Central Wellington park Jack Ilott Green to be marketed for development
Wellington City Council is just months away from trying to attract cashed-up developers to build on the park by Civic Square.
The council is trying to entice businesspeople to take a 99-year lease of the park, Jack Ilott Green, along with the Michael Fowler Centre carpark and the Municipal Office Building.
It hopes the sell-off will raise the $100 milion needed for earthquake strengthening and improving the civic centre.
But a group of Wellington residents are against the plan, saying it reduces vital green space in the capital.
The green has been pegged for 'disposal' for at least a decade, with plans to put it on the block alongside the carpark accelerated when written into the 2015 Long Term Plan .
While the council has not started publicly advertising the green, the carpark was advertised in mid-December, and the process of finding a suitable developer to lease that section of land has moved to the next stage.
The green is set to go the same way, it's just a little behind in schedule thanks to its location, council city shaper manager Ian Pike said.
The City Shaper team would be presenting to council in March on the process of attracting a long-term lease to the site, he said.
He understood there might be opposition to it, but there were a number of reasons for leasing the green.
"There's huge costs to seismically strengthen a number of buildingss in Civic Square, so it's mitigating the cost to the ratepayer, and the original design for Civic Square included a building on Jack Ilott Green, so there is a sense of completing what was planned a long time ago."
"[The Green's] not terribly well used, it's on the side of a six-lane highway, so there is the possibility of creating something that adds to the square in a way it doesn't do so currently."
But a group of Wellingtonians, including a grandmother and her granddaughter, have started a petition against marketing the green, which had almost 700 signatures on Monday.
"The petition is basically to stop the building on Jack Ilott Green, we don't want building on it and we asked the council to remove any reference of it from the 10-year-plan and from the budget," petition co-founder Wendy Armitage said.
Under the District Plan, the leaseholder would be legally allowed to build a structure up to 27-metres high.
Armitage said she would expect a developer to build apartments there, but she doubted the council would make as much money as it hoped from the lease.
Her granddaughter Verity, 16, had joined the committee to save the green after hearing her grandmother speak about it.
"I just really didn't like the fact that the council were planning to do this when half of Wellington don't even know what's going on because they haven't informed anyone, they've just approved the sale of one of the very few remaining green spaces in Wellington City."
The Green is also home to Weta Workshop's Rugby World Cup sculpture, partly modelled on Wellington All Black Victor Vito, and was the place where Hurricanes player Ardie Savea got an impromptu serenade by children from Wainuiomata last month.
Weta boss Sir Richard Taylor had not heard about council plans to lease the green, he said.
"I love the fact that our sculpture is there and its lovely that the council treasures that land, it's a lovely green spot which enhances the waterfront."