The Wellington Bypass: The Current Situation
WARNING: This is long but informative and essential reading if you want to know what's going on.
1. Properties on the Bypass designation (ie Upper Cuba, Tonks Ave, Arthur, Kensington and Willis street areas):
As you may know, eviction notices were served on commercial and resident properties in upper Cuba St and Tonks ave early this year. Some tenants chose to leave, but others stayed - the tenant of 289 Cuba St and the Freedom shop across the road. The tenant of 289 Cuba St has managed to get a month-by-month lease on the property, while the tenant of 270 Cuba St (the old salvage yard / original Tonks family home) has moved back in legitimately. The Freedom Shop is still present. 291 Cuba St has been let out as well, but not to the tenants who occupied it before eviction. Transit has refused to retenant Tonks Avenue because they would have to be residential leases (the above are all commercial) which makes it harder to boot tenants out. The properties in Arthur, Kensington, Willis Sts and Oak Park ave are still tenanted, and it is not known if/when they will be asked to leave. It has been suggested that Bar Bodega must be out by the end of the year. Ask next time you're there.
2. Goings on in Tonks Avenue.
Over the past two weeks, both Knight Frank (property agents for Transit) and the Wellington City Council have been carrying out maintenance and rubbish removal in Tonks Ave. Plumbers have been at work on some of the buildings, and superficial maintenance of exterior features, such as roofs, is planned. Contractors employed by Knight Frank removed 'rubbish' which included a very old bike and an original window from the houses and dumped everything in a skip. No-one from the Historic Places Trust was present, and it is possible that some important historic artifacts may have been mistaken for rubbish. Locals salvaged the bike from the skip, but it was too full to enable a decent investigation of the contents. The WCC employed a tow-truck company to tow away an old house-truck that had been parked up by 12 Tonks Ave for some months. Unfortunately part of a cabbage tree was broken in the process. The WCC has also employed contractors to remove the fence and concrete work from the front of 13 Tonks Ave (WCC owns this and #12) and interior fixtures such as the fire places and toilet. All of these are recognised heritage items. The Historic Places Trust was not present when any of this activity occurred. Apparantly they were not pleased about this, but have not taken any action against the WCC. It is not expected that they will. Mayor Kerry Prendergast and council employees visited 13 Tonks just prior to this occurring.
3. Heritage walks
Despite this unfortunate activity, heritage walks are still going strong along the bypass designation. They occur every sunday, 11am and 1pm. The meeting point is the cnr of Upper Cuba and Tonks Ave.
4. Construction funding.
Despite certain Wellington newspapers claiming that the bypass has overcome all hurdles, Transit are yet to apply for construction funding. This involves applying to Transfund, the body who are responsible for funding transport in New Zealand. Transit will have to demonstrate that the bypass satisfies the cost-benefit ratio, which means that for x amount of cost, a certain amount of benefits from the project have to be derived. The government, with a lot of help from the Greens, has developed a new transport strategy which may well make the bypass unfundable. Under this strategy all existing projects must be re-evaluated under the new criteria. It is hoped that Transit's application will fall under this. Stay tuned for more information on the new strategy.
5. CBC's appeal of the Historic Places Trust decision
Earlier this month, the Historic Places Trust gave Transit approval to destroy, damage and modify a recognised archeological site. The bypass designation is recognised as having this status. In essence, the Trust said that the bypass was the only way the historic buildings could be saved. They attached certain conditions to the approval, eg that they had to carry out archeological digs first, but the fact remains that they have given Transit approval to destroy one of the most important and intact historic sites in NZ. CBC in consultation with its lawyer, believes the grounds are good for an appeal, so it's back to the environment court. Note that Transit will not be able to apply for funding until there is an outcome to the courtcase. The Environment Court has a back-log of cases, so this may not occur for some time. The Te Aro Heritage Trust has also taken this action. This is a massive undertaking for CBC and we will need all the help we can get: not just from law! yers (although legal research ! will be v. important) but from anyone who feels they can be of use. This could stop the bypass, so it is important to do it well.
Thanks for reading this. If you have any questions, or want to help, please reply to this email.
Catch CBC online at http://www.cbc.org.nz