Peninsula is capital's biggest opportunity
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OPINION: With the current debate over Wellington's direction nothing has been said about Wellington's single biggest potential economic opportunity - the 140 hectares of space on the Miramar Peninsula.
This area is made up of the Mt Crawford Prison site, Shelly Bay, the Department of Defence land, Wellington City Council reserves and the closed Niwa site at Mahanga Bay.
Eight years ago, Enterprise Miramar Peninsula proposed a vision that would see the whole area treated as a single entity, with the various parties involved co-operating to develop the whole area with mixed development including commercial, retail, recreational, conservation and historic development.
That vision continues to be as relevant today as it was back then.
This would provide jobs (both during development and permanent) and an unprecedented economic boost to Wellington.
The council at the time and the film industry expressed support for such a vision but since then events have conspired against bringing it to fruition.
Sensitive mixed development would provide a lasting legacy for the people of Wellington and New Zealand by helping to create the finest foreshore park in the world and to provide places that will greatly enrich the cultural life and wellbeing of the city and the nation.
The objectives include:
- Protect and enhance historical, cultural and environmental values through a multi-faceted public activity area.
- The improved public experience is economically sustainable from the use of concessions and charges; rewarding land owners such as Port Nicholson and the council. Considered mixed commercial development would enhance the experiences in the area for visitors.
- To preserve and protect the values for all visitors entering or departing the harbour basin by car, ferry or aircraft.
- To present education and public access opportunities for the community to enjoy.
- The nationally significant military road connecting many of the historic features could be lost unless considered as part of the overall vision.
- It is also an important part of our penal and reform history with many of the heritage sites being built by prisoner labour, including the site of New Zealand's first women's reformatory.
- Several conservation sites provide the potential for the area to become the hub of a Miramar Peninsula "mainland island".
- Expert opinion is unanimous that the site must remain intact or unique values will be irretrievably lost.
- Recreation and tourism opportunities abound. The area already attracts walkers and bikers. Putting it into appropriate public ownership and legalising community access will create more recreational use of the area.
The vision requires a robust public consultation process, the landowners and important partners to buy into the vision and council and government to invest in the significant infrastructure required to achieve this vision.
Failure to do so will see bits chopped off for short term economic benefit such as housing which would see public access lost and the economic and social opportunity of this iconic piece of land lost.
The community must get involved to save this area.
Allan Probert is the chairman of Enterprise Miramar Peninsula
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