Wellington Scoop

Misled by the city council

green jack i

by Wendy Armitage
The Wellington City Council’s announcement that it is “just months away” from advertising the lease of Jack Ilott Green makes it obvious that the council has completely misled us.

In December, council officer Derek Fry advised us

“you can be assured that the Council will consider all … aspects, and more, before ultimately making a decision. To be clear, no commercial negotiations regarding a sale, lease or development of any kind have taken place to date. At present, a Framework for the Civic Precinct is being developed that will guide the future of any development on Jack Ilott Green. We will be seeking public input into this document early next year.”

In January he told us:

“This Framework will be available for public comment in March so I urge you to participate in that process.”

But we now learn that the City Shaper team will be presenting to the council in March on “the process of attracting a long-term lease to the site”.

Clearly the council has no intention of listening to public input. The DomPost reports today:

While the council has not started publicly advertising the Green, the carpark was advertised in mid-December, and the process of finding a suitable developer to lease that section of land has moved to the next stage. The Green is set to go the same way, it’s just a little behind in schedule thanks to its location, said council City Shaper manager Ian Pike.

At the start of this month, our Save Jack Ilott Green group sent a submission to the council and asked to make a presentation to the Governance, Finance and Planning Committee who had recommended the sale and who are meeting on February 18. But we were told that councillors had decided we should present our submission and petition to the Transport and Urban Development Committee (because they looked after parks and reserves!) which doesn’t meet till March 10. We now have to question why this later date was set if they’re going to call for expressions of interest in the same month.

We do not accept the council’s contention that the park is not well used. In spite of its run down condition, it is well used by many people – for six weeks we carried out a survey which proves its popularity. . Indeed, if the council had maintained and developed the park with more trees and shaded seating, it would be used even more.

We also do not accept the council statement that there’s a problem with the park’s position. It is on the same six-lane road as Frank Kitts Park and Waitangi Park. Does this mean the council might consider hocking them off when they next want some more money?

And as for the claim that public feedback last year encouraged the decision to develop the Green. This is so wrong. Of the 16 people who commented on the sale of Jack Ilott Green, 14 were opposed to any development. If the council paid attention to its public consultation, it would not be pushing ahead with the plan for a privately-owned building on this green open space.

We therefore urge the public to sign our petition to save our precious inner city green space.

Wendy Armitage is co-founder of the Save Jack Ilott Green group.



  1. lindsay, 16. February 2016, 11:54

    The DomPost reports today that Weta boss Sir Richard Taylor has not heard about council plans to lease the green. “I love the fact that our sculpture is there and it’s lovely that the council treasures that land, it’s a lovely green spot which enhances the waterfront.”

  2. Rebecca Holmes, 16. February 2016, 12:08

    We urgently need the WCC to recognize the importance of retaining this green space.
    In their own Neilson survey published November 2015, 76% of inner city residents stated that they wanted more accessible green spaces available.
    When the sale of the JIG was first decided (back in 1998) inner city apartment dwellings were way down on what we have now…Chews Lane, One Market Lane, Chaffers Wharf…what was considered acceptable then is no longer acceptable to the general public.
    To sell off this inner city pocket park is not acceptable. We also dispute that this park is not used…a park can be visually used – trees, birds, vista – as well as physically used and the WCC has deliberately left this park underdeveloped to support its arguments.

  3. Julia Phillips, 16. February 2016, 12:09

    Could we ask Sir Richard Taylor to voice a little bit louder his opinions about the Green to the pompous councilors? We need someone who is wellknown and respected to stand up to the WCC, as us mere minions are not being heard.

  4. Andrina, 16. February 2016, 12:57

    If the Councillors were on the “Save Ilott Green ” Petition table asking people for their opinion of selling off Jack Ilott Green they would hear angry voices. 99% of the people did not know that JIG was up for sale. One family with children all signed. The parents told them: “it is your future”

  5. Kevin, 16. February 2016, 14:24

    As my 6 year old said to me: ‘They should know better! Where am I going to go play now? Do they have a brain?’

    It is always troubling when a public body – such as Wellington city council – misleads its ratepayers and tries to avoid public consultation. It is even more troubling that most of this has already been decided last year by Councillors as part of the 10 year plan.

    Not going to vote for that bunch in October.

  6. Helen, 16. February 2016, 14:28

    what a shame to lose this park just when the trees are maturing and making it a shady haven. it is way more sheltered than the waterfront so offers a real alternative in a northerly!

  7. Councillor Helene Ritchie, 16. February 2016, 16:16

    I voted against the sale of Ilott Green when it was proposed in 2004. I was the only councillor who ultimately opposed the sale of Ilott Green last year 2015. I applaud the work of the Save the Ilott Green group, am pleased to have been be associated with the campaign from the outset to save it, and am assisting them.

    I have given my reasons in an earlier contribution on Wellington.Scoop. Ilott Green must be saved and not sold by the Council. The plans must be scuttled. It is a green haven in the Civic heart of the Capital which has been neglected by the Council for over 30 years. Since then the City’s density has grown significantly by many thousands. They enjoy apartment living but most with quite inadequate and insufficient access to common outdoor green space, and some even without any balconies at all. Now the mayor and Councillors have voted to sell this green park, by subdividing it off, giving it a separate title, and a very long term lease amounting to a sale in law.

    As Portfolio Leader of the Natural Environment, I have called for the City to revise its rules around access to usable green parks in the CBD. Ilott Green is an exemplar size for an inner city park – big enough for both passive and active recreation. The last thing we should be doing in this city is getting rid of Ilott Green which is used in multiple ways by many people. Tourists love it and photograph it. There are gym sessions, tai chi, children running and playing, football, volleyball, petangue, reading, sunbathing, picnicking to name a few of the uses. All this would be lost. Sun, views into civic centre and out to the harbour, the City to Sea bridge all would be ruined by the Council’s plans to sell the park and put a building there. The Campaign is determined to stop the sale and keep the park.

    Helene Richie
    Natural Environment Portfolio Leader
    Wellington City Councillor

  8. Ron Beernink, 16. February 2016, 18:49

    Absolutely amazed that our Council would even contemplate anything like this when its long terms plans and its mandate is clearly to make the CBD more people friendly. We need to absolutely protect and improve our little oasis areas like this. Thank you to the Save Jack Ilott Green group and to Helene Richie.

  9. Save Jack Ilott Green Campaign, 16. February 2016, 18:55

    What has happened to transparency in city council dealings? So much seems to happen behind closed doors and WCC councillors seem to have forgotten that we elected them to represent US!. They seem to think they can mislead us and get away with it.
    Well listen up councillors. The thousands of people who have signed our petition have been clearly angry and very much against selling Jack Ilott Green. We have been repeatedly told “we will not be voting for this lot again” and rightly so. We need councillors who don’t decide to sell off our precious green space to make up for their incompetence in not strengthening the town hall years ago. We need councillors who don’t think they can convince us we need to lose our parks because they “do not have any money” to strengthen the town hall, yet suddenly they can bring their “glory projects” forward FIVE YEARS and spend $134million. This is irresponsible. Aren’t 10 year plans meant to be exactly that?
    We need councillors in tune with the public. We need our green spaces!

  10. Matthew, 16. February 2016, 21:44

    This is unbelievable but unfortunately not surprising. It appears our councillors are completely out of touch with what the public would like in their city. Being an inner city dweller, I am aware of how little green space there is around and see how valuable it is to us all. Ilott park is frequently used, so this makes even less sense.
    Thank you to those behind the campaign. I hope the rest of Wellington gets behind you before our council destroys another valuable resource. Once we lose it we will never get it back.
    Councillor Ritchie, thank you for speaking out in support. Is it safe to assume that the green councillors are sharing the same opinion as you but just not speaking out at the moment?

  11. Ben, 16. February 2016, 23:26

    Matthew: I don’t think you can assume the Green councillors are speaking out about Jack Ilott Green. Our so-called “green” mayor supports the sale of the green to developers. And, nowhere have we seen any of the Greens come out in opposition – they have been very very quiet.

    The council let the green run down and then, along with several other weak excuses, use its condition to get rid of it. They clearly think the public are so dumb they don’t understand what is going on. Hopefully they will get a big shock at the next election. But by then it will be too late for Jack Ilott Green and it will be lost to future generations forever. I guess the few owners in multi-million apartments on the green space will be happy – along with the developer, laughing all the way to the bank. According to the Dominion Post, the council has decided to sell and will be going ahead regardless of public opinion. This seems to be the way the council operates now.

    The public will just have to get used to the loss of the glorious openness and vista from Civic Square, the wind tunnel up the side of the library, and shading on Civic Square, the City to Sea Bridge, and the lagoon, depending on the time of day. What a massive loss to our city! This council isn’t going to leave a legacy to be proud of. The sooner they are gone the better, before they start selling off more green space to fund the “sink big” projects they are funding at great risk to the ratepayers.

  12. Rumpole, 17. February 2016, 10:29

    Mr Ian Pike is promoted from the waterfront to be CEO of City Shaper, the new facility for developers. So the whole city is in his hands. My ratepayer clients are not amused.

  13. CC, 17. February 2016, 12:05

    Rumpole – it is suspected that Mr. Pike was not promoted but accommodated ‘in house’ as he knows where the developer friendly skeletons are hidden. The detectives have begun an extensive investigation!
    Matthew and Ben – Green Councillors? No – the only people who are green are those who believed any of the current councillors had such lofty credentials. Very much like the Deputy Mayor’s belated claim to a Labour identity – it is purely for electoral purposes.

  14. Ben, 17. February 2016, 12:40

    Ironic isn’t it. While cities all around the world are trying to increase their green space, our council is busy trying to hock off any green space they can get their hands on. I believe there are small green spaces on the Terrace being sold as well – against opposition. What’s next? Frank Kitts Park – the developers would love that.
    Frank Kitts Park is on the same “busy six-lane road” as Jack Ilott Green, which is one of the council’s pathetic excuses for it going. Another excuse being it is unattractive – so whose fault is that… The council seem to think ratepayers are so dumb they can’t understand what is going on.

  15. City Lad, 17. February 2016, 13:15

    The next election is only 8 months away. Silly for councillors to be so arrogant by selling Jack Ilott Green and the Michael Fowler open space. Not so smart at all. Voters are not silly.

  16. Trish, 17. February 2016, 14:52

    “The next election is only 8 months away.” Is anyone getting organised and identifying some worthwhile candidates, fundraising and planning a campaign? I thought not. This lot will be re-elected unopposed unless some people get organised very soon.

  17. Concerned Citizen, 17. February 2016, 14:59

    As shown in the photo Jack Ilott Green is hardly used by more than a handful of people. While the waterfront is always busy with people, this park is always deserted. It’s a desolate space ripe for development.

  18. Marion Leader, 17. February 2016, 15:39

    If there was a major crowd-funding effort, how much would the Council want so that we could buy back our own land?

  19. Paul. D, 17. February 2016, 16:12

    Can we get rid of the oversized paper weight at least?

  20. Save Jack Ilott Green Campaign, 18. February 2016, 15:41

    If you think the green is hardly ever used, check our list over 6 weeks at http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=85859
    Just the other night people were playing football for two hours and having a great time, while others were watching from the bridge. Yesterday there was a large group of children playing on the grass.
    The council have let the green run down and use that as an excuse to get rid of it. Imagine a properly landscaped park with trees and shade and even more people would use it. In addition, we cannot afford to lose the openness of Civic Square and the fantastic vistas across the harbour. We won’t see many people sitting on the bridge when it is shaded by an eight storey (or more ) high rise.
    Green space is important – even when it has no-one on it.

  21. Rumpole, 19. February 2016, 12:56

    City Shaper is now applying waterfront experience to the whole city. The former Overseas Passenger Terminal was left to rust and then gifted to a favourite developer. Jack Ilott Green is being given the same treatment. Heads should roll.

  22. Michael Gibson, 19. February 2016, 15:10

    This is turning into another shocker so I have just written to the Mayor as follows: “I see that Wellington.Scoop published the following comment about Jack Ilott Green a couple of days ago: ‘If there was a major crowd-funding effort, how much would the Council want so that we could buy back our own land?’ How much would the Council like for the land? Can we talk figures?
    P.S. Obviously there must be a price – the Council can’t possibly want to destroy more of our greenery simply to have more buildings.