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How new height rules will affect harbour views

Nov 19th, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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BLOCKED VIEWS: Here's what could happen under new view rules on Wellington waterfront.

WATERFRONT Watch – a small group dedicated to preserving Wellington’s public spaces – has 30 days to lodge an appeal against a city council decision to adopt controversial changes.

The amendments to the long term district plan, called Variation 11, stipulate new developments on the North Queens Wharf [Kumutoto] area of the waterfront will not be subject to public approval, provided they do not exceed new footprint, height, and heritage guidelines.

The council’s decision shows “they have no respect for public opinion, or their own consultation process,” says Waterfront Watch president Pauline Swann.


WATERFRONT REPORT: It is the source of simulated views published with this story.

“We doubt very much that Wellingtonians want the waterfront to be used for revenue generation.

“Variation 11 means that the public of Wellington will have no say on any future buildings [on Kumutoto] unless they breach height limits.”

An independent commission set up to review Variation 11 received 49 public submissions from various groups protesting the changes.

In a report submitted to the council, the commissioners say most submissions want waterfront  development subject to public notification processes under the Resource Management Act.

Despite this, some councillors have expressed doubt at the level of protest.

“There’s this bizarre picture being painted as if there’s this mass of people who are up against this council,” councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer told the council at its meeting this month.

“And I’m just puzzled, bewildered and astonished that this myth continues to be promulgated.”

airportFOSTERCouncillor Andy Foster (right) said the majority of councillors regarded Variation 11 as the vehicle by which they can give legal weight to the Waterfront Framework, a guideline for the future of Wellington’s waterfront that was developed through extensive public consultation in 2002.

“Unless you enshrine [the Waterfront Framework] in the district plan in some way, it has no weight, and we cannot give any effect to it.”

prendergast75Mayor Kerry Prendergast (left) is upbeat about the proposal.

“The vast majority of Wellingtonian’s are rapt with what we’re doing on the waterfront – they continue to engage, they are happy with the outcomes.”

She emphasised that adopting the new framework does not represent a privatisation of the waterfront.

“We don’t sell waterfront land because it is so valuable, we only lease it.
“All new buildings can only be given 10-year leases, and these can only be renewed by coming back to this council.”

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BLOCK OUT: This simulation shows how big a building could now be put on the waterfront

The independent commissioners recommended several key changes to Variation 11:

• A reduction of the height limit (from 25m to 16m) on the southern end of the development site opposite Shed 13 to encourage an appropriate transition in recognition of the heritage status of that building.

• The deletion of a proposed 15% building height discretion.

• Various amendments to make it clear that any building development beyond the specified building height and footprint requirements will be a discretionary activity and therefore be more likely to be subject to public notification.

• The inclusion of historic heritage rules to ensure consideration can be given to the effect of new building on all adjacent heritage buildings.

• The inclusion of enhanced policies and specific rules instead of development standards for achieving public accessibility to the ground floor of buildings and the provision of ‘active edges.

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is a Multimedia Journalist. After spending several years in the UK working in finance and administration, he returned to NZ last year to study Journalism. He has a keen interest in music, travel, economics, politics and literature.
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  1. Is there any way you can get Capital Times, the Wellingtonian or better still the Dom Post to print the images of how the buildings will block the views of the waterfront from the CBD? Most people find it hard to visualize from print but your images show clearly how these large building will cut the harbour off from the CBD.

  2. The Mayor is quoted as saying we do not sell Waterfront land because it is so valuable, we only issue 10 year leases. However, what about the 999 year lease for what was the Retail centre, 125 year lease for the Overseas Passenger Terminal, and I understand further long term leases are in the pipeline.

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