BIG NEWS

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wellington City Council to give middle finger to ratepayers, telling them they are ignorant.

Yesterday, a commissioners report was posted on the Wellington City Council’s website regarding amendments to the District Plan. District Plan Change 72 will provide high-density housing in suburbs like Johnsonville and Kilbirnie as part of an urban development strategy for growth. But at the same time the Council has not made any associated plans to upgrade infrastructure to ensure these plans are successful.

Most ratepayers oppose these changes, and much of the report discussed spinning out such opposition. As the Council had “embarked on a path of intensification, the Commissioners have reported that it must continue to commit to that direction”. In other words, consult, but summarily disregard most ratepayer opposition to that direction.

More than 300 submissions were received after the plan was notified, which is an extraordinary high number. Most of these submissions were from Johnsonville ratepayers, concerned that high density housing will lower property values, and undermine the character of the suburb, which is already stretched. Johnsonville makes up six percent of the Wellington population but has been asked to accommodate 75% of the burden for growth in the Wellington area. The Council is expected to rubber stamp the changes in a few days.

The committee who wrote the report believes that many of the submitters did not understand what they were submitting to, and that “the rules proposed were not fully understood”. Some may well not have understood, because the Council is not particularly good at communicating its plans. Others who have done research on these issues have a clearer idea of what the Council intends to do and have come out more strongly against the proposals than those whom the Council claim are ignorant.

The committee also said that there was a “ demonstrated relationship between quality public transport services.. and proximity to public transport routes”. Trouble is that there is not a quality public transport system as the antiquated trains don’t turn up on time and they break down consistently, which is why passenger levels are declining.

The committee maintains that recommended changes will encourage commercial investment. In order for that to happen there needs to be development in an already crowded area. The Council believes that the proposed plan will “ encourage more comprehensive development” but says it is “ unlikely to occur.. without site amalgamations”, implying that it is doubtful that the plan will achieve its aims in that area.

If Northern Ward Councillors vote for this change to the District Plan, based on the Commissioners’ report, it gives ratepayers another good reason to turf them out in October.

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