Wellington Scoop

Mayoral candidate backs thriving communities, not urban sprawl

Media release from Conor Hill
Wellington mayoral candidate Conor Hill today released his thriving communities policy with the aim of creating vibrant suburbs rather than urban sprawl.

Conor Hill said: “Many of Wellington’s favourite communities prove medium density housing done well works for people and the city. From Oriental Bay, to Newtown, to Thorndon our most iconic communities have plenty of people living next to each other, sharing ideas, food and company.

“In the next 30 years, we will have an additional 50,000 Wellingtonians, minimum. Let’s grow our existing communities, rather than build isolated car dependent suburbs. It’ll make for thriving communities with better amenities.

“The suburban and central growth that Wellingtonians so strongly recommended in the planning for growth consultation is a far better option than new isolated, car-dependent suburbs in Takapu or Ohariu valleys.

“Building thriving communities supports everything Wellingtonians care about. It builds vibrant suburbs both socially and economically. It reduces our impact on the climate, and mitigates against earthquake damage and climate change.

Let’s make the most of our city, enhance our suburbs, reduce our carbon emissions and build the kind of city Wellingtonians want.”

Read more:
Six storeys in the suburbs?


  1. Nimby, 18. July 2019, 14:36

    Why does Wellington need 50,000 more people? Let them go somewhere else. What’s wrong with Levin and Eketahuna or Woodville?

  2. Conor, 18. July 2019, 16:05

    Central government mandates that local government plans for the growth. I think it’s to avoid the sort of infrastructure crunch we are having now. I’d encourage all voters to read the scenarios and ask all candidates which scenario they support.

  3. Nimby, 18. July 2019, 16:45

    I’m voting for plan ‘D-Zero’ – don’t plan for growth and keep the land use regulations as now and put heritage listings on all Thorndon and Mt Victoria housing so as to force those who seek to inundate us to go somewhere else and inundate those places that are willing to have them (aka the many zombie towns of the North Island).

  4. michael, 18. July 2019, 19:31

    Given the earthquake risk problems with insurance, we may be likely to see more people moving out of the central city than moving in. This is an issue that needs resolving before any more high-rises are built – as insurance is becoming unaffordable.

  5. Andy Foster, 18. July 2019, 20:07

    Hi Conor – essentially that is exactly what Council decided on following the Planning for Growth consultation (ie densification in the Central City and around suburban centres). That fits with the feedback we got from over 1370 submitters. Officers are now working on a draft Spatial Plan and towards a new District Plan to give effect to that broad direction. It follows the general direction we have been taking for the 25 years since the current District Plan was first notified. It is more sustainable, and a key reason for continual growth in the proportion of people travelling on foot, on public transport and on bike.

    Hi Nimby – it is a fair question you ask. Ultimately population growth is unsustainable. The Planet isn’t getting any bigger and we are obviously putting it under immense pressure. Most projections have population (global, national and logically local) topping out at some stage. I have long advocated for a national level strategic approach to population, considering such issues as the optimal approximate population size, demographics (ageing population), and geographic distribution. You are right that there are places which could really do with more people, and others which would benefit from fewer. The issue is always about creating the job opportunities in the regions which are losing people. There is some evidence that more people are choosing smaller towns for affordability and lifestyle reasons.

    However regardless of all that, at a local level, since 2016 Councils are legally required to demonstrate that we have the realistic capacity (think development economics and infrastructure in particular) to accommodate residential and non-residential demand for the next 30 years. That is why we are undertaking the Planning for Growth exercise. In my view it is absolutely essential in this process that we as a community decide together what are the things we value and want to protect, and what are the things and places we are happy to see change. It is a big and complex task, and will involve several more rounds of community engagement culminating in the opportunity for formal submissions on a new District Plan.

    Kind regards
    Andy Foster
    Urban Development Leader, Wellington City Council

  6. Benny, 18. July 2019, 20:49

    Development of new beautiful, green suburbs is the right thing to do, if done properly. It does not have to be car dependent (and if it is, let be it on EVs), and could be well supported by clean, affordable and reliable PT (none of which we have today, admittedly). This would help the newcomers to have good living conditions, not one crammed in dense urban, off-soil areas, which does not create balanced, harmonious communities. Development of new suburbs would extend what makes Wellington so special: a great city which suburbs intertwined with Nature and offer such quality lifestyle.

  7. Andy Foster, 18. July 2019, 21:25

    Hi Michael – resilience was an important issue raised by many submitters, and something very much on our minds – which is why we opted for the mix of suburban centres and central city, rather than a more central city focused approach.

    Hi Benny – we have retained the existing greenfields areas (Stebbings and Lincolnshire) but rejected going into Ohariu Valley or Takapu Valley etc. With the best will in the world they will be relatively heavily car dependent, infrastructure is more expensive. However keeping some existing greenfields areas does allow for choice.

    I agree with you in liking living close to nature. However it also comes with important responsibilities to nature – managing or even choosing domestic pets and potentially invasive plants. I do a lot of hands on work in reserves and the way in which neighbouring owners manage their land – especially weeds – is crucial to reserve restoration. The other point to make is that developments ‘set in nature’ (eg in the middle of a bush area) have often destroyed a fair bit of that very nature to get placed in that setting. Final point is that the bulk of the existing building stock is the three – four bedroom type stand alone houses. So there are options available on top of those greenfields developments to come. However the bulk of demand for new stock is now apartments and multi units. We particularly need more stock for first home purchasers and for people down-scaling as they age. It’s all about choice.

    Kind regards, Andy

  8. Guy M, 19. July 2019, 1:04

    I’m more than a little concerned at Nimby’s proposal – that means that Eketahuna could end up with a population of 50,005 people, a definite increase on its current population….

    But Michael has hit a proverbial nail on its head – until the insurance issue is resolved, there are going to be no more new buildings in downtown Welly. The insurance demands are killing the city. So, Councillor Foster, your plans for solving that issue please? When Body Corp (insurance) fees are coming in higher than your mortgage, you know we have a serious problem to solve.

  9. Conor, 19. July 2019, 9:28

    Hi Andy – it sounds like we are basically in agreement. I support scenario 2, and I believe every candidate at this election should state where they stand.
    Cheers, Conor