A guest post by Dr M.B. Spencer. It was originally sent as a letter to the eidot rot the Herald but rejected.
As a long time owner of property in the central city, including at times in Queen Street, I have watched with dismay over the years as the City Council has made change after change to Queen Street and the surrounding streets, when each change has made the inner city harder to reach and less pleasant to experience.
Simon Wilson’s labelling landlords “vandals” and “enemies” of Queen Street is simply not true. Why would landlords, who have such large investments in the area, conspire to destroy their investments?
In response to Andrew Krukziener’s comment on the “lack of ability for people to stop for five minutes to pick up something”, he naively retorts “Hang on. How long has it been since you could drive into Queen St, stop outside the shop of your choice and “pick something up”?”
Obviously Simon Wilson doesn’t remember Queen Street when it was a vibrant shopping area bustling with shoppers as well as office workers and students. At that time the street was lined with P15 car parks which allowed shoppers to come in from the suburbs and “pick something up”.
Then the Council, in its wisdom, decided to remove the P15 car parks (which are now occupied by white painted blocks of concrete) in order to dissuade shoppers from coming into the city by car.
Before carrying out this change I managed to persuade them at least to measure the damage they were about to wreak, so the Council did a survey of people getting into their cars in the P15 zones to find out how much they had spent “picking something up”.
The answer, which included those people who had bought nothing, was that the average P15 occupant had spent $67.50. Since the Council had also measured the occupancy of the P15s to be 100%, 11 hours a day, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., this showed that each P15, which they subsequently banned, generated more than $650,000.00 a year in sales to people who “picked something up” and “did a bit of shopping”. And this figure ignored weekend shoppers.
Multiply that figure by the dozens of P15s now occupied by concrete blocks and you can imagine the damage that one action did to retail in the street.
The above is just one of a whole series of changes brought about by consecutive Councils, each of which has made it more difficult for suburban dwellers to access the CBD, and when they do manage to find their way in through blocked or one way streets, they find the cost of parking is prohibitive. (There is a reason why suburban shopping malls don’t charge for parking!)
Over the years these changes have gradually whittled away Queen Street’s magic and encouraged the suburban shopper to take the easy way out and just shop at their local mall.
Simon Wilson should realise that the empty shops in Queen Street are not only the fault of what he calls the “enemies” and “vandals” of Queen Street, but are mainly the result of years of deliberate actions by the Council.