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Waterfront building design gets thumbs up

Waterfront building design gets thumbs up

Wellington City Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee this week supported plans for a new building and public space improvements in the north Kumutoto area of Wellington’s waterfront.

The Committee agreed to recommend the full Council approve the preliminary design of the six-storey building proposed to revitalise the area of the waterfront between Waterloo Quay Apartments and the Whitmore Street entrance, which is currently used for motorhome parking.

The Council, which owns the site, will consider the recommendation at its next meeting on 7 May along with the terms of the development agreement and ground lease.

Developer Willis Bond and Co and designer Athfield Architects need these approvals before they can take the next steps in the development process – doing further design work and then applying for resource consent.

The proposed building includes A-grade office space, retail and food outlets, a pedestrian link between Waterloo Quay and the harbour, a landscaped outdoor area and covered pedestrian walkways around the building. Wellington Waterfront Ltd plans to complete the remaining public areas in this part of the waterfront at the same time.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the proposal is a considerable improvement on the previous proposal.

“I’m keen to ensure as much public access as possible is preserved, and that the visual sightlines to our beautiful harbour are maintained,” she says.

Councillor Andy Foster, who chairs the Transport and Urban Development Committee, says the site has had a long and challenging history and he is very pleased the latest plans for a high quality building have reached this point.

“The proposal to replace motorhome parking and build on the site is completely in keeping with the Wellington Waterfront Framework, which guides how the waterfront will be developed,” he says. “We’ve been through a very robust process to get to this point and the question of whether the design and scale is appropriate will ultimately be determined through the resource consent process – quite possibly by the Environment Court.

“The building will bring more life to the area through public ground floor uses and an estimated 700 workers on site. In my view we have a very good design by a leading architect being delivered by a developer with a first-class reputation for delivering excellent projects around our city.”

Cr Foster says recent public feedback had helped clarify areas where more work was required and a number of things would be looked at in more detail or happen during the next phase of design including:

lighting, safety, wind and shade
serviced offices to allow for a creative business hub
public access to the roof area
the possibility of reducing vehicle access to the shared area on the seaward side of the building
consultation with iwi and the Council’s Accessibility Advisory Group.

The overall height of the building, while slightly higher than that suggested by the Environment Court in 2012, is regarded as generally being in scale with its neighbours. The top floor of the building is stepped back on all sides so it would only be visible from a distance.

The commercial development will pay for the improvements to public space in the Kumutoto area and provide a return to the Council through rates and a long-term lease.


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