17 Jul 2010

Compromise deal keeps wharf as 'party central'

2:47 pm on 17 July 2010

The Prime Minister says he doesn't believe the Government has lost face by agreeing to keep one of the two historic sheds on Auckland's Queen's Wharf for "party central" at next year's Rugby World Cup.

The deal settles a dispute between the Government, which wanted both sheds demolished, and the Auckland Regional Council, which decided to keep one.

The Government had hinted at taking "party central" elsewhere because of the council's resistance.

Under the compromise, however, Queen's Wharf will remain as the venue and Shed 10 will stay. Shed 11 will be dismantled and replaced by a temporary metal and glass structure dubbed "the cloud".

The decision is a good one, John Key says, though he's disappointed a cruise ship terminal will not be built on the wharf, as that has always been his "vision for Auckland".

Simply the best, says McCully

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully says the deal was struck because Queen's Wharf is the best venue.

Mr McCully told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint that the large, central-city site is ideal, because it's close to transport hubs.

While the deal reached is not the Government's preferred outcome, he says, it only owns half the wharf and had to respect the views of the council.

Both sides compromised, Mr McCully says, and "we don't need to have winners and losers here".

A creative solution, says Lee

Construction of the party central site will begin after March next year, he says, adding that the council will be responsible for refurbishing the shed - and must keep costs down in doing so.

Regional council chairman Mike Lee says it's a creative solution that embraces the wharf's heritage and creates an outstanding fan zone. The time for talking is now over, he says, and the work needs to begin.

Mr Lee says Shed 10 will be upgraded so that it fits into the fan zone visually, while its heritage values remain respected.

Auckland regional councillor Joel Cayford says the cost of refurbishing Shed 10 will be a small price to pay for preserving the city's heritage.