Wellington Scoop

People, not cars – Save the Basin states the case for urban design


The Save the Basin Campaign has this week released its submission to the Let’s Get Welly Moving process on its four proposed scenarios for Wellington transport. It focuses on the Basin Reserve as a valued part of Wellington heritage, identity and urban design, and supports transport proposals that do not imperil that role and enhance Wellington’s status as a liveable city designed to meet the needs of people, not cars.

1. Summary

STBC supports Scenario A.

It rejects Scenarios B, C and D.

In supporting Scenario A, STBC also urges that it be accompanied by additional actions such as transport demand management and serious option development and assessment of public transport options such as light rail. This could be called Scenario A+.

STBC appreciates the opportunity to provide feedback on the Scenarios. However, it finds the presentation of these scenarios by Let’s Get Wellington Moving disappointing as it simply presents NZTA’s defeated Ngauranga to Airport strategy in a staged and lightly different format. At the same time, roading/bridge/tunnel proposals around the Basin Reserve are vague and unclear but potentially involve even more bridges and therefore adverse impact on the character of the Basin Reserve. LGWM’s table comparing the scenarios, for instance, states under Built environment and heritage that there will be an impact on heritage items “due to works at Basin/Mt Vic” for Scenarios B, C and D.

This is especially disappointing as such proposed solutions were resoundingly rejected by both the Board of Inquiry into the Basin Bridge Proposal Decision in August 2014 and the High Court Appeal against the Report and Decision of the Board of Inquiry into the Basin Bridge in August 2015.

3. Support for Scenario A
STBC supports Scenario A because by giving priority to public transport and improving cycle lanes it ncourages active transport and a move to public transport. Improved Basin layout will enhance traffic movement around the Basin Reserve, with minimal adverse effect on the Basin Reserve itself. Expert witnesses for STBC during the Board of Inquiry into the Basin Bridge provided ample evidence that this can be done effectively.
We support Scenario A because of the unique values of the Basin Reserve to the heritage and environment of Wellington.

These values should not be compromised any further. Also, as LGWM acknowledges, all indications are that traditional vehicular transport in western urban centres is on the point of undergoing a radical change. Building more ‘traditional’ roads, on the basis of plans that are essentially decades old, does not make sense.

While STBC’s focus is on the Basin Reserve, our support for Scenario A supports other Wellington groups and neighbourhoods that would suffer from the environmental degradation caused by Scenarios B, C and D.

4. Significance of the Basin Reserve
The significance of the Basin Reserve, and its surrounding area, has been conclusively acknowledged.
It is a unique environmental and heritage feature, which helps define Wellington and plays an important role in collective memory and current and future recreational activities.

The Final Report and Decision of the Board of Inquiry into the Basin Bridge Proposal thoroughly investigated and analysed the significance of the Basin Reserve and reasons why its unique values should not be compromised, so they will not be repeated in depth here. The report can be found at:

A summary of just a few of the Board’s decisions highlights the importance of the Basin Reserve and surrounds:

Decision Para 618
That the heritage is of local, national and international significance was not disputed by any of the heritage experts
All heritage experts acknowledged that the extent of the heritage area is “considerably larger than the designation area”
All experts agreed that historic heritage values extend beyond the Basin Reserve to its surroundings and its surroundings, specifically for example Kent and Cambridge Tces

Significant adverse effects arising from dominance of the new structures in a sensitive heritage setting, permanent loss of historically significant views, and severance.
Pivotal component within the network of open spaces, Basin Reserve is a cricket ground and open space of international and historic significance which justifies particular consideration of any interventions in and around it.
Openness of the existing environment is important.
WCC Key Issues Report emphasised the need to protect the Basin Reserve from development and “visual obstruction”.
Basin Reserve landscape and surrounding area particularly important and significant element in the Wellington landscape for historical associations, topographical setting and urban setting (followed by why)
In terms of representativeness and rarity, Basin Reserve is considered by many to NZ’s premier test cricket ground, as well as being internationally unique in allowing spectators the freedom to walk all around boundary fence
Integrity of form of Basin Reserve is and has been a heritage value appreciated by cricket spectators and other Basin users
Ambience of ground important to spectators and to future of test cricket – current ambience is peaceful, relaxed. View of traffic would negatively impact spectator experience

5. Scenario A, plus additional measures, would best meet LGWM’s own stated principles, a number of which are actively ignored or given little consideration or in other Scenarios (e.g. principles 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9).
Similarly, Scenarios B, C and D contradict LGWM’s own objectives, in particular the objectives to enhance the liveability of the central city, reduce dependence on private vehicle travel, and be adaptable to future disruptions and uncertainty.

STBC believes, in particular, that investigation and implementation of traffic demand management, and serious and genuine investigation of light rail, should be added to Scenario A to achieve maximum benefits. We would want to see details of any light rail proposals before giving formal support but we do not agree with LGWM’s assertion that “the point at which demand would justify mass transit is about 10 years away”.

Now is the time to seriously develop and assess an option for such a ode of transport because:
a) it is widely known that residential densification follows installation of good public transport
b) to start investigating when the demand is already there shows a lack of strategic thinking
c) to start investigating after massive investment in roading and post-dwelling intensification does not make sense.
d) it will take up to and over 10 years to put in place mass transit if you started today on this
transport option.

Therefore, we support Scenario A but urge that this be enhanced by additional investigations and actions.


  1. Victor Davie, 27. January 2018, 13:01

    The contribution to our city by STB in their time and effort in producing this submission will long be remembered. LGWM must surely accept this reasoned logical advice without question and implement improvements accordingly. Well done STB!

  2. Save the Basin, 27. January 2018, 18:51

    This is oh so familiar. We were told in 2011, “you can have a flyover right here or a flyover just over there.” A total sham. NZTA is a dinosaur that absolutely refuses to stop doing the same old dinosaur things, even as the rest of the world moves on. [via twitter]

  3. Michael Banett, 27. January 2018, 20:05

    There is much sense in what SBT say. Look at the current use of road space around the Basin Reserve. Looking south along Dufferin Street on the east side of the Basin, more than half the road width is taken up with parking space for buses and cars, leaving only two lanes for moving vehicles. I call this an embarrassing waste of road space to provide for stopping vehicles, which use it for less than two hours a day when school is in. There are other constrictions limiting the free flow of traffic around the Basin Reserve. Why not remove these obstacles and associated traffic lights and let the Basin operate as a giant free flowing roundabout? Not only would this reduce congestion at this location, it would allow for a dedicated bus lane around the outer perimeter. These things could be done now at minimal cost. No need to wait for this expensive process called Let’s Get Wellington Moving. Do it now.

  4. luke, 28. January 2018, 13:31

    I think the cheap solution isnt being looked at because it will remove the need to spend big dollars making the construction firms a lot of money. You could just about eliminate congestion on key arterials by using them for movement rather than storage.

  5. TrevorH, 28. January 2018, 17:18

    Most cars I see on the roads around here contain people. Without people there would be no cars. Cars need roads. Cities need roads too because they can only exist if they are serviced by roads, with one or two exceptions like Venice. Now there’s an idea for LGWM which they probably haven’t got to yet. Perhaps the Basin could be flooded and joined by canals to the harbour as was originally intended? Gondolas could ply the canals taking local residents to latte bars and other such places of refinement. The rest of us could go live somewhere else in the real world.

  6. Traveller, 28. January 2018, 19:33

    Buses and trams also contain people – many more people than cars. That’s the real world for a modern city … more buses and trams, fewer cars, and more open space for us to walk and ride.

  7. Zarathustra, 29. January 2018, 15:40

    TrevorH is so right – much of flat land Wellington is doomed by sea level rise. The Basin, Courtenay Place and Lambton Quay will be awash in sea water.

    We will all have to retreat with TrevorH to the high lands of Brooklyn, Johnsonville Karori to philosophize about personal greed and the drowning of the collective good.

  8. michael, 29. January 2018, 19:42

    @TrevorH: By the time LGWM gets around to making any fixed decisions and doing something, global warming will have most probably already created a canal and lake at the Basin Reserve.