People still oppose the Manners Mall reconstruction – even as the pavers are lifted from under their feet.
-Story from Newswire.co.nz
Traffic noise, pollution, interruption to business and the loss of space to “hang out” in an iconic Wellington area are among the reasons they oppose the mall work, according to an informal NewsWire poll.
NewsWire talks to mall users as the $11 million project to transform the busy pedestrian route into a bus lane begins.
Earl Hilton, kaitiaki and stall owner from Wellington central, says the development is another example of the council “forgetting about the people and harking back to the grinding dollar”.
“Rip and tear, that’s all it is. Where is the spiritualism, the love, the soul?”
He is concerned that the council is not making changes that are best for future generations. “We can stop all this. We just need a Maori to make a claim on the land, which is part of the foreshore and seabed. “What a bunch of clowns. The whole thing is a joke.”
Marcus Ward, a student from Wellington central, says the redevelopment “is the worst thing the council has ever done,” and puts the popularity and central location of Manners Mall at stake.
Hospital volunteer Roger Hall, Seatoun, thinks it is “all quite crazy”. He is against the changes and concerned about potential losses for businesses in the area. “The changes in traffic patterns will be interesting. Buses cause noise, pollution and fumes.”
Opinions expressed by interviewees included concern about access to shops.
“I walk heaps and don’t use buses, and until now Manners Mall was a good thoroughfare,” says Ainsley Thompson, a chef from Mt Cook. She says the development will affect access to central shopping areas, and she will shop elsewhere.
Johnsonville student Jessie Scott calls the redevelopment stupid. “Once the road has been completed, all the shops will go downhill. There will be heaps of noise and pollution, and nowhere for the kids to hang out.”
She is concerned the police station around the corner will see an influx of trouble when the communal area within the existing mall is removed. “Manners Mall is where all the kids hang out. Once it changes, all the gangsters will start pushing kids out in front of the buses.”
Dave Henskie, who manages Time Zone in Manners Mall, has been a part of the consultation process. “Political buskers come in all the time. We fill out surveys and answer questions, but no one listens to us.”
He cannot foresee how the development will change anything, but hopes the proposed bus stop outside his shop will bring in more customers. “The council told us that the changes will happen in stages so that there is still access, but the delivery staff are hating it.”
Unlike the majority of those questioned, Stewart Zaya , of Abrakebabra, is cautiously optimistic about the development. “Maybe it will be better for business, maybe worse. I can’t tell.”
He was initially against the project, but now hopes regular customers will continue to eat at the restaurant.
Some of the interviewees knew little of the development.
“I don’t know a whole lot about it personally, but it might be a good idea because Manners Mall is not as busy as Cuba Street,” says Ben Hazlewood, store assistant from Newtown.
Construction has not yet affected his store, but he says that it might cause problems in the future.