Winners and losers on the waterfront

kumutoto bldg

by David Lee
With regard to the waterfront, when is the Wellington City Council ever going to learn? It must have spent at least $200,000 on its failed attempt to exclude the public from the resource consent process on North Kumutoto with Variation 11. Now it is seriously considering a proposal for a building that exceeds the height limit permitted by the Environment Court.

And who is to be the developer? It’s Willis Bond, again. Willis Bond has also been given an option on site 9.

In December, Ian Pike, CEO of the 100% council owned Wellington Waterfront, told the Wellington City Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee that the proposed building would bring in $1million in rates. That figure is grossly exaggerated, as an examination of the rates paid by other buildings in this part of Wellington shows. According to WWL’s own report, the revenue from the motor home site, which the proposed building would cover, exceeds any rates the new building might generate.

Also at the December meeting, Cr Lester, dismissing public concerns over Willis Bond getting so many deals on the waterfront, likened the developer to the All Blacks. [Presumably because they always win]. Using this analogy, it needs to be pointed out that the referee doesn’t play for the All Blacks. This is not a game of rugby.

There will, however, be winners and losers: more of the waterfront’s finite open space will be lost. Public ownership will be lost. Views of the harbour from the city will be lost. The open character of that part of Waterloo Quay will be lost by the building’s ‘canyon’ effect. Visitors to Wellington will lose a unique motor home site, right in the city and alongside the harbour. Businesses in the central city will lose their patronage. Also lost will be the priceless publicity for Wellington internationally, generated by motor home site visitors. Ratepayers will lose the site’s $400,000 revenue.

If this proposed building is approved, fairness will also be lost, in that the council is providing a cheap site for one developer when other developers in the city have to pay market rates. It is also unfair (and inappropriate) for a council to be facilitating a private office building in competition with existing building owners who are ratepayers in the central city, at a time when businesses requiring office space are leaving Wellington. And finally the next generation will lose one of the last remaining options they would have for deciding use of waterfront land.

There is only one winner in this proposal, and that is Willis Bond.

David Lee is vice-president of Waterfront Watch.

City Councillors on the Transport and Urban Development Committee will be making a decision on the Kumutoto building proposal at a meeting on 8 April

Read also:
Willis Bond pushing the limits, again
Willis Bond’s dollar a year deal with the council


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