Fundamental shifts proposed in the draft Wellington Spatial Plan

On 6 August 2020, the Wellington City Council Strategy & Policy Committee approved the draft Wellington Spatial Plan for consultation. The Spatial Plan is the high-level planning strategy that will inform the direction for the replacement Wellington City District Plan. The Spatial Plan is the Council’s response to the expected population growth of 50,000 – 80,000 people over the next 30 years, and how to create more choices for where and how people live, move around, and access goods and services.  The proposed goals of the Spatial Plan are all-encompassing – to be compact, resilient, vibrant and prosperous, inclusive and connected, and greener.

Consultation on the draft Spatial Plan officially started on 10 August 2020 and will run until Monday 5 October 2020 at 5 pm.

A fundamental shift in residential density is proposed in the Central City and identified suburbs

The draft Spatial Plan proposes to move away from the ‘growth spine’ concept (in the Wellington Urban Growth Plan 2015) to focus growth in the Central Area, Suburban Centres, and along public transport routes.

A fundamental shift in the density of development allowed (and expected) is proposed – with development in some parts of the suburbs allowed up to six (or even eight) storeys.

The extent of the intensification enabled by the draft Spatial Plan is shaped by the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) released late last month which directs councils in high-growth areas (including Wellington) to allow building heights of at least six storeys in metropolitan centre zones, within a walkable catchment of existing and planned rapid transit stops, and the edge of city and metropolitan centre zones. Under the NPS-UD, Wellington City Council must provide for this level of density unless there is a specific reason why high-density development in a particular area is inappropriate.

The suburbs where more intensification is proposed are (from north to south):

  • Tawa;
  • Johnsonville;
  • Khandallah/Ngaio;
  • Karori;
  • Berhampore/Newtown; and
  • Kilbirnie.

To enable redevelopment in some of these suburbs, changes are also proposed to the pre-1930 character controls, by limiting these controls to specific areas that exhibit a cohesive streetscape character, and removing the pre-1930 demolition controls where character has been compromised.

Changes are proposed to the boundaries and character of the Central City

It is projected that by 2047 up to 18,000 more people will live in the Central City, and that demand in commercial office floor space will increase by 625,750m2.

The following changes to the boundaries and density are proposed to support the projected growth:

  • extending the boundaries of the Central City to include inner residential areas in Thorndon and the centre zoned land in Newtown;
  • imposing a minimum building height of six-storeys in the Central City;
  • increasing the maximum permitted building height in parts of Te Aro to at least ten-storeys to enable more intensive residential apartments and commercial development;
  • increasing building heights along the edge of the Central City to at least six-storeys and up to eight-storeys (in parts of Thorndon, Aro Valley and Mt Victoria).

Other changes are proposed to support the goals of a compact, greener, inclusive and connected Central City:

  • a proposed network of ‘green connectors’ or ‘green ribbons’ linking green areas between the bush areas in the hills around the CBD and the waterfront, which will be used for the movement of people, ecological processes and stormwater management;
  • changes to street design and alignment to reduce the discharge of stormwater to Wellington Harbour, and greater use of green infrastructure;
  • the development of a ‘bluebelt’ plan for the Wellington waterfront to manage how the land along the interface between land and the sea is managed;
  • ongoing development of a transit network (in line with the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme);
  • building controls aimed at reducing levels of embodied carbon (the carbon footprint of a material) and ongoing carbon emissions; and
  • development of guidance to encourage better apartment design (around the size and usability of internal space and access to natural light and outdoor living areas).

Opportunity sites

Consistent with the outcome of previous consultation, the draft Spatial Plan identifies the following areas for new urban development:

  • Upper Stebbings Valley and Glenside West (areas between Churton Park and Tawa);
  • Lincolnshire Farm (between Woodridge, Grenada North and Horokiwi); and
  • areas of Te Motu Kairangi/Miramar Peninsula currently owned by government (such as the former Mt Crawford Prison site);

and Strathmore Park as an area for urban regeneration.

The draft Spatial Plan also notes that the future mass Wellington rapid transit route is still in the early planning stages, but when the locations of transit stations are known, precinct planning could support comprehensive redevelopment in the Central City to provide high-density housing and employment opportunities.

If you want to know more about how the draft Wellington Spatial Plan will affect your property interests or you would like assistance in providing feedback to Wellington City Council, please contact one of our experts.

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