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Concourse approved for Britomart Centre

MEDIA RELEASE


July 24, 2002


Concourse approved for Britomart Centre

The Auckland City Council has approved the last major design element of the Britomart Transport Centre - an underground concourse running beneath Queen Elizabeth Square, from the Chief Post Office to the Downtown Building on the western side of the square.

The concourse will provide all-weather shelter for commuters leaving the Britomart for downtown destinations or to catch connecting buses in surrounding streets or those who will be heading for the nearby ferry terminals.

Commuters will enter the concourse via stairs from the interior of the CPO and, at the other side of the concourse, walk up to street level and into Queen Elizabeth Square. Lifts will provide access for disabled people.

A circular skylight near at street level outside the CPO will allow natural light into the concourse which will be supplemented by 14 light boxes and white mosaic wall tiles to brighten the subterranean concourse.

The council’s Finance and Corporate Business committee approved a variation to the Chief Post Office contract of $3.1 million to allow Downer Construction – the Britomart contractor – to begin building the concourse in October. Preparatory works, which will limit access to some parts of Queen Elizabeth Square, will begin immediately.

The concourse element of the Britomart design was delayed pending interest from Westfield who considered incorporating an underground shopping mall by the concourse. Westfield was unable to progress their scheme and the council has proceeded independently. The $204 million Britomart Project is progressing “on time and within budget”.


Councillor Greg McKeown, chairman of the council’s Transport Committee, says the concourse is an important part of the Britomart Transport Centre as it will provide commuters with shelter from the weather as they exit the centre.

“When the urban canopy is built on the western side of the square from Customs to Quay streets, pedestrians will have all-weather shelter from beyond the Britomart into Queen St and down to the ferry wharves,” says Cr McKeown.

Cr McKeown says access to parts of the square will be restricted during construction, but areas for pedestrian access will be well signposted.

“While there may be some short-term inconvenience for pedestrians, the provision of the concourse and the enhancing of surrounding streetscapes will be a major long-term improvement for pedestrians across Queen Elizabeth Square, which is being re-established as a road for buses as part of the new Britomart Transport Centre,” says Cr McKeown.

The first signs of the concourse construction and streetscape improvements will begin shortly with the removal of several trees and the wind sculpture which has been a feature of the square for more than 20 years. The Britomart streetscapes will be to a standard similar to that of the Viaduct Harbour with significant new plantings of trees.

ENDS

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