Housing in heritage area plan

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 05/09/2014

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Crown land on Miramar Peninsula will become a "national heritage destination", but it may include some new housing or other developments to help make the area financially self-sufficient.

A memorandum of understanding will be signed today by representatives of the Crown, Wellington City Council and Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, outlining guiding principles for the development of the area, sometimes referred to as Watts Peninsula.

The heritage area will incorporate 76.38 hectares of Defence Force land, the 12.5-hectare Wellington Prison site, the Maupuia/Centennial and Scorching Bay reserves, council-owned land in Shelly Bay and the Massey Memorial.

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The settlement trust's land in Shelly Bay, which it wants to develop into Wellington's version of the San Francisco Bay town of Sausalito, is not included in the memorandum.

But trust chairman Neville Baker said it was keen on acquiring the Wellington Prison site - it has first right of refusal under its Treaty settlement - but it was too early to say how that would be developed under trust ownership.

"Some options are commercial, some are cultural, and some of them are looking at a balanced development which might include some housing," he said.

"For the whole area to be sustainable, there needs to be a strategy that leads us towards an almost self-sufficient funding regime."

A principle in the memorandum is for the area to be "financially sustainable for all parties by balancing development opportunities with protection of the cultural and heritage values of the site".

Baker said retaining the prison as a historical monument was not sustainable. "It is an iconic site but it doesn't seem to me that perpetuation of the prison is of any value, certainly to us [Maori] . . . We don't want the heritage factor to be that we've been the main occupants up there."

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the memorandum incorporated a greater area than when the proposal was mooted in 2011, by including the prison site.

The area would become a "really significant park for Wellington", even though some "appropriate development" was anticipated, she said.

"What level of development, and where, will come out of the collaborative . . . process."

Funding to help the restoration might be available, she said.

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"It is possible that the Plimmer Bequest funding could be applied. Any plans for future restoration or development must be partnerships."

Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson said: "The Crown is open to exploring a number of [funding] options, including the possibility of self-funding. However, the Crown is committed to ensuring the preservation and sensitive use of the area and its heritage and historical features."

Since 2011 the Crown, city council, iwi and community had worked together, resulting in a feasibility study for the area's use.

"Building on this work, we are now moving into a new phase which will put in place a mechanism for realising a vision for the Crown-owned land on the peninsula via a strategic planning framework," the minister said.

- The Dominion Post

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