Wellington Scoop

Environment Court approves redesign of Frank Kitts Park, including Chinese garden


The Environment Court today dismissed an appeal against the city council’s plan to redevelop Frank Kitts Park, and to add a Chinese garden on the waterfront site. The appeal by Waterfront Watch with the Civic Trust, and Michael Gibson raised concerns about safety, loss of green space, and loss of views. But the court has ruled that work can go ahead.

News from WCC
The Wellington City Council can now get on with the redevelopment of Frank Kitts Park following an Environment Court decision giving a proposed upgrade project the go-ahead.

On Friday, the Environment Court found in favour of the Council’s proposed designs and has granted the resource consent.

Mayor Justin Lester says: “I am pleased to see the Environment Court decision stressed that the proposed redevelopment will only have positive outcomes for Wellington and no adverse effects.

“I’m delighted that we can now immediately commence work on a destination children’s playground in the heart of the waterfront.”

The Council has set aside $2.5m of funding for the project in the Waterfront Development Plan (WDP) which forms part of the 10-year Long-term Plan.

The first stage involves a new children’s playground and is planned to get under way late this year or early next year.

“Initial design work on the playground is under way and I’m looking forward in the coming days to releasing more information about the proposed new playground.”


The Chinese Garden project is in the fundraising stage. The Chinese Garden Society is looking to complete that in the coming years.

Environment Court decision in full


  1. Concerned Wellingtonian, 9. April 2018, 14:42

    How much does the Chinese Garden Society have to raise before the garden can begin?

  2. MC, 9. April 2018, 19:35


  3. Trish Janes, 9. April 2018, 20:05

    Justin has got the right idea – redevelop the playground and let the rest of the plans slide quietly off the back burner. Why didn’t Waterfront Watch try to negotiate a deal based on exactly that? It would have saved the ratepayers about $600,000 in fees for lawyers and their pet designers, to say nothing of the other half of the re-development costs. Or do they want no change at all on the waterfront?

  4. CC, 9. April 2018, 22:21

    Who is kidding who? If only $2.5m has been set aside for the redevelopment, nothing much is going to happen. The all-up cost will probably be a minimum of $10m but figures of up to $16m have been floating around. Even if the Chinese Garden Society and the suggested benefactor cities in China come up with their $5m for the themed thoroughfare, there will still be a massive deficit. In that regard, does anyone remember how many millions of dollars over-run accrued on a previous Wraight waterfront effort at Chaffers?

  5. CC, 9. April 2018, 22:33

    Redevelop the playground which, on the present plans, are as dull and uninspiring as the other run of the mill Council play areas around Wellington? Better to take the kids to Avalon where the Hutt Council have produced playscape excellence instead of an overpriced effort by a named landscape architect whose previous effort at Chaffers was little better than the other mundane Council suburban play areas.

  6. Michael Gibson, 10. April 2018, 6:54

    In answer to Trish Janes: on December 1 2016, the Environment Court issued a Formal Direction to WCC to initiate a discussion of the issues with the Appellant. WCC failed to do this in spite of at least two letters to the Mayor (copied to all Councillors) urging him to adopt this course. He was quite happy for the lawyers to take over. On their part,the lawyers were quite happy to chalk up costs before and during the Hearing which they delayed for more than fifteen months. You could ask some Councillors why the matter was not settled on a sensible, negotiated basis.

  7. Trish Janes, 10. April 2018, 8:50

    CC: I understood the Council statement to mean that they were committing $2.5m and getting on with modernising the playground. The Chinese interests are unlikely to produce the funds for their garden within the next 10 or 20 years and until they do the Council will just mow the grass. Win-win, I say.

  8. Nora, 10. April 2018, 9:44

    In September 2000 a number of sites were considered for a Chinese garden and on Page 37 of the Waterfront Framework it is stated that the Chinese community indicated that the area east of Te Papa was its preferred location (close to Allen and Blair streets where the markets used to be). Then in 2003 the design for Waitangi Park included a children’s playground, market area, petanque and streetball courts, car parking and Chinese and Pacific Gardens. All expected to be completed in 2005! So where are the two Gardens?

  9. MC, 10. April 2018, 13:53

    Michael: the matter was not settled on a negotiated basis presumably because WCC did not consider it appropriate to concede any issues to the detriment of the consented design, and the Environment Court judgment has proven their approach to be 100% correct!

    The question is therefore not why WCC decided not to negotiate with the appellants on their plans, but why the appellants etc decided to challenge it in the first place. Only one party has been proven to be correct here.

  10. Dave B, 10. April 2018, 14:32

    The Waterfront/Frank Kitts Park works beautifully as it is. The public loves it. It doesn’t need redeveloping. Sad to see the mayor pushing for, not against this unnecessary and backward step, and now the Environment Court rubber-stamping it. Not one of the outcomes I thought I was voting for at the last local-body elections.

  11. Alana, 10. April 2018, 15:00

    It’s not too late for the WCC to listen to the 4,000 people concerned about the location of the Chinese Garden who signed paper and online petitions. The council could relocate it to a more suitable site and let them get on with it. Very happy to hear about the plans for the playground.

  12. Michael Gibson, 10. April 2018, 15:40

    Gosh MC! You think that a judgment of the Environment Court justifies your saying “Only one party has been proven to be correct here”! Apart from anything else, the terms of any Resource Consent need to be approved and we have ten days to try to agree about this. For your information, the subjects which I have raised with one of the Council’s lawyers concern the hours during which the ‘Garden of Beneficence’ should be locked for safety reasons and, secondly, also for safety reasons, changes to its walls which gave concern even to one of the Council’s own expert (i.e. highly-paid) witnesses.

  13. Chris Horne, 11. April 2018, 15:19

    A walled garden, locked to exclude people from dusk until dawn, would alienate Wellingtonians’ right of unrestricted access to public open space every day of every week, of every month and of every year. Thus it would be fundamentally wrong.

    Public open space, particularly on our revered waterfront is increasingly a treasure as the city’s population swells.

  14. Geoffrey Horne, 11. April 2018, 15:34

    What a paradox! WCC approves the demolition of a well used and much loved waterfront area, and approves the conversion of a derelict area at Shelly Bay into an area most people will see as an improvement and an asset to the city. Strange priorities!