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Vibrant Wellington campaign moves to new level

23 June 2006

Vibrant Wellington campaign moves to new level

The Vibrant Wellington campaign has today published a full-page advertisement in The Dominion Post, as it steps up efforts to halt the Harbour Quays business park on the capital’s port site.

CentrePort, Wellington’s port company, is planning to develop 70,000 square metres of commercial office and retail floorspace, plus apartments, on the 6.5 hectare site.

Campaign manager Brent Slater said Vibrant Wellington was about building public awareness of the threat to the vibrancy of Wellington’s central business district posed by the Harbour Quays development

“CentrePort has admitted that it is endeavouring to get existing CBD tenants to relocate to the comparatively remote Harbour Quays site.

“According to the calculations in an economic assessment commissioned by the Wellington City Council, this could result in 5,500 office workers being sucked out of the CBD, and a potential spend of $12.3 million being lost annually.

“This is potentially disastrous. The vibrancy of downtown Wellington makes it our best city. But Harbour Quays, if fully developed, could change all that.”

Mr Slater said the Vibrant Wellington campaign had the backing of businessmen, retailers, and civic, political and community figures.

“As we are saying in today’s advertisement, Wellington’s CBD is characterised by its busy citizenry, and by its bustle and vibrancy. It is truly a living city.

“The New Seekers hit was concerned with what happened to their song. If this port site development goes full steam ahead, we believe Wellingtonians will be saying ‘look what they’ve done to our town’.

“The busy shopping plazas and cafes, the lunchtime crowds filling Midland Park, the charities that enjoy good takings on our streets, the buskers and sidewalk entertainers…all of this contributes to the special character of the CBD.

“You cannot take 5,500 workers out of downtown Wellington and not empty the city of some of its spirit, and, of course, affect the livelihoods of some of our city traders.

“It has been demonstrated that there is almost certainly sufficient potential in the CBD to meet future demand for office floor space. The economic assessment talks of 500,000 square metres of ‘redevelopable’ space being available in the CBD.

“The Greater Wellington Regional Council is the majority shareholder in CentrePort. As our elected representatives they have a duty to protect the long term best interests of the city, not undermine them. “ The Regional Councillors have already been independently advised that Harbour Quays is not the best long term solution to a short term problem but they are charging ahead regardless.

“We are urging the people of Wellington to look hard at what is being planned for the port site. The best cities are those where the public participate in decision-making.

“The bottom line is that this development does not need to happen, and should not happen if we want to retain the inner city’s vibrancy.

“CentrePort and the city and regional councils need to get the message that it is time to go back to the drawing board in respect of Harbour Quays,” Mr Slater said.

ENDS

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