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Mount Victoria Residents’ Planning Group To Work With Council On Alternative Plan

A Mt. Victoria Residents’ Planning Group is developing a workable alternative housing plan for the iconic and historic inner city Wellington suburb.

Following Wellington City Council’s signaled desire to work together with Wellington communities to co-design for the future, the group is coming up with an alternative to address the objectives of the plan to provide increased housing density over time while retaining Mt. Victoria’s heritage and character.

“We are keen to work with the Council to achieve a win-win solution that will have both residents and Council support,” says Convenor of the Mt. Victoria Planning Group Rob Brown. “The Council will be able to show that it has worked with the community to come up with a scheme that both addresses residents’ concerns and achieves the objectives of the spatial plan and the government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development.”

The Residents’ Planning Group comprises representatives of the Mt. Victoria Residents’ Association, the Mt. Victoria Historical Society and a range of interested parties from the Mt. Victoria community. The Group aims to have a draft plan ready for consultation with Mt. Victoria residents by mid-February 2021 and will then meet with Wellington City Planner and Wellington City Councillors on the united plan for the heritage inner suburb.

The Council’s draft spatial plan proposes that the current District Plan’s pre-1930s demolition rules will be removed from 62% of the houses in Mt. Victoria which could then be replaced by multi-storey developments; 85% of the 1031 properties in Mt. Victoria pre-date 1930. “We are concerned, like most New Zealanders, about housing affordability and availability,” says group Convenor, Rob Brown. “We support increased density, but it must be implemented with concepts of density done well embedded into design and development rules. Mt. Victoria is already one of New Zealand’s densest suburbs. Increased density can be done well without destroying Mt. Victoria’s heritage and special character.”

The group considers that maintaining the heritage and character of Mt. Victoria is vitally important to residents and to the identity of Wellington City. The image of Mt. Victoria’s heritage houses seen from the harbour is recognisable around the world as Wellington. The spatial plan in its current form will do irreparable damage to this historic suburb.

“We are concerned that the spatial plan, in its current form will only result in the demolition of heritage homes to be replaced by unaffordable housing developments and Airbnbs. These heritage properties include multi-unit rentals which currently offer affordable accommodation for less affluent residents of Mt. Victoria, as well as vulnerable members of our community,” says Rob Brown.

Fifty per cent of the 754 Mt. Victoria resident signatories to a petition calling on the Council to reject the draft spatial plan and keep the pre-1930s demolition rules for the whole of Mt. Victoria were renters, many of whom would no longer be able to live in the area in the future if the plan in its current form went through.

Just before consultation on the draft spatial plan closed in October the Council released revised figures forecasting a dramatically lower population growth for Wellington’s inner-city suburbs over the next 30 years. The draft spatial plan and the consultation on it was based on an extra 14,000 people for the city’s inner suburbs by 2050 and this was scaled down to 4,731 extra people. The Council revised their estimates of the number of additional dwellings that will be required in Mt. Victoria over the next 30 years down to between 92 and 188. This would mean three to six more dwellings each year.

The Mt. Victoria residents’ co-ordinated plan is likely to take a phased approach to increasing density, focussing on areas which can and should be developed first and providing for necessary dwelling density over time without destroying the area’s heritage, character and sense of community.

The group says it looks forward to productive engagement with the Council on behalf of residents of Mt. Victoria.

A letter to the Wellington City Council from the Mt. Victoria Residents’ Planning Group is here.

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