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Saturday, 25 November 2017 08:31 pm

Council questioned over waterfront building transparency

Nov 6th, 2017 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

 

Issues of transparency were raised as Wellington City Council’s signed off a development for the last piece of central city waterfront this week.

During city strategy committee meeting about the Site 9 development, Councillor Diane Calvert and a Waterfront Watch representative raised the issue twice.

Ms Calvert likened the Site 9 development to Shelly Bay proposals and said the public should be subject to the same amount of disclosure.

“We put the developers under the spotlight (for Shelly Bay) and I don’t understand why we are not doing the same for Site 9,” she said in during debate on excluding the public.

“It’s important for the public.

“If it’s such a good deal, then it would stack up.

Why can’t we disclose it now?”

Waterfront Project manager Michael Flaherty said unlike Shelly Bay, Site 9 was still to receive consent from the Environment Court, and it was unusual to release commercial details before then.

He also cited a confidentiality clause with the developers.

A frustrated Ms Calvert’s request to rescind public exclusion of the commercial terms was voted down by the rest of the council.

President of Waterfront Watch Wellington Victor Davie sought reassurance that the council’s public submission process made sure that submissions were impartial and independent.

“It is so important that the council maintains its transparency with these public submissions.

When the Environment Court is involved it’s costing a lot of money. That transparency, I would hope it happens. It should.”

The total number of written submissions received was 127, of which 53% were either ‘supportive’ or ‘very supportive’ of the proposal, while 37% were either ‘not really supportive’ or ‘not at all supportive’ of the proposal and 10% were neutral.

Only 99 identified themselves as being from Wellington, and of those 49% were for, 45% against and 7% were neutral.

Four submitters identified themselves as being from other cities, boosting the difference to 51% for, 44% against and 5% neutral

The numbers show that submitters from out of town, and those who did not state an address or city significantly boosted the statistics used in documentation and Mr Flaherty’s presentation supporting the project.

Approached for comment about consultation, Councillor Andy Foster was clear about the public submission process.

“It’s not a popularity contest.

“The results are not weighted,”

Asked how the council evaluates public submissions if statistics are not used, Cr Foster explained that it wasn’t about maths.

“It’s not about numbers; it’s about what is being said.

“Quality not quantity.”

The vote to grant Willis Bond & Co the 125 year land lease for Site 9 was passed with only two objections from Cr Calvert, & Cr Iona Pannett.

The Environment Court hearing for the estimated $125 million Site 9 development is expected to happen before Christmas.

 

 

 

 

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