by Lindsay Shelton
Can 10,000 people really influence the planning of Wellington’s roads and public transport? Let’s hope that they can, as the “letsgetwellymoving” process is certainly a better one than the seven years when the Transport Agency tried unsuccessfully to dictate what it wanted, ignoring the public and threatening the city council.
The result of that seven years was defeat for the Transport Agency’s awful plan to build a 300-metre concrete flyover alongside the Basin Reserve. And as a consequence we now have the new consultation process, run by the amenable Aucklander Jim Bentley, who has announced the first results from a complex series of online surveys, Council research panels, street polls, telephone surveys and face-to-face meetings. Collecting the views of 10,000 people.
The results include some contradictions. The surveys show that we want fewer cars but more car parking in the CBD. That’s something for the consultative planners to resolve. (I’ve never had any problem parking in the CBD, except at weekends, when it’s always best to leave the car at home.)
But Jim Bentley is optimistic and undeterred. He identifies more problems which need to be fixed:
“People told us they love that Wellington is a compact, vibrant city and that it’s easy to get around. They also love the harbour, our natural environment and diversity. But traffic congestion, slow and unpredictable journeys and parking are significant causes of frustration. The survey results also point to a number of tensions, highlighting the complexity around developing a transport system that is about more than just moving vehicles and people around the region. For example people rated public transport as very good but it was also identified as a frustration and a top priority for improvement because people want more choice, more reliability, increased frequency and cheaper fares.”
Lots to be dealt with.
And some encouraging decisions already. Twelve urban design and planning principles, based on what was said by the 10,000 Wellingtonians. They’ve been welcomed by the Save the Basin campaigners, whose spokesperson Tim Jones says they show that the flyover proponents appear to have learned important lessons from the failed flyover proposal:
“It’s great that at long last the New Zealand Transport Agency and its partners are considering the impact of roading projects on Wellington’s liveability, heritage and environment. Wellingtonians have spoken strongly about keeping the compactness and walkability of our city and not having it ruined by motorways. If the Transport Agency had adopted these principles earlier, they would never have proposed a Basin Reserve flyover in the first place.”
He’s pleased. But he has a warning.
“Community input has helped … develop a good set of draft principles. But there is still a lobby out there that just wants to fill Wellington up with motorways, and so everyone who wants Wellington to have a modern, sustainable transport system that works for a modern capital city needs to keep up the pressure to ensure that these principles are fully reflected in the actual transport outcomes.”