Wellington business owners fear for their livelihoods if golden mile becomes car free

Business owners on Wellington’s golden mile are concerned at the proposed plan of the zone becoming car free.

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The 2.5km strip starts at nightlife hotspot Courtenay Place and continues through the Lambton Quay shopping precinct to Parliament. Source: 1 NEWS

By Nichola Scarlett

Donald Wearing, co-owner of Mischief Shoes on Lambton Quay, said the speed of the change is one of his biggest concerns.

“It’s well ahead of the population and residential growth within the city,” he told 1 NEWS.

Wearing said they had a consultation with Wellington City Council and concerns were raised about what hadn’t been addressed.

“We as a group are one of the biggest interest parties in terms of the potential impact and we really wanted to make our concerns heard in some way.”

“Access for service vehicles is another concern,” he said.

Businesses are wondering where couriers will be able to park to deliver product. The plan for taxi stands and loading zones are still being determined.

“We as retailers feel like we’ve built that phrase the Golden Mile and we don’t want to see that lost. Certainly, beautified or enhanced but not harmed.”

Wearing is also fearful of a further drop in foot traffic as many businesses are in recovery mode after the Covid-19 lockdown.

“We need a chance to recover properly and we need things to be done at a pace that allows businesses to come with it.”

He said that business owners along the strip are not “anti-change”, but rather want to be taken along the journey and listened to.

A business case will be completed along with consultation, before construction is set to begin at the end of next year.

Inner-city worker Bruce Bassett said that while it may be a good idea to go car free, he has concerns about the accessibility for members of the disabled community.

“The design of a user-friendly area is a good idea but it’s a matter of practicalities.”

Bassett said that disabled people have all sorts of needs and they are all quite varied.

“I personally drive a car, that’s how I get around and I find a park nearby.”

Another member of the disabled community said that cars were annoying, and he’d be happy to see the change.

“They’re always there at the wrong time and inconvenient.”

He said that he often feels stuck behind people due to the heavy congestion on footpaths and is looking forward to having more room to move around.

Other Wellingtonians were also positive about the proposed change, with a mother of two noting the importance of safety, especially for cyclists.

“I cycle to work with my two children who go to school near there. It’ll open up opportunity for heaps of other people to cycle,” she told 1 NEWS.

However, she said it would be a big adjustment for businesses and shoppers to make.

“It’ll be a change, but we’re all having to make it. I’m excited but I can see how people will be losers in the situation.”

Others told 1 NEWS an improvement in public transport is needed to make the proposal more appealing.