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Newsletter 21:11 October 31st 2021
Newtown Residents' Association November Meeting
Monday 15 November 2021 7.30pm-9pm 

Please note the venue!

This meeting will be held at the St Thomas’s and City Mission’s Community Lounge at 200 Riddiford St – in the same building as the Church.  

The Agenda isn't decided yet, but will include the the three major consultations about the future of Wellington: the WCC Draft District Plan and Bike Network Plan, and Lets Get Wellington Moving proposals for Mass Rapid Transit.

Please email newtownwellington@gmail.com. to let us know about other issues you would like to discuss.

Six big weeks of consultation ahead!
 
Between November 2nd and December 14th Wellington City Council will be inviting input on the WCC Draft District Plan, the Bike Network Plan, and the Lets Get Wellington Moving proposals for Mass Rapid Transit .  Taken together these three projects propose the biggest changes to our City for many decades - and for Newtown in particular, arguably the biggest changes in a century. 

Tune in virtually for the "Our City Tomorrow" launch event at 5.45pm on Monday 1 November 2021. WCC are committed to providing an accessible experience for all attendees. NZ Sign Language interpreters will be present.  Register for the launch event here.

There will be 10 community drop-in sessions across the City. The Newtown one is on Saturday 20 November at the Salvation Army Hall, 4 Normanby St, 10am – 3pm, with input from the WCC planning team.
For more details, including the full list of Community Sessions, see 
https://wellington.govt.nz/have-your-say/consultations/our-city-tomorrow#lgwm
What does the Draft District Plan mean for Newtown?
 
The requirement that will have the most impact on Newtown is the new building heights that will be allowed.  The Draft District Plan follows the Spatial Plan, and so the proposed DDP zonings are as indicated in the map below, from the Spatial Plan.  Followers of this Newsletter will know that our Association has consistently advocated for increased housing in Newtown and surrounding areas, but also for attention to good urban design and 'density done well' so that development happens in a way that maintains the liveability of the whole suburb. We will be asking the planners for more information on how the new DDP rules will affect access to sunlight, outlook, open space and privacy. 
A map of Newtown and part of Berhampore, from John St to Herald St, colour code for height limits.
The black outline defines the 15min walkable catchment from the edge of the City Centre.  The green 'type 2 housing' shows the remaining Character Precincts where demolition and redevelopment of the pre-1930s houses will still need resource consent. No consent is needed for demolition in other places. This probably won't be the final zoning however - if it is agreed that Mass Rapid Transit will go through Newtown and/or Berhampore then the plan will be reworked to 'enable 6 storeys' - ie the purple type 4a housing - within a walkable catchment of the MRT stops. 

See the October Meeting Notes below for a link to the WCC discussion about the DDP, and some other useful information. The Q&A - Councillors asking, Council Officers replying - has a couple of Newtown-specific questions, one about sunlight protection for Carrara Park (p14) - the answer is that recession planes will apply along the boundary, and that they are still assessing whether heights adjacent to all city parks should change to maintain their amenity. 

The day before the Councillors discussed the DDP on October 20th a new Government directive about intensifying housing was announced (see below), so the DDP will need considerable revision.  We hope that when it is published on the consultation page on November 2nd the way forward will be a bit clearer.
Another Consultation - this time a Select Committee!
 
To add further uncertainty to what will eventually be in the District Plan,  a new Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill  was announced by the Government and the National Party as an initiative supported by both.  This legislation will allow people to develop up to three homes of up to three storeys on most sites in Tier 1 urban areas without the need for a resource consent. Wellington is a Tier 1 area - covering Wellington City Council, Porirua City Council, Hutt City Council, Upper Hutt City Council, and Kāpiti Coast District Council.

The Bill has been referred to the Parliamentary Environment Committee, and the Chairperson of the committee is calling for submissions. The closing date 11.59pm on Tuesday, 16 November 2021.  See here for details of how to make a submission.  Our first reaction was that 3 storey developments are more sympathetic to residential areas than 6+ storeys, but we understand that where 6 storeys were proposed this will continue, with 3x3 storeys in most other residential areas.  The Association is considering making a submission, and is gathering data on the implications of this Bill for 'density done well'.  We would be interested to hear your thoughts - email us on newtownwellington@gmail.com with your opinion and/or questions - we will try and get answers to any questions!
The Wellington Heritage Week opening event on Tuesday 26th October was a panel discussion on the growth pressures facing our city and how we manage heritage. Here is the link to the recording - https://vimeo.com/637745596/96662a85f7.

The panel members, left to right, were Marko Garlick - Generation Zero; Jane O’Loughlin - LiveWellington; Moderator Kerryn Pollock  - Heritage NZ; Cr Tamatha Paul - Wellington City Council; James Solari - Solari Architects & Urban Development Institute (UDINZ); and Stuart Niven - Stuart Niven Urban Design. This was a lively discussion, as much about how to accomodate new housing as about heritage. 

This was the first public outing for anyone from LiveWellington - described as "a new group set up to champion liveability and to help ensure better housing for everyone through high standards of design and urban planning".  Several members of our Association have been going to the preliminary meetings of this group, which is about to emerge publicly with a website nearly ready to go and a launch event planned for 14th November.  More information soon!
An Invitation from another Residents' Association
 
Inner City Wellington (ICW) members are also still hoping for a more nuanced approach to urban design than the WCC Draft District Plan allows. The choice of speakers should make this a very interesting event  - see below! 
Welcome to our 13th Founding Day Celebrations at St Peters On Willis

We are hosting our Annual Founders Day event from 5.30pm, with the formal business starting at 6pm, on Friday 12th November at St Peters on Willis. The Honourable Grant Robertson, one of our founding members, will give his annual address which will be followed by our guest speaker Architect and Urbanist Chris Moller, former presenter of Grand Designs NZ.

Chris will deliver a talk on the area of "Let’s get this right Wellington! - One size does not fit all, let’s design our city and avoid generic rezoning. In an age when we are learning to respect and celebrate diversity it’s crucial that we design our urban environments in the same brave open spirit."

There will also be some awards on the evening, and a chance to network and meet the folks from Inner City Wellington. Drinks and nibbles provided.

This is a free event but numbers are limited.  Book tickets here.

Looking back ....
 
Do you remember the massive redevelopment of central Wellington in the 1970s and 1980s? If not, you might have seen or heard references to it in discussions about our city.  Here is a documentary from 1983 "Hometown Boomtown" which shows what it was like!  When this was made the tide was gradually turning towards preservation of the buildings that were left.

As well as the wholesale demolition depicted there are some other reflections that might have relevance now - for instance, about local democracy vs developers, the latter represented by Bob Jones (3rd segment, from 9.20 on), followed by an outline of what was then an extremely prescriptive City Plan (3rd segment, from 10.35 - which then goes on to talk about residential areas, problems with urban decay, and citizens' action in Aro Valley). The restrictive planning was referenced by Stuart Niven last week on the Heritage Week Panel as something that he encountered in the 80s - see the recording  https://vimeo.com/637745596/96662a85f7 (from 36.30), where Stuart talks about the changes he saw in the 80s and 90s during his professional life as a planner in Wellington. 

Change is continuous - the challenge is to predict the consequences, and to end up with as few regrets as possible! 

Notes from the October Meeting

The Newtown Residents’ Association October Meeting was at 7.30pm, 18 October 2021.  It was held at St Thomas’s Community Lounge 200 Riddiford St.

This is a summary of some of the main points –

Workingmen’s Bowling Club, Owen St – Cr Fleur Fitzsimons reported that now that the Club has given up its lease, WCC owns the building. The future use is not decided, but a number of community groups are interested.  Our Association is enthusiastic about keeping it as community space, and our Councillors agree.

The District Plan, Cycleways and LGWM are all coming up for community consultation between November 2nd and December 14th.  At the time of this meeting the District Plan was due to be discussed by Wellington City Council’s Planning Committee on 20th October, and then released for consultation.

  • On 1 November at 5.30  there is a webinar introduction to the whole plan. Register for the launch event here.
  • 20 November there is an in-person Roadshow at the Salvation Army Hall 10am – 3pm, with input from the WCC planning team and the engagement team.

(Update –the Draft DP was adopted by the Council on 20th October after considerable discussion and some proposed amendments.  See here for the agenda papers, the minutes, a useful Q&A document and the link to watch the meeting. In the meantime a new Government directive about intensifying housing was announced, so the Draft DP will need considerable revision.)

Introduction to LIVE WELLington. At the Association meeting in July we talked about the development of a group to promote density done well.  This organisation is now called ‘LiveWellington – a liveable city by design’.  Watch this space. The launch is expected to be 4pm November 14th at Mt Cook School.

We talked about Government Housing Policy, with discussion of the Government Policy Statement on Housing and Urban Development and the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (which has the requirements for enabling ‘at least 6 storeys’ in large areas of our suburbs).

A Good News Story  about a WCC tenant who set up a small garden at her Council flat in Newtown, that was reported in the Dominion Post .  A garden supplies manager in Bulls liked the story and sent her a load of peastraw, compost and other gardening equipment, which she was very happy to receive.

The Newtown Festival – there is a lot of uncertainty about whether the Festival will go ahead as planned on March 6th – or the postponement date of April 3rd.  The Government announcements have said that Festivals will be able to operate with attendees having vaccine certificates – but it seems impossible to make sure that everyone at a free street Festival has a certificate, because there are a multitude of entrances, people living on site and a supermarket inside the Festival boundary.  However the Festival crew are going ahead with planning as if it is going to happen until there is more clarity about what will be happening in March (or April).

The meeting closed at 9.05pm. Next meeting November 15th, 7.30pm, same venue.

Newtown Residents' Association Membership 
Would you like to join us?

 
Anyone who has an interest in Newtown and the surrounding suburbs can join, and it is a great way to show support for the Association. It only costs a gold coin, because we don't want there to be any financial barrier to joining. 
 
To join, or renew membership, please fill in this form: Newtown Residents’ Association Membership Form. However you don’t have to be a member to come to our meetings – everyone is welcome!
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