New battle looms on waterfront

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 05:00 13/11/2012

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Wellington Waterfront is facing another battle over its plans to develop the North Kumutoto precinct, with people lining up to oppose the area's latest design brief at public hearings this week.

Wellington City Council will hear nine oral submissions on the new brief at a strategy and policy committee meeting this Thursday.

Eight of the submissions oppose it, despite council officers making more provisions for open space and placing tougher height restrictions on any development in the 8-hectare area between Queens Wharf and Wellington railway station.

Leading the opposition will be residents' lobby group Waterfront Watch, which successfully challenged the council's original district plan change, known as Variation 11, through the Environment Court.

Variation 11 had allowed for buildings up to 30 metres high without public consultation at three sites. The new brief follows the court's ruling that the maximum height on site 10 should be reduced to 22m, while site 9's maximum height is lowered to 19m, and 16m at its south end, and site 8 remains an open space.

Waterfront Watch's submission, penned by president Pauline Swann, said there was still too much emphasis on the area being designed around buildings.

"There is no reason why open space design should not come first, with built form responding to the design of open spaces."

Even with a 22m height constraint on site 10, there would still be an "unacceptable visual and physical barrier" between the CBD and the waterfront, she said.

Waterfront Watch would rather see the area developed as a recreation area with a variety of green spaces, shelter, seats and artisan workshops, Mrs Swann said.

Waterfront Watch vice-president David Lee said the CBD had already lost too many public view-shafts of the harbour and could not afford to lose any more. "I therefore support a moratorium on any new buildings on the waterfront for the foreseeable future."

Individual submitter Mary Munro said the area should be landscaped with provision for pedestrians and those who liked to sit at the water's edge.

The council received 71 submissions on the Kumutoto design brief.

After consultation, a report back to the council on the outcome is expected by November 22.

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- The Dominion Post

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