Basin trees 'would obscure view'

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 12:45 26/03/2014
basin
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
Megan Wraight, the Basin Reserve flyover’s head urban designer.

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In trying to make the Basin Reserve flyover look prettier, the NZ Transport Agency will be robbing Wellingtonians of views of the ground itself, critics of the project say.

The flyover's head urban designer Megan Wraight began her third day of giving evidence at the $90 million project's board of inquiry hearing this morning.

She began by fielding questions from opposition group Save the Basin, which was worried about how the transport agency's proposed "mitigation plan" would affect views of the cricket ground.

The plan involves building a three-storey players' pavillion at the Basin to block views of the flyover from inside the ground.

Outside, there will be extensive planting of native trees and wetlands, which are designed to help blend the flyover into the surrounding environment.

Save the Basin's lawyer Tom Bennion said a line of three pohutukawa trees proposed to be planted in front of the northern entrance was "substantial clutter" that would completely obscure the ground from view to those on Kent and Cambridge Terrace.

"It further confounds, limits, and affects the openness through that area."

He asked Ms Wraight how the public was supposed to be able to see into the Basin through the trees, flyover and pavillion.

Ms Wraight said the trees would be strategically placed to frame views of the Basin rather than block them.

Similarly, the bottom level of the pavillion had a very open design that would allow pedestrians outside to see in when the gates were open.

"This isn't clutter, it's a large new element," she said.

"Views [of the Basin] from above will be confined and constricted [by the flyover] but views into the Basin from ground level will be quite open."

Rather than blocking views of the cricket ground, the planting would form part of a new view, Ms Wraight said.

For the first time during the 16-week hearing, members of the public today took the opportunity to cross examine the transport agency's expert witnesses.

Kay Jones, who lives near the Basin Reserve, asked Ms Wraight whether she thought a proposed "green screen" - a steel scaffold covered in plants that will be built between the flyover and nearby Grandstand Apartments - would be an appealing sight to tenants, compared to their existing view of the Basin.

"To me, that doesn't sound like a very appealing, enhancing prospect," Ms Jones said.

Ms Wraight said she thought the green screen would be appealing, given creeper plants would be growing up both sides.

Residents of Grandstand Apartments would not be opening their curtains to find nothing but steel scaffolding, she said.

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- The Dominion Post

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