Councillors vote for draft legislation to protect the town belt

Media release from Councillor Helene Ritchie
The Wellington City Council decided unanimously today to support a Bill to give legal protection to the Town Belt for future generations.

The draft Town Belt Bill will now go out for public consultation for six weeks, hearings will take place, and then it will be introduced into Parliament.

Helene Ritchie, Portfolio Leader for the Natural Environment, today ensured by way of a successful amendment and a 9:6 vote, that the Bill will include a clear statement of the Council’s intent – to protect, manage and enhance the Town belt – despite efforts by some councillors and the mayor to include an agreement to sell off part of the Town Belt, if the Crown wanted it.

Protection of the Town Belt, alienated in significant ways by the Crown so that it became one third of its original size, has been a long battle by many Wellingtonians.

The Bill once enacted will see 130 hectares of land added, limitations on buildings and the amount of land leased, and clarification of commercial activity.

We were gifted the foresight of our forefathers who set aside the Town Belt first in 1841 as a public recreation ground for all to enjoy. The Crown has progressively alienated Town Belt land.

Today was a debate between those who wanted to agree with the Crown to sell Town Belt land, and those who wanted to protect it for future generations without agreeing to further alienation, and ensuring the highest possible compensation if the Crown wants to compulsorily take Town Belt land.

The draft bill has been the culmination of a three year city wide process led by Councillor Ritchie, which reached a city wide consensus and led to Council decisions re drafting instructions for the bill.

Those who voted for the Ritchie amendment for a Bill to protect, enhance and manage the Town Belt were Councillors Helene Ritchie, Sarah Free, Iona Pannett, Nicola Young, Paul Eagle, Mark Peck, David Lee, Simon Woolf,

Those who voted for the Foster amendment to agree to sell part of the Town Belt if the Crown wanted it, were: Mayor Wade-Brown, Councillors Andy Foster, Jo Coughlan, Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Simon Marsh, Justin Lester.

Ultimately the vote was unanimous.

The Bill will now go out for public consultation for six weeks and should be introduced into Parliament this term for a first reading and referral to the Select Committee.

Councillor Helene Ritchie is the council’s Portfolio Leader Natural Environment

Can town belt land be taken for a road?



  1. Grant Robertson, 3. April 2014, 14:59

    Delighted that the Wgtn Town Belt Bill that I am sponsoring is a step closer. Final consultation begins 8 April. [via Twitter]

  2. Alana, 3. April 2014, 17:57

    This land is a key asset to Wellington as it tries to draw more people and businesses to contribute to the vibrant economy, a fun place to raise families, and as an incentive to students to decide to stay after university. People need green spaces and open parks for recreation – and that is true also for the waterfront.

  3. Elaine Hampton, 3. April 2014, 22:31

    Thank you Helene for your amendment.
    Sad to see the Mayor and Deputy Mayor voted for the Foster amendment to allow wheeling and dealing with Town Belt land that is owned by Wellingtonians; Councillors manage this they do not own it.
    Mayor Wade-Brown, Councillors Andy Foster, Jo Coughlan, Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Simon Marsh, Justin Lester should reflect on the city they wish to succeed them. Town Belt land and Waterfront is public owned land and should not be sold / leased at peppercorn rents to corporate interests

  4. Sarah Free, 4. April 2014, 12:22

    Just to note that Cr Malcolm Sparrow was also one of the nine Councillors supporting Cr Ritchie’s amendment ( left off the list in media release)

  5. Maximus, 4. April 2014, 23:04

    Can I ask a question? I haven’t read the proposed bill yet, but the big issue staring us all in the face is – what is going to happen to the Town Belt land along Haitaitai Park edge when the NZTA want to widen their SH1 from 2 lanes to 6 lanes..? We all know that NZTA want the land to widen the highway, and that what they want, they always get, and there is no reason to think that they won’t get their way this time. So – does the Bill have a realistic chance of stopping this, or not? If there is no way to stop this, then why even try? I certainly think that National will not allow a Bill to proceed if it is going to stop the RoNS roadbuilding scheme. If, on the other hand, it allows NZTA to do a land-swap, ie for the Town Belt to gain back some land in exchange for the slice of green swathe being taken, then isn’t that a good thing? More discussion on the elephant in the room please.

  6. Peter, 5. April 2014, 9:48

    Maximus – a very good question. The answer can probably be found in Cr. Free’s words elsewhere on this site, “Yes, we may lose land under the Public Works Act as has happened in the past. But we will face that possibility as and when it actually occurs, with the underlying principle that we are charged never to willingly “sell, exchange or use as security any part of the Wellington Town Belt”.”
    It is apparent that the gang of six were happy to sell off part of the Town Belt to the Crown for 30 pieces of silver. Of course, that would have been the Trojan Horse that Wellington’s big business sector, developers and their fellow travelers would lovingly groom.
    If extra width is needed on Ruahine Street for quicker taxi commutes to the airport, there is a whole row on houses that could also be acquired under the Public Works Act.


Write a comment: