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Harbour Quays will not threaten CBD says report

11 August 2006

Harbour Quays will not threaten CBD says report

The development of Harbour Quays will not threaten the viability and vitality of the CBD, a report commissioned by Wellington City Council has found. The report, by independent economist and urban development expert Derek Kemp, assesses the impact of Harbour Quays on the future planning of the central city area.

Harbour Quays is sited at the north-end of the central city along Waterloo Quay. It is owned by CentrePort, of which the Greater Wellington Regional Council is the majority shareholder.

The report also looks at the central Wellington property market and the impact likely office development trends could have on the CBD and the central area.

The key findings from the Kemp report are:

- The development of Harbour Quays will not threaten the viability and vitality of the CBD.

- Office development closer to the ‘Downtown’ area of the city would be preferable however, the critical distance for 10-minute walkability is 800 metres from the Golden Mile and main transport hubs – Harbour Quays is within this.

- Harbour Quays could be of greater benefit to the city if it were developed to accommodate a greater mix of activities, higher-quality urban design and better connections to the rest of the central city.

The report also reviewed office development trends in the central area and found that:

- There are 13 large tenants actively seeking new office floorspace totalling 177,000 sq m and a further eight large tenants possibly requiring more than a total of 126,000 sq m of floorspace.

- There are more than sufficient sites to accommodate that current demand over the next 5-10 years for both large and small office use.

- Patterns of office development in the central area point to an increasing number of offices being located on the northern fringes of the city such as Thorndon and the Railway Station, due to the less built-up nature of the area. And 62% of existing sites with realistic potential of development are located in the northern part of the central city – that includes Harbour Quays. Regardless of Harbour Quays there is a clear trend away from CBD location.

- The overall pattern and trends in office development across the central city may result in an increasing number of vacancies in older, poorer quality office buildings. Consideration needs to be given to how these buildings could be refurbished or converted to other uses.

- As long as another use is found for these potential future vacant buildings, such as turning them into apartments, there is unlikely to be any negative impact on retail spend on the Golden Mile and, in the case of an increase in residential, more likely to be a positive impact. A central area resident spends up to eight times more within that area than a worker.

Mayor Kerry Prendergast says Wellington City Council accepts the key findings of the Kemp report and is keen to work together with all stakeholders to develop an agreed vision and action programme for the central area.

“Harbour Quays is a critical area in the city that has generated a lot of interest amongst large organisations, property developers and all people involved in the urban development of our city.

“The Kemp report makes recommendations that the Council agrees with such as getting the make-up of Harbour Quays right. Our vision for Harbour Quays is to create another city precinct with a mix of activities including business services, retail, residential and possibly community facilities. This would create an area that is vibrant and lively in the evenings and the weekends, energising the northern area of the waterfront, so that people would come to Harbour Quays and linger making it an attractive, safe place day and night.”

Mayor Prendergast also says the report identifies a number of trends that require key organisations to come together to resolve. “The report identifies that there is a demand from government and private sector organisations for suitable, high-quality large office space. There is a need to create world-competitive business and employee environments to attract new business and entrepreneurs to Wellington and to ensure that we retain our head offices, which are critical to the economic future of this city.

“Essentially we need to develop a balance between new developments and revitalising the city’s existing buildings. As the report states this is a difficult problem to solve and there is no one solution.”

Mayor Prendergast says the report discredits claims that the Harbour Quays development will strip Wellington of its vibrancy. The reports states that the worst possible scenario would make a modest impact on the CBD and says the worst outcome would be to stop the development of Harbour Quays mid-way and leave office buildings and workers stranded in an uncompleted site.

Mayor Prendergast says the Council has no plans to restrict the development of Harbour Quays land and will work closely with all stakeholders to deliver the best outcome for the city.

“We will work closely with Greater Wellington and CentrePort to ensure that the development of Harbour Quays achieves the best possible outcomes for Wellington, and creates an attractive central city precinct that adds real value to the city and provides a quality ‘Wellington experience’ for businesses, workers and visitors. “At the end of the day I believe we all have the same goal at heart – to secure the best future for a city that we all passionately believe in and Wellington City Council is committed to making that a reality.”

Ian Buchanan, Chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, supports the City Council’s approach for Harbour Quays. “We are working closely with Wellington City Council to agree a strategic framework for the development of this important site. This will include clear principles to ensure we achieve a quality urban environment that adds to this part of Wellington’s waterfront.”

The Council plans to set up an advisory group of key stakeholders to develop a Central City Framework to confirm the vision for the central area and to address any issues arising from the Kemp report.

ENDS

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