Wellington Scoop

Lavery defends WCC staff after Shelly Bay criticism

The CEO of the Wellington City Council Kevin Lavery has defended his staff after recent criticism of the plans for residential development at Shelly Bay. He says he has full confidence in their integrity.

Statement by WCC CEO Kevin Lavery
“I take any allegations of bias against officers very seriously; I have full confidence in the integrity of Council officers. The matters raised in the media and all the information that has been published on social media have already been fully considered by the High Court and Court of Appeal, and they have dismissed all allegations of Council bias and pre-determination.

“Three Commissioners with expertise respectively in law, engineering and planning have now been appointed by the Chair of the Regulatory Processes Committee to reconsider the resource consent application. This is in accordance with the Council’s standard process and delegations.

“It is important to ensure that these Commissioners now have the space to undertake this regulatory process and this is why the Council is constrained in its ability to comment. With that in mind we have provided points of clarification below”.

Points of clarification

In response to issues raised about WCC officers’ possible bias:

The Chief Executive of Wellington City Council takes any allegations of bias against officers very seriously and he has full confidence in the integrity of Council officers in this process (see above).

The Court of Appeal made the following findings:

“the quality of a council’s role is particularly pronounced in the HASHAA context, where a council is tasked with establishing and agreeing to certain residential development targets, as well as determining resource consent applications. We consider that the Saxmere test of apparent bias would be unworkable in those circumstances. We agree with the submission for TWCL, also accepted by Churchman J, that the more appropriate test is whether the Council approached the decision with a closed mind.

“for the reasons stated, we consider that the Council brought an open mind to its decision making function under HASHAA”

Copy of full decision

In response to the issues raised about infrastructure costs and ratepayer liability

The Council’s contribution to the estimated $20 million joint infrastructure fund is capped at $10 million. This was publicly debated and agreed upon by Councillors at its meeting on 27 September, 2017. If the costs escalate the risk lies with the Developer not the Council.

Details of the consultation results in relation to Shelly Bay are available online and the Council’s budget is also available for anyone to view.

Shelly Bay Consultation
Long term plan

In response to questions about the land transactions
The decision on what to do with its land rested with Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST). Wellington City Council received an application for sub division from The Wellington Company which was processed under the Resource Management Act by our consenting team.

In response to commentary on roading
Traffic effects are something the Commissioners will need to consider and so we are unable to provide a substantive comment. However we note the reference to a road width of 14 metres being frequently repeated. This is only relevant to new roads being built on green field sites.

Why has the Council supported this proposal by selling or leasing its land?
The proposal for the development at Shelly Bay rests with Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST). No transaction has been finalised between Wellington City Council and PNBST, it is now subject to terms being agreed including resource consent.

Wellington has a housing shortage, which is why it’s one of our top priorities to help meet the increasing demand for housing in Wellington, and support our vision of ‘All Wellingtonian’s well housed’.

The Wellington Housing Accord was signed in June 2014, and sets out how the Council and the Government will work together to increase housing supply in the City. The accord has set a target of granting 7000 consents for dwellings and sections by 2019.

Housing Accord policy
More special housing areas for Wellington
Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas (Wellington) Order 2017

On 27 September 2017, the Council agreed to enter into an agreement to sell and lease land with Shelly Bay Ltd so the planned development of housing and public space could proceed. No transaction has been finalised between Wellington City Council and Shelly Bay Limited.


  1. anon, 28. April 2019, 16:37

    All very well but those who pay their salaries (ratepayers) don’t have the same confidence.

  2. michael, 28. April 2019, 19:18

    Agree Anon: Reading through all the public comments it becomes very clear there is not much confidence in council decisions. Would like to know what the legal fees have cost the ratepayer so far.

  3. CC, 28. April 2019, 22:10

    It’s all very well for the CEO to have confidence in the integrity of his officers but it is evident that a body of ratepayers and some Councillors have little confidence in some elements of his ‘senior’ administration.

  4. Benny, 29. April 2019, 11:17

    It’d be very cold-hearted to be against increasing the housing offering for those who need it. However, the problem with Shelly Bay is the type of housing that is being proposed and where. Miramar, and Wellington in general, is more about individual dwellings, with green around and between, than big fat buildings. The resistance from the locals is therefore understandable. Moreover, the traffic from and to Shelly Bay/Miramar/CBD is already problematic, and LGWM won’t solve it with a magic wand. In fact, costs will go up if we take sea levels rise into account. Finally, the work and all the nuisance that comes with it will drag on for a decade: who, locally, can honestly say they don’t mind? If the project was of a lighter touch (smaller dwellings), better spread, and with the “grand plan” some councillors have been talking about clearly articulated and supported, there wouldn’t be such opposition. The council should really start developing with rather than against its own electorate.