Wellington Scoop

Justin Lester: I support plans to develop Shelly Bay

by Justin Lester
The overwhelming reaction I’ve had from Wellingtonians during my nine years on the Wellington City Council is that something needs to be done at Shelly Bay. Proud Wellingtonians repeatedly tell me that Shelly Bay should be a jewel in the crown for the capital city, but instead it has become a rusting eyesore.

That’s why I have been very supportive of Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust and The Wellington Company plans to develop the area. I was pleased the Council, in September 2017, voted to support the deal with regard to the parcel of land the Council owns at Shelly Bay.

The development plan involves creating good quality housing, parks, walkways, retail shopping, cafes and a ferry connection to the Wellington CBD using a rebuilt wharf.

Council consulted extensively on the proposed development and acknowledged there were differing views within the community supporting and opposing the development.

My observation is that those opposing the plan for Shelly Bay have not provided an alternative despite having more than 12 years to come up with an option.

Their goal seems to be to stop the development and new housing.

That will simply ensure the area continues to deteriorate and be even more of an eyesore.

Wellington deserves better.

If I’m re-elected Mayor I will respect the decisions of the independent hearings commissioners who will consider the resource consent application soon.

If the consent is approved I will support the development to ensure it is successfully implemented and Shelly Bay becomes a destination Wellington can be proud of.


  1. Goofy, 1. September 2019, 12:49

    The whole issue of the Council not looking at land ownership is a big white elephant. Shelly Bay with its recreation areas and a penguin habitat already is a place Wellington can be proud of.
    JLester: It’s not personal but I really hope after your time as mayor that you don’t get back in.

  2. Zen, 1. September 2019, 13:16

    Justin, what will be your stand, and actions, if the commissioners do not issue a resource consent? You have indicated your strong support for the developer. You have also indicated your strong support to the governing body who sold the iwi land.
    How would you address the iwi members who have voiced their opposition in public and directly to that governing body? Do you support them too? Or just those ones at your top table?
    I’m a ratepayer. And i will be impacted.
    If you are all so stitched up that you can’t back out of your handshakes, then just be upfront and say so. Bluffing your way through this is noticed.

  3. Andrew, 1. September 2019, 18:47

    Justin, will your support be limited by additional donations from the developer, meaning abstaining from votes? Or will you refuse a donation this time around to fully support the development, should it go ahead?

  4. Benny, 1. September 2019, 20:16

    Absolutely shameful … No-one has ever said that nothing should be done about the area, but the current proposal will make things worse for Shelly Bay, unlike the pretty picture the developer wants us to believe. Nothing is said by the developer on how traffic and sea level rise will be handled, nor has he expressed any remorse for trashing the natural heritage with tons of concrete. If he had come with a proposal that respects the RMA and the district plan (which admitedly would have been less lucrative for him), there wouldn’t have to be all this controversy. Instead, his project falls under SHA, which not only lifts all restrictions to respect Wellington and its natural character, but also lifts any possibility for the community to engage and be consulted.
    Also, where is the restraint you said you’d observe on this topic until the end of the resource consent process? Where is the restraint you said you’d observe since you received a donation from the developer?
    Go on, keep supporting projects against the strong will of a community. At the end of the day, you know with the runway extension the Eastern Suburbs are lost to you.

  5. Rising damp, 1. September 2019, 20:28

    Justin Lester supports plans for Shelly Bay development. In other news the sky is blue…
    I’m sure Wellingtonians do want to see it as the jewel in the crown but I think they’d rather a diamond than the cubic zirconia that’s being dished up.

  6. Andy Foster, 2. September 2019, 7:04

    Justin – Perhaps if you had not supported the SHA which prevented people having a say we wouldn’t be here. Have you asked whether people have an alternative option ? You might be surprised. The Miramar community response to Enterprise Miramar’s excellent recent survey said that the things people most value about the entire Miramar peninsula are its beaches and open spaces, and the thing they least like is traffic. Those things tell you that the currently planned over-development of Shelly Bay is not in keeping with the local community who have been dis-empowered. I have asked Ian Cassels and PNBST several times whether they could step back from the consent process, and work with all stakeholders, including the wider community to develop an integrated masterplan for the whole area of Shelly Bay, Mt Crawford and the proposed heritage park. I would imagine something more sympathetic to the environment, more in keeping with the District Planning rules which were intensely consulted on, and something that won’t put so much pressure on a very popular recreational road.

  7. David Mackenzie, 2. September 2019, 7:06

    Couldn’t Shelley Bay be developed as a public park, with craft stalls, cafes, and public spaces? I hate the idea of Mr Cassells’ development. It should be an amenity for all.

  8. Tony Jansen, 2. September 2019, 8:46

    No credibility Justin. Your capture by TWC was reflected when you pushed through Shelly Bay’s status as an SHA when it was nothing of the sort. You conveniently abstained so you didn’t have to be held accountable but ensured all your satellite councillors voted for it. You enabled a Heritage Category 1 building to be demolished so the same developer could maximise his profit in Island Bay. You are doing the same with the commercial office conversions for poor professionals.
    All this without even mentioning the murky dealings resulting in the Convention Centre being approved without an open tendering process. To say I am disappointed is an understatement. It’s all well and good to campaign on the back of being a state house single parent boy, as long as you don’t forget where you came from. Labour politicians used to stand for something.

  9. Ron Beernink, 2. September 2019, 9:17

    Your statement that “the development plan involves creating good quality housing, parks, walkways, retail shopping, cafes and a ferry connection to the Wellington CBD using a rebuilt wharf” has two major issues. 1. There is no plan for accommodate and encourage more people biking as part of this development. 2. There is no consultation on the design and therefore a big risk that the development will ruin the character of the Miramar Peninsula. Why the rush to push this through?

  10. Kara, 2. September 2019, 9:32

    Shelly Bay should be left as a recreation area. Yes the old sheds are an eyesore but that is no reason to fill this area (which is at risk from sea rise and geo activity) with squashed in housing that few could afford anyway.

    The members of the Trust should have listened before selling the land.

  11. Meredith, 2. September 2019, 13:29

    Anyone out there got the dosh to challenge the undefined “affordable housing” in the SHA legislation? Affordable housing is central to the concept of the special Housing Areas. Affordable for whom??? What proportion of a or of this development? Could Mr Lester perhaps define it as the rate equivalent to the affordable rental for a state house or?

  12. Maree, 2. September 2019, 20:07

    I made the mistake of voting for you last time. I will not make that mistake again. Shelly Bay should be for recreation. The Peninsula cannot and never will be able to carry the load that such intense housing would cause. But logic isn’t what is driving your desire to see the development pushed through … Fortunately you’ve bitten off far more than you can chew.

  13. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 2. September 2019, 22:45

    I hope the following will help/clarify the issue. This is my understanding of the situation. I am happy to be corrected if any of this is incorrect

    The Shelly Bay area was designated a Special Housing Area (SHA) in 2015 under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013.

    Most of the area that the Wellington Co wants to build on was owned by Port Nicholson Settlement Block Trust (PNSBT). It was not WCC land. It was sold by PNSBT to the Wellington Co but there have been recent moves by allegedly-disenfranchised iwi members to challenge the sale process. Unless the sale decision is overturned, the Wellington Co has the right to seek to develop the land, just as any private owner has the right to seek to develop their own land. If the Council wanted to retain this land as undeveloped/parkland, it would have needed to purchase it.

    In 2017 the Council (by majority) chose to sell and lease two additional parcels of land to the developers, at independently-assessed valuations, as councillors believed this would result in a more integrated development, with the waterfront land improved and remaining fully accessible to the public. This land sale/lease has not yet gone through and could be reconsidered.

    In 2018 the Wellington Co’s resource consent application was quashed by the Court of Appeal. It has been resubmitted and is currently being considered by independent planning commissioners. If it is given the green light, then the developer is free to commence the development on the private land. As noted above, the decision to sell and lease the Council parcels of land to the developer could be revisited and depending on the outcome of that decision, the development might need to be adjusted accordingly to stay entirely within the Wellington Co land.

    If the resource consent application is declined by the commissioners, the developer can submit a new application, but it would be considered under normal resource consent protocols as the SHA designation would have lapsed. This would suggest that a less dense and lower-height development would need to be proposed, with or without the Council land parcels.

    It’s probably best now to wait and see what the commissioners decide. A decision is likely quite soon.

  14. Nicci, 2. September 2019, 23:31

    I think the SHA process was exploited by those who saw an opportunity to take poor legislation and drive through projects for private profit with almost none of the so called public gain that the SHA tried (and failed) to stand for. The Council was the only protection communities had against the SHA being used as a weapon of plunder by developers and our Council failed us on Erskine College. I am pleased Shelley Bay may yet avoid the same fate. Go Andy,

  15. Geek, 3. September 2019, 7:21

    Nicci – I believe the SHA legislation is working precisely as National intended. The so called public gain was window dressing for the reality which was to give developers free reign over communities and has given us such gems as Ihumātao, Erskine and Shelly Bay.

  16. Ciel, 3. September 2019, 7:53

    If I were a believer in conspiracies, with the city as a part owner of the airport, I’d almost think the latest development of Shelly Bay was intended to add more traffic to the point that people asked for a new tunnel, paid for by their rates…so that the airport gets the tunnel they so need, for free.

    Unfortunately, at this point, I’d err on simple ignorance and/or going only for short term – votable – gains.

    People should vote for mayors who:

    * do the best they can to ensure the city thrives,
    * while decreasing the expense to get it (ie, smart investments, not increased rates)
    * while not making us feel we had to sell our soul to get said progress.

    So, Justin, thanks for the verve you brought to the job. But no thanks for more years of feeling like we’re being hustled.

  17. Andy Foster, 3. September 2019, 12:29

    Geek – you are right that the SHA legislation is working precisely as intended. I have said it many times – it was a completely anti-democratic piece of legislation, designed to cut the community out of having a say.

    In my speech at the Council meeting of 8 April 2015 opposing making Shelly Bay, Erskine and several other areas Special Housing Areas I said among other things ‘The community’s out of the loop. Is that fair? For me that is absolutely unfair. That’s against natural justice. I suppose the problem is that the Act itself is against natural justice.’
    It’s all viewable at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq8pvfr9-Mk – suggest you watch the questions of the Council officer from 1 hr 32. My speech is after a break and comes in at the 2 hr 40 mark.

    The critical point for Councillors is that they were warned loud and clear, not just once, but many times, how wrong the decision that most of them made was. The Act was terrible – but Council chose where and when and how to create Special Housing Areas. Some like Shelly Bay and Erskine should never have been made SHAs.

    Just for the record the Shelly Bay vote passed 10 votes to 5. Voting For: Mayor Wade-Brown, Councillor Ahipene-Mercer, Councillor Coughlan, Councillor Eagle, Councillor Lester, Councillor Marsh, Councillor Peck, Councillor Sparrow, and Councillor Woolf, Councillor Young Voting Against: Councillor Foster, Councillor Free, Councillor Lee, Councillor Pannett and Councillor Ritchie Majority Vote: 10:5
    Erskine passed 9 votes to 6 with Cr Sparrow joining the opponents.

    Kind regards


  18. Ron, 4. September 2019, 23:38

    “Wellington deserves better” is exactly why the current proposal should not go ahead. Shelly Bay should be for all Wellingtonians and not handed over to this developer for profit and no real say from the people this will affect the most.

  19. Milan Lazarevic, 6. September 2019, 1:14

    Shelly Bay owners were the iwi (local Maori community or people). The PNBST are not owners but agents / trustees acting on behalf of the iwi owners. These agents / trustees illegally sold this iwi land to Cassels / The Wellington Company etc without the required iwi owner authorisation and against the expressed wishes of the iwi owners (actions being examined by a judicial hearing in the High Court – papers filed by Mau Whenua Incorporated).

    Mayor Lester and councillor Nicola Young have received as electoral donations over $8000 from Cassels, the new owner of all the former Maori land at Shelly Bay. My mayoral vote is going to Andy Foster. He has consistently voted with integrity.

  20. Tom, 25. September 2019, 23:34

    Milan. “My mayoral vote is going to Andy Foster. He has consistently voted with integrity”.
    I totally agree with this statement. Good to see you at the meeting the other night at the ASB. It all got a little heated afterwards with Chris Calvi Freeman. I trust you are okay.
    We can ask the Mayor another night about the $100,000 supposedly made available to Wellington’s next Mayor. We both know who that will be.
    Go well my friend.