Car ban bad for business, retailers say

Brian Kreft
Brian Kreft
Banning cars from central Wanaka streets was bad for business.

That is the conclusion from a survey of the 26 members of the Lower Helwick and Ardmore Sts Retailers' Group.

Group chairman Brian Kreft said yesterday all businesses experienced a decline in turnover of between 6% and 41%.

Closing part of Ardmore and Helwick Sts to cars was a trial by the Queenstown Lakes District Council as it looks for ways to better connect the town centre with the lakefront.

Mr Kreft, who has operated the Paper Plus store in Helwick St for 31 years, said the group represented almost all the businesses in the area.

They were asked to compare turnover between the four-day period, from Friday to Monday, with the corresponding period last year.

All expected reduced turnover Mr Kreft said but they were probably all down ''a bit more'' than they anticipated.

One of the problems was that the reduction in car parking led to reduced foot traffic.

Mr Kreft said there were very few successful ''outside malls'' in New Zealand.

''The country is littered with failures.

''You only have to go down to Cromwell to see a failure.

''The whole experiment ... has never worked.''

Mr Kreft said the retailers were not against change in central Wanaka but were against closing streets to cars.

''There are lots of other ways of dealing with it - one-way streets with parallel parking, and all sorts of things.

''You don't have to close it down.''

Wanaka Community Board chairman Quentin Smith said yesterday trading effects would be ''taken on board'' as part of feedback from the trial and the council ''certainly takes seriously'' such effects.

He pointed out there was a huge number of ''influencing factors'' at play in Wanaka, not least the growth of the Three Parks commercial area and projected increases in population.

The council will meet members of the group later this week.

''It's important to note that recommendations on whether to permanently pedestrianise any part of the town centre will not be made until the master plan process is complete later this year,'' a spokeswoman said.


Unfortunately lazy councils just make lazy decisions. QLDC, just like the DCC, think just banning cars will make an area more attractive. It does the opposite for most places.
But town planners sit in little groups convincing each other that in some imaginary world everyone has all day to walk or ride their bike while meandering for a kilometer or two to do their shopping. The reality that people need to do some quick shopping during a lunch break or on the way to / from work is just beyond planners understanding. Town planners are taught nonsense and then tell each other it is the future. And too many councilors are not bright enough to see reality. Maybe this real data from stores will help QLDC face reality. And DCC too for that matter.

Cars are destroying the character of towns and cities all round the world.
Many cities that have reduced cars and encouraged walking, cycling and PT have seen businesses do better.