Capital gears up for an extra 15,000 residents

Last updated 05:00 01/07/2014
Graham Scott

APARTMENT LIVING: Harbour views are a highlight for Graham Scott after he and his wife moved from the suburbs to the new Clyde Quay apartments. The Wellington City Council is planning for about 15,000 more people to be living in the CBD over the next 30 years.

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More than 15,000 extra people are expected to be living in central Wellington in 30 years.

A new urban growth plan being developed by the Wellington City Council reveals where the city plans to focus development to house a growing population.

Greenfield space in the northern suburbs and infill housing in Johnsonville and Kilbirnie are each earmarked to take up to 5000 more people, but it's the central city that would see the most growth, with plans for 6900 new dwellings and 15,300 more people, plus a further 5500 people in Adelaide Rd.

In particular, Kent and Cambridge terraces will be targeted for growth, along with Victoria and Taranaki streets.

The plan is still being developed and is likely to go out for consultation alongside the Long-Term Plan next year.

The identified growth areas reflected where people were already going, transport and urban development committee chairman Andy Foster said.

Over the past two censuses, there had been a 93.4 per cent growth in the number of central city dwellers, compared with a 23.9 per cent increase in Johnsonville, Crofton Downs and Newlands. "People have been choosing to live in the central city . . . there's a massive increase."

City planning and design manager Warren Ulusele said the numbers identified how many people were likely to head into each area, and would help the council target funding on infrastructure and transport to ensure the areas could cope with the additional population. An extra 46,300 people are expected to be living in Wellington in 30 years.

"It's about examining the conditions that are necessary for that growth to occur."

Areas such as Kent and Cambridge terraces and Adelaide Rd provided development opportunities on land that was under-used at present, Ulusele said.

But while the largest area was the central city, a mix of housing growth was being looked at - including greenfield space near the Petone-Grenada link road, and infill housing in suburban areas.

The housing accord signed between the Government and the council last week, agreeing to build 7000 houses in five years, was one tool to help achieve that.

Foster said the plan would help ensure all the growth areas could cope with increasing populations. That included making sure there were good transport connections and infrastructure.

Green spaces were particularly important for a growing number of inner-city apartment dwellers. "We need to make sure the central area is a very attractive place to be."

Stratum Management director Craig Stewart, who developed the Nuovo Apartments near the Basin Reserve and is also developing the Elevation Apartments at the bottom of Taranaki St, said apartments offered two advantages - a step on to the property ladder for first or second-home buyers, and an inner-city lifestyle.

There was steady demand, and anything the council could do to make developments easier would be welcomed. "One of the key ingredients I see is that there is now an awareness within council of how important new development is."

As well as inner-city development, making strong transport to other suburban development areas would be a positive, he said.

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For Graham Scott, shifting to an inner-city apartment from his "gracious old family home" was part of his life cycle.

The 73-year-old former Treasury secretary was among the first to shift into the Clyde Quay apartments, which were officially opened last month. He and his wife made the shift after 33 years living in Wadestown. With their two children starting families of their own, they realised it was time to think about the next phase, he said.

An apartment offered an easy lifestyle, particularly the attraction of being able to walk everywhere, while also being able to get back to nature at their weekend getaway in Waikanae.

"We went down to the Sunday market yesterday and you can go to a restaurant and have a glass of wine or two and walk home without being breath-tested."

Wadestown was great to raise a family in, but with the next generation of parents moving in, the Scotts were finding more and more of their friends were shifting into the city. They had found a great sense of community in their new home.

"It's quite a nice social space . . . it's surprising how many people I know from years gone by."

He doubted many people would want to raise families in apartments, but said for professional-childless couples, or people whose kids had left home, it was a good choice.

- The Dominion Post


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