Auckland was born and grew up because of its port, but in its maturity that doesn’t mean its harbour should be saddled with it.
Oliver Hartwich wonders whether “having a port in the middle of Auckland is really the best possible use of land.
Or more to the point, whether having a giant car park filled with Japanese used vehicles makes much sense just 500 metres away from busy Queen Street.
I readily admit that I find the whole discussion about the Auckland port expansion rather odd. Not just for aesthetic reasons. Auckland is blessed with a stunning natural harbour. Why on earth you would spoil it by having container shipping, car parks and the like in the centre of the city is beyond me.
From an economics perspective too, I also wonder whether this inner city land might not yield more value if put to different uses.
He talks about the re-development of Sydney’s Pyrmont suburb after port activities were moved away.
Among the most sought after locations you find in Sydney is the inner-city suburb of Pyrmont. It is not only home to headquarters of major companies such as American Express, Accenture, Vodafone, and Google. It has also become a major media hub with Fairfax, Seven West Media, and several radio stations all operating in the area.
Pyrmont is among the priciest suburbs in the whole of Sydney to buy an apartment. Besides, at 13,850 residents per square kilometre it is the most densely populated suburb in all of Australia.
Nobody would have seen Pyrmont’s rise coming 25 years ago. Back then, its population had dropped to under 1,000 people. The relocation of port activities from inner-city Pyrmont to the deep-water seaport located in Botany Bay had hit the area hard. But then Sydney discovered that a much better use of this conveniently located inner city area was not as a port facility but as a mixture of residential development and a hub for high-value add, white collar industries.
Clearly, New Zealand needs ports – and we don’t have another readily available deepwater option in Auckland.
But with two deepwater ports within three hours travel and the modern transport technology now available, we shouldn’t just be asking why the port needs to keep growing, but why New Zealand’s major port even needs to be in its major city at all?