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: