Wellington Scoop

Sir Peter attacks plan for narrow road and footpath at Shelly Bay

An impression of the proposed Shelly Bay development, from the Wellington Company’s website. Click on image for a larger version.

Report from RNZ
Sir Peter Jackson has delivered a scathing critique of the Wellington City Council’s oversight of plans for a major development at Shelly Bay. In a long Facebook post to his 2 million followers, he likened the council’s actions on the proposal to something out of The Sopranos or communist Albania.

Included in the 5000-word post are copies of emails sent between council staff and developers, discussing roading needs if the development is to go ahead.

Emails show the council is considering ignoring the advice of a report which says a 14-metre-wide road and 8 metres of pedestrian paths should be built for the road, instead opting for a 6-metre wide road with 1.5 metres of pedestrian space.

Sir Peter said the council is willing to ignore its own reports on the required width of the road, and ratepayers will have to swallow the cost of the roading.

“That the WCC is prepared to ignore the advice of its own experts is deeply concerning, but it comes as a shock to see the ease that Wellington ratepayers are being thrown under the bus (assuming there is actually a bus service operating at the time),” Sir Peter said.

“And why should they care? There’s no accountability, and the council appear to have a well-oiled practice of slipping huge budget blow-outs through the system with minimal public outcry. I suspect that this is not the first time it’s happened.”

Sir Peter said local residents are against the development, and the fight will only get uglier.

Late last year consents for the $500million project were quashed by the Court of Appeal, which ruled the Wellington City Council had got the law wrong when issuing the consents.

The developers, Taranaki Whānui and the Wellington Company, say the project’s designers have been challenged to deliver not only highly efficient and sustainable structures, but also beautiful building forms befitting its pristine coastal environment.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester is defending his council’s involvement in the development which he said was a good deal for ratepayers. The council will spend $10 million on infrastructure such as pipes but will recoup $8m of that from a land sale, he said. Mr Lester said the Court of Appeal described council officers as acting appropriately and professionally.

DomPost: Jackson’s claims “dangerously factually incorrect”
NZ Herald: War of words


  1. Bernard C, 21. April 2019, 16:55

    The point is that it’s a terrible development, not that it needs wider roads through the penguin habitat.

  2. Polly, 21. April 2019, 23:12

    Thank you Sir Peter from one of so many other Wellingtonians against the development of Shelly Bay. Can still hear the council officer when questioned about “sea level rising” saying they would have to build the apartments etc up on stilts, but the submitter said the cars would have to float below.

  3. Mike Riversdale, 22. April 2019, 5:18

    Unfortunately the rising sea isn’t an argument many are worried about (I wouldn’t buy there), mostly about aesthetics. [via twitter]

  4. TrevorH, 22. April 2019, 8:03

    I am grateful to Sir Peter and to Enterprise Miramar for challenging this project which is so out of keeping with and far too intensive for the site. It also appears ratepayers are being set up to carry a substantial proportion of the infrastructure costs. Meanwhile nothing is being done to address the increasing congestion between the peninsula, the CBD and SH1/SH2 northwards which this project would only make worse.

  5. Iona Pannett, 22. April 2019, 8:58

    Need a constructive conversation on this one – constant court battles are not the best way to resolve complex issues. I have some concerns about building here given sea level rise is imminent. [via twitter]

  6. Iona Pannett, 22. April 2019, 9:07

    And the truth is that we need to have a conversation about the future of Civic Square. It is already prone to flooding and this issue will get progressively worse as climate change bites. [via twitter]

  7. michael, 22. April 2019, 9:48

    The heart of Wellington has turned into what looks like a war zone, Wellington’s infrastructure cannot cope, the council has spent millions fighting the public who do not want the Frank Kitts Park and Shelly Bay projects to go ahead. I question why the council has become so embroiled in the Shelly Bay development given it is not a social housing project, and question the secrecy surrounding much of what has gone on with this project. Given their performance to date, I suggest that the WCC takes time to reflect on the core functions of the Local Government Act which are “to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities” and “to meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses”.

  8. Tim Jones, 22. April 2019, 9:48

    Peter Jackson has done many things I don’t like. Some of them have personally affected friends of mine – and not in a good way. But on Shelly Bay, he’s right. Because in an era of sealevelrise, building a major new housing development at sea level is stupid. [via twitter]

  9. michael, 22. April 2019, 10:33

    @ Iona Pannett. If, as you say, Civic Square will be prone to flooding and we need a conversation about its future, will you please explain why the WCC is not having the same conversation regarding Shelly Bay as it is on the coast and therefore more susceptible to flooding.

  10. Andrew, 22. April 2019, 11:54

    Michael, Iona is not allowed to talk about SB… I want to know why the capital E building has sat vacant for well over a decade with no action.

  11. Andy Foster, 22. April 2019, 13:09

    From my perspective Shelly Bay has been a terrible process. Two HASHAA decisions in 2015 (both the same 10-5 votes) made it a Special Housing Area, which prevented people from having a say even though the scale of development proposed massively exceeds District Plan levels. (27 metre heights vs a maximum of 11.5 and intrusion into Open Space B land in which development is not even vaguely contemplated). The District Plan went through public hearings and even the Environment Court, so trying to sweep it aside by the stroke of a pen in this way is horribly anti-democratic. In my view, Shelly Bay was not appropriate as a Special Housing Area precisely because it has many values that are not just about housing.

    The decision on selling / leasing almost 1 ha of Council land and entering a financial deal with Shelly Bay Ltd in September 2017 was also a split vote. (7-5 this time) We had over 1000 submissions, running about 3 to 2 against from memory. One issue that many submitters raised was the road, not so much within the development site, but between Shelly Bay and Miramar Avenue. It is clear that the road is way under-spec. Officer advice as to what the safe width should be varied significantly and that raises real concerns. We get away with it now, but 13 years of construction traffic and a predicted (by the developer) quadrupling of traffic volumes on such a popular recreation route (did you know they did the assessment of cycling numbers in mid July?) doesn’t sound at all safe to me.

    Then Council’s consent decision that Enterprise Miramar so courageously challenged was found wanting by the Court of Appeal. Now we face a renewed consent application. HASHAA means there will be no public submissions allowed. As I said it was a nasty piece of profoundly undemocratic legislation. However within that huge constraint I think what we want is that the consent application is properly, fairly and transparently considered, and that the Commissioners do ask lots of questions and avail themselves of every possible piece of relevant information, and provide clarity about the determinations they arrive at. The Court of Appeal was quite clear that if the consent were processed properly there may be (or may not be) a different outcome to Council officials’ original determination.

    Echoing Iona’s comments above, I have asked the parties if we could all step back and have a constructive discussion about Shelly Bay – ideally in the context of the whole Miramar peninsula. I would like to see a first principles discussion involving the community and leading ultimately to a master plan of some sort, rather than having the community sidelined as it has been.

    Final point to make at this time is that Council has agreed that we do need to undertake a comprehensive ‘review’ of all relevant decisions. Some of us were hoping to get on with that through a Committee paper in June, focusing initially on the elements which wouldn’t impinge on the consent processing. Unfortunately the majority of Councillors wanted to leave that review till later. There are a lot of questions to consider.

    Kind regards
    Andy Foster
    City Councillor

  12. michael, 22. April 2019, 16:29

    @ Andy Foster: Thank you for your response regarding Shelly Bay. It is heartening that at least one councillor recognises their responsibility to Wellington ratepayers. I absolutely agree this process has been anti-democratic and I question the rationale behind the council’s role. I also question why the WCC did not put the land out for public tender to guarantee the highest price and consideration of other proposals for the land. As so much of this project has been through secret deals with one developer, it is understandable why the public have little faith in the council and are distrustful of the motives behind their decision-making process.

    Andy, I applaud your request for the council to “step back and have a constructive discussion about Shelly Bay – ideally in the context of the whole Miramar peninsula.”

  13. Kerry, 22. April 2019, 20:37

    Iona. Great to see a City Councillor talking about sea level rise. It is coming a lot faster than most people realise, and Wellington is very vulnerable. Sea level around New Zealand is projected to rise by about 0.3 metres by 2065, and by then Wellington will be experiencing a ‘100 year event’ (21 June 2013 in Wellington) every year. See p 28 of Jan Wright’s 2015 study.

    A sea-wall will keep the CBD dry for a while, with non-return valves on stormwater outlets (OK until the drain is full), but a sea wall is ultimately counterproductive. If it is overtopped, it keeps the water in. Remember the videos of Fukushima? As the Dutch put it, half a metre of water in your living room is manageable, five metres isn’t.

    A sea wall needs a Plan B, prepared early enough to be sure that no opportunities are missed. The options are in a 2013 Tonkin & Taylor paper for WCC:
    —Do nothing
    —Managed retreat
    Abandon everything east of the golden mile and north of Ghuznee Street
    —Hold the line
    Sea walls or a tidal barrage across the harbour entrance
    Canal city, with overhead footpaths and deliveries at low tide
    Possibly floating suburbs in the inner harbour
    Stilt city: houses on stilts with cars underneath.

    It was disappointing to see the new LGNZ advice looking a sea-level rise only; that was a conscious decision to keep things simple, but it leaves out the messy bit. As sea level rises, ‘100 year’ storm events become much more common. Oh, and Shelly Bay might be at risk too.

  14. Mark Spencer, 23. April 2019, 5:22

    Do nothing then sounds like the best option for this case. IE don’t act to destroy the penguin habitat.
    Andy F the people don’t get consulted nor do they get fully informed. The process lacks transparency.

  15. Andy Foster, 23. April 2019, 6:47

    Hi Kerry – both Iona and I moved amendments at the time of the Council decision on sale to try to mitigate the risk to future ratepayers from rising sea levels.

    Mine was – ‘Request officers to develop the appropriate legal mechanisms to make clear that future Councils will not accept liability for compensating property owners for the effects of sea level rise. (this may include notations on property titles)’ – that was lost.

    Iona’s was – ‘Request officers to reinforce and encourage stronger mitigation and adaptation measures to respond to the effects of climate change, such as sea level rise, through the development agreement negotiations and through the detailed design and review process.’ That passed.

    We also got passed what is relevant to this thread: ‘Request officers to further investigate, including key stakeholder engagement, the upgrade of Shelly Bay Road between Miramar Avenue and Shelly Bay, comprising options that more closely aligns to New Zealand Transport Agency guidance as a minimum and the Great Harbour Way plan as an aspiration, which aims to deliver a safer and more inviting environment for walkers, cyclist and other users.’

    I will check to see whether any progress has been made on either of the resolutions that were passed.

  16. Iona Pannett, 23. April 2019, 12:58

    Thank you all for your comments. Michael, my colleagues will attest to the fact that I don’t let any opportunity to go by to talk about sea level rise and the challenge of climate change, the biggest threat to our planet. We are consulting on Te Atakura/First to Zero at the moment, our most ambitious climate plan yet. Please feel free to have your say.

  17. Iona Pannett, 23. April 2019, 13:02

    Andrew, thanks for your question. I’m frustrated too about the pace of change on Civic Square and Capital E but it does take time to settle insurance claims and to plan for the future. We need an integrated approach to the whole square, particularly from a resilience perspective. This work is ongoing but I assure you that Council is working on it!

  18. michael, 23. April 2019, 15:31

    Iona, thank you for your response and I shall take a look at Te Atakura/First to Zero

  19. Dr Sea Rotmann, 23. April 2019, 15:51

    What I don’t understand, in light of this SB debacle, the film museum and the millions dumped into Cook Strait via Singapore Airline subsidies & now-moot reports for a runway extension that was never going to fly: Why on earth is this Council still siding with big developers & major fossil fuel emitters against its community & threatened ecosystems? You can’t have it both ways: either you agree that climate change is happening (much faster than you thought) and our town is massively vulnerable to it & that we need to act decisively NOW, or you carry on with business as usual building major infrastructure into, or right next to, a rising ocean. Cobham Drive, the airport, Shelley Bay, the waterfront… all these big developments are lunacy – if you believe in the science. Or, if you don’t, have a chat with the reinsurance industry and see what they think of Wellington’s risk profile. If councillors want to go down in the history books as finally doing the right thing for this wonderful city of ours, declare a climate emergency & start spending the money where it’s really necessary, not on mayoral (or Peter Jackson’s) vanity projects.

  20. michael, 23. April 2019, 18:26

    @Dr Sea Rotmann: Well said!! Imagine how much better off Wellington would be if the WCC sold its multi million dollar share in the airport and put that money where it is actually needed – which is not vanity projects or developers’ pockets.

  21. Andrew, 23. April 2019, 19:23

    Thanks Iona for your reply. As far as I am aware, the last time Capital E was used was the late 90s for the dinosaur exhibition (anyone remember the hologram?). I might be wrong about the dates, but how long does it take for insurance to be sorted out? [November 2012: Capital E closes because of structural issues.]

  22. Iona Pannett, 23. April 2019, 20:29

    Sea, agree that we need to take action to protect our wonderful city and look forward to seeing more detail about the climate emergency declaration.
    Thanks Andrew, yes it was much later than the 1990s that Capital E closed down. Insurance claims as we have learned take a long time to resolve and are the subject of some conversations between the council and insurers.

  23. Russell Tregonning, 24. April 2019, 8:28

    Sea has used the correct word for the proposed SB overdevelopment —“lunacy”. Not only threats to the access road which will be ongoing well after the private developer has flown, but also the madness of a large development well away from the CBD. There is no public transport planned, nor shops and so this will be a private car-dependent development at a time when the urgent need for us is to stop burning fossil fuels.
    Perhaps we should now consider that the council pays the 10ths trust to buy back the land for more appropriate public use. That would be fair for all parties.

  24. Manny, 24. April 2019, 9:57

    Iona I think the Capital E insurance claim requires legal action against insurers that have not paid out – not more ineffective conversations.

  25. Diane Calvert, 24. April 2019, 10:24

    Shelly Bay Taikuru – moving forward. Given the amount of commentary swirling around Shelly Bay, I thought I would share my own perspective and from my role as Wellington City Council’s Portfolio leader for Community Engagement and Community Planning.

    Shelly Bay comprises of approx. 7.8 hectares of privately owned land and 3.5 hectares of public land. If you want a light hearted but insightful summary, check out Dave Armstrong’s article about “Baggins, dragons and the Fellowship of the Bay”. There have been a number of recent comments about our Council’s actions in respect of the resource consent granted for the joint venture between the landowners (Taranaki Whānui) and The Wellington Company and the subsequent agreement by the Council to sell/lease just under a hectare of public land. I voted for the sale/purchase based on a number of factors including that it was premised on the approved resource consent which had gone before it.

    Back in September 2017, when the Council approved the sale/lease of just under one hectare of land and buildings, it also agreed to undertake a full independent review of the Shelly Bay project “including decision making processes, legal risks, financial implications and consistency with the Resource Management Act 1991”. This review was placed on hold following Enterprise Miramar’s filing of a judicial review and the subsequent court of appeal decision (December 2018) which has required the original resource consent to be re-heard. Nevertheless the Court of Appeal findings will be an important base that can be included in the Council’s full independent review. The resource consent application will soon be reconsidered by three independent commissioners (unfortunately this is not being heard publicly as the application was filed under the Housing Accords Special Housing Areas Act (HASHAA), which enables non-notified consent processing).

    We had a debate last week on whether the Council should formally scope out its review of the resource consent process and HASHAA implementation prior to the resource consent application being heard. Council officers’ advice last week to Councillors was that scoping or defining the Council’s review at this time could negatively impact on either or both the application and review. I support that view. Questions however are still being raised about what information the Council had in respect of such matters as roading requirements, funding etc. Justifiable concerns about sea level rise and Council’s future liability are also important to address. The Council does need to be transparent and provide full answers. In the meantime we need to start working with the community on a comprehensive master plan for Shelly Bay and the whole Miramar Peninsula. There is so much more than Shelly Bay at stake and activity is happening on other parts of the peninsula – Mt Crawford, Watts Peninsula, a Regional park, Strathmore housing development, town centre, residential housing, the airport, film industry, cycle paths, roading etc. This will be need to be a massive community plan (on steroids!) with the local community at the heart of it.

    A draft masterplan for the area was outlined by the Council back in 2016, but it now needs to be progressed with land owners, the local community and other interested groups. This is why the Mayor and I have been meeting recently with various groups to see how we can start bringing everyone together to start the dialogue. We don’t need to wait for the outcome of the Shelly Bay resource application and the Council’s own independent review. There will be definitely be lessons learned from these, but the Council, as a whole, does need to start re-engaging with the local community now (noting that the local Eastern ward councillors – Free, Marsh & Calvi-Freeman have been all along. I have found all groups and individuals want the best for Wellington’s future, it’s just that there is a diverse range of ideas and values on what this means and how we get there (noting that climate change is upon us). We need to start talking soon and rebuild relationships otherwise it will be difficult to move forward in any meaningful and lasting way.

  26. Heidi P, 24. April 2019, 13:26

    We know the Council use the words ‘consult with community’ and let us write submissions but we know they do not listen. I feel the Council are listening to people who want to make a buck. For me as a ratepayer I feel betrayed by the Council, incensed by the increases in rates and with no acknowledgement of the council’s many mistakes and lack of vision.

  27. michael, 24. April 2019, 15:28

    WCC councillors seems to miss the point that ratepayers are fed up with the money spent on litigation, over-budget projects, vanity projects and fixing projects that have gone wrong.
    As far as Shelley Bay is concerned, I am sure the public would like to know how much the court case and employing independent commissioners is going to cost ratepayers. All of this would have been unnecessary if the council had been transparent and not tried to slip the project through under s34(1) of the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013 (HASHAA).

  28. Ruth, 26. April 2019, 13:25

    What is all the tree clearing just above Shelly Bay for? Has work of some sort started? [The trees are being felled by LINZ , on land which is not part of the proposed Shelly Bay residential development.]