Wellington Scoop

Halving protection, and doubling heights

Opinion from Mt Cook Mobilised
The effects of the proposed Wellington City Council Draft District Plan on you and your neighbours could be considerable. The council is now consulting on the draft plan, which could result in multi-storey housing in much of Mt Cook over the next 30 years.

This is your chance to have a say on the rules that will guide this development.

Much of the housing in Mt Cook is currently subject to a ‘no-demolition’ rule for houses built before 1930, and a maximum height of three storeys for new builds. Under the new proposals, the area that has this protection will be halved.

In the parts of Mt Cook that will lose this protection, housing “at least six storeys high” will be allowed. This is based on almost all of Mt Cook being within a 15-minute walk from the CBD boundary. In more commercial areas like Adelaide Rd and the Taranaki/Hopper/Torrens precinct, higher building heights will be allowed.

Neighbouring properties risk being dominated and shaded by such new developments. New developments may utilise more of the site they are built on than is currently allowed, and this could further reduce open space and planted areas.

The existing protection is maintained on Wright St and parts of Wallace and Tasman Sts, and in three other much smaller areas: Bidwill St, around Ranfurly St and Tainui Tce, and Yale/Drummond St steps.

The new plan has the essential objective of helping solve the shortage of adequate and affordable housing in Wellington.

But the proposals seem to be overshooting the target.

Research done by Mt Cook residents suggests the past rate of housing development even in the protected areas has been far greater than council planners seem to assume.

In future, this actual development pattern in the existing housing areas in Mt Cook, which has worked well, could be combined with a focus on extra housing on ‘brownfield’ sites like those along Adelaide Rd. This approach would both meet housing needs and allow the DDP proposals to be changed to minimise the adverse effects of unconstrained development.

mt cook map
The WCC proposes that current heritage and height protections remain in the green areas (3 storeys), but blue areas can expect 6+-storey infill. The grey areas are deemed CBD and therefore good for 8 or 10+ storeys.

Please get a sense of what the proposals might mean for you and where you live, and let the council know what you think. The Plan document will be very large and complex. But the council will be running information sessions, so go along and find out what is planned. Feedback to MCM would also give valuable input for our submission.

The council’s consultation on the Draft District Plan will continue until 14 December. It will run in tandem with consultations on the LGWM transport options, and the proposed Bike Network.

At this stage tentative dates for the Council’s information sessions close to Mt Cook (Covid allowing) are:

Saturday 20 November 11am – 3pm Salvation Army Centre

Central City
Saturday 27 November 11am – 3pm Prefab Hall, Jessie/ Vivian St
Check the Council’s website for details.

Mount Cook Mobilised (MCM) is a thriving community organisation that advocates for residents in the Wellington suburb of Mount Cook, monitors local developments, maintains Papawai Reserve, and provides information to locals through regular meetings, newsletters and emails. We are affiliated to the Newtown Residents’ Association.


  1. Claire, 17. November 2021, 10:05

    Great to see the article. Some unworkable amendments regarding 15-minute walkability, snapping up as you say most of Mt Cook. Some of those distances are optimistic to say the least.

  2. Peter Steven, 17. November 2021, 16:27

    Mount Cook is a great place for apartments. It’s so close to the city you don’t need a car! The historic streets with the beautiful old houses are protected in large chunks, so the tired argument about how all the old wooden houses will loose their sunlight goes out the window. More people will be able to live sustainable lifestyles in modern housing that’s within walking distance to the city if current owners choose to redevelop or sell their property. Not to mention that your property value goes up due to the new development potential! What’s not to like about this?

    Mt Cook Mobilised, I say to you that we are a group. We have rights and responsibilities that flow from belonging. We have to respect and respond to the needs of the group as well as our own. This is not about you. It is about us.

  3. Claire, 17. November 2021, 17:27

    Peter Steven. This is about all groups and communities who fully realise housing is needed. But putting big buildings in with small houses is idiotic planning. Brownfields and carparks abound – choose a few, get in the infrastructure, partner up with developers and the WCC and communities and go!

  4. K, 17. November 2021, 18:46

    Mt Cook is literally on the edge of the Central City with the Massey campus sitting right in the middle of the suburb, along with all the new multi-storey Housing NZ and council housing inner-city projects. Of all the inner city suburbs, it is the most obvious which would suit multi-storey intensification.

  5. Jim, 18. November 2021, 8:06

    Adelaide Road isn’t going to hold all the housing, and it should stop being used as an alternative by residents’ associations as a place for more housing – it’s already accounted for in the required housing numbers as are the many brownfields. A good portion of Mt. Cook will remain protected. There is no sense in restricting development so close to the city. Areas like Hanson Street, large parts of Tasman and from Rolleston Street into the city don’t warrant much protection from a heritage standpoint. In short – the city needs more housing and it needs more than can fit onto Adelaide and the brownfields.

  6. Twelve inch LP, 18. November 2021, 10:46

    Well Jim perhaps if they started with Adelaide Road and brown fields sites they might find they don’t need to trash suburban Wellington.

  7. Jim, 18. November 2021, 12:10

    Mt. Cook isn’t really suburban, it’s right next to the central city. The heritage streets in Mt. Cook remain protected. Tightly restricting development to small areas is not going to help much.

  8. Ralf, 18. November 2021, 12:42

    Yes, Mt. Cook is certainly one of the areas which need to get higher density. Thank you for the reminder that I have to submit to the district plan (even though it is already obsolete due to the MDRS). Of course I support densification in Mt Cook since that is an obvious candidate for more density, right next to the CBD.