Buildings or people

by Mary Munro
We’ve had some lovely warm sunny days in Wellington recently. Our beautiful waterfront has served as a magnet for all sorts of people – office workers in the lunch hour, cruise ship visitors, kids who’ve finished school for the year, joggers, skateboarders, and happy wanderers like me.

Right now I’m taking a particular interest in the North Kumutoto area, the last area to be developed. It’s up at the Railway Station end of the waterfront, opposite the huge ugly building housing NZ Post.

On December 8, Wellington Waterfront Ltd. advertised for expressions of interest in the two sites on North Kumutoto that could have buildings on them. The deadline for these expressions of interest is December 20, so developers have been given only 12 days to register. That seems a very short time frame – unless, of course, you’ve had your plans on hold waiting for the green light.

The footprints for these building sites (Sites 9 and 10) and the height limits are huge when one considers the total area of North Kumutoto (the map is part of the North Kumutoto Design Brief adopted on 22 November).

Not only will two new large buildings create an ugly canyon along Waterloo Quay, but they will also shade much of North Kumutoto and no doubt have unpleasant wind effects.

There is a small area for Open Space (Site 8). But the buildings will dominate the area. In addition, there will be cars and trucks competing with people for the rest of the non-Site 8 open space because this is a main vehicular entrance to the wharf – and the buildings (and the others in the Kumutoto Precinct) need servicing.

So now the question is, what will the buildings be used for? What do developers in central Wellington usually go for – offices, apartments, hotels.

We hear regularly that Wellington city has an over-supply of offices, and that there are empty spaces all over the city.

And apartments – do they belong on a beautiful waterfront promenade owned by the people of Wellington?

As for hotels, Sofitel’s plans for a 5-star hotel in Bolton Street would surely mean there’s no need for another hotel on the waterfront – wouldn’t it?

The best thing is to go down there and check it out. It’s an area rich in history and once the busiest part of the wharf area. It’s tiny, so just try and imagine how it will be with two big buildings on site. Could it be that people like you and me are being squeezed out?

 

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