Latest news & goings-on from the Wellington Civic Trust
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March 2017

Welcome to the Trust’s first newsletter for 2017. It offers a sample of the wide range of issues that we have represented to our Local and Regional Councils, and also to Parliament.
The Trust Board strives to ensure that our resources are used to best effect. In a complex, rapidly changing environment however, this is not always possible with many issues requiring responses as they emerge – for example, over the past 12 months the Board has provided written and/or spoken submissions on Frank Kitts Park redevelopment, Civic Square redevelopment, the Regional Council Resource Plan, Watts Peninsular and the proposed Chinese Garden. The Trust is also working with other groups to develop areas of common ground to influence important areas such as transport, building standards and urban design.
The topics that are covered in this newsletter indicate some of the areas where we are proactively providing ideas and shaping outcomes. We welcome your input as members of the Wellington Civic Trust and look forward to your continued support for our efforts.
This is also a good opportunity to publicise the upcoming Annual General Meeting which will be held on the 12th April at the Old Public Trust Building, corner Lambton Quay and Stout Street, Wellington commencing at 6pm. As usual, refreshments will be provided and a guest speaker will provide an interesting and provocative perspective on our capital city. Please come and meet with your Board members, and invite your friends to attend and become members as well.

The Mayor’s Wellington Summit

During his mayoral campaign Justin Lester promised to organise a summit within six weeks of his election.  His summit was held in the Wharewaka on December 9th last year. Some 150 people from a diverse range of interests were able to spend a stimulating few hours contributing to a discussion on the future of our city, and how we might further enhance the character and quality of what we currently enjoy. The reaffirmation of Wellington as the cultural capital of New Zealand was an objective shared by all interest groups.

There was virtually unanimous support for several council initiatives. Housing was top of the list with participants supporting increased intensification in the central city. Council needs to lead with well integrated strategic planning and foster a collaborative approach to delivery.  It was agreed that Warrants of 
Fitness for housing were essential.

Traffic congestion was seen to be a major issue for the city. More and better public transport is needed and the council should invest in this.  Walking and cycling must be provided for. As with Housing issues a collective and collaborative approach to solving congestion problems was seen to be essential. Collaboration was a theme running through all the major social and economic challenges facing the city. Building resilience and dealing with earthquake prone buildings were seen as perfect examples. 

Wellington is seen as a wonderful city for students and this image was being enhanced by having an increasing diversity of overseas students. Talent needed to be retained by making the city a place where people want to live and invest. The richness of the culture and the beauty of our environment attract increasing numbers of visitors. Making places and spaces that are attractive to be in and ensuring that there is quality accommodation is critical. Ensuring that suitable venues are available for the diverse range of performing artists the city attracts is also vital. 

Watts Peninsula – Miramar

Towards the end of 2016 the Trust was one of several signatories to a letter sent to the Minister of Heritage and Conservation requesting clarification on the government’s plans for Watts Peninsula. Subsequently Forest and Bird requested further information under the Freedom of Information Act. 

In September 2011 cabinet agreed that Watts Peninsula should be “preserved and developed as a distinctive national destination that brings together the natural environment with venues for the celebration and enjoyment of national heritage, recreation, culture and the arts.”  The land under discussion included the Crawford Prison site (11.7 ha) and defence land (76.0 ha.)

In 2013 DOC and WCC declined Mt Crawford site as a reserve.  More recently the Housing Corporation have declined to take over the land for housing development. Taranaki Whanui Ki Te Upoko 0 Te Ika now have first refusal on this site.

The administration of the Defence Land has been taken over by LINZ (Land Information NZ) who are advising government on a range of possible options for its future use.  The most likely option seems to be for the land to become a reserve, vested in Wellington City Council who would manage it. The council has been supportive of this option provided the council doesn’t have to pay for the land.  Within the area of former defence land there are 5 small areas, totalling 11.45 Ha, that have been identified as potentially suitable for housing. However, access is difficult and a preliminary assessment suggests the cost of providing the necessary infrastructure would make housing development uneconomic. 

From the information obtained it is clear that the government recognises the values of Watts Peninsula and the high levels of public interest in its future management. LINZ is expected to report back to the select committee at the end of April with recommendations on a course of action.  The Trust will be following this with a great deal of interest.

Frank Kitts Park

The Trust made a submission against the Frank Kitts Park Redevelopment Resource Consent in June 2016, particularly concerned about the loss of open green space, and attended a three-day hearing in October 2016. We had also become a section 274 party in general support of Waterfront Watch Inc (with the exception of their grounds, item 2(k), which set out as a grounds of appeal that the proposal was "the imposition of a foreign cultural theme garden inappropriate to an area .... which currently exhibits New Zealand values") and in support of the whole of Michael Gibson's appeal to the Environment Court, in December 2016, after the Resource Consent was granted. 

According to a report on Dominion Post (18/Feb/2017), the latest news on Frank Kitts Park Redevelopment Plan is that WCC is focusing on revamping of Children's Playground but the Chinese Garden (the enclosed space comprising one of the elements of the Trust's concern) and other areas would have to wait, depending on the outcome of the Environment Court.

Proposed Natural Resources Plan

The Wellington Civic Trust made a number of submissions on the Proposed Wellington Natural Resources Plan back in September 2015.  The matters we made submissions on ranged from seeking further protection for the wharves which are within CentrePort’s area and seeking the reinstatement of protection for items which had been protected in the previous Regional Coastal Plan, but which had not been carried through into the new Proposed Plan, to aspects of inner-city air quality. Little has happened since, although we did take part in some early pre-hearing meetings about protection of the wharves. 

The Regional Council has recently advised of the updated timetable, following delays caused by the earthquake and the unavailability of one of the appointed hearing commissioners. Our submissions appear to be spread across five of the six hearing “tranches” which are now scheduled to run through to early 2018, making this year a busy time ahead for the Civic Trust team working on that aspect of our business.

Further enquiries to Sylvia Allan – 021665155.

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