Wellington Scoop

A grandstand to stop cricketers seeing cars; for the rest of us, a wall and flyover

Click on image for bigger version

by Lindsay Shelton
I got more information than I was expecting from the Transport Agency at its public information day – one of the friendly Agency people told me they’re designing a new Basin Reserve grandstand as part of their flyover plans. The pale angled lines show the site they’ve chosen for the new stand.

Not that it was visible on any of the Agency’s expensively prepared visuals at the weekend. Unless people examined the map and asked questions about the striped lines (as I did), no one would have known what’s being planned.

The Agency is being pressured to develop a new grandstand in this position for two reasons: because it agrees that its huge concrete flyover needs “visual mitigation” (though “mitigation” by a grandstand won’t be of any value except for a few cricketers); and because the Basin Reserve Trust has said it won’t support the flyover unless it gets a new stand. Without Trust support, the Agency would be in trouble. (It may still be in trouble if the city council continues its opposition).

The map shows the dreadful position chosen for the new stand. You can see the three lanes of Kent Terrace traffic approaching the Basin, and the (one?) lane of Cambridge Terrace carrying traffic in the opposite direction. You can also see the enormity of the massive flyover above the roads. Then on the Basin side of the flyover, the stripes show the grandstand that they’re planning, to protect cricketers from seeing cars nine metres above ground.

Why is it a dreadful position? At present, the entrances to the ground reinforce the open space corridor of the north/south Kent/Cambridge Terrace-Adelaide Road axis. But the off-centre stand would destroy this corridor. It’ll be a visual blockage as crude as the New World supermarket at the other end of the boulevard.

The most logical location – if a second stand is needed – would be to replace the earthquake-prone Museum Stand, to continue the existing relationships of buildings on the western side of the Basin. A new stand in this position could incorporate all the loose ends as well – toilet block/admin/maintenance/warm-up/nets area etc. But this wouldn’t hide the flyover from the players. Which is the only reason for putting it inside the north/south corridor.

There’s another problem. One of the reasons the Basin Reserve is recognised as one of the top 10 grounds in the world is the open space around its perimeter. But this would be curtailed if a stand is built in the position shown on the map.

Then there are the southerlies. A stand facing the southerlies is not a good idea, especially as the ground is famous for tests being played in such conditions.

In other words, if a stand is built in this position it’ll create more adverse effects than it resolves. And while the stand may stop cricketers from being distracted, the rest of us will have to look not only at the flyover but also at the back wall of a new building. An unmitigated disaster for this part of Wellington.

Without a new stand, the Basin Reserve Trust opposes the flyover

John Morrison, the flyover, and the Basin


  1. traveller, 27. November 2012, 9:47

    According to the Cricinfo website, the Basin is protected by an Act of Parliament and is New Zealand’s only sportsground on the National Heritage list. On this basis, are they within the law if they put up a big new building on the northern open space?

  2. Phil, 27. November 2012, 10:09

    Thank you Lindsay for your efforts. Your energy and activitism is greatly appreciated. Kia Kaha.

  3. Dave, 27. November 2012, 10:34

    The location and size of the stand was well documented in The Dominion Post last year, and is no surprise. The proposed new stand is actually quite small, running from the Vance Stand to the start of the grass embankment, and will not impact on open space at the ground. The most needed feature of the proposed stand are its internal training and dressing room facilities, which bring the ground up to 21st Century standards. It will also tidy up the dreadful entrance at the northern end of the ground which is currently an eyesore. All of this information is already in the public domain.

  4. Lindsay, 27. November 2012, 10:37

    But none of the information was provided by the NZTA at its public information days last week. The grandstand was not shown on any of the visuals, and not named on any of the maps.

  5. Dave, 27. November 2012, 13:18

    Some good points but losing the Museum Stand would really rip the soul out of the place. If money is being made available for stands they should strengthen the old one.

  6. Rufus Sixsmith, 27. November 2012, 13:27

    I have heard that NZTA will only spend $5million on a stand, not the $11million that was kicked around last year.

  7. Nick, 27. November 2012, 23:01

    Dave, I would much rather have the entrance as it is now, than a new entrance that is wedged between a massive bridge in front and the backside of a new stand behind it. Is that really an improvement to one of the most picturesque grounds in the world? Unfortunately the grandstand isn’t wide enough to cover about half of the Basin embankment that would be needed to completely block out the flyover. So its only purpose is to make cricket playable there, by not having the batsmen distracted by hundreds of moving vehicles behind the bowler’s arm.

  8. Elaine Hampton, 30. November 2012, 13:55

    This is the worst case of urban vandalism this century

  9. Alana, 3. December 2012, 18:37

    Regional Councillor Chris Laidlaw, in the Wellingtonian, wrote in a letter to the editor:
    A cut and cover tunnel under the Basin is impracticable because of the prohibitive cost of dealing with the high water table in what is still a stream bed.” But I can find no discussion of this issue in the NZTA funded Opus report “Preliminary Assessment of Option X”.

    Cr Laidlaw adds: “So all we have left on the table is the flyover, and that is what we are going to get unless it is overturned at the consent stage, which is unlikely. There is, however, a bigger worry about this whole project. It is designed to facilitate traffic movement without addressing the two bottlenecks on either side of it – the traffic lights system at the Taranaki and Victoria streets intersection and a single-lane Mt Victoria tunnel. It is a classic example of build it and hope, without any consensus on what happens next.”
    Maybe he’s another voice against the “piecemeal way” of changing the transportation system in Wellington.

  10. The City is Ours, 3. December 2012, 22:14

    Who in their right mind would build a flyover on what is still a stream bed?

    I am sure Opus International will find a way around it. They did with Manners Mall, and if it doesn’t work they will follow up with a report blaming pedestrians.

  11. Guy, 4. December 2012, 9:26

    I agree that a cut across the stream bed at Kent / Cambridge is asking for trouble from boggy ground conditions – and that is why Option X does not touch the stream bed in any way. We deliberately avoided any digging in that area, so that that sort of criticism could not be leveled at the Option X scheme – where Option X crosses the underground stream, our roads are completely flat / at grade, as they are now in front of the Basin.

    Option X has a trenched incline going from that ground level, at a steady and very shallow rate uphill towards Taranaki St. It crosses no underground streams, nor any major services routes (it goes under Tory St, which has some services, but ends before Taranaki St, which has many more services.

    NZTA have largely adopted the Option X scheme going across the Memorial Park, which is good to see, with a trenched cut and cover tunnel. That is the major cost of the scheme. The planned aerial flyover could be abandoned, and the trenching continued down to Cambridge Tce, to allow Option X to start its run at grade.

    Cr Laidlaw is right though, when he says that the bottlenecks on the route are still in place. The major bottleneck on Taranaki still remains in place with either scheme, and there is no answer for that. Traffic will still be slowed to a standstill going east – west to the motorway. The only likely traffic speedup is the route to and from Newtown.

  12. BD, 4. December 2012, 13:10

    It seems like the Transport Agency is trying to window-dress the flyover, where they should build a tunnel.