Environ't Court Decision Welcomed Re Hilton Hotel
Wellington Civic Trust
15th MARCH 2008: PRESS RELEASE –
Environment Court Decision Welcomed Re Hilton Hotel on Queen’s Wharf
The overturning by the Environment Court of council consents for a Hilton Hotel on the outer “T” of Queen’s Wharf is indeed a victory, not just for the Civic Trust and Waterfront Watch but also for all those who love Wellington’s waterfront.
Now that the Court has rejected this proposal, the City Council and Wellington Waterfront Ltd have been given the chance to redress past mistakes, honour their guiding document for waterfront development and hold a design competition to find a structure for this site that is worthy of its location. The Civic Trust looks forward to assisting in that process.
The Civic Trust has always been committed to defending the Waterfront Framework. The Trust will continue to continue to defend this framework, which was drawn up by a group of community representatives appointed by then Mayor Mark Blumsky in 2000. That group worked hard over seven months to capture the values and aspirations of Wellingtonians with regard to the future development of the waterfront.
That Framework document is basically the Council’s master plan for the waterfront. It was adopted by the City Council and Wellington Waterfront Ltd in 2001 as the guiding document for future development on the waterfront. It has been incorporated into the City Council’s district plan - and that imposes a high expectation on the Council to comply with it.
The Framework is very clear about the exceptional quality of the Outer T. For this site only, the Leadership Group stipulated that a competition should be held to explore options for what sort of structure – not necessarily a building –would be best for this space. The Framework also noted the importance of taking an integrated approach – treating the T as one whole site, rather than treating each arm of the T separately.
The Council gave a development licence to Wellington Investments Ltd for this very special site and continued to renew that licence over a period of 10 years. There was no discussion about what would be the most appropriate structure for that site nor was there a design competition. The hotel proposal did not comply with the Waterfront Framework. Not only was the recommended process not followed but the development itself did not comply with the standards set in the Framework - including the need to protect the promenade for pedestrians.
It is good that the Environment Court has recognised that. It is a pity that the neither the City nor the Regional Council did so.
It has been a long, time-consuming and costly battle for our organisation. Now that we have this decision, it has been worth the fight and we thank all those wonderful people who gave donations. Without their generosity we couldn’t have afforded to take on the councils and the commercial development company concerned.
Civic Trust url: www.wellingtoncivictrust.org