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Talking, and agreeing, about the draft spatial plan

by Felicity Wong
Wellington residents can take a break before the next phase of the Draft Spatial Plan (DSP) and the Proposed District Plan process resumes early next year, when the Wellington City Council will report on the 2896 written submissions it received.

Councillors were pretty tired after hearing 202 oral submissions over five days of hearings. More than 100 oral submissions were heard in one afternoon and evening session on 19 November in a new “round-table” format with Councillors.

I attended them all, interested to listen to the range of views on this important issue. Let’s just say councillors demonstrated a mix of commitment to hearing submitters with an open mind. Appreciation and respect is due to those who engaged in the issue and were curious to elicit potential solutions by asking Wellingtonians about the places they lived and about the issues for them.

I heard no submitter being blind to the urgent need for more affordable housing and very few who supported urban sprawl. Wellingtonians had compassion for those with housing problems, welcomed diverse neighbourhoods, and had concerns about climate change.

The vast majority of oral submitters however expressed concerns about this version of the DSP. Chris Finlayson warned the DSP risked being “an inter-generational botch up”.

There were themes.

Wellington already has medium density with multi-unit homes tightly packed in walkable inner suburbs where cars have long been eschewed by residents who walk and use public transport. Another was about the intensity of inner city Wellington, already with 17,000 residents packed into a small geographic area that is now Wellington’s biggest suburb, (outstripping Karori).

Common concerns were expressed to Councillors about the potential for loss of heritage and character in inner suburbs, (with strong support for the current demolition control), lack of city green space, and loss of sun from inappropriately tall buildings.

Excellent oral submissions were made by Inner City Wellington, Sustainable Cities, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, The Civic Trust, and Historic Places Wellington. Many residents’ groups gave substantive and thoughtful submissions, (among them, Mt Victoria, Thorndon, Mt Cook, Newtown, Berhampore, Brooklyn, Karori, Wilton, Ngaio, Onslow, and Johnsonville), together with the key heritage groups, Mt Victoria Historical Society and the Thorndon Society.

Street groups participated, with some noting the DSP had transformed their bbq group into micro-coalitions of mobilised citizens (Hobson, Moir, Stafford, Thatcher etc).

There were strong views about the Johnsonville train not being a “mass rapid transit” (MRT) system (since confirmed by Regional Council chair Daran Pointer) and real alarm for Newtown, Kilbirnie and Johnsonville given the scale and extent of blanket “upzoning” proposed for those areas. The Newtown folk helpfully presented a workable alternative which would accommodate thousands of new residents without despoiling the old suburb renowned for its inclusivity and existing medium density.

By contrast, I heard few oral submitters in favour of the current Draft Spatial Plan. There was however a range of individuals, VUWSA and Renters United who had experienced “cold, damp, mouldy houses” and unaffordable rents. They looked forward to the DSP providing “warm, dry, and safe” alternatives.

Kainga Ora (KO) proposed a far wider scheme of upzoning for pretty much the entire city. It’s worth taking a look at the maps attached to KO’s submission to see the upzoning it proposes for Ngaio, Kelburn, Island Bay, Miramar and other areas which folk thought to be less affected by the DSP. Generation Zero also advocated for greater upzoning (in Kelburn etc). The Housing Corporation (KO’s predecessor) successfully litigated against the Auckland Council and against 29,000 residents in the Auckland Unitary Plan process.

The written submissions of those who made oral submissions are in the papers for WCC’s Strategy and Policy Committee for its meetings on 4, 18, 19 and 26 November and 1 December (use “more info” tab).

There was widespread agreement on the need to fact-check the numbers for Wellington’s projected population growth. Many called into question the use by WCC of StatisticsNZ’s top range of population scenarios for Wellington, in light of recent regional developments. In a briefing for Councillors considering the Shelly Bay issue, WCC reported on 11 November that Wellington would be short of 4,600-12,000 homes by 2047.

There was widespread agreement that intensification should be phased or staged, and that priority be given to car park sites and other low value commercial sites in Adelaide Rd, Thorndon Quay and elsewhere. Attention was drawn to lower grade CBD office buildings available for conversion to residential homes, and to the rapid apartment building activity underway in the Te Aro “low city” – somewhere height limits have been eliminated without any consultation.

There was widespread interest in citizen involvement in planning solutions following concerns about the nature and timing of information released in the consultation process. Information was largely on-line and had trickled out with oral submissions originally not planned for.

Next steps

WCC is reviewing the written submissions (2896 in total) many of which used on-line forms. The push-poll type questions on WCC’s on-line form, and the “quick submit” form created by a group of DSP supporters, may have reduced some of the quality of debate. WCC is aiming to issue its report on submissions in the new year.

The Final Spatial Plan is expected to be adopted by councillors at the end of March. The Government is however planning new legislation on Strategic (Spatial) Planning), as one of the two pieces due to replace the RMA. As a forerunner of what’s proposed, WCC’s DSP has cast a long shadow on spatial planning.

The DSP shone a spotlight on the practical difficulties of implementing the Government’s prescriptive new National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD). The instruction to Councils to upzone areas within a walkable catchment of the city centre and any planned MRT was adopted hastily in August. It attracted debate in the local election campaign and the Christchurch City Council has reportedly rejected NPS-UD on the basis it is an Auckland device undercutting local government autonomy to decide its own urban form.

In any event, in July next year the next round begins in earnest when the WCC plans to release a “non-statutory” Draft District Plan with the zoning taken from the DSP. That will provide for further “targeted” consultation. The WCC then aims to release (“notify”) a “statutory” Proposed District Plan (PDP) in May 2022. If the RMA has not been repealed by then, notification of the PDP will start the legal process of implementation with a further round of formal submissions and hearings.

Years ago, when the RMA was being enacted, Wellington’s draft Town & Country Plan was delayed until the new RMA legislation became operative. Something similar might happen again if the PDP gets caught up in the repeal of the RMA.

Meanwhile, work continues in the Council on draft rules for the Draft District Plan. Small new heritage areas are being consulted on for Mt Victoria and Thorndon. There’s good evidence about “qualifying matters” of heritage and character for areas where exemptions might exist from inappropriate intensification under the NPS-UD. Infrastructure will also be an important additional constraint.

Wellingtonians will need to be ready to participate again next year when the zoning for their streets and suburbs and detailed planning rules are changed in the Draft District Plan. This year has been about the DSP, and next year it will be about the DDP.

Thanks go to the Mayor who led several walk-abouts in heritage and other suburbs and engaged with Wellingtonians on the ground, and to Councillors for their hard work representing us by asking and fielding questions. They all deserve a break over the Christmas holiday season.

Felicity Wong is chair of Historic Places Wellington.

50 comments:

  1. Michael Gibson, 17. December 2020, 9:45

    Great credit to Felicity Wong and Historic Places Wellington for keeping an eye on all those meetings.
    It would be a good idea if the Council CEO arranged for Ms Wong to cast her eye over the officers’ draft report before it goes to the Councillors at the end of their six-week break.
    She is clearly an experienced, unbiased and expert observer.

     
  2. Claire, 17. December 2020, 10:44

    Great article Felicity. You would have expected a summary from the WCC itself? And a good comment about open mindedness. That is after all a councillor’s job to represent and be open to residents’ ideas and concerns. It is not a place for small select groups to be favoured.

     
  3. Helene Ritchie, 17. December 2020, 10:52

    Thanks Felicity. This is the kind of contestable advice, comment and summary the mayor and councillors need. I am sure the task of hearings was a gruelling and exhausting one for councillors…they do deserve a break! Bbeware of ‘targeted’ consultation! The District Plan, once it is on the table, is for all of the city, not just a few selected or privileged.

    I do wonder about the wisdom of Council adopting a ‘final’ spatial plan as policy in late March, as opposed to letting it lie on the table as guidelines for the non statutory and statutory processes of the District Plan to come (and any legislative changes the detail of which is yet to be promulgated.) I don’t think that the draft Spatial Plan, with its wrong and diverse population projections and the tick box submission process (along with some written and oral submissions), will be sufficient in itself to finalise policy for the future of Wellington for the next 30 years, in terms of a ‘final’ Spatial Plan the Council in late March. The interrelated issues are complex and must be treated as such.

     
  4. Conor, 17. December 2020, 15:01

    Council consultations are notoriously undemocratic. Hard to imagine any working person being able to afford the time off to attend 5 days of hearings.

     
  5. Conor, 17. December 2020, 15:03

    The only oral submitter you mention, Finlayson, is from a party who barely get 20% of the vote in Wellington. Ignore.

     
  6. I blame remuera, 17. December 2020, 16:24

    The oral submissions would over-represent those who have an excess of time and money, and it is such people getting a disproportionate say that underlies everything wrong here. The insistence by some that the aesthetics of buildings they neither live nor work in is any of their business and that the poors be kept from moving in next door must not be allowed to dictate housing policy during a housing shortage.

     
  7. Claire, 17. December 2020, 19:40

    I blame remuera: Newtown has the highest percentage of social housing for “the poors” as you call them in NZ. We have tower blocks. And the highest build rate per suburb already. Your flippant comments are transparent.

     
  8. Claire, 17. December 2020, 19:45

    Conor it was 26%. Not the first time you have had things wrong.

     
  9. Julienz, 17. December 2020, 22:41

    Thank you Felicity for this summary and for choosing to give your time to an important issue which will affect the quality of life in our city for many years to come. I hope Wellingtonians (and more broadly everyone in Aotearoa) can find a way to work together to address the very real concerns about inadequate and unaffordable housing. Hopefully in Wellington we can do our part without overwhelming our infrastructure, losing too much green space, shading too many existing homes with inappropriately placed tall buildings or becoming just another generic high-rise urban centre. Our city faces major seismic risks and challenging topography. We need a plan that responds thoughtfully to our unique situation. If we co-operate, listen, learn and each be prepared to give a little we have the best chance of making a future city that works for all citizens – young and old, deciles 1 – 10, those who are here forever and those just passing through.

     
  10. Ray Chung, 18. December 2020, 7:31

    An excellent summation thanks Felicity, I’m very impressed with your balanced viewpoint and your dedication to listening to all the submissions.

    I’ve worked in many countries and travelled to many more, but always return to Wellington where I was born. I grew up in Jessie Street where our family home at number 25 has been refurbished and is still there. I’ve seen many changes and by and large, consider them to be positive and enhancing life for Wellingtonians. I’ve also lived in many medium and high density apartments and while these were convenient while I was overseas, they didn’t have the quality of life that we have here in Wellington. I don’t mind and would encourage medium and even high density housing in certain areas such as lower Adelaide Road where amenities are within easy walking distance, but I believe that people live in the outer suburbs because they want and appreciate the lower density where there’s space for gardens without having your neighbours only metres away. For these reasons, I oppose intensification of the outer suburbs and if this happens, I might feel compelled to leave the suburb that I love and where I’ve lived for 35 years nestled next to the Town Belt where I’m woken to the sounds of birdsong.

    Unlike Felicity though, I’m not convinced that some of the councillors listen or heed the submitters because their views don’t concur with their own. An example of this was the submissions for the Central Library, the majority of submissions preferred demolishing and rebuilding. I made an oral submission to sell the library to a developer with the proviso that the lower floors were utilised for the new library and facilities, but allow the developer to use the rest of the building for commercial and residential purposes. This way we retain the library in that location while not becoming embroiled in another building project running over budget as all council projects seem to do. I spoke to Councillor Jill Day at the Planning for Growth workshop about this and she replied that she doesn’t favour selling council property as we have so little of it but then she voted to sell the council land at Shelly Bay so where’s the consistency here?

    When I delved deeper into the reasons why some councillors vote the way they do, some admitted that they vote according to their party ideology that they consider overrides the preferences of some residents.

    I’ve been the VP of the Onslow Residents and Community Association (ORCA) since it was established four years ago and will be continuing to have active participation in the DLTP, Spatial Plan and DDP in the New Year.

     
  11. I blame remuera, 18. December 2020, 7:31

    Well, Claire – rising prices and rents as demand further outstrips supply isn’t going to do much for Newtown’s people then isn’t it? The only country to have had runaway residential real estate prices this bad was Japan in the 90s. Their response, which worked marvelously, was to severely curtail the power of local governments to restrict supply through zoning. The NPS-UD is a small step in that direction which should be taken much further.

     
  12. Wendy, 18. December 2020, 9:04

    Thank you Felicity for a well-balanced take on the spatial plan consultation. It was an extremely frustrating process. Early collaboration and transparency would have gone a long way towards reducing the angst that resulted.

     
  13. Conor, 18. December 2020, 9:05

    Claire “in Wellington”. – In fact, National got less than 15% of the vote in Rongotai and Wellington Central, the electorates home to “character” suburbs. Terry – no we can take it into account. Luckily, we can also in this instance, figure out how popular it is likely to be with the public. It’s only 2 months ago Finlayson was part of that party, who got thrashed by the Greens in Wellington’s character suburbs.

     
  14. Teddy Ruxpin, 18. December 2020, 11:03

    Conor – I don’t remember the election campaign in wellington being fought on the single issue of the spatial plan. In fact I’m not even sure the spatial plan was being discussed at that point. Now I know you’ll correct me and say it had been on the cards for months but do you really think people were aware of and voting along its lines.

     
  15. Rohan Biggs, 18. December 2020, 11:19

    We already have an “intergenerational botch up”. It’s called housing supply. The author wasn’t at my feedback table. Two of us were there simply to register our support for the draft plan, acknowledging that most people who bothered to turn up would be opposing it. I’m more interested in supporting young people than old buildings.

     
  16. Michael Gibson, 18. December 2020, 11:49

    Ray Chung’s comment about Jill Day’s not wanting to sell Council land but then voting to sell land at Shelly Bay is very interesting.
    The answer, I think, is given in a letter which I wrote and which was published four days ago: “Locally, all Labour’s Wellington City Councillors caucused and voted last month to sell the Council’s low-lying harbour-side land at Shelly Bay so that a plan to build 28 up-market houses could be speedily implemented.”
    It is a shame that Cr Day’s personal views take second place to party politics.

     
  17. Claire, 18. December 2020, 11:55

    Rohan you have the wrong end of the stick. People who own housing from long ago are concerned about housing and their sons and daughters and the socially deprived and those on low incomes. Newtown does its best to build houses and have diverse communities of all races and incomes.
    It is full of character and history and lively spaces and it has a strong community. This would not be possible in a suburb of tower blocks. Large blocks are being pulled down overseas for these reasons.
    All we want is to place extra buildings thoughtfully and to use the brownfield sites first.

     
  18. Julienz, 18. December 2020, 14:16

    @Claire – Your reply to Rohan is well put. No-one denies we need more housing. Whether the market will produce the kind of housing we need for people starting out and families on low incomes remains to be seen. Efficient use of infrastructure would be supported by a well thought out staged approach. My problem with the DSP is that it facilitates tall buildings popping up randomly almost anywhere across the city solely on the basis of where developers can secure sufficient land at a price that will allow profitable development. There is so much potential for all of the minuses – shading, loss of green space, overtaxed infrastructure – with none of the pluses – improved local services leading to vibrant walkable communities. If that is the best WCC can offer, then we may as well not have a District Plan at all and just say it is open slather. The DSP and its successors are supposed to be “plans” after all, not a directionless muddle.

    @Teddy – agree completely. A cynic might say the promulgation of the NPS-UD during the last local body election campaign and its finalisation along with the introduction of the DSP during the general election campaign and a pandemic was a deliberate attempt to stifle robust debate. I know for certain many people remain totally unaware of the existence, let alone the implications, of the NPS-UD and the DSP.

     
  19. Conor, 18. December 2020, 15:55

    Are you the same Claire who suggests tower blocks on Adelaide Road are the way to fix things? Shame you think your solution will have no character, lively spaces or strong community.

     
  20. Conor, 18. December 2020, 16:06

    Julienz – we must have seen two different plans. The one I saw allowed for medium density in appropriate places like near the CBD and other parts of the city with lots of infrastructure built or planned.

     
  21. Claire, 18. December 2020, 16:11

    Good point Conor.
    Hoping the larger buildings have some courtyard greenery and are not too tall. Also some nearby parks and trees. Shops and pubs. And a community centre.

     
  22. D'Esterre, 18. December 2020, 17:48

    Many thanks to Felicity Wong for a clear and concise summary of the hearings process for the DSP. Like many other residents, I made a written submission, but was unable to attend the hearings and make an oral submission.

    I note the following: “Let’s just say councillors demonstrated a mix of commitment to hearing submitters with an open mind. Appreciation and respect is due to those who engaged in the issue and were curious to elicit potential solutions by asking Wellingtonians about the places they lived and about the issues for them.” This is a diplomatic gloss on the fact that some councillors had clearly not only made up their minds about this issue beforehand, but were disrespectful at best (downright rude at worst) of submitters with dissenting views. We took note of it at the time.

    Conor: “…. Finlayson, is from a party who barely get 20% of the vote in Wellington. Ignore.” And thank you for inadvertently illustrating my point above about disrespect and rudeness. Finlayson is a resident. He’s as entitled to proffer an opinion, and as entitled to respect, as is any other resident. And – just because he’s a former National MP – it by no means follows that he’s wrong. I wonder about the zealots on this issue: are you so rancorous because you secretly know that those of us in opposition to the DSP are correct?

    I blame remuera: “The oral submissions would over-represent those who have an excess of time and money….” This is a bit dismissive of the oral submitters, isn’t it? In virtue of what would you suppose that the opinions of those who didn’t make submissions would necessarily differ from those who did? Talking to neighbours (who didn’t make submissions)in this area elicited the same response as mine. They don’t like the proposals at all.

    “…the poors be kept from moving in next door….” I assume that this statement is another way of accusing objectors of nimbyism: a facile response if ever I heard one. The issue is a great deal more complex than that, as I’m sure you know.

     
  23. Tamati, 18. December 2020, 18:21

    The people who could show up and sit through hours of oral submissions are more likely to be those who have a vested interest in seeing the plan neutered. Someone struggling to make ends meet isn’t going to have the time or the inclination to put as much effort in, unfortunately. Also any mention of diversity from those against the plan is at best lip service. Let’s be honest with each other, Newtown is now an exclusive suburb for the lucky few in our society. The poor and working class are relegated to islands of council housing or far flung outer suburbs (where they are probably renting as well).

     
  24. Julienz, 18. December 2020, 21:02

    @Conor – The plan I saw had “enable at least six storeys” type 4b mixed use apartment buildings through the outer suburbs of Crofton Downs, Ngaio and Khandallah because of “mass rapid transit” being a train that runs every fifteen minutes for commuters, every half hour during the day and hourly at night through stations that are equivalent to bus shelters to a faltering shopping centre at one end and a railway station at the other. Even the Outer Suburbs Assessment document provided by the Council in the DSP document cache states the access of these suburbs to high frequency transport is poor. They are also weak as employment centres so unless work from home really takes off they will always be commuter suburbs. These suburbs are being zoned for inappropriate high density housing, not medium density as you state.

    What is the “lots of infrastructure” to which you refer? Bursting pipes, very few if any public green spaces within 10 minutes walk of the apartment sites, full schools also more than ten minutes walk away, aging sewers, and two narrow and winding roads to the CBD both plagued by rockfalls.

    Those who don’t have to commute already walk for daily tasks if they are nearby, but many of the stations on the line are not. I stand by my view that there is so much potential for all of the minuses – shading, loss of green space, overtaxed infrastructure – with none of the pluses – improved local services and certainly not jobs beyond those that already exist. And if the train reaches capacity, which it may easily do if intensification of Johnsonville proceeds, there will be more cars on the roads with buses having to share the same road space.

    So far as I can see, high rises in inappropriate places. Similar issues with 4a type housing arise for Newtown, Karori, Brooklyn, Island Bay, Hataitai, Miramar and Churton Park (sorry if I have missed your town centre) – possibly a couple of high rises each that will add a few more people who will probably have to commute to work, shade their neighbours, but not transform the areas into anything more than the suburban centres they are now. I am amenable to densification to medium density throughout the outer suburbs, say increasing the height limit from 8m to 11m (from two to three storeys) and accepting 50% site coverage, so long as there is adequate sunlight protection. I have seen all the “missing middle” material and it looks quite a good idea but in Wellington it would need to take account of our topography. Unfortunately what we are being offered in the DSP is far higher and far denser than what I understand to be “missing middle”.

     
  25. D'Esterre, 18. December 2020, 21:20

    Adelaide Rd, being an area of industrial-style buildings, might well be suitable for medium-rise (3-4 storey) apartment buildings. Provided, of course, that provision is made for green spaces, and for off-street parking, along with improvements to public transport, such that the designation “mass rapid transit” is appropriate. I believe that is not the case at present. Medium-density apartments still need off-street parking, if tradespeople and techies are to live in them. Your plumber, electrician or builder will not visit you via public transport, ever. And they need somewhere to park their vehicles.

     
  26. Conor, 18. December 2020, 23:21

    D’Esterre – I’d like Wellington to be an affordable, equitable city that is easy for all to get around, and that reduces its carbon emissions. There’s only one way to do this, and that’s to intensify and make it easier to build houses in many parts of our city – on transport corridors and near the CBD. I accept other people have other priorities, but with house prices nearing an average of 900k and 20,000 on the emergency housing list, I don’t share them. Our current District Plan (and others) is a large part of the reason we are in our mess, and we should adapt it. I am happy to take the advice of the professionals in the area, like Kainga Ora.

     
  27. Claire, 19. December 2020, 8:48

    It is not a matter of being for or against the plan. As many people have stated it’s not black and white. A bit of experience in the world tells us this is complex. The plan is not well presented and could be illegal. The RMA at present overides the NPS. Also the NPS did not go to a select committee. So the DSP is a very raw document. It could take years to revamp the RMA and this plan has to follow that. Urban planning to a high design and expertise level is needed in the future. No one worth their salt would plonk big buildings through a low rise suburb as is proposed for Newtown. Half the suburb could be built on. This not along transport routes. This is a land grab.
    Most people agree there is a housing problem. But this plan will likely not fix it. However in the meantime consents are way up so more housing is being built.

     
  28. Critic, 19. December 2020, 9:04

    Conor, If you are looking at getting professional advice then you do need to get relevant professionals to provide an independent opinion. Housing uses up carbon emissions in the production of the raw materials and during construction. That does need to be included in your equation. The location of any / all higher rise buildings [greater than 4 levels] needs to consider the ground and subsoils that they will be sitting on. Where these are weak, there will be additional cost and carbon emissions to build a structure capable of not only accepting earthquake loads but also their own weight [plus of course the occupants]. Intensification also requires adequate infrastructure that goes beyond roading and public transport that you espoused at election time. All of these need to be considered and the impact of proposed development. The unintended consequences is what we have been enduring for the past decades.

     
  29. M, 19. December 2020, 9:10

    Rapid transport what a cliche …. Currently if a train breaks down, everything grinds to a halt. Bus replacements are required and weekend time is bus time because of maintenance, so if the proposed Wellington rapid transport is light rail, tell me what is going to happen if it breaks down; no other light rail train will be able to pass. Reminds one of the trolley buses … but they could drive around them. What is the backup for light rail? I would be testing it by having it go to Miramar before digging up the city, adding rail tracks or running it through communities and ruining the suburb centers. Rails are too limiting.

     
  30. I blame remuera, 19. December 2020, 9:28

    What is rude and callous is people being stuck in inadequate housing while a privileged few complain about the relatively minor effects on their lives that would be almost entirely mitigated by quality new construction. The issue is not at all complex. It’s as simple as a shortage of houses and the silly rules that keep them from being built. What is rude is the shoehorning in of spurious objections in a selfish effort by some to stop necessary changes. What is rude is muttering “well everyone accepts we need more houses, but…” when every word that follows shows they could not care less.

     
  31. aom, 19. December 2020, 9:47

    You are a bit behind the times on a few counts regarding the Adelaide Road area, D’Esterre. There are already five-storey new builds, with the new ones not having vehicle parking. The European logic applies. If you need a car, park in appropriate facilities elsewhere and use public transport to get there. Otherwise, even without the gold standard of light rail, one seldom has to wait more than 5 – 10 minutes for a bus and even less if close to John Street. The council are about to put in special parking for shared vehicles like Mebo, and scooters do a pretty good trade. Overseas, tradies have large deliveries done overnight when parking isn’t clogged by out-of-towners who dive in, park up all day and do the last leg using public transport. Otherwise, they commute with tools in trundlers – no sweat. In cities with efficient systems, it is probably quicker than trying to drive then find parking. Given your apparent age, the thought constrictions are not unexpected but some other of us ‘geriatrics’ enjoy being part of the emerging social changes, even though there may be a seldom-used vehicle on standby in our slightly older apartment or townhouse blocks.

     
  32. M, 19. December 2020, 9:52

    @ Ray. Yes sadly it is councillors being led by politics and not the interests of Wellington city which explains this blanket approach instead of yes we can do this but better.
    @Felicity and Helen. Thank you for the balanced and informative approach.
    @Conor. As a Wellington resident, I am interested in what people in Wellington think, and appreciate the time they give in looking for options, and hope we can take the best from everyone rather than having a blinkered one-sided approach. Residents should not be discriminated against because of what party they belong to. This is about Wellington city – hilly Wellington, not flattish Auckland. Can’t we hui .. work together (and listen) for best fit for Wellington.

     
  33. Claire, 19. December 2020, 12:05

    Aom I was watching a truck yesterday delivering wood to my neighbour. He is recladding part of his house. Very hard to see that delivered on a trolley. But once the Adelaide precinct is built, and hopefully it’s a model Development, and after all the trucks have left and are barred in the future or cannot park, I look forward to seeing wood and Tvs dropped out of the sky from drones! And also all the elderly getting around on hoverboards.

     
  34. Ray Chung, 19. December 2020, 13:16

    Hi Conor, Rohan and others, we don’t have dissimilar objectives when it comes to getting more “affordable” housing but the big elephant in the room is how do we get these? Have you seen any medium density developments where the houses are “affordable?” No, these multi-unit developments squashed onto suburban sections aren’t at all cheap! I had a look at a few of these in Kilbirnie yesterday and they’re very expensive. So while it’s good that there are more housing units, these won’t satisfy the criteria of being “affordable!” Go out and have a look at these yourself and you’ll see that higher density developments aren’t achieving this. In my humble opinion, we need to get more cheaper land by developments in Upper Stebbings Valley, Glenside West and other greenfield sites as this is where the land is least expensive. I agree with M that talking about what political party anyone belongs to is completely irrelevant. Finlayson isn’t an MP now and lives right next to a section where a single house was demolished and multiple units are planned to be built. If this developer is allowed to build up to eight storeys there, this will have a detrimental effect on the whole street.

    In my opinion, having Green and Labour Party politics in local council politics is detrimental to all ratepayers and residents in Wellington. These ideologies don’t offer any solutions but pander to these councillors own egos. All councillors should be working for the betterment of all residents in Wellington, not playing childish games at council meetings and continuing to fritter away ratepayer funds. I’ve never belonged to any political party but work through ORCA to try to represent the views of all the residents in Khandallah, Broadmeadows and Kaiwharawhara to improve their living standards.

    You asked earlier who has the time to take off work to attend oral submissions? Well, I also work but take time off to present oral and written submissions because I believe that it needs to be done if we want to have our voices and opinions heard. If you don’t have time to attend these meetings, that’s fine but accusing those who do make these sacrifices of their time and effort is hardly a valid argument. If you’re short of time, feel free to join your local Residents Association and let someone else do the submissions but where you can have some input into what these are.

     
  35. Mike Mellor, 19. December 2020, 18:57

    M: we don’t need to “test” light rail, because from examples round the world it works very well to facilitate liveability in cities. In the English-speaking world alone, off the top of my head there are San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Jose, Portland, Toronto, Kitchener, London, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Manchester, Dublin, Birmingham, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide – the list goes on, and there are many successful operations in Europe and Asia that achieve excellent reliability and know how to deal with the occasional glitches that every transport system will experience.

    And look at any French system in particular to see how light rail is a significant improvement to the urban environment, certainly not “ruining”suburb centres – that’s what a surfeit of cars does.

    As for rails being “too limiting”, the opposite is in fact the case, with rails enabling good development in a way that less focussed ways of travel find it much more difficult to do.

     
  36. TrevorH, 20. December 2020, 6:53

    @ Ray Chung, excellent post. The high price of land is the major driver in accommodation costs; greenfield sites need to be opened up urgently including for higher density housing. I also thoroughly agree that party politics have no place in local body governance. Voters should refuse to support any candidate with party affiliations, if they want their city back.

     
  37. Mike Mellor, 20. December 2020, 10:37

    TrevorH: greenfield sites are by no means necessarily cheaper when the full costs of development and occupation are taken into account. Things like additional infrastructure and additional travelling costs all add up – and people will still be travelling even if there’s a long-term reduction in commuting (and Wellington commuting appears to have largely bounced back).

     
  38. TrevorH, 20. December 2020, 13:02

    @Mike Mellor: the CBD is obsolete. It was an obsolescent concept before COVID 19 but the pandemic has finished the job. People are increasingly working from home for at least half of their working week. I know some professionals who have closed their CBD offices for good and have set up from home. They are happier and more productive. This is good. People have finally been liberated by technology from the commute and all the hassles which go with life in centralised offices. New greenfield sites should be developed around hubs providing their own shops and services, networked via the internet. We can now live locally with the occasional excursion into the wider world.

     
  39. Claire, 20. December 2020, 14:08

    Mike how is building in Ohariu different from Shelly Bay? Both greenfields, both require roading upgrades, and both have some infrastructure provided by the developer. WCC ideology changes every day.

     
  40. M, 20. December 2020, 17:40

    Yes … imagine the opportunity at Ohariu to showcase a futurist suburb … new infrastructure based on modern technology and thoughts. How exciting and an opportunity for all the people who have studied in this area to be able to utilise and share their skills instead of adding pressure to existing infrastructure. Would be interesting to know the cost of maintaining new infrastructure versus the cost and inconvenience of old infrastructure being overloaded.

     
  41. D'Esterre, 21. December 2020, 0:36

    Conor: “I’d like Wellington to be an affordable, equitable city….” So would I, as it was when we first came to live here, many years ago. But the DSP is a pig’s ear: it’s not the way to do it. Assuming that it’s not just propaganda or some such, news reports indicate that the housing crisis is NZ-wide, not just here. Vaulting house prices aren’t a problem peculiar to Wellington City, which has, it seems, recently been playing catch-up in that respect. However. Wellington City has problems peculiar – or almost peculiar – to it. Those problems relate to topography, subsoil conditions and seismic issues.

    The NPS-UD – which has driven the development of the DSP – was pushed through by Phil Twyford and Julie Anne Genter in the last term of government. It wasn’t subjected to select committee scrutiny, yet it has the force of law. We didn’t find this out (lack of select committee scrutiny) until we attended a candidates’ meeting before the election. The NPS-UD was designed for the Auckland environment: it is a woefully poor fit for Wellington, yet it has been forced upon us, and upon other NZ cities, where it is an equally poor fit. Note that Christchurch has apparently rejected it. WCC ought to have done the same. I understand that, in its submission on the NPS, WCC mentioned the issues I raised above, but didn’t reject the NPS outright. This is roughly the equivalent of standing near one’s burning car and whispering “help, help!”.

    Tamati: “….any mention of diversity from those against the plan is at best lip service.” When people use the term “diversity”, I assume that they mean people of varying ethnicities. Well: I oppose the DSP for reasons already adduced. On the above definition, though, this suburb qualifies as very diverse.

    aom: “There are already five-storey new builds, with the new ones not having vehicle parking.” So I have heard. And I’ve also heard critique, both of the lack of parking and of the bus service, hence my comment about what would be suitable for that area. I’m diverted at the thought of the plumber taking public transport to his work vehicle, and carting tools around in a trundler. Not feasible. Especially not in this neck of the woods. On balance, it’s probably best not to draw on overseas cities – which may be radically different – for ideas on what might work here.

    “Given your apparent age, the thought constrictions are not unexpected…” Free speech entitles you to say this. It also entitles me to say that this illustrates the rudeness and disrespect to which I referred earlier. Clearly, insult is not just the preserve of the young…

    “…but some other of us ‘geriatrics’ enjoy being part of the emerging social changes…” A bit smug, no? Well. Who knew: a geriatric who’s up with the times! Yet here we all are, debating online, rather than at the parish pump. So: not too behind the times, huh? You may have a seldom-used vehicle: lucky you. Many citizens – not all of them old – struggle with mobility issues, such that for some people, public transport isn’t a viable option, because of the amount of walking required at either end of the journey. Never mind the standing around and waiting for said transport.

    Claire: “after all the trucks have left and are barred in the future or cannot park, I look forward to seeing wood and Tvs dropped out of the sky from drones! And also all the elderly getting around on hoverboards.” Haha…very good! I really look forward to seeing that. I hope that it happens before I fall off the perch.

    Ray Chung: many thanks for your eminently sensible comments. I couldn’t agree more. We’d be a great deal better-served if all councillors were politically independent.

    … feel free to join your local Residents Association and let someone else do the submissions but where you can have some input into what these are.” Hear hear! I urge everyone to do this. Not only does it give weight to Association submissions, but it also keeps residents in the loop with regard to what’s going on with the Council and what’s happening in residents’ areas.

     
  42. michael, 21. December 2020, 9:44

    @Claire: A complete upgrade to the road at Shelley Bay is not being paid for by the developer. Under the resource consent WCC has made the developer responsible for minor upgrades while accepting that long term the road will not be fit for purpose and will need major upgrading. An independent quantity surveying firm has estimated this will cost $93 million, which WCC will have to pay for.

     
  43. Claire, 21. December 2020, 10:00

    Just a word on association submissions, make sure you agree with what they are submitting. And also do an individual one, even if it’s less verbose. All submissions count and in the past not enough have been submitted. Wellington people did better this time with 3000. But more need to get activated in the future. And also the WCC needs better advertisements about these important issues. People still don’t know about the DSP.

    Michael so at that rate it would be cheaper to build at Ohariu. I agree a model development there would be eventually the way to go.

     
  44. Groggy, 21. December 2020, 12:45

    @ Michael and Claire, it’s not just the road at Shelley Bay that ratepayers will be paying for. The existing 3 waters infrastructure is also not sufficient for the new development. As Shelley Bay is lower than the treatment plant at Moa Point, the wastewater/sewage will need to be pumped. Which means new larger pipes need to run through to be connected to the Kilbirnie pumping station. So it will require digging up Cobham Drive or perhaps building a new pumping station. Either way very expensive and disruptive and not part of the “road” cost, so will be borne by ratepayers.

     
  45. aom, 21. December 2020, 12:45

    Sorry D’Esterre, your sensitivities far exceed expectation – some of us accept aging with alacrity and a somewhat light-hearted sense of self-deprecation. As for the infirm who exercise your thoughts, the local physically-challenged Kainga Ora residents have little difficulty coping with their new medium density accommodation, or in servicing their personal needs and recreation. Admittedly, this may be because they could never afford to own cars anyway but in this day and age, self-motivated independents competently use cell-phones and the internet solves many tribulations they may face. Lack of parking in Newtown/Mt Cook medium(+) density areas is a diminishing problem. The expectation that ratepayers provide street-side parking, where it was never a universal expectation prior to the 1960s anyway, is becoming a ‘yesterday’ thing. While not knowing the source of the bus critique you cite, you can be assured it was incorrect. The greater frustration is that light rail seems to be getting further away from materializing, seemingly because the ‘four lanes to the planes’ ethos is getting in the way, as is the belief of some Wellingtonians that people need cars to traverse between A and B.
    It is interesting that you enjoyed Claire’s lighthearted or was it uninformed musings. Living in major cities in Europe for even short periods of time prove that there are a myriad of ways to adapt to the change toward vehicle non-ownership. Even locally, there are already tradies who are not heavily reliant on having vehicles on tap. For example, most of the workers on local construction sites only rely on a couple of the firm’s vehicles which are used for small volume pick-ups and deliveries of materials as, of course, their tools of trade are kept on site. As in the previous comment, these can be delivered when the suburban plus public transport commuters unclog the available spaces outside of general work hours. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “So get out of the way if you can’t lend a hand,for the times….”

     
  46. Claire, 21. December 2020, 13:31

    Aom: cars are here to stay. Nzers are one of the biggest car owning nations. When not if we go to electric vehicles we will need somewhere to charge them and dare I say it .. park them. Newtown has a terrible parking problem, it is already dense without off street parking for a lot of cottages. Add that to the hospital workers, also looking for parks on the streets, and the apartments appearing without parks. Cycling is only up to three percent of rides. So this is pie in the sky magical thinking. Yes we do have climate change to consider and the electric cars will sort that. Elderly people on hover boards was lighthearted but also a dig. My experience with elderly sick parents is they need a car very close to accommodation to use or to be picked up by relatives. You may still be fairly sprightly. But getting on a sometimes lurching bus is not on for some. Also ageism jabs about my acuity won’t wash, as I am a lot younger than you. So bring on the buildings on Adelaide Road but they need parks for cars, chargers, green parks, shops etc.

     
  47. greenwelly, 21. December 2020, 13:47

    @Groggy, According to the WCC GIS map there is a 1m pumped sewer main serving Shelly Bay which was installed in 1985. When it gets to Fuel Wharf, it jumps up the hill and goes into the Maupuia gravity main that goes out through the existing pipes through Miramar – it’s unlikely they would dig any replacement through to Kilbirnie.

     
  48. Michael Gibson, 21. December 2020, 16:47

    michael – just before the Shelly Bay vote on November 11th, WCC officers gave Labour councillors a report with this question and answer:
    Q. Infrastructure costs: Can the ratepayer be assured that we will be paying maximum $10million infrastructure costs?
    A. Yes

    It was on the strength of this that the Labour caucus voted to sell the land. Please don’t tell me that the secret briefing was up the spout!

     
  49. michael, 21. December 2020, 22:39

    @ Michael Gibson:
    Extract from WCC Questions and answers – Shelly Bay development

    Q:What happens if the proposed road (six metres wide with a 1.5 metre adjacent pathway) is not adequate? Who would fund improvements?
    A: “Under the proposed agreement, the Council and Shelly Bay Ltd will each fund half the estimated cost of the public infrastructure including the proposed road (six metres wide with a 1.5 metre adjacent pathway).
    The Council would be responsible for the construction of the road and would monitor the road during construction and after it is complete to make sure it is safe and suitable, and improve it if required. Any increase in the width and design of the road or adjacent path, over and above the agreed six metres wide plus 1.5m adjacent path, would require resource consent from the Regional Council. The City Council would have to fully meet any costs of road improvements that exceed the agreed budget.

    In other words, the developer has been let off with minor work on the existing road; if it is not fit for purpose, the WCC will bear the enormous cost of “improving it if required.” Given the narrow winding road, it is questionable whether it is going to be suitable for the traffic it will be expected to carry.

     
  50. Peter Steven, 22. December 2020, 11:26

    Claire, NZ has one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world because we had terrible land use patterns, car parking minimums and restrictive zoning. If we can create an environment where people can live in proximity to their jobs, shops, friends and family then private car ownership quickly becomes redundant.

    I live in a central suburb and I ride a bicycle everywhere I need to go in the city. Cycling around Wellington is pretty horrible right now because there is very little safe infrastructure. Riding from the city to Newtown can be very scary for a newbie because you have parked cars, heavy traffic going 50km/hr and a lot of busses. I bet if we had a nice separated cycleway from Newtown to the city a lot of people would get on their bikes instead of driving or taking the bus. Cycling can be so much fun and feel so good, provided that there is infrastructure that makes you feel safe and relaxed.

    Car sharing is great as well, I use meevo sometimes and it’s so convenient. I definitely see that as the future. Imagine if the government mandated a personal car buy-back scheme, where they purchased everyone’s personal vehicles for however much they are worth, scrapped 90% of them (personal vehicles spend like 95% of their time parked) and then kept the last 10% as public car share vehicles that anyone can unlock, use and leave anywhere. You could pick up any type of vehicle that you need at any given time (like a truck for moving). That would be so much better than our current model of private ownership!

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