by Lindsay Shelton
On the same day that Wellington elected a new mayor, the city council mailed me a summary of issues which the public thinks are most important for the central city over the next 30 years. The timing of the release was ideal – Celia Wade-Brown will be encouraged to discover how much the results of the consultation are aligned with her policies.
“Most issues raised relate to ongoing concerns around transport and infrastructure,” says the council’s summary of a consultation process which took place in the last four months of last year.
Of primary concern to the people who responded is the management of transport to, from and within the central city. Improving the bus service is seen only as a short term solution. Better quality public transport systems are seen as a long-term need. The main arterial routes through the city were “particularly disliked by the majority of submitters.” There was strong support for restricting private vehicle access to the CBD.
The consultation process confirmed that development of the waterfront is of particular concern to Wellingtonians. Why? Because “it could privatise an asset that should be accessible by everyone.” For a majority of the people who completed the council’s questionnaire, the waterfront was named as their favourite place in the central city.
Those of us who have campaigned for open spaces on the waterfront will be encouraged (but not surprised) to learn that the consultation shows a wish for low-scale buildings and increased pedestrian activity. The consultation confirms the unpopularity of the old council’s determination to encourage big new buildings on the waterfront. Answering a questionnaire from FishHead magazine, the new mayor seems to agree – she states (in the second to last paragraph) that she opposes the plan for new buildings on Waitangi Park.
In the council survey, Wade-Brown’s policies are supported even by the minority who said the waterfront was one of their least favourite places – their discontent is based on the need for improvements such as improving pedestrian and cycling access.
And if you want more: the consultation reports a consensus for promoting “green buildings” and retaining heritage buildings, as well as concerns about the poor quality of some new buildings.
The new mayor has spoken of how the close vote makes it doubly important for her “to consult and involve, to have conversations as well as formal submissions.” But these submissions confirm the public’s support for the issues that she proclaimed during her campaign.
“Having listened to what you have said … we are developing our ideas,” writes Teena Pennington, the council’s director of strategy, planning and urban design, in a letter which was included with the consultation summary. The new mayor will be listening too.
Wellington 2040 – the future of our central city. A 30-year framework for Wellington’s central city. Risks, opportunities and priorities facing Wellington’s central city. Feedback: September – December 2009. Summary Report. Published by the Wellington City Council. 40 pages. Undated.