Wellington Scoop

Countless: Peter Jackson among those concerned about Shelly Bay development


by Lindsay Shelton
The city council is making it difficult to assess what Wellingtonians are thinking about the Shelly Bay development plans. What can readily be discovered, however, is that there’s a substantial amount of public interest.

More than 1100 people have sent their opinions to the council, which has put all their submissions on line – more than 3300 pages.

But there’s no summary – no indication of how many people like the plans and how many dislike them.

I decided to do a count of the first 80 submissions. I found a total of 40 people opposing the plan, compared with 30 people supporting it, and 10 “neutral” submissions. The neutral people almost all had concerns about roads being inadequate. The opponents all gave detailed reasons for disliking what is being proposed. Those who liked the scheme had much less to say.

A couple of high profile names stand out in the list of submissions (though they’re not in the first eighty.). Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are firmly against the proposal. And they are specific about why:

We have called the Peninsula home for the past 30 years. Our children have grown up here. We have pursued our film-making dreams here and along the way have established an industry that employs thousands of Wellingtonians. We appreciate the council’s desire to improve and enhance Shelly Bay … But it is clear to us, given the enormity of the infrastructure required to support over 350 buildings, hotel, rest home, commercial businesses etc, that Wellington ratepayers are subsiding what is essentially a property developer’s money-making venture. The land will be sold for a bargain basement price and ratepayers will be saddled with an enormous debt for infrastructure to make this venture viable. … Taking the conservative [house[ price of $600,000 per unit … the profit flowing back to the developer is $75,000,000…

Does the WCC have a dollar figure for the cost of upgrading Shelly Bay’s roading, sewage, water supply, power etc? Having explored this site for a film museum many years ago, we were led to believe by council experts that upgrading Shelly Bay’s basic infrastructure alone would cost ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

It seems to us that Wellingtonians lose both ways. The public coastal land that was always available to all for outdoor leisure activities will be lost to high density expensive housing which itself will be heavily subsidised by Wellington ratepayers.

Choosing some more submissions at random, I found the opinions of Steven Reed, a Seatoun resident:

I do not think that 350 houses in this small area is sustainable and the development will cause a great loss to all of the people who use this area recreationally already. The traffic is already terrible. Travelling to and from town, the airport traffic is increasing and there is not enough space for thousands more cars. I travel to work in the city six days a week and Cobham Drive is already so busy, often more so at weekends. The road to Shelly Bay is narrow and people park the length of the coast road to access the foreshore for recreational use, and with the roading changes necessary to make the development happen will stop easy access of this popular area. It will put great pressure on parking and the local shops and schools in Miramar too…. I have fished the coastline to Shelly Bay and in Shelly Bay for forty years. I see first hand how many people use this area, while I am using it myself. There are always people swimming, bbqing, diving, fishing, and just enjoying the peace and quiet. I am concerned about the marine environment and the blue penguins who breed in this area.

And here’s George Snelling of Miramar:

Throwing more commercial enterprises in our face (e.g. parking, cafes/bars/shops/hotel) isn’t ‘public space’ or a ‘facility’. Parks are of value. Piers for strolling are of value. A cycleway that circumvents stressed-out and/or distracted commercial space patrons would be of value. Don’t tell me a parking lot and $200+/night hotel ‘benefits’ me. Right now I can ride with my young son along a 40 km/hour road with little traffic and talk and go to the beaches and tidepools, even see the occasional seal and penguin. Tell me how someone doing 65 km, whizzing by for their overpriced latte at a hotel, benefits me. Explain how several hundred residents and beer microbrewery patrons will improve my family’s ability to go there to recreate and relax as we do now.

Nick Tipping of Hataitai:

While many of the buildings in Shelly Bay are run down and in need of repair or replacement, they have been used for years as practice space and creative studios by Wellington’s arts and music communities. Over the past decade or so, many such spaces have been demolished and/or repurposed, meaning there are fewer and fewer venues for musicians to get together, work on their artform, and prepare for performance… The reason I am ‘not really supportive’ of this proposal is that in the many pages of proposals for Shelly Bay, the effect of this repurposing of space has been ignored. It will have the effect of denying many local musicians the opportunity for affordable practice and rehearsal space. These are the same musicians who play at Council and parliamentary functions, university graduations, civic events, festivals like CubaDupa and the Newtown Festival, and, ironically, private functions for people of a similar demographic to those who will be buying properties in the new development; as well as who populate the broader Wellington music scene which the Council promotes as the country’s finest. . . Artists and performers all have to rehearse and practice somewhere. These vanishing local rehearsal spaces have given rise to some of the country’s best known musicians, but they are in more and more danger of disappearing. . .Unfortunately the Shelly Bay development is another in the long line of developments which make it harder and harder for those musicians to function.

And Lynette Mackay of Miramar:

I am very concerned this area will be used for housing. This area needs to be retained for Wellingtonians and visitors alike, primarily as a recreational , open to all/accessible area for the enjoyment of the seascape. Turning Shelly Bay into a high density housing area (a ‘new suburb’) skirted by some limited green destroys this unique, quirky, interesting, calm and beautiful area so close to the city. It is a magnificently pretty and calm area. Its quirky, bohemian nature is enjoyed by so many. The current cultural experience of seeing artists and their work, taking in a coffee, alongside strolling the water’s edge will be lost. The proposal aims to keep such activity but it will have a completely different feel that many are trying to escape because it only duplicates many other cities. Lots more people, movement and traffic! It is unlikely to be attractive to many artists, inspirational to their work or affordable- they will just move away. We already have an Oriental Bay and Port Nicholson marina. We need to keep the beautiful, untouched Shelly Bay area of Te Motu Kairangi, which is only a short jaunt from the centre of town, as a recreational area. While I support the wharf area being upgraded and possible loss of some buildings, I do not support any of the area being used for housing or accommodation.

Michael Brown of Wainuiomata:

I have severe concerns regarding the alterations which will need to take place to the roadway between Miramar Avenue and Shelly Bay. In particular I am concerned that the development will – apparently – lead to the permanent elimination of public parking along the entire length of this roadway. I was born and bred in Wellington City and spent a large portion of my life living on the Miramar Peninsula. I still regularly – probably twice per month (more in the summer) – travel this road for recreational fishing. I am 68 years old. This roadway is extremely popular with the public for walking, recreational fishing, picnicking, swimming and other passive recreational uses and has been since the road was first built. It is a tremendous asset to the city and MUST be retained. To loose public access for a development that – at best – can only be described as ‘exclusive’ and controversial must not be allowed to occur.

Angus Taylor of the Poneke Cycling Club:

I am concerned the road access for cycling will be impacted – ruining the best and most popular cycling route in Wellington.

Rachel Hilliar of Kilbirnie:

This is a short sighted project for little gain that will ruin a beautiful and unique piece of coast for future generations, at the cost of ratepayers. The area should be preserved and developed into an area for all of wellington to enjoy as it offers a wide range of activities to families and businesses and should not be developed into a rich man’s playground cutting off those who spend time there diving, swimming, fishing, walking and picnicking … Also the portion of state highway 1 that runs through from the Tunnel to Kilbirnie and all its surrounding suburbs is already a nightmare of congestion. It can take up to 45 minutes to pass through the lights by St Pats even on a weekend and until a strong plan is in place to deal with congestion adding more cars needing to pass through should not even be considered.

City councillors will need to read all 3374 pages of submissions before their meeting on Thursday and Friday. If someone has time to do a count of those for and those against (the council used to provide this information), it would be useful for the councillors, and submitters, and for all of us.


  1. Morrie Love, 4. September 2017, 12:50

    Why are comments only those who seem to oppose a consented development on private land – owner the iwi of Wellington from the Treaty Settlement. Nothing really about what the submissions should be about and that is the sale of the 0.3 hectare of paper road and the lease of 0.6 hectare of land from which the public is currently excluded?

  2. Rayward Chung, 4. September 2017, 13:46

    It seems to me that the submissions against this project are from people who want to see Shelly Bay retain its access for all. Whereas I wonder whether the submissions from those supporting the project are those who will directly gain from it. Shame on the WCC for even considering this.

  3. Michael Gibson, 4. September 2017, 13:53

    Morrie – I hope I can say more later, but in the meantime, I wonder if anyone has told you that it is normal for a developer to pay for infrastructure, whilst this proposal tries to make ratepayers liable for untold millions in expenditure on roads, sewage and water etc.(stuff which is normally described as infrastructure)?

  4. Rayward Chung, 4. September 2017, 14:34

    Hi Morrie, I agree with Michael and was going to reply to you when his reply came up. If the developers and Iwi are willing to pay for all the infrastructure so they cam make millions, that’ll be a different story. But to be given this land and then to expect ratepayers to help you make a fortune is another matter again!

  5. Concerned Wellingtonian, 4. September 2017, 14:35

    I see from a Public Notice today that changes are planned for the road between Shelly Bay Road and Tauhinui Road. The notice makes it clear that a lot of work has gone into this but it does not say if the working groups knew about the huge changes proposed at Shelly Bay:
    “Working group members spent many hours poring over plans, asking questions, looking at things from a range of different perspectives, debating the pros and cons, grappling with challenges and trade-offs, and whittling down the alternatives to come up with the most practical options to go out to the wider public. Among other things, the groups talked about parking, the needs of residents and businesses, trees, heritage features, lane widths, safer speeds, painted median strips, driveways, existing safety issues, pedestrian crossings, intersections and bus stops.”
    If they didn’t know, could they tell us please?

  6. Newtown, 4. September 2017, 20:25

    Weta’s submission is pure gold. Four pages long and to the point.

  7. TrevorH, 5. September 2017, 8:11

    Hi Morrie – this is the first opportunity the public have to comment on the proposal. They were excluded from the earlier Council meeting which took place behind closed doors. Wellingtonians have every right to express their concerns given the loss of access to popular recreation areas, the many millions of dollars of ratepayers’ money required for infrastructure to support this development for private gain, and the serious impact on the severe congestion that already faces those living in the Eastern Suburbs because of inadequate roading through to the city.

  8. Glen Smith, 8. September 2017, 9:42

    Development at Shelly Bay needs to be viewed in context of the larger issue of the future of the whole northern Miramar Peninsula which should, in my view, remain as strictly open space, preferably a Regional Park. Completely undeveloped vacant areas have their own intrinsic value but with a more ‘urban’ park the opportunity arises to provide a range of activities for a wide range of the public while preserving it’s undeveloped feel. Possibilities that spring to mind include horse treks (nearest Ohariu Valley), seakayaking, ‘adrenaline forest’ (nearest Porirua), animal farm (nearest staglands), revitalization of the historic battlements, off road cycling, ?a summer outdoor pool (other than the confined Thorndon and Khandallah pools the best/ closest being Wainui), ?? bungy or fly by wire etc.
    Such a park would require transportation and amenities (eateries, business space for activities etc) and Shelly Bay is the logical ‘hub’ for the area. There is no current public transport (PT) and domination of the area by cars (already becoming an issue) should be rigorously controlled by careful planning. The ideal would be bus shuttle from a rail based Kilbirnie PT hub, or ferry- perhaps enroute to/from park/cycle/walk and ride at Miramar Wharf. Maintaining regular PT requires regular patronage, easier with a resident population. And without a resident population such areas can often feel empty/ soulless. In addition Wgtn needs more housing and while Shelly Bay will never be ‘affordable’ housing it will increase overall supply and displace buyers from elsewhere. And of course the local iwi have the right to develop their share of the land- it is far better to do this with an overall cohesive plan. If done right, a compact vibrant ‘hub’ with resident population at the centre of a much larger outdoor area (a model for our cities) has a lot of positives. Overall I like the plan. However to maintain a mix and prevent it becoming a wealthy ‘enclave’ in my view all of the proposed buildings on the council owned seaward side land should remain in public ownership on public land (not leased) and refurbished specifically for art and other community groups even if this requires a higher council input. And any further ‘creep’ into other bay’s or land in the northern Peninsula should be vigorously opposed.

  9. DavidGeary, 9. September 2017, 23:14

    1000-plus submissions futile as Shelly Bay development can go ahead without council land. [via twitter]