With or without a flyover – council witness challenged at board of inquiry

The effects of building a flyover and a Gateway Building on the northern edge of the Basin Reserve were analysed in considerable detail at yesterday’s board of inquiry hearing. It was the 48th day of the hearing, and Graeme McIndoe, an urban design witness for the Wellington City Council, was being cross-examined by Philip Milne representing the Architectural Centre and the Newtown Residents Association.

Here are two brief extracts from some hours of questions and answers.

MR MILNE: Mr McIndoe in your evidence, both in your written evidence and your oral testimony, you’ve put quite a bit of value or weight if I could put it that way on the opening under the proposed Northern Gateway Building haven’t you?

MR McINDOE: That’s correct.

MR MILNE: … So the combined effect would you agree of the Northern Gateway
building and the flyover is to significantly dominate that view of the Basin Reserve and the sky and that the effect is the result of both of those structures isn’t it?

MR McINDOE: Yes. In this short range the combination will be – they’ll be dominant elements and that the reason why the opening under the Northern Gateway Building is very important as a mitigating and compensating factor.

MR MILNE: Yes, so the Northern Gateway Building is itself proposed as mitigation of the effects on cricketers isn’t it?

MR McINDOE: Correct. And the effects on the ambience within the Basin.

MR MILNE: Yes, and it serves a secondary mitigation purpose which is it reduces the effect of this flyover being silhouetted against the sky because there’s a building coming up underneath it, that’s the other effect isn’t it?

MR McINDOE: That’s correct.

MR MILNE: Yes. But the net effect of adding the Northern Gateway Building is to further close up that area under the flyover from what it would be without the Northern Gateway Building, isn’t that correct.

MR McINDOE: Yes, there is a slight increase in closure but there’s been a change in where the closure happens. And in my view the openness and view at ground level, the view is at ground through into the Basin and is more beneficial than a view over the fence with a sense of the sky above. And that is because it gives a very clear sense of that being the Basin Reserve.

MR MILNE: So you see that opening up under the building as being a positive effect deriving from the project.


MR MILNE: Just in terms of that is there any barrier to that positive effect
being achieved in the absence of the flyover? By for instance removing the existing fence and replacing it with a sliding fence arrangement so that parts of the fence slide back against themselves like you get with screen doors so maybe three sliders sliding back against the fourth so that the area could be opened up and then closed off during cricket matches.

MR McINDOE: Technically that would be possible. The things to consider would be (a) the willingness of the Basin Reserve Trust to do that and their submission was quite
– it was different from my opinion on the need for closure under the building.
They were keen to retain closure there or closure at that boundary for the benefit of the cricket players. At the hearing last week we talked about heritage. I believe that’s a – I counted this morning that there are six panels of fence which would need to be removed and a much larger fence – I’m not sure that is a major. And of course who has to pay for it? But technically one could design something there.

MR MILNE: The first issue so far as the Basin Reserve Trust sees the need
understandably to screen that off during cricket matches. That could be achieved by way of moving screens, concertina or sliding.

MR McINDOE: That’s correct.

MR MILNE: Yes. And the second issue in terms of reluctance of the Trust or the heritage issues in terms of a fence, they’re being addressed by the proposal here simply to remove the fence aren’t they?

MR McINDOE: Correct.

MR MILNE: And has the fence itself got any heritage protection order on it that would prevent its removal?

MR McINDOE: I can’t answer that
MR MILNE: Moving away from the Northern Gateway Building and to the National War Memorial Park extension you see that as a positive aswell don’t you?

MR McINDOE: Yes, the fact that there will be a large significant park that
has been the outcome of a design competition, it’s partly under construction now, I think having that as an insertion in the Wellington urban fabric in this area is positive.

MR MILNE: Yes. So that park is already part of or about to become part of the existing environment, the reasonably foreseeable environment. Clearly that’s a benefit to Wellington in terms of the extension down where the zigzag is proposed. You also see that as a positive don’t you?

MR McINDOE: I see that as a positive. If we go back to the original competition scheme, the park extended all the way from Taranaki Street right down to Cambridge Terrace and I believe the separation into two parts, the bit which has been constructed now and the part which is being looked at as part of this hearing
that’s a sort of a procedural issue, but the design was conceived from Cambridge to

MR MILNE: And so that was the Wraight Hardwick-Smith design is that right?

MR McINDOE: Correct.

MR MILNE: And the crèche is getting moved as a result of the National War Memorial Park. We’ve heard that the land where the extension is proposed is under the control of the Transport Agency. Do you agree that there is no barrier to that extension being put in place as wasoriginally contemplated irrespective of whether the flyover proceeds?

MR McINDOE: I’m sorry, a barrier to the extension of the Memorial Park?

MR MILNE: Yes the extension which is planned for the area beside the crèche
going down the hill with the zigzag cycle track – you know what I’m talking about?


MR MILNE: That could all be done irrespective of the flyover couldn’t it?

MR McINDOE: Correct.

MR MILNE: And as you’ve pointed out that was originally envisaged as part of the award winning design.

MR McINDOE: Correct.

MR MILNE: And I’ve had discussions with other witnesses and just briefly had the same discussion with you. … Would you agree that if one envisaged that extension and indeed the plaza area, without the flyover, that it would be a much more
attractive area with views to Mount Albert in the background?

MR McINDOE: That’s correct.

Later in the morning:

MR MILNE: Mr McIndoe is it your evidence to this Board of Inquiry that the urban design effects of this [flyover] proposal, including the amenity effects and the effects on the character of the area, will be insignificant? Is that your evidence?

MR McINDOE: No that isn’t my evidence. I have identified various different effects in various different places. Some are positive. Some are negative and I consider that some of those are let’s say moderately negative and particularly around the northeast quadrant. However the effects are localised, they’re localised to what can be seen at the bottom of Ellice Street and in the vicinity of Hania and Ellice Street. There is probably … the most other significant effect is the view down Kent and Cambridge Terraces south and that’s I believe that the combination of the design approach to the bridge, the slim elegant design, the Northern Gateway Building behind which subsumes the bridge, the opening under the Northern Gateway Building allows those effects to be mitigated and there to be an acceptable outcome.

MR MILNE: Well what do you mean by an “acceptable outcome” Mr McIndoe?

MR McINDOE: An acceptable outcome one which if we look at is consistent with good urban design practice which people are going to see and not consider it to be seriously problematic. I think there is a different between as I say the northern edge and the north – eastern quadrant, and then of course we have to consider the whole which is Dufferin Street and in my view Sussex Street as well. I should point out in relation to the view down the axis of Kent and Cambridge Terraces the international precedent, an historical precedent with axial planning is often to have a building closing the axis. We can go to Paris for example, there’s the major axis of the Champs-Elysées that extends out of the city towards La Défense but it terminates on the Louvre. There are cross axes and many of those terminate – one terminates for example on the Paris Opera House. We go to Washington with axial planning. The axes terminate on the White House and Capitol. We go to Rome with the famous planning of Pope Sixtus V and the axes terminate on pilgrimage sites, churches and spaces.

MR MILNE: Can you just pause there Mr McIndoe? And talk about that. The current view as we’ve seen up on the screen today looking up Kent/Cambridge Terrace towards the Basin Reserve is a view of the Reserve, the Reserve buildings with sky and hills isn’t it?

MR McINDOE: Yes it is.

MR MILNE: And what is proposed here is a flyover structure in front of that
view and on the left-hand side of that view looking up towards the Basin Reserve a building, the Northern Gateway Building, which will close in much of the area underneath the flyover on that side isn’t it?

MR McINDOE: That’s correct.

MR MILNE: Do you agree that as one comes up the Kent Cambridge Terrace looking at that view the two structures together become increasingly dominant and in no way can be described as “insignificant” in terms of their effects on the character of that area?

MR McINDOE: Yes, it’s correct. As one comes closer to the bridge it becomes
dominant. But I would make the point and this is why the design of the Northern Gateway Building is so critical. One looks through and sees the edge of the Basin which would be the Northern Gateway Building.

MR MILNE: Yes, you’ve made that point many times Mr McIndoe. And from the National War Memorial Park extension we talked about this earlier, the flyover – if that was built without the flyover, the flyover also has a significant impact on the visual amenity and the character of what is seen doesn’t it?

MR McINDOE: Well it comes down to what is significant. It’s a major insertion and so it has a significant effect I guess. Whether it’s significantly negative, it’s negative but whether it’s integrated into that with planting and the building behind.

MR MILNE: And the area of most concern to you seems to be the Ellice Street area and indeed you’ve suggested additional mitigation measures which you discussed with Mr Robinson last week in relation to that area haven’t you?

MR McINDOE: I agree and I was obviously party to the report from the expert conferencing on design. The experts agreed, there weren’t many things the experts agreed on, but the experts agreed that the northern side of the Basin, in fact I need to find the precise wording because I think it’s quite relevant.

MR MILNE: Sorry, I think we’re diverging Mr McIndoe. The point is that you consider that area to be the area, that quadrant, to be the area most adversely affected don’t you?

MR McINDOE: That’s correct and the point I was getting to was that the expert conferencing held that view, but the expert conferencing also held the view that the view down Kent and Cambridge Terraces was of lesser significance. Or words to that effect.

MR MILNE: And in terms of that Kent Cambridge experience it’s not only the views looking up Kent Cambridge – I’m using “up” because I think the valley heads up towards the Basin, but it’s also the views of people exiting the Basin Reserve and they’ll be confronted with a flyover metres away from them won’t they?

MR McINDOE: Yes they will. I think the significance of that can be seen in one of the images which the Board was looking at earlier this morning which was the view out from the Basin … that I think shows the outcome would be quite satisfactory. The eye is drawn underneath the bridge to the long distance view along the median to the north. Of course if one looks up the bridge will be dominant but that’s not the normal, the usual angle of view for a pedestrian. They will see it but the outcome is fine.

Graeme McIndoe says flyover will fix urban blight

A full transcript is available here.



  1. Traveller, 29. April 2014, 20:48

    If Andy Foster hadn’t changed his vote, the council and its expert witnesses would have been giving lists of reasons why the flyover was not desirable.

  2. Maximus, 30. April 2014, 8:23

    The extraordinary thing to me is the lengths that some of the witnesses are going to, to support the NZTA proposal. They are supposed to be experts, independent witnesses, with minds of their own and opinions formed by years of being an expert in their field. Yet, how many motorway over-bridges have the witnesses designed? As architects and urban designers, I’m pretty confident that they have not designed a single one. Yet they support a 2m deep concrete bog-standard box beam bridge design blindly, stating that this is a thin and elegant design. I would dispute that – 2m of concrete is neither thin nor elegant – and yet where are the engineers who designed the bridge? Where are the engineers that can truthfully advise on the possibility of alternative structures? Why are some of the people on the stand potentially perjuring themselves in the name of their NZTA pay packet, when the real designers are conspicuous by their absence ?

  3. Bob, 5. May 2014, 22:06

    Has someone got a grand master plan to despoil the whole of the region and turn the clock back 50 years to an urban jungle that most of the OECD are trying to turn their back on?

    Between this eyesore next to an iconic historical cricket ground, and – two for the price of one – transferring a whole mountainside at Petone (21,000,000 tonnes) and sticking it up Takapu Valley, destroying communities, ecosystems, livelihoods, history and the beauty of both, to produce roads that won’t be used, because there are better alternatives already, to suit alleged green local council leaders’ vanity bought off and taken in by an out of control NZTA.

    I don’t think a nuclear bomb lobbed in this direction could do more damage than the NZTA proposals in the region.

    With the money saved on not doing anachronistic mad schemes, you could fix up the roads that will need it (SH58 & SH2), you could build a less destructive Petone to Grenada link,(like the road between Seaview and Wainuiomata), and you could even afford to build a proper light railway system through to the airport.

    And if you want a cycleway – you can make it environmentally friendly, by using all the crushed concrete barged up from Christchurch. They’ve got more than they know what to do with it.

    Come on Andy, Celia & Fran – get out of the tent with your partners on their artificial highs, get some fresh air, and realise just what it is you are all potentially destroying with these slash and burn policies. The world has moved on to better things – so should you.


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