Early December 2008 the Wellington City Council examined draft documents for Variation 11 (the long title being: District Plan Variation 11: Amendments to Proposed District Plan Change 48 (Central Area Review) – Wellington Waterfront.)
At the time of the meeting Lindsay Shelton wrote an article available on Scoop suggesting inappropriate council behaviour such as: council officers approving buildings, the public being un-notified, and the outlawing of coffee (just joking about the coffee!).
Anyway, some day soon this should all become official for public consultation, and theoretically we’ll have 2 months or so to think about what the Arch Centre position is on all this. The documents are in part a reaction to the Hilton decision. As the council notes “the Environment Court did not question the existing waterfront Framework … but questioned the method of incorporation and reference in the District Plan.”
The Variation also includes changing the “strict regime … requiring all new building development and the development of open space to be assessed as Discretionary Activities (Unrestricted). This was to ensure that no development would occur on the waterfront without the opportunity for public involvement.” Currently, the main mechanism to ensure all projects are notified is the imposition of a zero height limit. The new proposal is “a new Discretionary (Restricted) rule with associated development standards and a design guide.”
Another key issue is the use of the idea of “design excellence,” borrowed from the existing Central Area under Plan Change 48 to allow over-height buildings. Wellington isn’t over-burdened with “design excellence” oozing from its built environment so you’d think on the surface that this was a good idea.
But what is “design excellence” and who decides? and are these people appropriately qualified in these matters? A nice idea but a dangerous one? And isn’t it an oxymoron (I love that word) to have a Maximum Height Limit plus 15% – what was that definition of “maximum”?
What are your opinions re: this? As usual the sub-committee drafting the submission won’t include anyone involved in related (i.e. Waterfront in this case) projects, nor those working in any firms involved in such work. But we will consider ideas discussed on this blog, which no doubt will be varied and possibly contradictory. Any members keen on being involved please email Kate or Christine.