Wellington Scoop

Flattening a lawn and adding a garden

frank kitts park redone

Rearranging Frank Kitts Park at a cost of $5.5million is one of the biggest items of expenditure in the City Council’s latest three-year plan for the Wellington waterfront.

The park was completed in the 1980s, when there was an annual street car race along the waterfront, noisily occupying the space that’s now a vehicle-free pedestrian promenade.

The park has been a popular space since the beginning. Ratepayers may well be asking: “Why spend $5.5million?” But the council has decided that it should remove the sheltered ampitheatre and flatten the lawn, which it describes as “re-orienting the park’s focus towards the harbour.” It says its expenditure will make the park “more diverse and attractive.” But the drawings which it has released seem to show that that the amount of lawn will be reduced when all the money has been spent.

Also in the $5.5million project are improvements to the children’s playground, and a Chinese Garden.

garden chinese

The Chinese garden was first proposed for the open space east of Te Papa that’s now used as a ground-level car park. This location was preferred by the city’s Chinese community. But then a car parking building was proposed for the space, with the Chinese garden on the roof. When this idea was seen as ludicrous, the site for the garden was moved. But the car park has never been built. So the original preferred site is still available.

The council’s announcement of its waterfront spending for the next three years also includes “investigating” a film museum, for which the council has allocated $30million. This is, however, not a council project, though councillors since the time of John Morrison have tried to associate themselves with it. It’s a long-term dream of Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor, referred to by the council as “private sector partners.” No site has been announced, but the fact that the council lists it in its waterfront plans is an indication of what’s being discussed. Not that the waterfront is an ideal place for another museum.

Refer to the Framework, and you’ll be reminded that “the design and use of buildings should be orientated outwards to maximise the unique value of the waterfront location.” Which is not a description of a museum of any kind. And it’s hard to see that the orientation of the (walled?) Chinese Garden will be taking advantage of the waterfront, either.

The Framework also states that “the public should be consulted … about any proposed new buildings.” A process which will be a necessity if and when plans for a film museum get to the stage of being actually announced. Which will not be till Sir Peter and Sir Richard are ready for it. Both are currently involved with the city’s two new museum developments relating to the First World War. As these are due to open this month, will they soon have time to turn their focus to a subject that’s closer to their own experience? And one which the city wants to help with a contribution of $30million.

News from WCC
Under the Wellington Waterfront Framework, the Council agrees an annual work plan for the waterfront and sends it out for consultation with the public before it is adopted. Every three-years the Council agrees on a Waterfront Development Plan as part of the Long Term Plan planning and funding processes.

As well as redeveloping Frank Kitts Park, other projects that are planned for the next three years are:

development of the Promenade
maintenance of the seawall and wharf
development of the Waitangi Precinct
adding a public toilet and change facility to the popular jump platform at the Taranaki Street Wharf Precinct
development of the Queens Wharf Precinct
proposed helicopter base on the outer-T of Queens Wharf
development of the Kumutoto Precinct
relocating the motorhome park
investigating the proposed film museum
ongoing repairs, maintenance and renewals