Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Wellington Spatial Plan at centre of talks

Wellington City Council will meet this week to deliberate on the final draft of the city’s Spatial Plan.

The plan will guide how the Capital City’s centre and suburbs will change to provide more housing, increase the city’s resilience to climate change and earthquakes, support business development and build stronger communities.

Mayor Andy Foster says “the Spatial Plan is one of the most significant and transformational pieces of work by the Council for many years. This will be a high-level guide for the significant steps we need to take to ensure our growing city has a home for everyone and good infrastructure while protecting the most special characteristics we love about our city.”

Mayor Foster says the key changes in the Plan in response to public feedback are:

  • Addition of a new city goal ‘Partnership with Mana Whenua’ with supporting directions and actions;
  • Expansion of some pre-1930 character ‘sub-areas’ and removal of the ‘general character overlay’ with higher levels of intensification enabled in areas outside of the expanded ‘sub-areas’;
  • Changes to the spatial extent of walkable catchments around the central city, Johnsonville centre and railway stations to reflect updates to the city’s walking network data and model;
  • More explanation of the concept of “density done well” and how this will be achieved through new District Plan controls and design guidance;
  • Explanation of how the City’s growth and supporting infrastructure investment will be coordinated, including priority areas recommended for investment focus over the next 10 years to unlock growth capacity;
  • Clearer explanation of the consideration of natural hazard risks and climate change, including the role of the new District Plan in implementing a risk-based approach to hazard management;
  • Addition of five new ‘Opportunity Sites’ to reflect significant strategic development opportunities being investigated and progressed in key locations;
  • Explanation of how the Spatial Plan will be delivered, including partnering and working with others, and the need for regular review and update;
  • Amendments and additions to the supporting Action Plan.

He said the Spatial Plan was the cumulation of several years of work, starting with Our City Tomorrow in 2017, through to four growth scenarios released for public feedback in 2019. The Draft Spatial Plan went out for consultation in late 2020. Once the final Spatial Plan is adopted this will inform the review of the District Plan which will be released for consultation in October-November this year.

Chair of Pūroro Āmua the Council’s Planning and Environment Committee, Councillor Iona Pannett said Council was grateful to everyone who participated in the development of the Plan.

“Nearly 3,000 people made a submission with many giving up significant amounts of time to share their feedback,” she said.

“Growth is coming  and the impacts of climate change will increase. Reducing our impact on the environment is also non-negotiable. Keeping our city compact is key as is our 10-Year Plan commitment to delivering more public transport options through Let’s Get Wellington Moving, and more than doubling our investment in the city’s cycling network.

“Council has heard about the impacts of the housing crisis on many Wellingtonians and will use every lever that we have to improve this situation whilst also asking Government to take action where it can.

“We have to take big steps to increasing housing provision – otherwise young people will increasingly choose other towns and cities because Wellington is unaffordable – this trend presents a real risk to the future of our city and region.

“Furthermore, we know that older and younger Wellingtonians are facing significant barriers are also being shut out of the housing market and it is critical that their needs are met too,” Cr Pannett said.

Mayor Foster says, “We need the right sort of housing therefore infrastructure has been a big topic during consultation on the Plan. As outlined in the Long-term Plan, the infrastructure requirements of the Spatial Plan and District Plan have not been fully accommodated into the proposed capital growth budgets. However, substantial investment has been included for the infrastructure to support the expected growth in the central city”.

“Once we have a clearer picture of the other parts of the city where growth will happen, funding allocations can then be made. This is expected to be a key part of the 2024 Long-term Plan. We cannot and should not do all the infrastructure work at once so development focus should be staged to support targeted housing growth,” he said.

The Mayor said the next three years of infrastructure investment for growth would be directed mainly towards waste-water upgrades in the central city, to unlock the potential in Te Aro, Adelaide Road and undertake major stormwater upgrades.

“The central city, Newtown Johnsonville and Tawa are the heavy lifters for the first few years because, together, they are expected to accommodate another 29,000 to 33,000 people – or 12,000 to 14,000 more homes. They have good transport, services, amenities, and facilities. We will continue to engage with Government to ensure that issues around insurance and resilience are addressed as much as possible said Mayor Foster.

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