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'Threat to survival': Wellington businesses fight removal of 20 car parks

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 Mar 2024, 2:02pm
Slow Boat Records supports the removal of car parks on Wellington's Cuba St. Photo / Ethan Manera
Slow Boat Records supports the removal of car parks on Wellington's Cuba St. Photo / Ethan Manera

'Threat to survival': Wellington businesses fight removal of 20 car parks

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 Mar 2024, 2:02pm

A group of Wellington business owners are fighting a plan to remove car parks on part of Cuba St, saying it represents a “threat to the survival” of local shops.

Wellington City Council is proposing removing 20 of the 25 parks between Vivian and Ghuznee Sts as part of a plan to widen the footpath, increase the street’s appeal for pedestrians and enable outdoor dining for restaurants and cafes.

The project is expected to cost $535,600 and would also result in $207,000 of lost metered parking revenue each year.

Owner of Cuba St coffee shop Kaffee Eis, Karl Tiefenbacher, has started a campaign calling on the council to “park” its proposal, due to fears it will reduce the number of customers visiting businesses.

Tiefenbacher, who unsuccessfully ran for the council earlier this year, says his customers comprise “a real mix” of pedestrians and those who drive to the business, and says removing the car parks will reduce the number of people visiting the area.

”It’s about accessibility, I can’t see how a wider footpath will make the area any more comfortable,” Tiefenbacher said.

Kaffee Eis owner Karl Tiefenbacher started the campaign, calling on Wellington City Council to “park” its car park proposal. Photo / Ethan Manera
Kaffee Eis owner Karl Tiefenbacher started the campaign, calling on Wellington City Council to “park” its car park proposal. Photo / Ethan Manera

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau supports the plan, saying she’s “always been for pedestrianisation of Cuba St”.

“You don’t build a city around cars, you build it around people [...] if people really need their car parks there are still going to be carpark buildings.”

She says the weekend’s CubaDupa festival showed the positives of what pedestrianisation could bring.

“It was vibing, there were so many people, there were lines out of the restaurants, and I think what that festival showed us is the opportunity to make our streets people-focused”.

Opposing views on car park reduction were evident during the weekend's CubaDupa festival, with counter-signs being posted on signs in shop windows. Photo / Ethan Manera
Opposing views on car park reduction were evident during the weekend's CubaDupa festival, with counter-signs being posted on signs in shop windows. Photo / Ethan Manera

Fifty businesses on the street have reportedly signed the petition against the plan, with several displaying posters in their shop windows protesting the loss of car parks. Some promoting the petition are located in the already pedestrianised stretch of the street.

However, not all businesses in the area are opposed, with Slow Boat records co-owner Steven Hinderwell saying he believes it will help business.

”I think most businesses will benefit from it to be honest, especially shop-fronts [...] the more foot traffic there is, surely more people are going to be around,” he said.

Hinderwell disputed the idea the removal of car parks would reduce the number of customers for businesses, saying “very seldom do we get people coming in just because they found a car park outside”.

Slow Boat Records supports the removal of car parks on Wellington's Cuba St. Photo / Ethan Manera
Slow Boat Records supports the removal of car parks on Wellington's Cuba St. Photo / Ethan Manera

The project was previously part of Let’s Get Wellington Moving and was set to go to a council vote next week but has been deferred to later in the year as part of Long-term Plan discussions.

Consultation with 11 Cuba St businesses in March last year shows 48 per cent supported the project, 16 per cent had concerns and 27 per cent were against the plans.

Wellington City Council received 10 submissions on the proposal, with two in support and eight opposed.

Ethan Manera is a multimedia journalist based in Wellington. He joined NZME in 2023 and is interested in politics, local issues and the Public Service. Ethan is always on the lookout for a story, he can be emailed at [email protected] or messaged on X (formerly Twitter) @ethanjmanera

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