He seems unconcerned that this is now a Historic Place. Queens Wharf is a Category 1 Historic Place now. This includes Queens Wharf as well as Shed 10. This place was registered as a historic place by the Auckland Historic Places Trust (HPT) on 10-Dec-2010.
Just because it's a historic place does not mean Shed 10 can't be adaptively reused for an appropriate purpose. That's true. But already I see ugly and damaging changes to the wharf and to the setting of Shed 10, as Len Brown's vision becomes more and more concrete. Unsightly fences are already there. If they are any indication of Len Brown's heritage sensitivity, I shudder to think about what's coming.
You might be thinking, "Joel, let it go. You've got a Port Expansion plan review. That's enough...."
Wrong. Auckland was promised an integrated waterfront plan. The key word there is "integrated". Auckland will suffer from a disintegrated waterfront plan. It is no good if we have a review of the Port plans - that gets done next year - and while we wait Queens Wharf gets taken over by cruise ships for ever. That is the risk. That is what Len Brown seems to be set on. That is why people like me wanted and expected an integrated waterfront masterplan - one which integrated the needs of cruise ships and container ships and considered how this heavy traffic could be dealt with by the port - leaving Queens Wharf as a historic place untroubled and undamaged by long term intervention.
The HPT heritage register says this about Queens Wharf and Shed 10:
Queens Wharf was constructed in 1907-13 as the centrepiece of a redevelopment by the Auckland Harbour Board (AHB) to improve Auckland's port facilities. At the forefront of innovative technology, it was among the earliest concrete wharves in New Zealand and contributed strongly to the development of Auckland's economy. Designed primarily for loading and unloading large overseas vessels, the wharf has also been an important place of embarkation and arrival for passengers and is associated with significant events in New Zealand's history including the 1913 Watersider's strike, the influenza pandemic of 1918 and the country's involvement in two World Wars. It is now the best-preserved of the early twentieth-century finger wharves along the Auckland waterfront, visibly retaining structures and features - including a notable double-storey shed - linked with its early use.I am not alone in regretting that one of the legacies left Auckland by the Rugby World Cup is Murray McCully's Cloud. The construction and planning of this was rushed through under the Rugby World Cup Empowering Act. Resource Management Act (RMA) niceties were ignored because of Party Central demands. Fair enough I guess - we needed to have that party and do it well. But now it sits there. Empty - apart from events at the end with the view. But these could be provided for without the rest of the cloud.
The wharf was erected in Commercial Bay, which was used by Maori for food gathering and other purposes before European arrival. Following the foundation of colonial Auckland in 1840, reclamation of the bay successively occurred. By the early 1860s, a large timber wharf had been erected to service the town's growing commercial centre. A timber wharf survived until the early 1900s, when the inadequate nature of Auckland's harbour facilities caused the AHB to instigate improvements.
In 1903, the AHB employed W.H. Hamer, who was previously Resident Engineer at the Royal Albert Docks in London. Hamer produced a plan for the comprehensive improvement of Auckland's waterfront incorporating a series of finger wharves. The Ferro-Concrete Company of Australasia, was contracted to erect the first of these in reinforced concrete at the Railway (later Kings) Wharf, and by early 1907 had begun building the new Queens Wharf. The company is reported to have been the first to use the Hennebique method of concrete construction in New Zealand, and simultaneously constructed Auckland's Grafton Bridge (1907-10) which had the world's largest single reinforced concrete span when built. From 1909 work at Queens Wharf was carried out by the AHB evidently under Hamer's supervision, and was completed in 1913.
Hamer's design for the wharf encompassed a central roadway; flanking sheds for the storage of cargo; and railway lines on the opposite side of the sheds beside each quayside. The tracks were connected to the North Island Main Trunk Line via the Auckland Goods Station, enabling direct access between the wharf and Auckland's extensive rural hinterland. Cargo sheds were of steel-frame construction with corrugated iron cladding, and were initially envisaged to all be double-storey to accommodate transit facilities on the ground floor and warehousing upstairs. The first of these (Shed 'G', later known as Shed 15, then Shed 10) was erected on the east side of the wharf in 1910. Single-storey steel-framed structures were built on the west side, including Shed 'J' (later known as Shed 18, then Shed 11) in 1914. A Police and Customs Building was constructed near the south end of the wharf in 1911-12.
Before the wharf was fully finished it was used for berthing the HMS New Zealand - a gift from the New Zealand government to the Royal Navy - which was visited by some 94,000 Aucklanders. Towards the end of 1913, the wharf was occupied and barricaded by special constables during the Waterfront strike. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 resulted in Auckland becoming the first point of call in New Zealand for ships from Europe and the eastern USA, leading to a further growth in activity. By 1920, Auckland had become the busiest port in New Zealand.
Throughout this period and during the following decades, the wharf remained a central part of the waterfront, housing the Wharf Police and Customs Offices, as well as providing regular ferry services to the North Shore from berths in its southwest corner. It was a venue for ceremonial events, including the departure of troops for the First World War (1914-18), and British royal visits. In 1918, it was linked with controversy over the introduction of the influenza pandemic to New Zealand, which ultimately claimed over 8,000 lives and has been regarded as the country's worst public health disaster. Many believed that the RMS Niagara was responsible for introducing the virus after it discharged passengers at Queens Wharf without quarantine, although this is no longer considered to be the case.
During the Second World War (1939-45) the wharf operated at full capacity to assist the allied war effort, and was part of the infrastructure that supported the military campaign in the Pacific. At this time, the port was considered to be of 'vital national importance.' Facilities were later affected by the 1951 Waterfront Workers Strike, one of New Zealand's longest and most costly industrial disputes.
Some changes to the wharf occurred in 1951, but it was with the advent of containerised transport that the biggest alterations occurred. The former Police and Customs building was demolished. Some of the sheds were destroyed or removed. In 2004, a new ferry terminal was built in the southwest part of the wharf, incorporating an early ferry shelter. In 2009, the main part of the wharf was purchased by the government and the Auckland Regional Council. Following a public debate about the fate of two remaining sheds, one (Shed 'J', or Shed 11) was dismantled and removed in November 2010, and the other (Shed 'G', or Shed 10) retained for ongoing use.
Wynyard Quarter is praised by contrast. The good planning that led to these outcomes was under the RMA and included a set of Plan Changes and a suite of resource consent applications.
Due process for Queens Wharf under Len Brown's regime appears to be a process which subverts or avoids the RMA. No public process. No notified resource consent applications. Ask the best urban designers and architects to shoehorn something into Shed 10 that doesn't trigger the need for a resource consent. Let's see what we can get away with down there - at the edge of the law - get the best legal advice - because Len must have his cruise ship terminal. What is it about Cruise Ship terminals?
A few wines at Cunard's table seems to be all that is needed.
Come on Len. Be fair. Due process and all that. Do something temporary on Queens Wharf. You wouldn't want to pre-empt the findings of your Port Plans review would you.