Letter to the Editor in the Dom Post Monday 16 October

Inner City Wellington (ICW) shares concerns about Wellington City Council’s own application of District Plan rules raised by the owner of the converted heritage substation in Kate Sheppard Place. Thankfully the judgement found in favour of enforcing the rules.

Since that hotel resource consent, there has been media coverage of developers' desire to have higher height limits and more flexibility, and WCC Chief Executive warning Councillors they may have to support developers over residents to achieve their affordable housing goals.

 

According to Clr Foster only 0.8% of resource consents are notified. Many of the resource consents in the inner city will be applying for the discretion that allows the building to exceed the height limit by up to 35%, subject to meeting 'design excellence', and council officers are making these decisions without guidelines on what is ‘design excellence’.

 

Current design guidelines only take external matters into account. Consequently, further guidance and standards are also required for internal ‘design excellence’. NSW has set mandatory standards for eight aspects of apartment design that are set out in the companion Apartment Design Guide. Therefore ICW is calling for WCC to look closely at this holistic approach and explain why it shouldn’t be applied here.

Geraldine Murphy, Deputy Chair, Inner City Wellington

Inner City Development

Along with the rest of the country Wellington is feeling the pressure to do its bit to address the national housing crisis. The inner city in particular has long been seen as an easy option to achieve some quick wins. Concerned that standards could drop and we may end up with an urban landscape that we no longer feel proud of ICW has been monitoring this area closely.  We're also looking to other cities /countries to see what we can learn from them.  Could the NSW approach for example work in Wellington?  

Alcohol Forum Update

The hospitality sector members of the Forum provided an update on a trial of 'Heads Up'. This is a phone-based app that some bars in the Courtenay Place/Dixon St area are using to enable their security staff to share information about members of the public and/or patrons who have caused or are likely to cause anti-social behaviour.  It enables the security staff at those bars to be pre-warned about intoxicated people, who may try to 'straighten up' to get into a bar. The goal is to change behaviours so people will know that they won't get into other bars if they have caused problems elsewhere.  The sector is hoping to get more bars involved.   This was one of the initiatives identified at the start of the Forum, based on the successful EYES ON initiative that Inner City Wellington helped expand with a WCC grant.  
 
WCC provided an update on the Pedestrian Mobility and Smart City Projects that will provide real time data on the flow of people around the city. This is being piloted in the railway station area at present but will be expanded to other parts of the city. This data can be layered with other data that is also being sourced (eg, ongoing retail purchase data) to help provide more data to inform both operational and strategic projects.  No one is identified in the collection of this data. 
 
A Wellington CBD Support Zone is also being piloted beginning in October. This will have social workers present as well as medical staff and the staff will be able to respond to indicators of drug/alcohol-related problems.  The aim of this initiative is focused on younger people (<30 years) to provide a 'chill out' zone for those who need to charge their phones, want some space or feeling a bit vulnerable.
 
ICW attends these meetings along with a range of other stakeholders (Police, DHBEmergency Dept, Medical Officer of Health, Hospitality sector, WCC, ACC) to collaboratively work together to identify solutions to reduce alcohol-related harm while maintaining the vibrancy of the city, particularly in the late night economy.