Submissions against Kumutoto building

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 14:12 11/03/2014
Kumutoto

THE VISION: An artist's illustration of the Kumutoto development for the Wellington waterfront.

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Leave Wellington's waterfront alone and stop trying to build ugly buildings the public don't want, Wellington city councillors have been told.

The council's transport and urban development committee has been hearing submissions on a building proposed for the controversial site 10 on the waterfront in the North Kumutoto area, which is currently home to the motorhome park.

The site has previously been subject to environment court hearings, with the last proposed building thrown out by the judge after it was ruled to be out of scale with its surroundings.

In that decision, it was advised that any building on the site should not be more than 22m tall.

However, the latest six storey design comes in 3.7m higher, but with the top level set back so as not to be visible from ground level. It would also feature public gallery and retail space on the ground floor, and a ''green roof'' garden.

More than 180 submissions were received, and today about 24 people have voiced their views to the committee - with the majority speaking firmly against the proposal.

Several questioned the need for a building at all and advocated for keeping it as public space and possibly as a motorhome park.

"Visitors to our city are staggered that we would even consider building more buildings on the waterfront, even more staggered that we would put a building on this site rather than a campervan," Catherine Underwood said.

Pauline Swann, on behalf of watchdog group Waterfront Watch who have led previous court battles over development of this site, said at least a motorhome park would maintain viewshafts to the harbour and keep the site as public space.

"It's not perfect but it's better than a six storey office building."

Mary Munro suggested a complete review of what the public wanted on that site, rather than continually pushing for a commercial building. She was hopeful a satisfactory result could be reached for the site, because Wellington Waterfront Ltd was being brought back in-house at the council and there were six new councillors.

"People really need to go back and listen to their constituents. They need to take the time to ask the question 'what do you think about us allowing a private developer to build on the Kumutoto which is public land."

Several submitters also questioned the council's decision to go over the height recommended by the court, and said that a set-back top level would not solve the problem, as it would still be visible from a distance.

"Who's fooling whom," submitter Chris Horne asked. "That would still block sightlines, view shafts from further back in the park."

The central business district should not be extending to the waterfront, he said.

But Property Council New Zealand representative Andrew Hay said there was a need for seismically-strong A-grade office space in Wellington, because there were very few or no vacancies of that calibre.

"There is a good demand from tenants out there."

Any retail space in the building would need to have office workers in the building to help maintain a solid customer base through the week, supporting the casual weekend traffic, he said.

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- The Dominion Post

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