To High Or Not To High

On January 11, 2012 by Eye on Auckland

High Street needs aid.

The Granny Herald (aka NZ Herald) recently ran an article highlighting the “desperate” situation in High Street – not because there is too much car parks but because there is too little  - perplexed ? so am I. High Street has the potential to be the best street in downtown Auckland; quaint heritage buildings, a public square, a water feature, fantastic boutiques and it is full of character but at the moment it is one of the worst streets in the city from a pedestrians point of view; narrow pavements where you have to step into the road to avoid oncoming pedestrians, tradies and delivery trucks have turned High Street into one huge loading zone and clutter in the form of street signs make it a very uncomfortable place to be. I for one use it as a transit point to Chancery (where there is lots of space and no cars) which ultimately means that I choose to not shop in High Street.  It is little wonder that fashion houses Zambesi, World and Kate Sylvester are relocating to Britomart but it is not a loss for High Street. Kate Sylvester is the only store that has some presence on High Street but World is well hidden down Little High Street and Zambesi is on the corner of Vulcan Lane & O’Connell Street. I have no doubt in my mind that the vacant stores will be filled soon. World Women’s store will make a great venue for Wellington’s PRAVDA (I have sent them an email asked them to consider a branch up North in fabulous Auckland). World founder Denise L’Estrange-Corbet said shoppers were driven away from High St by downmarket eateries and road closures – WRONG ! Shoppers are driven away by the fact that there is too much parking/traffic in the area and the pavements are way too small for comfort. It is because of the eateries that people make the effort to go to High Street. Denise should know that there is a multi-level car-park across the street from them and if shoppers are too cheap-skate to pay for parking then they are also to poor to shop at World. I do however agree that the Middle Eastern cafe looks tacky and dirty but it does have a place on High Street.

The very people complaining that High Street gets closed off to traffic should be very happy, the shared spaces in Elliott, Fort and Darby have seen foot traffic increase between 50 and 140 percent. It is people who shop and not cars ! The type of thinking that extra on-street parking brings in more clients is Neanderthalic to say the least and totally unjustified. The photographs below prove that High Street is used as a loading zone for delivery trucks and tradesmen. Every store that has the guts to stay in High Street should confront Auckland Council and demand less loading bays, wider pavements and a bicycle lane for a 21st Century shopping experience. Just over 8 months ago we raised the issue with the Auckland Council and provided them with a proposal for a pedestrian friendly High Street (which may be viewed HERE). Since then there have been proposals to pedestrianise Queen Street and to turn Victoria Road into a greenway. In lieu of the afore-mentioned projects we think it best that High Street remains a street but that all the parking/loading zones are removed West of High Street so that a bicycle Lane and wider pavements can be created. The East side of High Street already has wide enough pavements which leads onto a public square. This will reduce the number of tradies using the area as a parking lot thus reducing the amount of traffic in the Street, increase pedestrian usage and people would want to linger longer. Get on the phone now and/or send an email to the Auckland Council demanding action before the Granny Herald’s article becomes a reality. The proof is in the pudding so let me present you with the evidence of tradesmen and delivery vans “shopping” (yeah right) in High Street:

Tradesmen Vans and Delivery vehicles shopping in High Street #1

Tradesmen Vans and Delivery vehicles shopping in High Street #2

Tradesmen Vans and Delivery vehicles shopping in High Street #3

16 Responses to “To High Or Not To High”

  • James B

    Nicely put. Although I disagree with keeping it a street. It should be pedestrianised with access provided for loading between 5am and 11am.

    • The Eye

      I would prefer it pedestrianised myself but I am thinking of traffic flow once Queen Street is closed to traffic. High Street will be one of only a few connections between Victoria Street East and Shortland Street, then again I am no expert on traffic flow. It will be interesting to see what a traffic flow study will reveal if High Street is also closed to traffic.

      • James B

        I’d think it would be better to upgrade Fields Lane and Bacons Lane for that purpose. Those Streets are already pretty ruined by a carparking building and two 70s/80s blank walled monstrosities. The only saving grace is Chancery on one side. Combine that with a two waying of Kitchener Street and you have a route from Shortland Street to Wellesley and beyond.

  • hmmm

    I hope Pravda emails back with a big fat no. I’m sick of all these businesses relocating their head offices or opening an Auckland branch(Te Papa Auckland anyone?) causing job losses.
    I know the rest of NZ beyond Auckland is hickville to you lot but south of the wonderful mythical Golden Triangle is a country really struggling to make any impact to the monopoly up north.

    • The Eye

      Hi hmmm, thanks for your comment, I wasn’t suggesting that Pravda close it’s Wellington branch – it is a Wellington institution and one of my favourite hang outs when I am in Wellington – the last thing I want is for it to shut it’s doors permanently. Opening an Auckland branch will create employment – we are all in the same boat.

  • MollyBrown

    LOL, there is no denying that High Street has been abducted by tradies, I work in High Street and I can assure you that it is like that all day and everyday. The pavements are way too narrow and there are also way too many convenience stores in the street. Good luck to the stores moving to Britomart but they really need to change their mindset regarding car parking, it is very outdated.

  • Dee

    Couldn’t agree more, it’s people not cars that shop – in time it will be easier to use public transport to visit the CBD too so let’s not get hung up on where to park hundreds of cars. It’s true through traffic should be considered in the context of lower Queen St being fully pedestrianised, and the issue of trade, delivery and emergency vehicle access/parking is also important. However it would be relatively simple to turn High Street into a shared space like Elliott & Fort Sts and Durham Lane, notwithstanding it means more short-term disruption and noise.

  • Newnewt

    Whilst I agree that High Street is thoroughly spoilt by the amount of parking and through traffic, I feel you have been disingenuous in the references you make to a Granny Herald article. I read the NZ Herald in hardcopy every day it is published, so I was quite surprised to find that this post mentioned an article I had no recollection of seeing, let alone reading. A quick check on the Herald website revealed that the only relevant article was published on Sunday 8 Jan, so it would have appeared in the Herald on Sunday, rather than the NZ Herald or Weekend Herald. I don’t subscribe to the Herald on Sunday because it is mostly rubbish. Putting that to one side for the moment, the article (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10777363) doesn’t contain the word “desperate” that you state it does, and the word parking is only used once, in regard to Zambesi being able to offer valet parking to customers when they shift premises to Britomart. The article doesn’t contain the words car or park, and there is no discussion about the amount of parking in High Street.

    I suggest that to maintain the reputation of your blog for opinions based upon facts and excellent photos, it would be better to not make up quotes and imply a slant to a newspaper article that simply wasn’t there in the original piece as published.

    • The Eye

      Thanks for your insight Newnewt, isn’t the Herald on Sunday and NZ Herald one and the same ? None the less I try to avoid anything with the word Herald in it and it is friends & relatives who refer me to the articles that they have read. I find the Granny Herald to be the most repressed, conservative, narrow-minded media source in the World – a voice for the rusty and crusty brigade hence the term Granny Herald.

      As for the use of the word “desperate” – you will see that it is quoted with inverted commas and not a direct comment from the news article. It is my viewpoint and it conveys the feeling that I got when I read the article. I shall however endeavour to reference the source of the article in the my future postings. Thanks for the feedback, it is much appreciated.

  • Nicole

    The area does resemble a back street dive rather than high end fashion street in the heart of the city. The great fashion streets of the world wouldn’t allow a debacle like this to occur without it being saved.

    I think a well planned shared space is the solution. I did think the area did need to be pedestrianised at first but think now this might create a dead area when times are quieter like weekends.

  • Newnewt

    I’ve always understood it is a journalistic convention that if a word or phrase is enclosed in quote marks and a source article is being referred to, then the word or words enclosed in quotes are a direct copy from the article in question, unaltered. Unfortunately you did not follow that convention.

    As I made clear in my earlier post, I am no fan of the Herald on Sunday. But I stand by my view that it is not fair to portray the Herald on Sunday article as complaining about a lack of parking on High Street. It is not, it is about existing retailers’ reactions to the types of businesses moving into High Street, and the perceived high number of closures of the street.

    Whilst APN own both the NZ Herald and the Herald on Sunday, each paper has different editorial staff, and until recently had quite different styles of journalism. However in the last year the first few pages of the NZ Herald have become very similar in style to the Herald of Sunday, following the appointment of the former editor of the HoS to the NZ Herald. Consequently I pay very little attention to those pages, because they are full of trivia, personal intrusion, and unnewsworthy pap. The NZ Herald does have some enlightened journalists on its staff, who understand the virtues of public transport, cycling and walking, but it also still retains some throwbacks such as John Roughan, and its motoring writer Eric Thompson, whose opinions are well to the right of Jeremy Clarkson, without a smidgen of Clarkson’s humour. Hopefully these people will retire soon and writers more in tune with current thinking on transport and city planning come to the fore.

  • DanC

    Regarding NZ Herald. I personally enjoy the articles and coverage. What is missing is pushing the boundaries. How about a story that goes against the government for example the debt the country faces or the high house prices caused by government policies? It needs to get a bit ballsy.

  • chlotte

    I work on High St. It should be pedestrianised. That would help (rather than hinder) in the quiet times like the weekends (which people would find would not be so quiet anymore). When it’s pleasant to walk people do and will walk. At the moment you can go from K road through Myers Park, civic square, Elliot St, then it runs out until Fort Street, but from there to Britomart and the waterfront. The High St link is missing.

  • Wayno

    I live on Lorne St and use High St maybe 20 times a week – as a through fare. It must be pedestrianised I think and then maybe I’ll stop to actually shop there instead of just using it to get to Britomart shops and cafes. Awfully narrow paths mean I am constantly on the road – I don’t enjoy this experience so I hurry in/out high st. This could be a lovely relaxed shopping/ cafes space. Cars for Africa – grrrrrrr

  • Bryce

    I love going to Chancery and would wander and use HIgh St as well, but dodging parked and moving cars is just too painfull in what should at least be a shared space (in the European sense – service vehicles only).

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