Business backs Beach St walk-fest


A business lobby group will push for upper Beach Street to become a permanent pedestrian mall.

Since February, vehicles were banned from using the 100-metre stretch between Camp St and Cow Lane between 10am and 5am.

Service and delivery vehicles had access for the remaining five hours.

A survey by lobby group DowntownQT shows 80 per cent of CBD businesses support a permanent shift.

This jumps to 90 per cent for firms based in the pedestrian zone.

DowntownQT boss Steve Wilde says the figures speak for themselves.

“It just makes sense. Are we going to continue to pour cars into the centre of the town or are we going to allow the town centre to be a more relaxed environment?”

More than 400 people within the business community were questioned about the impact on trade, traffic movements, issues for deliveries, customer feedback and additional activities.

Figures show opinion’s split on vehicle access to the permanently pedestrianized street at certain times - the yes vote coming out slightly ahead, at 53 per cent.

Asked if the pedestrian trial, approved unanimously by council, has been positive for their business, only 19 per cent responded ‘yes, it’s going really well and I support it’ while 58 per cent claimed ‘no effect’.

Wilde admits it will never please everyone.

“Eighty per cent is a pretty good indicator that we are moving in the right direction.

“It is fair to say some businesses do feel they need traffic to maintain their business.

“I think some people are worried we are moving ahead without this bigger plan from the council and feel that this is taking one step too far.”

The trial ends in September and DowntownQT is preparing a case to take to City Hall. A bumper 76 per cent of poll respondents supported tree lighting and Wilde’s applied to the council for funding.

Business also favoured more dining outside and even busking.

Wilde says there are no plans to extend the pedestrian area, but feedback suggests 47 per cent of those surveyed would be keen to include other streets - for example Rees, Camp and Athol Sts and Marine Parade.

“We have already requested funds to cost and plan upgrades to The Mall, Beach St and Rees St along with Searle and Cow Lanes. We’d like to see that upgrade work starting in 2017.

“The time for significant investment in what is the most important destination in the region is paramount.”

The streets need attention, Wilde’s group has told Queenstown’s council it expects to work with them over the next 12 months “to ensure that becomes a reality”.