents to discern the Council's logic and vision for Queens Wharf. And this is what I have found out so far, in the proposed plans, which are being put out for public consultation later this month:
That Queens Wharf is to become part of what is termed the "cruise hub" terminal for New Zealand for the "next 15 years".... This will require "the redevelopment of Shed 10, supported by the Cloud structure together with a secondary terminal at Princes Wharf". Apparently this: "cruise terminal project (2012-2018) will deliver a world-class, multi-cruise terminal on Queens Wharf..."
Comment: The fine print here suggests that the Cloud will stay for 15 years. The fine print also indicates it is planned that the Queens Wharf cruise terminal is planned for at least 2 cruise ships at a time (multi-ship). While the words "cruise hub" don't say "hubbing terminal", that is the clear inference.
Both of these plans seriously threaten the public use of, and access to, Queens Wharf. I find them completely out of place on a people's waterfront.
The numbers used to support this use of Queens Wharf are hard to find. But one is quoted in the report to councillors. It states: "each year 2.5 million visitors arrive in Auckland by air or cruise ship...the challenge is to make them stay longer...".
Comment: We know Auckland is a tourist gateway. And it's good to retain the tourism dollar in Auckland. But Auckland is also home to 1.5 million locals. And it would be good to retain some of their visitor dollars in Auckland also - and one way to do that - as we are belatedly discovering at Wynyard Quarter - is provide high quality, full of activities, waterfront public spaces and places.
But if you really believed Auckland's economic salvation from the visitor economy was tourists, and if you get really picky, even naive, you might think it's better to drop those unsuspecting tourists as close to Queens Street as you can get them. Queens Wharf is closer than Auckland International Airport after all. But how many passengers are we talking about here, and how much do they spend while they are here - compared to Auckland's 1.5 million residents for example?
If you take a guess, and estimate 60 cruise ship visits with 1000 passengers each, and they seem to stay for 36 hours on average, that boils down to 90,000 visitor days a year. From cruise ship visits. And that's why the Council's quoted figure of "2.5 million" cruise ship and jet plane visitors each year is so misleading. Why? Well let me explain. For example, according to ShareChat's website on the performance of Auckland International airport, "Overall inbound tourism for the twelve months ended February 28 was up 2.5% to 2.5 million". Doesn't leave much room for cruise ship visitors does it? You can see from those two figures that the proportion of visitors coming by cruise ship is tiny - infinitesimal in fact. So this hardly justifies sacrificing a second central city wharf to their activities.
All Auckland would be doing would be providing free-parking for Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry's cruise ships. At great cost to Aucklanders.
And then there are the various visions and goals and outcomes in the CBD Masterplan. It appears that the Waterfront Development Agency have set four goals in its statement of intent, which it appears is being put out for consultation, but buried in the detail of Auckland Council's CBD Master Plan. The WDA wants this:
* A public waterfront: A place for all Aucklanders and visitors to Auckland, a destination that is recognised for its outstanding design and architecture, natural environmental quality, public spaces, facilities and events; a place where we can express our cultural heritage and history, and celebrate our great achievements as a city and nation.
* A working waterfront: a place for marine industries and businesses, local and international port activities; an attractor of further high value business investment and activity, the location that supports authentic and gritty waterfront activities that must locate here.
* A growing waterfront: The critical location of sustainable urban transformation and renewal in Auckland, where we must demonstrate international best practice and innovation; achieve a significant lift in Auckland’s and NZ’s productivity; the most liveable of New Zealand’s central city urban communities; a vibrant mix of residents, business and employees, visitors, and activities.
* A connected waterfront: A place where people are highly connected locally and with the inner city, to the rest of Auckland and New Zealand; that is highly accessible and safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and passengers, with telecommunications that support connectivity.
Comment: I quite liked these. Well. Apart from the "A growing waterfront" one. Strange words. Calls to mind a doubling of POAL reclamation. You know. Heaps more containers. It's about growth. rather than development. So not really good for the "S" word. The sustainability word. But I love the top one. That's about a public waterfront first (for all Aucklanders and visitors to Auckland - fantastic - love those words), and a working waterfront second.
But what's really interesting is that Auckland Council has taken these goals, and used them to assess its "cruise hub" plan for Queens Wharf. They come to this conclusion:
Man oh man. Auckland Councillors actually voted for this. They seriously believe that a multi-ship hubbing cruise ship terminal on Queens Wharf is going to: "enhance public access to, and enjoyment of, Queens Wharf...", and thereby deliver on the Waterfront Development Agency's vision. Think again guys.
And again. Have you done the cost benefit analysis? Have you really weighed the social costs against the economic benefits (remember the tiny numbers) so that you put your hands up and say, yes, we genuinely believe, that a multi-ship hubbing cruise ship terminal on Queens Wharf: "enhances the waterfront as a visitor and waterfront destination, resulting in economic benefits..."
Because that's what you voted for. You voted to double, maybe even triple, central cruise-ship parking places in the heart of Auckland. Thankfully you are consulting over it. Wonder what the WDA thinks about this?
What is it about cruise ships?
Talk about being taken for a ride.