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Queen Street pedestrian-friendly plan wins unanimous Auckland Council approval

Plans to make Auckland's CBD more pedestrian friendly have been unanimously approved by Auckland City Council.

The council today voted unanimously to move towards pedestrianising Queen Street and trialling an "open streets" initiative in the city centre and suburbs.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the move towards pedestrianising Queen Street would change Auckland’s main street from a traffic route to a place people can enjoy.

And the open streets trials would close off limited areas of the city and suburbs from vehicles to enable streets to be used for people and events, he said.

"We want Queen Street to be a great place to walk, gather, relax and enjoy. We want it to change from an area with one of the worst levels of vehicle pollution to a place that is pleasant and healthy to be in," Mr Goff said.

With a resident population of 57,000 people and more public, open space being developed in the city centre, the council is "taking a bold step towards increasing pedestrian areas on Queen Street and turning it into a destination rather than a through road," he said.

“We have to do this. This is a great vision and an absolute necessity."

Mr Goff said the nature of the city centre is changing with over 118,000 people working there, 70,000 students and teachers and hotel blocks soaring, bringing increasing numbers of tourists.

Light rail and the City Rail Link will increase public transport capacity by 370 per cent and bring thousands more pedestrians into the city centre and pedestrian numbers are doubling every few years, he said. 

The idea has strong support from Heart of the City, the City Centre Residents Group and the Waitemata Local Board, Mr Goff said.

"The next stage is to communicate with and listen to all of the stakeholders including residents, businesses and hotels to see how best we should proceed," he said.

"We're transforming Auckland’s city centre. Reconnecting people to our waterfront, our city and each other with more public, open space, places to sit, walk and talk."

Planning Committee chair Chris Darby said it's about "creating a welcoming place for people who can easily access all that Queen Street has to offer".

"Auckland is rapidly changing. We must accelerate the change in focus from our city centre, turning it from a 'drive-through' to a 'go-to'- and sooner, not later," Mr Darby said.

Queen St, Auckland (file picture).
Queen St, Auckland (file picture). Source: istock.com