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Lambton Harbour - Open Letter To Wgtn Councillors

Open letter to Wellington City Councillors

May 1, 2000

Dear Councillors
Re Lambton Harbour Area

We, the three signatories to this letter, have met and discussed the Lambton Harbour area with a view to reaching agreement on how it should be developed. We share broadly common views, which are offered to the Council and the community, as a serious contribution to discussion and decision making post Variation 17.

This is not a blueprint but it does contain some financial and overall design parameters as well as specific ideas. The expenditure limits for the public areas are indicative and might need to be changed following the design work.

In summary, our view of the current Concept Plan is that it is far too complex, the proposed expenditure on the public areas well in excess of what is needed, and as a result the proposed commercial development is clearly way beyond what Wellingtonians regard as acceptable.

The careful development of the Lambton Harbour area will materially improve the quality of life thereby improving Wellington’s relative competitiveness as a location for business. We believe our proposals, as outlined below, are both affordable and will prove acceptable to more Wellingtonians than the Concept Plan.

Meaningful consultation

Two concept plans for Lambton Harbour have failed because they were well out of line with what Wellingtonians want.

Unless the council engages in a meaningful way with the community, including groups such as those we represent, history may well repeat itself again.
The Council will have to make sure that this time it establishes a process which ensures that the professional designers produce what people want, not just what they think should be done.

This will mean getting the broad goals set and having community involvement all the way through to the creation of a new model.

In the meantime no new contracts for development of the public areas should be made until the Concept Plan has been revised in a way that is acceptable to Wellingtonians. Any funding commitment to Lambton Harbour for development in year 2000/1 should be contingent on a revised plan first being approved by the Council.

We wish to meet with Councillors collectively and are available to discuss our proposals with Councillors on an individual basis as well.


We recommend the current Concept Plan be changed as follows:

1. Reduce the current budget (including the $4.9 million being spent this year on Taranaki Wharf) from the present approximate $42 million, to around $15 million.

2. The public areas to be developed in a way that maximises open space and permits the development of new recreational options in the future.

3. The number of new commercial buildings to be reduced by around two thirds, their heights and bulk reduced and there be no encroachments on existing view shafts.

4. The prime consideration for new buildings to be their contribution each will make to the enjoyment of the waterfront for all Wellingtonians. This is not to ignore the financial contribution the new buildings will make to the net cost of the overall development to the ratepayers.

Chaffers Park

Public area

The current plan to be replaced with a simpler, more usable and more affordable park design which would take advantage of the close proximity to the sea but also create adequate protection from the wind. It is envisaged that the new plan will include:

1. A large flat grass area which can be used for a variety of purposes from kids kicking around balls and picnics, to major public events such as the recent Arts Festival dome.

2. A childrens' play ground and shallow boating pond.

3. A generous skateboard park, with provision for lighting.

4. An asphalt area that could be used for roller blade hockey and basketball with provision for lighting;

5. Trees, shrubs, walkways and all the normal areas expected in a public park;

6. Allowance for future activities which might not be built in the initial stage and some of which might be financed and managed by the private sector such as:

 Pay as you go tennis courts also with night lighting;

 A mini golf (putt putt) course;

Cost: Max $5 million from the ratepayers. (Currently $14 million is proposed including a canal costing $5 million. Source: December issue of the Chamber)


It is appreciated that ever since the Concept Plan became the subject of intense public debate in the mid 1990s, there has been significant public division on the future of the Herd Street building. We consider, that in the current economic environment, the most sensible action is to lease the building for an appropriate use such as a hotel, with the ground floor being used for restaurants, other food outlets for users of the park, in addition to other services to the wider public.

Other: Allow for not more than three other buildings, no higher than two stories, that would house activities to service users of the Lambton Harbour area. Harbour views should be protected.

Taranaki Wharf

Public area

No new contracts should be let for Taranaki Wharf until the present expensive and unduly fussy Concept Plan proposals have been changed. It would make a nonsense of the public opposition to Variation 17 to proceed with the plan for Taranaki Wharf simply because a Resource Consent exists.

The plan should be revised and scaled back eliminating expensive proposals such as bringing water up to the Odlins Building and planting a Ngaio grove over sea water.

Cost: Max $2 million. (Current budget to complete Taranaki Wharf area is over $5 million on top of the $4.9 million that was approved last year).

Commercial buildings:

Leave all buildings in their present exterior form on their current sites, which means abandoning the proposal to have a new building grow out of Shed 22. No new building next to the ambulance building because that will block view of the harbour from the Michael Fowler Centre and vice versa.

Frank Kitts Park

Public Area

Complete plans to improve access to the water with jetties etc. Leave the rest of the park as is.


No new commercial developments on the park or next to the Museum of Wellington City and Sea. (former Maritime Museum).

Queens Wharf

Public Area

Basically leave as is.


Do not re skin the “retail” and events centres.

Consider minor changes to the exterior of the Events Centre so as to improve its appearance from the Frank Kitts park area.

Abandon the proposal to allow for a hotel on the outer Tee of Queens Wharf.

Assess the possibility of having a publicly accessible building on the outer tee to replace the current Shed 1 which is not very attractive or available for use by the public. A Winter Garden is one possibility. The footprint and bulk would have to fit within the current area occupied by Shed 1.

Do not cut a section out of Shed 6 as proposed in the Concept Plan.

North Queens Wharf

Public area

This public area design will need to have regard for the possibilities of and the needs of the commercial developers. However the waterfront promenade must be retained.


There is scope for commercial development in the North Queens Wharf area. However it is important that:

1. New commercial buildings do not reduce the views of the harbour from the city.

2. Their footprints and height are in scale with existing buildings. In this respect a maximum height of 15 metres above sea level is recommended. This is the same height as existing Sheds 11 and 13 and the overall design of any new building should be sympathetic to these buildings.


Public areas

2000/1 financial year. Complete the development of Taranaki Wharf in accordance with a revised plan and our proposed $2 million (much reduced) budget.

2001/2002 financial year. Develop Chaffers Park with a completely new plan and a $5 million cap on expenditure.


Find leaseholders for the waterfront buildings not currently leased.

Lambton Harbour management

We have concerns that the current management company may be more expensive than it need be and recommend the Council explore less costly ways of managing the project.

The major changes suggested in these proposals will require fresh design perspectives if they are to be implemented successfully. The Council should seek input from designers who have not been involved previously.

Yours sincerely

Neville Beach ---- Barrie Saunders ---- Lindsay Shelton
President ---- President ---- President
Wellington Civic Trust ---- Wellington Regional ---- Waterfront Watch
---------------- Chamber of Commerce

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