Needed: leadership, and accountability

by Ian Apperley
As we near the six-month point after last year’s local elections, Wellington is in strange shape. While we hear that city councillors and the mayor have found some new common ground and are working better together than the last council, the city has seen almost zero progress on some fronts and embarrassment from some key allies.

While I am sure there are some activities underway behind the scenes, the City Council is not only not making a lot of progress, it also seems to be contradicting some of its priorities. Sure, the earthquake has been significant. But let’s not forget that Wellington “was open for business” the day after.

WREDA has been under continued pressure by the WCC over its lack of perceived performance. As it should be. Despite being a public company owned by the ratepayers , it has produced little, seeming to ride at times on other’s coattails.

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The foray into recruitment for Xero under the guise of bringing more tech resources to Wellington is a questionable exercise. Putting aside the approach and value, of which time will prove it to be right or wrong, the fact of its privacy breach was incredibly embarrassing and in this day and age, amateur.

In the last week, the Regional Council slipped, staggered, and stumbled its way through the free wifi issue, electing not to support it – it threw out a $2.2million dollar proposal to introduce free wifi. That’s ironic, given its investment of over $22 million dollars on fixed bus signs that show static timetables. This is hardly displaying a “smart” tech-savvy Wellington. Free wifi on buses and trains does make sense if you do it well. Stepping back from that leaves the regional council back at square one.

While the City Council may be working better together, it isn’t managing to work with others particularly well. It’s my opinion that the City Council should provide a leadership role for the city. That doesn’t appear to be happening.

“Getting Welly Moving Again” should probably start looking at flying cars, based on the terribly slow nature of the process. Every traffic report shows more congestion, and there appears to be no end in sight to that. In the past few years Wellington travel has become increasingly stuck. Not only a cost to business, but also to commuters, and providing a huge impact on the environment as every sits idling in traffic.

The Karori Campus debate may show that the WCC doesn’t have a lot of credibility as a city leader – not able to bring the players together to reach a resolution. The campus represents a significant asset for the city in a mixed-use role. Diane Calvert called on MBIE, MoE, TEC, MSD, NZTA, the GWRC, WCC, and WREDA to get together and come up with a solution. This will never happen without a powerful central leader.

Something weird has happened in Tawa. The WCC bought us all a pine forest. Rather than letting the land be sold for development. This sends quite a mixed message to the community that is crying out for more housing options. While on the one hand the WCC’s rhetoric around housing is increasing by the month, the other hand is making moves that slow it down.

The death of the Sevens now seems inevitable after a miserable turnout that not even the very best spin doctors could cover up. There appears to be zero accountability for that failure. What was once a jewel in Wellington’s crown is now an embarrassment, and no one has taken responsibility.

Then there is the long-term plan and a host of projects that just aren’t going anywhere. Hands up anyone who remembers these; A National Hockey Stadium, a Film Museum, the Convention Centre, a War and Peace Museum, an indoor concert arena, the airport extension, the city-wide cycling network, improving transport, and a host of others.

In some respects, many of those projects are now further from completion than before. The airport extension is likely to fail on the basis of legal problems and ongoing issues around its viability. As for cycling, the continued repackaging of the same tired options is going nowhere in a hurry while the Island Bay issues remain unresolved.

All of this leads me to one conclusion. The way that the city runs is not working. “Hang on!”, I hear you shout, “what about the sewage, and storm water and rubbish services? They all work!”

Well, yes, but not particularly well. We have a rubbish tip that is pumping toxic water into a stream and beach, every time it rains hard toilets in Miramar back up, sewage seems to increasingly be flushed into Lyall Bay, and after even small rain no one can go into the harbour. So, are we sure it’s working?

The WCC needs to have a good, long, hard look at itself and accept that, from the outside at least, there is a perception progress is not being made. That things are actually declining, not increasing. Here’s a tip: it doesn’t matter how many press releases you put out saying things are rosy. That won’t change the perception; it will reduce the trust.

What is required is a cultural shift, technically called a “paradigm shift,” in the way that the organisation and their partners operate. That starts with a recognition of how they are operating now is not working.

This is the problem with a paradigm shift. The closer the organisation gets to accepting the fact it’s not working properly the more it resistd that fact. Imagine trying to snap a heavy rubber band. The closer to breaking point, that “aha!” moment, the harder it becomes to pull.

And, as Einstein said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again while expecting a different result.”

Whatever the model is that the City Council is based on, it’s not optimal. Until that is recognised then we will continue to see the same behaviours, the same outputs, the same quality, and the same issues.

 

41 comments:

  1. Ben, 24. March 2017, 9:55

    Free wifi could be an encouragement for people to use the new smelly noisy diesel transport public transport. The prices certainly aren’t.

     
  2. Mary M, 24. March 2017, 10:19

    Totally agree with you Ian. There is no change at the WCC – just a switching of facades by “career politicians”.

     
  3. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 24. March 2017, 10:29

    I think you’re being a tad harsh Ian. Progress is being made on many fronts, despite the major earthquake that diverted resources right across the council to a much greater extent than an outsider looking in could imagine. Just a few examples: Council’s finances are very sound; so is resilience planning & leadership; WCC is a leader in public housing, with new strategies to ensure best bang for buck; we’re working very closely with the Regional Council to try to make the best of the forthcoming big changes in bus services next year; cycle route planning is moving ahead, with government funding assured; councillors are working collegially across the council table and with council officers. I am determined to ensure that Let’s Get Wellington Moving remains open-minded to all opportunities to improve our transport systems, whether they be buses, bikes, roads or possible eventual light rail. We are only six months in from last year’s elections and the feeling across the council is very positive. Not self-satisfied, but optimistic for Wellington. There is a new and strong commitment to public engagement and toward building a very strong partnership between the council and the city’s businesses and residents. Of course there will always be hiccups and inevitable small cock-ups along the way, but I believe the path is straight and is being built on strong foundations.

    Chris Calvi-Freeman, Eastern Ward Councillor and portfolio leader for transport strategy & operations

     
  4. Lola Ester, 24. March 2017, 13:58

    @ Chris, The truth is harsh to those without a taste for it

     
  5. Ben, 24. March 2017, 15:34

    Chris: Maybe the council should be more proactive about telling the public where things are at. We don’t need (or want) expensive ritzy glitzy marketing spiel. Regular concise transparent updates would suffice.

     
  6. Lindsay, 24. March 2017, 15:52

    Chris. Your remarks are a reminder of the difference between being on the inside looking out, and being on the outside trying to look in … Ben is correct when he says the council should try harder to tell us what’s going on. Wellington.Scoop has asked recent questions about delays to major projects – but there’s been not a word of response from the council. I hope you’ll persuade it to be more responsive. Looking ahead: congratulations on keeping the pressure on LGWM, and good luck with getting light rail back on to the official agenda.

     
  7. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 24. March 2017, 17:05

    Ben, Lindsay, I agree! I’ll certainly feed that back, but I know other councillors and staff also read the Scoop forums.

    Regarding light rail, I am not (yet) convinced that it will be achievable in my lifetime but I am also hoping to be proved wrong. Several city and regional councillors met recently and we’ve agreed that a new independent study is called for. (See also the other thread titled “Is Welly Moving getting us moving?”, and in particular Mike Mellor’s comments.) An important feature of any new investigation is that it should allow the people who have well-informed views and theories about light rail to have the opportunity to engage with the study and have their points of view listed to and fully evaluated. I will ensure this happens.

     
  8. Hel, 24. March 2017, 19:01

    Credit where credit is due – even a blind man would recognise that the WREDA recruitment initiative has been a fantastic programme promoting Wellington.

     
  9. TrevorH, 25. March 2017, 9:45

    Why did we buy a commercial pine plantation in Tawa? Is the Council setting up a logging department? If they are not logged, the trees will either fall over or be blown over and become an eyesore and fire hazard. Also why do we want to stifle housing development through such a costly purchase? Isn’t there a housing shortage? Does the Council have a cunning plan so subtle we can’t see it?

     
  10. Keith Flinders, 25. March 2017, 9:54

    Ben. I share your concern as to what the post trolley bus era will look like, as 6 months after the first bus converted to Wrightspeed was meant to be on the road it isn’t. Trolley bus withdrawal is a few months away.

    Due to the transport subsidy which accounts for 50% of the total GWRC rates take, bus fares are relatively 20% cheaper than they were in the 1970s for those on the average wage. However for those on the statutory minimum wage, so called living wage, fixed income, then bus fares now account for a greater slice. I expect the same is true of suburban train fares but I haven’t studied that aspect.

     
  11. Glen Smith, 25. March 2017, 10:01

    Chris. I was about to write that the delay in the Conference Centre, Basin and LGWM process might indicate that transport planners were actually doing their jobs properly this time (extending rail across the city will be a huge, but inevitable, planning process and, if it follows what I view as the logical route, will involve the Basin and Conference Centre) and we should be patient. But your last comment shows this confidence was ill founded. You say that councillors are just now thinking about another study into rail options. But these should surely be an integral part of the LGWM/ NTA process. Are planners seriously going to put forward a list of ‘scenarios’ that doesn’t include a range of rail options (surely nobody could be that stupid … could they? … images from Blackadder spring to mind with Baldrick and Hugh Laurie standing up in no man’s land as the flare goes up loudly shouting ‘stupid, stupid stupid’).
    Are planners still clinging to the Spine Study, a study that is so fundamentally and fatally flawed that it should almost just be thrown in the rubbish. Not only did it only project forward 30 years at a time when we are making fundamental long term strategic transport changes, but rather than undertaking any initial scoping outlines to assess the extent of the PT changes required it started from the premise of a single across town PT spine (whoops-there’s Baldrick and Hugh Laurie again) and, unsurprisingly, came up with a proposal that was patently inadequate (as they say in IT, stupid input gives you stupid output). Not only that but when the study came to the conclusion that, indeed, a single spine would be inadequate, planners blundered forth with it anyway (uh oh…Baldrick’s back). And when their own research showed that the result would be a huge shift away from PT to cars with a massive increase in congestion (the opposite outcome which they were aiming to achieve) they didn’t think maybe they should reconsider things (yep…it’s Baldrick again).
    I previously wrote to Paul Swain challenging him to refute my assertion that extending rail across the city was inevitable. He was apparently unable to do so. I extend the challenge to you and other transport planners. That is: on this forum outline a transport scenario that will provide a durable transport solution for this century and beyond that doesn’t involve across town rail. You and the other planners, just like Paul Swain, won’t be able to. I work in the medical profession where we take our responsibilities seriously. Across town rail is inevitable and the time to plan it is now (or the opportunity will be lost) so why don’t you and and the other planners just start doing your jobs properly or we will have another decade of fighting withoutp progress.

     
  12. Keith Flinders, 25. March 2017, 10:08

    TrevorH. Had the pine forest been a commercial deal that the ratepayers would have got some return on their investment, few could argue against it. However the previous owner stated that the cost of removing the trees was greater than they could be sold for. The pine trees will become a hazard in time and need clearing on safety grounds.

    Karori hills would look nice too without all the extra houses added in the past 45 years, and reaching now up to the ridges. But then people have to have somewhere to live and development close to existing services is to be encouraged.

     
  13. Mike, 25. March 2017, 11:19

    So in the WCC purchase of Tawa forest the ratepayers will be forced to fund the deforestation and replanting (at an undisclosed cost).

     
  14. TrevorH, 25. March 2017, 11:39

    Keith Flinders, we are in agreement here. It is not a commercial deal, the private owners had made an investment that didn’t work out and it should have been their responsibility, not ratepayers’, to remove the trees if they became a hazard. Nor does it make sense to stymie a potential housing development so close to city services.

    Meanwhile we read that the Mayor has gone cap in hand to the Government for funding to upgrade Wellington’s dangerously precarious water supply. And yet the Council makes ludicrous decisions like the pine plantation purchase and is happy to blow $150 million on a convention centre? Sorry, but this is not a credible basis on which to approach the Minister of Finance.

    Credit is due to the Mayor for one thing though. By appointing ambassadors, scientists and portfolio leaders among the new Council so soon after the election, he has obtained their loyalty. And so Councillors, their sense of self-worth enhanced, are content to rule their little bailiwicks while nothing is actually achieved.

     
  15. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 25. March 2017, 12:42

    Glen: It’s a huge pity that our heavy rail system terminates at Wellington station, on the edge of the CBD. I doubt there’s any disagreement about that, from the region’s commuters. However, to extend the heavy rail system through the CBD and out to the south and east would be a monumental undertaking far outside of any economic justification or funding resource. Wellington is a small and compact city – creating a path for heavy rail would involve the destruction of many commercial and residential buildings and I doubt that your enthusiasm for this would be matched by the great majority of Wellingtonians, especially of course those most directly affected. The alternative, to tunnel under the city, although less destructive, would likely be equally unaffordable, if not more so, especially given the geological and tectonic constraints. Ideally of course, it would happen, and rail commuters would enjoy a seamless journey through the CBD and to the airport and hospital while eastern and southern suburbs residents would receive an excellent transport link to the CBD and points north. Melbourne built four tracks in circles under their CBD about 40 years ago, primarily to relieve congestion at the main railway stations, but Melbourne’s population is more than 10 times that of Wellington’s and its geology is much more conducive to tunneling. Wellington will never grow to Melbourne’s size in anyone’s reasonably foreseeable future.

    An alternative more likely to be achieved is light rail, on a combination of dedicated and shared rights of way. It could have many of the benefits of a heavy rail extension at a fraction of the cost, although the current view of most experts is that it is still unlikely to be affordable given our present population. Light rail, if achieved, could involve a reasonably quick transfer at Wellington station and a faster journey to the hospital and airport than our bus services (even with bus priority). City and regional councillors on the transport working group have agreed that LGWM must investigate this fully, with the analysis not limited to the existing bus spine route. We will ensure this happens. A key feature of this work, at my instigation, will be to ensure that people with a strong interest in Wellington’s strategic transport infrastructure and direction have the opportunity to input into and fully engage with this process, instead of being left to criticise after the fact, as appears to have happened with the Spine Study. I am hoping this process with be cordial, interactive and intelligent, and won’t deteriorate into comparison with TV characters or with the value and integrity of comparative professions.

     
  16. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 25. March 2017, 12:52

    The Forest of Tane was purchased to extend the outer town belt, ensuring the land would remain publically accessible. This is the same process that has, over the decades, given us our beloved inner and outer town belts with public access to Mt Victoria, Wright’s Hill, Polhill Gully etc and our many public walking tracks. The land wasn’t zoned for housing – the current designation would allow only two lifestyle blocks if memory serves correctly. There may be a cost in removing the pine in due course, which may not be recouped by the value of the timber (it’s likely to be close), but this is no different from Mt Victoria and elsewhere. I did suggest, at the City Strategy meeting, that a very small portion of the Forest of Tane, near to current residential streets, could possibly be rezoned and developed for housing, recouping the purchase cost of the forest and helping in a small way to address Wellington’s housing shortage. I believe this is under investigation.

     
  17. Troy H, 25. March 2017, 13:57

    It has not remained “public land” as the land was deemed private. And the high cost of deforesting is to be funded by ratepayers.

     
  18. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 25. March 2017, 14:26

    Troy: I said “publically accessible” as this was what it was, by kind permission of the owners. New private owners may not have been so public spirited. It’s doubtful there will be a high net cost of deforestation once the timber is sold.

     
  19. TrevorH, 25. March 2017, 14:53

    @CCF. The so-called “Forest of Tane” has a pre-1990 forest exemption so the land use could be changed and it was marketed by BakerAg as available for subdivision. It includes 20 Hectares of pinus radiata, mostly 30 years or more old so ready for processing. It appears the private owners did not consider it financially viable to cut this timber however. How does the Council think it can make a profit to cover costs? Were estimates obtained for felling before the purchase was made? What was the total cost of purchasing the property and where in the Council’s budget is the money coming from?

     
  20. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 25. March 2017, 19:15

    TrevorH: It may have been marketed “for subdivision” but that would only be into two lifestyle blocks. Estate agents don’t set planning designations. As I said previously, the land was purchased to add to the town belt, not as a commercial undertaking. Other issues are still in non-public due to commercial sensitivity.

     
  21. Glen Smith, 26. March 2017, 8:50

    Chris, I never said heavy rail, I said rail. And in terms of destructive path could you outline which bits of the dedicated corridor I had proposed (which involves no additional property acquisition at all) would not be achievable.

     
  22. Marion Leader, 26. March 2017, 8:58

    The big sensational release date is April 6th. This “non-public due to commercial sensitivity” blurb is rubbish. It is all P.R. spin.

     
  23. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 26. March 2017, 11:37

    Glen, I’m not familiar with the details of your proposals but recall previously that you were advocating extending the existing heavy rail trackwork through to the eastern suburbs via the waterfront or the quays. I am hoping you will have an opportunity to present your proposals to the LGWM study for evaluation alongside others.

    Marion, councillors are bound to abide by council confidentiality rules and agreements until such time as they are lifted.

     
  24. Marion Leader, 26. March 2017, 14:28

    I look forward to seeing the “council confidentiality rules and agreements” on April 6th.

     
  25. Guy M, 26. March 2017, 15:42

    Chris Calvi-Freeman: this routing of rail has been discussed over at The Eye of the Fish. For the first part of the journey anyway, down to the bottom of Courtenay Place. Next section to the Basin Reserve should be easy enough too – more than enough width without having to knock down buildings. That just leaves the Basin Reserve – and I believe the Arch Centre showed the way that could be solved too.

     
  26. Ian Apperley, 26. March 2017, 16:30

    Thank you everyone for your comments, I appreciate you taking the time for the debate. There are some things that I’d like to comment on and I apologise for the random order, I’ve been reading from the top down.

    Chris, you think I am being a tad harsh. I don’t agree. I understand that you are a new Councillor and being hopeful about what the WCC could do. However, I’ve been following the group for a decade or more and frankly, what we are seeing now is a lot more of the same kind of stasis. Blaming the earthquake doesn’t feel right to me. Let’s not forget that the city was reopened the next day and information has been scant about impact.

    If Council finances are sound, why are we facing double-digit rate increases over the net few years? Seriously, the rates are going to explode. Resilience planning is rhetoric. The city gets shutdown almost daily by a car driving into a barrier on the motorway. Fruit trees won’t save us.

    The bus service changes are going to be a complete fail. Everyone knows that. The idea that I will have to double-hop buses from Strathmore to the city is just, well, dumb. Plus, the contracts are onerous, the service is not getting better, it’s monopolistic, expensive and no one is able to change any of that.

    Let’s get wellington moving again, as per earlier articles and other press releases, isn’t actually moving.

    I find it hilarious that we have purchased the “Forest of Tane.” Which marketing and comms genius came up with that? Seriously, they should be promoted. Are we going to get pink signs with that as well? The point is, the WCC is left hand right hand. They’ve spent months bleating about housing and what they are going to do about it; then they buy a pine plantation that could have been developed. I don’t care about the debate, I care about the fact that it looks like the WCC has two brains.

    As Lindsay has pointed out, questions are not being answered. But there’s PR spin (the Forest of Tane is absolute Genius). The next article I write will be along the lines of Why do we need the WCC? Because it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant.

     
  27. Jo, 26. March 2017, 16:51

    Hi Ian, great comments. Isn’t it ironic the spin doctors call a pine plantation the Forest of Tane. For me it says it all. Keep up the good work.

     
  28. Luke, 26. March 2017, 16:52

    Light rail from the station thru to the hospital should be easy, there is currently a 6 lane mini motorway along the waterfront that could lose a lane, Chaffers nw carpark and Blair St to Courtenay Place, Cambridge Tce is wide enough, under the Basin, and Adelaide Road loses its on street car parking.

     
  29. TrevorH, 26. March 2017, 17:57

    Great stuff Ian. The WCC may be irrelevant but they have their fingers ever deeper into our wallets. It’s noteworthy the new Council’s first substantive decision on taking office was to increase their own remuneration. And if I ever hear the phrase “commercial sensitivity” again I’m afraid I may not be responsible for my actions. Look forward to your next oeuvre.

     
  30. Richard Keller, 26. March 2017, 19:28

    Hi Chris: Glad to see you keep the subject of light rail in the public discussion. But Ian didn’t say anything about light rail only about flying cars. Do you think Ian was primarily trying to open a useful discussion about transport (the most important issue facing Wellington), or did Ian have some other priority?

     
  31. Lindsay, 26. March 2017, 19:36

    TV3’s NewsHub reports tonight that the Chinese Premier, who arrived today for talks in Wellington tomorrow with Bill English, wants to finance railways in NZ. Let’s ask him to pay for Wellington’s light rail …

     
  32. John Rankin, 26. March 2017, 19:55

    @CCF It’s very encouraging to read “that LGWM must investigate [light rail] fully, with the analysis not limited to the existing bus spine route”. Yes, public transport through the CBD needs 4 lanes — 2 for buses and 2 for rapid transit, of which the most cost-effective option is probably light rail.

    But @CCF says “light rail, on a combination of dedicated and shared rights of way … although the current view of most experts is that it is still unlikely to be affordable given our present population”.

    For light rail to be most effective, it needs a dedicated right of way with priority over other traffic at intersections. Any sections on shared rights of way will potentially lower the quality of service (making it less reliable) and need to be avoided where possible. In Wellington this will be hard in places, but we should still try.

    Who are “most experts”? The international data show that light rail is more cost effective than buses when the ridership exceeds about 3000 people per hour. The Golden Mile currently carries 6000 people per hour during the peaks. Not all bus trips would be suitable for replacement by light rail, but 4000 on light rail and 2000 on buses should be readily achievable, comfortably above the 3000 people per hour threshold.

    WCC predicts the population of Wellington city will grow by at least 50,000 people over the next 25 years. Even if we assume no mode shift from cars to light rail on the corridor, that’s still 5000 light rail trips per hour (25% growth). This is why there are many cities in France and other countries, the same size as Wellington or smaller, with successful light rail systems. And while Wellington has good public transport ridership in comparison with other Australasian cities, the evidence from comparable Canadian cities is that we could aim to double the ridership per capita, as people choose to mode-shift from cars to light rail.

    There is a rule of thumb that when you have more than about 75 buses per hour on a corridor, light rail is a cost-effective alternative. Wellington currently peaks at about 140 buses per hour on the Golden Mile. Auckland is justifying light rail on Dominion Road in part on the basis that there are 130 buses per hour.

    So on what basis is light rail “unlikely to be affordable”? How does the cost of light rail from the airport to the railway station compare to the cost of extending the motorway from the Terrace tunnel to the airport? Which will deliver a congestion-free journey, light rail or a motorway?

    But @CCF is absolutely right that we need to make sure light rail is affordable. The best advice I have ever read for cities contemplating their first light rail line is from Jane Jacobs: “Fixed transit routes [are] expensive failures when they [are] not preceded by evidence of sufficient demand…. Choose to locate rail routes by observing which bus routes are most heavily used…. [Otherwise], they don’t have enough passengers.”

     
  33. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 26. March 2017, 22:46

    Ah, this is fun, at least for a while.

    Marion, i would have thought it would be fairly obvious that if the council voted to earmark $x to bid for the Forest of Tane in a closed tender, it would be best if everyone else didn’t know what x was until the bids closed. That’s really all there is to it – no major conspiracy. TrevorH – that’s what the phrase means here.

    Guy, Luke – and then where to from there? And why not via Taranaki and Wallace Streets for example – where there’s a greater population density? And what to do with all the other bus routes, the cars, taxis, bikes and delivery vans? Perhaps have a chat with John Rankin, who talks sense about light rail only being successful if shared running is minimised or eliminated. Which is a bigger challenge than just drawing some lines on a streetmap.

    John, thanks, these are precisely the sorts of issues that will be teased out, confirmed or disproven in a properly constituted study. I look forward to hearing more from you during that process.

    Jo, Ian – I believe the Forest of Tane is the accepted local name for this plot of land. I don’t know when it came into being but it certainly wasn’t WCC PR spin.

    Richard – I think Ian’s main priority was column inches, which he appears to have generated, so kudos to him for that.

    Ian, I’m sure you know that the new bus services are Greater Wellington’s responsibility, not WCC’s. Keep up the good work.

    Cheers, CCF

     
  34. TrevorH, 27. March 2017, 8:03

    @CCF: Fine, then why not just say the Council’s offer price is still subject to a closed tender, or something like that? If tenders have closed and the Council’s offer has been accepted unconditionally there would seem to be no reason to keep the price paid secret from ratepayers who are after all the new owners. The words “commercial sensitivity” have too often been used to cover up the squandering of ratepayers’ money on questionable deals and subsidies; transparency should be the Council’s touchstone at all times. Finally I appreciate your willingness to engage and thank you for your efforts in the Eastern Ward.

     
  35. Marion Leader, 27. March 2017, 9:53

    Thank you, Chris. Why did the Council say that the Forest had been bought if it hasn’t yet been bought?

     
  36. Troy H, 27. March 2017, 11:04

    Chris, the price that the WCC will have the ratepayers pay for the land does not include the trees/timber and the council has undisclosed risks and costs around this project and the reforestation needed.

     
  37. Ian Apperley, 27. March 2017, 14:00

    Some last thoughts for now.

    The Council has a very poor record of transparency. This has resulted in complaints to the Ombudsman that have been upheld in some cases. So while the tender price needs to remain secret, the fact that the WCC did not consult with their community BEFORE they bought it, reinforces that view of a lack of transparency. It is deliciously ironic that the Mayor has just lambasted “land bankers” in the media today while doing exactly the same. Buying a big piece of land that was earmarked for development, in order to stop it from being developed. It is a beautiful example of the left hand right hand behaviours.

     
  38. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 27. March 2017, 14:12

    It strikes me that this forum would function more effectively if people read the previous responses before posting their thoughts. The forest HAS been purchased by the council to add to the town belt.. I do not know when the price paid will be publically disclosed but am happy to find out, or perhaps one of the northern ward councillors could do so. The site was NOT a development site, unless you call splitting into 2 big lifestyle blocks and throwing a fence around them to prevent public access, development.

     
  39. Ian Apperley, 27. March 2017, 14:58

    Chris: evidence here that the site was a development site.
    https://www.bakerag.co.nz/land-opportunity/forest-tane

     
  40. Wellington Commuter, 27. March 2017, 17:37

    Its crazy but true that, although it is literally beside a major suburb, the Forest of Tane land is zoned rural so any residential developer would have had a huge up-hill battle with the WCC to do more than what Chris has outlined, which is to use it for lifestyle blocks for the rich. We don’t yet know the price so we cannot yet know who got the best deal but, apart from the challenging terrain, this land was never going to be developed for suburban housing because the WCC would stop it.

    The Mayor can denounce the land bankers of urban zoned land all he likes, but nothing will change while WCC planners and planning rules continue to protect the millionaire rural lifestyle block owners by prohibiting hundreds of hectares of rural land from being developed for suburban housing through its own confusing and onerous rules.

     
  41. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 27. March 2017, 19:29

    Not convinced Ian. It’s currently zoned as per its current use, with permitted activity (i believe) subdivision into two lifestyle blocks as I’ve already stated. This was the advice given by the officers. If I were buying it for development I’d be getting a second opinion. Not suggesting for a moment that real estate agents are economical with the truth, mind.

     

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