Basin Reserve

NZTA decides not to appeal

On  Friday 4 September 2015 the NZTA announced that it would not be seeking leave to appeal the High Court decision.  In its media release it noted that the Basin Bridge “project will not proceed as the Transport Agency does not have the required approvals.”


On Friday 21 August 2015, the High Court dismissed the NZTA appeal regarding the Basin Bridge Board of Inquiry which declined the NZTA application to build a flyover at the Basin Reserve.  The decision is NZTA v Architectural Centre Inc & Ors. A summary of the decision can be found at:

The NZTA appeal was heard at the High Court from Monday 20 July to Friday 31 July 2015.

The Architectural Centre was a party to this appeal, with Philip Milne representing us. Philip is a highly experienced RMA lawyer with over 25 years of litigation experience Resource Management Law field. He has previously acted for the Minister of Corrections, local authorities and Transit NZ and NZTA in relation to prisons, roading and other infrastructure projects. Philip’s submissions and cross-examination at the Board of Inquiry played a significant role in the outcome, which declined the NZTA flyover.  Hazelton Law were our solicitors.

Information about our fund raising campaign can be found here.


In June 2013 the New Zealand Transport Agency applied to build a 2-lane, 320m long flyover next to Wellington’s historic Basin Reserve cricket ground. All the information about the Board of Inquiry (including transcripts of each day at the hearing and the NZTA’s application) is available at the EPA website.  The Architectural Centre opposed the flyover because we believe that building the flyover will be bad for our city.

[Plan of the Basin flyover project area.  Alterations to Vivian St and the Pirie St/Kent Tce intersection were also referred to in the application.]

We were an active participant in the Board of Inquiry hearing established to determine whether or not the flyover should be built. The hearing began in February 2014 and concluded in June, with the Board then spending weeks completing their decision.  It was very much a David vs Goliath contest, with the well-resourced NZTA being opposed by significantly less well-resourced volunteer groups and local residents. It was well-known that the odds were against us, but we believed strongly that it was important that someone present an alternative voice and raise questions that otherwise wouldn’t be presented to the Board.

We were represented (jointly with Newtown Residents Association) at the hearing by Philip Milne.

Other community groups who played important roles in the Board of Inquiry included Mt Victoria Historical Society and Save the Basin, who were represented by Tom Bennion, and the Civic Trust.

As the hearing progressed it became apparent that the transport benefits of the project had been significantly overstated, that many experts disagreed about the value of the flyover, and that all the heritage experts had concluded that building the flyover would cause negative effects. Most heritage experts agreed that the flyover was an inappropriate structure in this sensitive heritage context.

The Board of Inquiry’s Decision cancelled the application to build the flyover. This decision was the result of long hours of hard work by the volunteers and lawyers from our opposing groups collectively, as well as the careful consideration by the four Commissioners of complex issues and the enormous amount of information.

Videos commissioned by NZTA of the project are available at this website:  They are also on youtube.

The Basin Board of Inquiry’s Decision identified both positive and negative effects of the proposal. The reasons (with paragraph references) include the following:

(a) “the expert evidence pointed clearly to the conclusion that the Project would constitute an inappropriate development within this significant heritage area of the City.” [1260]

(b) the significant adverse effects related to landscape, townscape and urban design “would not, in our view, be adequately mitigated or offset by the proposed mitigation measures.” [1262]

(c) alternative options had not been adequately considered [1276]

In coming to the decision that the flyover should not be built the Board also found that:

(a) “the quantum of transportation benefits is substantially less than originally claimed by the Transport Agency.” [1317]; also [1247]

(b) while “there would be positive economic benefits … The evidence did not enable us to quantify the economic benefit that would flow from the Project.” [1255]

(c) “there are compelling landscape, amenity and heritage reasons why this Project should not be confirmed. The Basin Bridge would be around for over 100 years. It would thus have enduring, and significant permanent adverse effects on this sensitive urban landscape and the surrounding streets. It would have adverse effects on the important symbol of Government House and the other historical and cultural values of the area.” [1327]

The hearing was 72 days long.  The transcript was 8447 pages long.  There were 68 witnesses (mostly experts) heard, and 76 members of the public appeared before the Board.  I don’t think anyone has counted up the thousands of pages of evidence presented to the Board.  There was also almost daily coverage of the hearing in the Dominion Post.


These are historic images of Option X.  We are yet to update the design following the Basin Board of Inquiry hearing.

The Public needs a real choice: Option X

Arch Centre’s latest alternative scheme for traffic and urban design improvements around Basin Reserve (Jul. 17, 2011)

Further info:

Rebuttal of WCC Officers report on Option X Download our response – (19 March 2013)

Mitigation – some discussion on how to “mitigate” an overpass (6 March 2013)

Really simple movie – a really simple explanation of Option X, for those that still don’t quite get it. How COULD it be so simple? We explain… (17 December 2012)

Memorial Parkway – a new road appears almost overnight (10 December 2012)

Memorial Park – the shock announcement that a cut-and-cover trench will, after all, be the way to go for the Memorial Park (7 August 2012)

A speculative polemic on – What If? – alternative thoughts to why we need a Basin roundabout at all… (22 November 2011)

Option X: plus: Further images of the Arch Centre’s Option X… (Jul. 20, 2011)

Option X: FAQs: Responses to questions raised re Option X (ongoing)

Rider Levett Bucknall Option X report: This links to the draft Rider Levett Bucknall report on how much Option X will cost.

Making your submission:

Vote X: Guidance for how to make a submission to NZTA + great photos of the Option X model (Aug. 24, 2011)

Option X Submission Form: A easy to complete form to show your support for Option X

Media releases:

Rebuttal of WCC Officers report on Option X Download our response – (19 March 2013)

Option X: Media Release (22 August): Architectural Centre encourages Wellingtonians to tell NZTA what they think (Aug. 22, 2011)

Option X: Media Release (12 August): Memorial Park is Worth Investing In (Aug. 12, 2011)

Option X: Media Release (18 July): Basin flyover: Architectural Centre calls for new option to give a real choice (Jul. 18, 2011)


Option X in the Media:

click to enlarge and read

Transport bullies: free-thinking local paper the Capital Times issues a challenge to the WCC fence-sitters to stand firm (Mar. 20, 2013)

Council accused of bias: Dominion Post notes that WCC report is biased (Mar. 20, 2013).
Flyover blasted: Note that the On-line version of this news article was much longer and included further information.

Bottleneck: Dominion Post reports on Options (Mar. 20, 2013)

Basin Alternatives won’t fly: Editorial from Dominion Post (Jan. 17, 2013)

Brakes on: Dominion Post reports on the not-so-subtle blackmail being put on the WCC by the NZTA (Dec. 21, 2012)

Tunnel no longer: Dominion Post tries to influence public opinion once more (Nov. 22, 2012)

Chetwynd untangles: Dominion Post prints pro-flyover propaganda from NZTA (Nov. 22, 2012)

Flyover debate reopened with Option X: Dominion Post reports that GRWC has voted in favour of a Cut and Cover tunnel, not a flyover (Nov. 8, 2012)

Basin flyover plan deeply flawed: Dominion Post reports on Wellington MPs dislike of the flyover (Aug. 17, 2012)

NZTA Confirms flyover: Dominion Post reports on NZTA announcement, that between choice of Option A and Option B, it chooses Option A. Meanwhile, the public chose Option X, but Dom Post does not report on that (Aug. 17, 2012)

Consensus about Basin Reserve flyover: Newstalk ZB on the rejection of a flyover option by all of the main Wellington Central election candidates… (Nov. 17, 2011)

Golden ducks give Option X boost: National MP and Cabinet Minister, Chris Finlayson, expresses support (or interest at least), for Option X… (Nov. 9, 2011)

Greater Wellington council supports flyover: DomPost reports the outcome of GRWC submission – in favour of Option A despite some support for Option X… (Oct. 13, 2011)

Flyover will ease Basin congestion: A re-serving of yesterday’s story… (Oct. 12, 2011)

Councils clash over flyover options: DomPost’s Katie Chapman takes up where Dave Burgess left off, reporting draft submissions as final decisions, in this case for the Wellington Regional Council (- an editorial policy?)… (Oct, 11. 2011)

The consultants who prefer asphalt to a green park: Wellington.Scoop gives Kent Duston a column in which he classifies NZTA’s opinions on OptionX as Orewellian ‘newspeak’… (Oct. 8, 2011)

Underpass v flyover: The public weighs in: The Wellingtonian reveals the results of its OIA on public submissions to the NZTA… (Oct. 6, 2011)

How will councillors vote on the flyover?: More numbers on likely voting of Councillors at this morning’s meeting… (Oct. 6, 2011)

WCC divided over Basin flyover before key vote: DomPost canvasses Councillors on voting intentions regarding Basin Reserve options… (Oct.5 , 2011)

Government wants the cheapest roading option for Wellington, not the best: Wellington.Scoop’s Lindsay Shelton advocating for OptionX… (Oct.5 , 2011)

Buckle St tunnel plan fails to fly: DomPost reporting the current NZTA position on OptionX… (Oct. 5, 2011)

Roading costs “deceptive”: The Capital Times reports Kent Duston’s criticism of NZTA’s use of figures, on page 2… (Oct. 5, 2011)

Basin Reserve flyover: councillors should not agree to accept the unacceptable:  Wellington.Scoop’s Lindsay Shelton advocating for OptionX… (Oct.4 , 2011)

Council puts proviso on flyover: DomPost reports on the WCC DRAFT submission to NZTA (reported as if it were the final decision when it has yet to be voted upon)… (Oct. 4, 2011)

Will they show pride in their city? Or will they vote for a flyover?: Wellington.Scoop’s Lindsay Shelton advocating for OptionX… (Oct.3 , 2011) [contains useful statement from Rod James of NZTA in the comments section]

Editorial: Pursuing Option X a waste of time: A not so positive option piece from DomPost, believing OptionX is a delaying-tactic… (Oct.1, 2011)

Option X back on the table: The Wellingtonian front page article, addressing OptionX’s reception by NZTA and WCC… (Sept. 29, 2011)

WCC push for taxpayers to fund tunnel: The online version of the DomPost’s page 3 feature on OptionX – finally they acknowledge its existence and significance… (Sept. 29, 2011)

Dozens protest Basin flyover plan: DomPost’s brief mention of OptionX, as promoted in the ‘Hands around the Basin’ protest… (Sep. 26, 2011) [see also below]

Protestors hug in protest of Basin Reserve flyover: DomPost’s brief mention of OptionX, as promoted in the ‘Hands around the Basin’ protest… (Sep. 25, 2011)

Protest in Wellington against proposed flyover: Brief RadioNZ article covering the ‘Hands around the Basin’ protest… (Sep. 25, 2011)

New central Wellington road plan considered: RadioNZ [beating our local ‘news’paper to the punch], covers OptionX, and Mayor Wade-Brown’s support… (Sep. 22, 2011) [includes link to an audio file of the Morning Report item here]

Jitterati: Upfront support of Option X in the popular weekly cartoon by Grant Buist… (Aug. 31, 2011)

Citizens speak: A brief Capital Times article regarding the end of the NZTA consultation period… (Aug. 31, 2011)

Wellingtonian editorial: Playing the public for suckers: The Wellingtonian again promotes Option X, noting overwhelmingly favourable readers’ response to their last editorial on the topic… (Aug. 25, 2011)

It’s not just about transport. It’s about our city and the quality of our environment: Wellington.Scoop rejects “elevated highways” in favour of Option X… (Aug. 23, 2011) …note Mayor Celia W-B’s support of Option X in the comments…

Wellingtonian editorial: Another stand for the Basin!: The Wellingtonian  ‘editorial’ urges NZTA to consider Option X… (Jul. 28, 2011)

See also Capital Times ”Reader’s Poll’: The Architect [sic] Centre’s Alternative Plan for the Basin Reserve…

New option for Basin Reserve road project: Design group reveals Option X: The Wellingtonian picks up on our Option X… (Jul. 28, 2011)

Basin options: how about NO flyover?: Capital Times notes Mayor Wade-Brown’s support for Option X… (Jul. 27, 2011)

The war memorial motorway:’s Lindsay Shelton advocates  a tunnelled solution, and quotes us (although not specifically referring to our Option X)… (Jul. 26, 2011)

Urbanist Tommy Honey on National Radio: Discussing the Basin and Arch Centre’s Option X on “9 to noon”… (Jul. 25, 2011)

A plug for the Basin: Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, in her Capital Times column, on the Basin and Arch Centre’s Option X… (Jul. 2011)


Supporting posts, background material, etc…

Basin voting: The results of the WCC councillor face-off, with some side-swipes at the DomPost for good measure… (Oct. 7, 2011)

Basin flyover: Live council decision blog: DomPost’s ‘live’ coverage of the WCC Council meeting on the topic of their Basin submission to NZTA… (Oct. 6, 2011)

Local insight toward a refined proposal: comments from NZTA’s Rod James at the completion of the NZTA consultation process… (Aug. 31, 2011)

It actually could be worse: A lighthearted look at what we might have ended up with c1960s… (Aug. 26, 2011)

Polls apart – the verdict on Option X is all good:  Capital Times ‘Readers Poll’ results overwhelmingly favour Option X… (Aug, 23, 2011)

Memorial Car Park: The abuse of the Memorial Park by NZTA’s Basin flyover proposals… (Jul. 24, 2011)

It’s just not cricket: The great NZTA buy-off – now we know why the Basin Reserve Trust have been so quiet… (Jul. 21, 2011)

Overpass: Dream or reality?: A brief look at some overpasses, both local and international, and some of the problems they pose… (Jul. 20, 2011)

Does the NZTA scheme measure up?: Assessing the NZTA Basin proposal against the the ‘Basin Checklist’… (Jul. 14, 2011)

Basin Checklist: Proposing a basic list of ingredients that can be checked against, to see if NZTA have got the recipe right… (Jul. 8, 2011)

Peak Oil, Peak Car, and Resilient Cities…: A brief review of some of the ideas in Resilient Cities, as they relate to Wellington… (Jul. 10, 2011)

Traffic Congestion, Part 2: To build or not to build…: Investigating alternative ways to manage road congestion, aside from building more roads… (Jul. 7, 2011)

Traffic Congestion, Part 1: why are the DomPost being such d1cks?: In which actual research is pointed to that reveals that congestion is not a significant issue for most Wellingtonians… (Jul. 6, 2011)

The common ‘sense of place’: A discussion of the urban design concept of ‘sense of place’, as it applies to the Basin proposals… (Jul. 4, 2011)

Overground? underground? … wombling free?: A brief discussion of using tunnels rather than a flyover at the Basin – along with a range of beautifully-designed tunnels and tunnel portals… (Jul. 2, 2011)

Flyovers: residual spaces, community severance…: A look at a couple of the major problems associated with urban flyovers, along with some flyover/overpass schemes that deal with these issues in various ways… (Jul. 1, 2011)

Let’s not get pwned by the RoNSter: An introduction to NZTA’s Roads of National Significance projects, and some of the problems of that approach… (Jun. 29, 2011)

The great flyover teardown…: It seems that everywhere else in the world, flyovers are recognised as negative elements within the urban fabric, and are being pulled-down accordingly… (Jun. 21, 2011)

Basin Reserve Solution: Basin Reserve: The Movie – an early draft version  of the Architectural Centre Basin Reserve scheme… (Jul. 11, 2010)

Wellington 2040 – our vision: An early Architectural Centre scheme for the Basin proposed for the WCC 2040 vision – which recognises some of the public space opportunities that work around the basin Reserve could take advantage of… (Feb. 17, 2010)

Architecture of the Basin: Architecture of the Basin: A brief history, including various historical proposals for transportation improvements near the Basin Reserve… (Dec. 18th, 2009)

Cut and Cover: A discussion of the opportunity for, and benefits of, a cut and cover tunnel under the proposed Memorial Park on Buckle St… (Mar. 15, 2010)

Miscellaneous related posts:

Lessons from Bris-Vegas: Cycle lanes within the busy Brisbane transport networks… (Jul. 22, 2011)

What About Light Rail?: A brief argument advocating Light Rail rather than road building… (Jul. 11, 2011)

Wellington 2040: A smart green city – a “freakin fantastic” idea: A brief, pre-announcement, look at the WCC proposed 2040 vision for Wellington, in which it is hoped that this vision of a people-centred city might inform the outcome of the Basin proposal… (Jun. 16, 2011)

Trafalgar Square: An outline of the ‘space syntax’ influenced project that saw Trafalgar Square ‘given back’ to pedestrians, with better outcomes for both pedestrian experience, and traffic efficiency… (Jun. 15, 2011)

SuperLink – Transport 2000: Information here about SuperLink, the tram/train for Wellington, proposed by Transport 2000… (Jul. 14, 2010)

Wellington: Cycle-friendly City – yeah right: SH1 from the Basin Reserve to and through Mt Vic Tunnel – a cycle-by point of view (Mar. 18, 2009)