WCC's Basin flyover report blasted

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 16:32 19/03/2013

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The Architectural Centre has labelled a Wellington City Council report ‘‘inaccurate, inadequate and biased’’ after it painted an unflattering picture of the centre’s ‘‘Option X’’ Basin Reserve flyover alternative.

Late last year, the council controversially voted to reconsider its support for the NZ Transport Agency’s plan to solve traffic congestion at the Basin Reserve — a $90 million flyover, 20-metres north of the historic cricket ground.

The council spent $40,000 preparing a report that weighed the flyover (Option A) against Option X and a proposal from Auckland architect Richard Reid (Option RR).

Option X sent traffic underground through a cut-and-cover tunnel while Option RR argued that a second Mt Victoria tunnel and wider roads around the Basin would deliver the same benefits as a flyover.

A report on the council’s findings, released earlier this month, concluded that the flyover provided ‘‘the broadest range of improvements’’ despite its negative visual impact, which could be mitigated.

Council officers said Option X’s concentration of roads to the north of the Basin would present the same visual problem — on the National War Memorial Park in particular — and it may not be possible to do anything about it.

Option X could also hurt the traffic flow of local roads around the Basin, which would be detrimental to public transport.

Option RR was found to have similar outcomes to doing nothing at all.

Today, Architectural Centre President Christine McCarthy hit back at those findings, saying the council failed to consider ‘‘key issues’’ concerning the impact of the flyover on the Basin precinct.

‘‘The assessment of visual impact, in particular, romanticises the experience of the cars on the flyover while forgetting the plight of people below it,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s really hard to see how this report has seriously considered the council’s aim for the Basin precinct to be a vibrant inner-city community. Good open spaces will be difficult to achieve with a great big flyover plonked smack in the midst of it.’’

The centre’s past president, Guy Marriage, said the council report contained many inaccuracies and was incredibly biased.

‘‘For example, the report appears to forget where the Vance Stand is, and how big it is,’’ he said.

‘‘I guess one of the key problems is that rather than starting out with an image of what we want for the city, and deriving the assessment principles from this, the council officers have borrowed inappropriate criteria from NZTA for this report.’’

Mr Marriage described the flyover as a ‘‘nasty and malevolent’’ piece of infrastructure.

Wellington City Council transport portfolio leader Andy Foster said the council’s urban designers were considering the Architectural Centre’s claims and would report back to councillors ahead of a strategy and policy committee meeting on Thursday to debate the report.

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The full report is available here.

- The Dominion Post

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