Wellington Scoop

Partnership aiming to build 300 affordable homes on Miramar Peninsula

Press Release – Joint Media Statement

A Crown-Iwi partnership is being explored that could form a significant part of the solution to Wellington’s housing woes, with an MoU being signed between mana whenua and the government that is investigating the potential for affordable homes on the above site.

Taranaki Whānui Limited (the wholly owned commercial arm of Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust) and the Government’s Land for Housing Programme (HUD) have entered into an MoU to collaborate and work together on the future of a 11.7 hectare site of surplus land on Mt Crawford, on the capital’s Miramar Peninsula.

As part of their Treaty of Waitangi settlement, the trustees of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika) have a right of first refusal (RFR) over the site and all scheduled Crown land within the rohe.

The Land for Housing Programme is administered by the Ministry of the Housing and Urban Development. It is tasked with freeing up vacant and underutilised Crown land for housing purposes. The site is currently made up of Corrections and Defence land that is surplus to requirements, with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) responsible for its disposal.

‘Iwi have the first right of refusal for the land at Mt Crawford. Taranaki Whānui Limited approached the Ministry in late 2018 with the intention to meet the needs of their members and all Wellingtonians for more affordable housing,’ says Land for Housing Development Manager Phil Stroud. ‘The Ministry is willing to explore the development potential of Mt Crawford, particularly its potential for housing, including affordable KiwiBuild homes. We look forward to working together towards an outcome that makes the best use of this land.”

Taranaki Whānui Chair Wayne Mulligan says that it is still early days before any concrete details are agreed upon.

‘Step one is to agree we will work together with a no-surprises approach and we have signed and sealed that with this MoU. This reinforces the benefits that can be derived from Iwi settlement and the Crown working collaboratively for the collective benefit of Wellingtonians. There are a wider group of stakeholders that we need to work with, including the Wellington City Council.’

The Ministry and Iwi will be working towards completing the due diligence process by the end of September, building on some initial planning undertaken by Iwi and others in late 2016, to determine what is possible to be delivered at the site.

Mulligan says the MoU is an example of Treaty of Waitangi principles in action and ‘the potential development of the Mt Crawford site marks an important milestone for Taranaki Whānui aspirations to restore, revitalise, strengthen and enhance the cultural, social and economic well-being of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and to deliver much needed affordable housing solutions to our members and community. The preservation of cultural and historic aspects of the site are top of mind, and we will be working with a range of stakeholders on that aspect.’

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  1. Joise Talofi, 31. January 2019, 18:18

    That’ll be a horrible loss for Wellingtonians. There are no collective gains at all for the people. At least they are saying the Developers’ handouts and the Treaty of Waitangi are the same in principal; like the treaty, the MoU is another unlawful action and land grab by the Crown’s company.
    Shelly Bay and Mt Crawford Miramar were not occupied by Maori that were living in and have history in Taranaki. Sounds to me like someone is trying to re-make local history for developers and payout.

  2. Guy M, 1. February 2019, 8:06

    Or an alternative view to that of Joise Talofi – what a fantastic gain for Wellingtonians, with great new possibilities for all the people. At long last redressing a very few of the injustices of the past, and letting people without big budgets, enjoy sunshine and views on part of Miramar that were previously only available to those very rich, privileged people to enjoy. Sensitive, carefully planned development of both houses and urban spaces, in a soon-to-be predator-free paradise, will mean that it will be like living in a bird-filled nature reserve, that all Wellingtonians will be able to enjoy, instead of the being kept as the sorrowful and morbid ruined carcass of a former prison.

    There, how’s that? Feel better now?

  3. TrevorH, 1. February 2019, 8:06

    This land has high historical (both Maori and European) and recreational values. It must be protected as a reserve for all Wellingtonians to enjoy.

  4. Harry M, 1. February 2019, 10:32

    Developers building houses in Mt Crawford is not going to be great for bird life. It should be kept as a reserve .
    Our history only has value if we learn from it (our history shows we obviously don’t). Josie is right. Mt Crawford Miramar has no Taranaki Maori history.

  5. Guy M, 1. February 2019, 16:46

    Harry M – easy to say that someone else’s land should be used as a Reserve, but that hardly ever goes down well with the owners of the land at the time. Yes, I totally agree it should be a Reserve, but this cannot be forced on owners.

    Personally, I want part of my neighbour’s land to be a Reserve as well, so that it can function well as a park for people and a place for wildlife – but I know I’ve got zero chance of that happening unless I pay him $2m for the owner’s papers.

    So, given that the one thing it will definitely NOT be is a Reserve, then isn’t it up to the developers to propose what they think is best, and for it to go through the Resource Consent process, as with any piece of land in NZ.

  6. Alf the Aspirational Apteryx, 1. February 2019, 17:05

    Where are the Ngai Tara?

  7. Andy Foster, 2. February 2019, 12:16

    Guy – we do currently own the area. (ie our Government owns it). PNSBT are looking to exercise their first right of refusal after no other PWA entity wanted it. Some really important planning issues need to be recognised.

    Development here is going to be really challenging. Mount Crawford is highly visible from large areas of Wellington – and is recognised as such by being in the Ridgelines and Hilltops area in our District Plan. There are going to be major issues with infrastructure including local roading. The land is zoned Open Space B – and has been for decades. Zoning and planning rules are (as you know) arrived at through extensive consultation, submissions, hearings, appeals and sometimes Court decisions – and should not be easily set aside.

    Open Space B – to quote the District Plan ‘Open Space B land is valued for its natural character and informal open spaces. It involves areas that are used for types of recreation that, in the broadest sense, do not involve buildings or structures. the intention is to keep such areas in an unbuilt or natural state.’ That zoning acknowledged the expectation that the prison would close and that there were no further development rights. That is a long way of saying resource consent would be impossible under current District Plan rules. Under current law, changing the rules through a Plan Change requires notification, submissions, hearings and potential appeals. Getting through that would be expensive, risky and time consuming – as it should be given the zoning. You could circumvent that all by some form of completely anti-democratic legislation as the last Government did (Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act – designed to prohibit public involvement – hence the mess that the Shelly Bay process ended up in. That would require central and probably local government action – and I would hope that would be deservedly widely condemned whether you support one development or oppose it.

    Alternately, and far far better, a proper consultative process with the wider community should be undertaken to master plan the use of the area – work out what landscape, heritage, and recreational values need to be protected, work out how it can support the planned heritage reserve, what form of development can be sensitively developed on the site, and how the infrastructure might work. While we are at it – given the clear relationship with Shelly Bay and process around that and consequent court case taken by Miramar BID, in my view it would be good for the parties to step back and for that master planning include Shelly Bay too. Yes this takes time – but so sometimes does the non-consultative approach taken in respect of Shelly Bay! Most importantly I believe that these areas of such great significance and visibility deserve a fully consultative approach from the beginning.

    Andy Foster
    Urban Development Leader, Wellington City Council

  8. Glen Smith, 3. February 2019, 6:33

    Andy. What an intelligent response. It is good to see that this publicly owned area has some protection in the form of an Open Space zoning and we should fight any plan to alter this. This scheme seems to be the realisation of my worst fears which is that money will rule the day and this area, which has the potential to be a fantastic Regional Park stretching from Shelly to Scorching Bay, will be progressively carved up for housing. The development would effectively be ‘green field’ development consuming even more of our city’s open green spaces at a time when we should be concentrating on intensification rather than continuing urban sprawl. As you say a master plan is required. In my view the ideal would be Shelly Bay as a central ‘hub’ (serviced by ferry and bus) of a large recreational area with a range of outdoor activities. It looks like another protracted fight by the public against the powers-that-be is looming.

  9. aom, 3. February 2019, 10:29

    Open Space B zoned spaces have virtually no protection if the land is acquired by a developer. The purchase price is usually a pittance because of the ‘protected’ status. On the application of a developer, the council planners will proactively pave the way for a zone change. In practice, any attempt to challenge District Plan Changes, if notified, is expensive, time consuming and invariably ineffectual as ‘sympathetic’ commissioners are appointed by the council to preside over Plan Change hearings. If appeals are subsequently taken to the Environment Court, the appellants who generally have limited resources are faced off against two expensive legal teams, those of the developer and the council. The appellants are then required to engage expensive expert witnesses to counter those of the other parties, as local knowledge and extensive research count for nothing during the hearings even when some of the expert evidence borders on the specious . The manner in which the council acts in such cases does not appear to be in accordance with the intent of the District Plan but obviously, developers are ultimately well rewarded for their ‘initiative’.

  10. Andy Foster, 3. February 2019, 15:01

    Thank you Glen and Aom.
    Glen – Thank you. I completely agree. I was at Baleana Bay today looking across at Miramar and contemplating what the currently largely undeveloped headland would look like with a large chunk of the green (albeit conifers) replaced by roads and housing in top and a row of 27 metre tall apartments at the bottom. Clearly it would look very very different. On a site that is so visually prominent right around Wellington and the Hutt, any such change – if allowed – should be done sensitively and through a process that allows for full public engagement. I would suggest very tight controls might be appropriate – hence Council has actually suggested a masterplan approach.

    Aom – here we are in new territory. As far as I know there is no case law in respect of a private developer purchasing Open Space zoned land and then seeking consent to develop it. What advice I have seen is that it would be treated on its merits given the zoning and the actual effects of any proposed development. (ie a consent would stand no chance in this situation). They can certainly propose a District Plan Change. Any Plan Change MUST be notified BY LAW (RMA) regardless of whether it is a private plan change or a Council proposed one. That means firstly submissions are called for. Those ‘original’ submissions are collated and then’ ‘further’ submissions are called for to allow anyone to submit in support of or opposition to those ‘original’ submissions. All the submissions are considered by a hearings panel of Commissioner(s) along with oral hearings. These are often very extensive if a Plan Change is complex and/or contentious. The decision is then made and referred to Full Council for approval / declining (cannot amend it as the Council did not hear the evidence). Any person making a submission then has the right to appeal it if they don’t like it. Appeals are heard by the Environment Court. In short this is a very extensive and thorough process. It is because of this extensive process involving the wider public that I am so strong on respecting the District Plan. (Something the majority of the last Council did not do when agreeing to a Special Housing Area for Shelly Bay, not once but twice). Of course Shelly Bay’s zoning, heights and rules had even previously been to the Environment Court but the majority of Councillors still set that aside!

    Regarding the appointment of Commissioners. When it comes to a District Plan Change we treat this differently to Resource Consents. The District Plan is a critical Council policy document, so farming it out to non-councillors should be done with care, and is actually reasonably rare. The times it is most likely to happen are where a Plan Change if specifically about Council land, and not about broader policy. So we have commissioners handling the proposed extension of the Council owned quarry at Kiwi Point. There is Council owned land at Shelly Bay, but not at Mt Crawford.
    Where Commissioners are used, they would not be not be appointed to be ‘sympathetic’ but to treat the relevant case on its merits. There is no guarantee at all that any Hearings panel will find in favour of a Private (or even Council) Plan Change.
    A Plan Change is not so dominated by ‘expert’ evidence (as Resource Consents tend to be) either, Aom. I understand your view that it is possible ‘expert’ evidence can stretch credibility at times. Then it is the job of the hearings commissioners to test that evidence. I well recall – in the Open Space hearings for the current District Plan – a planning expert for Telecom telling us repeatedly that there would be no visual / landscape effect from allowing housing on the Telecom land on top of what was then called Tinakori Hill. Those of us on that hearing did not find that evidence credible, rejected the request to zone the land residential, and we (Council) subsequently purchased it and it is now legally a significant part of the Town Belt.

    Kind regards, Andy

  11. Benny, 3. February 2019, 20:02

    Hi Andy. It is very reassuring there are people, like you, willing to defend this land for all its natural and cultural heritage. It is an incredible asset for the city as it is, and can only be improved as a green space for all Wellingtonians to enjoy. No other cities, let alone capitals, can claim to have such a park so close to the CBD. It would be an absolute waste to let it go.
    It is reassuring that there seems to be a robust framework to assess proposals on their merit, in the hope such green space is respected.
    Public involvement, as you know, requires far too much time and money. In an ideal world, the council, elected by the public, should be thE voice of reason, balanced, and with a strategy for the future based on the experiences from the past. With this in mind, I can’t imagine how ANYone could possibly argue that a block of houses there, or in Shelly Bay, would make more sense than a regional park.

    I think all the northern part of the peninsula should be locked and gifted back to Wellington as an area where people could enjoy the view, the quiet, the scenery, on their bike, or in their boots. In time, there could even be a “Miramar trail”, from the southern tip to the northern, using existing trails in the South, pedestrians only pathways on the East face of Miramar (Seatoun), and new trails in the North. On Mt Crawford, you could convert the prison into public amenities such as a cafe, maybe an open pool (like in Thorndon), maybe an atrium (like in the botanic garden) … and create a network of trails (again, like in the botanic garden), some for walking, some for biking. Some of the views here are breathtaking, and it’s not right that only a handful can enjoy them.

    Of course, when opposing a housing development comes the question of where would other houses be built for those who need ythem. I am not an urban planner, but looking at a map, there are expansive spaces west of Wellington, which could be organised around infrastructure and public transport way easier to develop than on the Miramar Peninsula, where the traffic is already congested, and space around the airport limited.

    For me, at the next election, I will vote for someone who clearly articulates a will to protect the green spaces that we already have rather than letting them be eaten away bit by bit, for someone who understands that working for the environment is working for the people, someone who embraces Wellington’s growth (without fueling it any further) in a sustainable manner, someone who will not require members of the public to engage in legal battles to get this vision across but who stands for the public.

  12. Neil Douglas, 4. February 2019, 8:01

    Andy, New Zealand’s native gymnosperms are conifers. Some are still called different colours of pine such as Kahikatea = white pine, Rimu = red pine and Matai = black pine.