Council to Consider Manners Mall Plan Next Week

4 December 2009

Wellington City Councillors will decide next week whether to proceed with plans that would provide a quicker, more direct bus route through what is now Manners Mall and see a new shared public space created in lower Cuba Street.

The Council's Strategy and Policy Committee will consider a recommendation to revoke Manners Mall's pedestrian mall status at a meeting next Thursday 10 December and is expected to make a final decision on the project at a Council meeting the following day.

Mayor Kerry Prendergast, the Council's Transport Portfolio Leader, says Councillors received copies of all the submissions made during the recent consultation about the proposal and the views and issues raised will be among the factors they consider as they reach a decision.

"We have had a great many submissions on Manners Mall, both in favour of the proposal and opposing it. I'm looking forward to a very well-informed debate on a matter which is crucially important to the future development of the Golden Mile," Mayor Prendergast says.

"Even if the outcome is not what they wished, I hope all submitters appreciate that they have played their part in the democratic process. In taking the time to share their views with us through the consultation process, they have helped Councillors be fully aware of what people think about the issue before we make a decision."

The Council received 473 written submissions and heard 50 oral submissions. Analysis of the submissions showed 211 supported revoking Manners Mall's pedestrian mall status, a further 28 agreed subject to some conditions, and 227 opposed it (there was also one neutral submission and six people chose not to comment).

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of the 47 organisations that made submissions supported the proposal, including 10 organisations with transport expertise or responsibilities. These included Greater Wellington Regional Council, NZ Bus, the New Zealand Taxi Federation and the New Zealand Transport Agency, which has agreed to part-fund the project if it goes ahead.

The Council sought community views last year on the idea of opening Manners Mall to buses and in response to the feedback received, looked at ways to address concerns about the potential loss of public space. This resulted in the proposal to create a new shared public space in lower Cuba Street. If the proposal goes ahead, the Council is also aiming to create better pedestrian links and public spaces in Dixon, Wakefield and Mercer streets in the next few years.

The type of public space proposed for lower Cuba Street has been successfully introduced in recent years in Europe and the United Kingdom. The area would effectively extend Cuba Mall to Wakefield Street, providing better pedestrian links to Civic Square and the waterfront, and space for groups to watch street performances.

The proposal to replace Manners Mall with a road for buses and wide footpaths is seen as an important step in further improving the main bus route through the city. It would build on other work that has already been done in Lambton Quay, Courtenay Place and Willis Street to reduce delays and help the many thousands of people who use the city's buses every day get where they want to go more quickly.