Fears that new Wellington waterfront building will exceed height restrictions

An artist's impression of the proposed building at Site 9 on Wellington's waterfront. The Site 10 development is on the ...
ATHFIELD ARCHITECTS/ SUPPLIED

An artist's impression of the proposed building at Site 9 on Wellington's waterfront. The Site 10 development is on the right and Shed 13 is on the left.

Concerns have been raised about the height of a proposed new building on Wellington's waterfront, which appears to be at odds with an Environment Court ruling.

An area of the waterfront alongside Customhouse Quay, known as Site 9, has been earmarked by developer Willis Bond & Co for a new five-storey office block that would be 21 metres high.

But according to an Environment Court ruling in 2012, the maximum height of a building on that site should be 19m, sloping to 16m.

The image used in Wellington City Council’s public consultation documents shows the proposed building relative to Shed ...
WELLINGTON CITY COUNCIL

The image used in Wellington City Council’s public consultation documents shows the proposed building relative to Shed 13 to the south.

Willis Bond secured a first right of refusal on Wellington City Council-owned site in 2014 as it worked on plans for the adjoining Site 10, which has since become the PwC Centre development.

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It took years of debate and court proceedings before plans were approved for the Site 10 development and a similar wrangling is expected for Site 9.

The proposed Site 9 building, looking towards the south.
ATHFIELD ARCHITECTS/ SUPPLIED

The proposed Site 9 building, looking towards the south.

The proposed new building would be used for commercial office space, serviced apartments or a boutique hotel.

Public consultation documents say the building is "generally in scale" with neighbouring premises.

"It would be smaller in scale than the buildings to the north and would transition down to the smaller heritage sheds to the south."

A new Willis Bond, five-storey development is set for council's Site 9 on Wellington's waterfront.
KEVIN STENT/ STUFF

A new Willis Bond, five-storey development is set for council's Site 9 on Wellington's waterfront.

But Wellington Civic Trust chairman Jim McMahon had significant concerns about the height.

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"The Environment Court was explicit in stating the maximum height of any building, including rooftop plant and structures, should be 19 metres above mean sea level for the northern half of the site and 16 metres above mean sea level to the south."

The trust was also concerned the proposed building would be overbearing in its relationship to Shed 13 and would create an imposing visual barrier, which was in breach of the District Plan, he said.

Site 9 is behind the orange digger.
KEVIN STENT/STUFF

Site 9 is behind the orange digger.

Site 9 is across the street from 20 Customhouse Quay, which is currently under construction and is being managed by Newcrest, which is opposing current proposal.

Newcrest development director Lincoln Fraser said the proposed Site 9 building was significantly higher than the Environment Court had determined and would overwhelm Shed 13. It also contradicted the District Plan by intruding into two protected view shafts.

"It exceeds the maximum heights by more than eight metres in some areas," Fraser said.

Drawings of the Willis Bond development proposal for Site 9 - North Kumutoto in Wellington.
ATHFIELD ARCHITECTS/ SUPPLIED

Drawings of the Willis Bond development proposal for Site 9 - North Kumutoto in Wellington.

"It would obstruct the views of the waterfront from properties we own and neighbouring buildings, robbing them of valuable views ... leading to a drop in building values."

 

Waterfront Watch president Victor Davie was concerned that the purpose of the proposed building has not been disclosed.

Another view of the proposed Site 9 building.
ATHFIELD ARCHITECTS/ SUPPLIED

Another view of the proposed Site 9 building.

"This is highly likely to become yet another office building on prime waterfront land," he said.

"Until the construction of Willis Bond's large office building on adjacent Site 10 is completed, and its impact on the Waterfront assessed, it would be irresponsible to proceed any further with this current proposal."

RJH, a company owned by Sir Bob Jones, is also opposing the development.

"The height restriction is there for a reason and has got to be adhered to," Jones said.

Public consultation closed on Friday and Wellington City Council received about 100 submissions. 

 - Stuff

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