Wellington Scoop

Government should support Wellington’s efforts, says Ian Cassels

Press Release – Property Council Of New Zealand
Property Council’s Wellington Branch is calling on the Government to address any concerns it has about the long-term economic strength of Wellington and back attempts from commercial leaders to encourage economic growth.

As a major stakeholder in the city, the Government should focus its attention on Wellington’s economic activity and support the efforts of local residents and businesses, according to Property Council’s Wellington Branch President Ian Cassels.

“Prime Minister John Key has clearly indicated where the Government’s priorities are – Auckland and Christchurch. But relying on just two cities to carry New Zealand’s long-term economic growth is naive and an irresponsible disregard for New Zealanders living outside those two centres, who deserve a better quality of life through urban growth and development.

“Government needs to have a hard look at the long-term cost of relocating offices to Auckland when Wellington already has existing, efficient infrastructure available – the Economist identifies this city as the most efficient in Australasia.

“Wellington is a substantial contributor to the national economy and it offers so much more. The Government has to provide this city with a tenth of the effort it is putting into Christchurch to assist in clearing the way for an airport extension, easing the impact of rampant insurance costs and intelligently locating the civil service in the central business district to the benefit of both the tenant and the city.”

In 2010 the branch published a policy manifesto, The Future of our Capital, calling for positive change. Wellington’s business community and Wellington City Council commended Property Council for its leadership in providing broad principles and practical solutions.

“Since then, we’ve been working assiduously on behalf of the commercial property industry and Wellington business community to progress change. We want to improve Wellington’s connectivity to the rest of New Zealand and the world, to encourage new business to the city and promote it as the official seat of Government, supported by a thriving business economy.”

In an introductory statement in The Future of our Capital, Mr Cassels wrote: “In New Zealand, councils and other organisations loosely preside over the business of cities. Local body elections are considered a yawn and productive people generally keep right away. This must stop. In the case of the Business of Wellington, we simply must all address it – and we must start doing that now.

“Wellington’s central business district (with an office capacity exceeding that of most million-people cities) is essentially a very large office business which shops, drinks coffee, entertains, pays a large portion of the rates and almost singlehandedly sustains the local economy – yet the CBD has no business plan, no compass and no captain.

“With good international connection, collaboration with our local partners and a well resourced strategy for attracting new business we could be that long term, sustainable, efficient jewel that we have often threatened. This document is an excellent way to begin what must become a path to action.”

This manifesto puts forward solutions including addressing Wellington’s governance, better development planning, building wellington as a strategic business hub, and boosting the residential population of the city’s urban centres. The branch has since suggested forming a Committee for Wellington to drive business growth in the capital.

The commercial property industry is working hard to boost the growth of the city – 10 properties in Wellington’s CBD are finalists in the upcoming Property Council Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards 2013.