19 Jun 2009

Lee won't rubber-stamp Queens Wharf plan

9:48 pm on 19 June 2009

The chairman of the Auckland Regional Council says an $84m development plan for Queens Wharf does not meet the needs of the cruise ship industry and he will not rubber-stamp it.

On Thursday the Auckland City Council voted for the wharf upgrade option that includes the refurbishment of two old sheds in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The intention is that the sheds will be later used as a cruise ship terminal.

But ARC chairperson Mike Lee says he has been working with the cruise ship industry for months on its requirements, and the plan is not what the ARC has in mind as joint owner of Queens Wharf.

He says there is little of heritage value left in the sheds, and the public need to be consulted on any plan. The ARC needs to come to an agreement with the city council, he says, and any decision will have to pass muster.

We can do it, vows Banks

Earlier, Auckland mayor John Banks vowed that the upgrade would be started in time, despite a tight schedule and uncertain funding.

As the city council itself intends to fund no more than $54 million of the $84 million, some councillors are calling on the Government to bridge the gap. But Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully says the Government is not looking to invest further.

Mr Banks is not being drawn on where the money should come from, but told Morning Report that he'd be speaking to third parties.

"I am quietly confident of raising all the cash to do a sensible development on Queens Wharf," he said.