WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Moving in


In last week's post about hospitality trends, I mentioned projections of a further 3000 inner-city restaurants residents (oops, Freudian slip!) in the next 2-3 years, and that this increase alone should be enough to support many new bars and restaurants. Where did that projection come from? I noted the figure down after seeing it in a real estate market analysis a while back, but I can't find that study online. In any case, I wondered how firm such a projection could be.

So I decided to do my own unofficial estimates, based solely upon new buildings that are already in the pipeline. I estimated the number of bedrooms in all apartment, townshouse and hotel developments that either have been completed since this year's census, are under construction, or where the site is at least undergoing preparation. I then multiplied this by 0.8, to allow for the fact that not all bedrooms will be inhabited. I used the same adjustment for hotels, even though room occupancy rates are usually a bit lower than that, since some rooms are occupied by couples and hotel residents are likely to eat out more often than locals.

This gave me an estimate of over 1700 new residents, based solely upon developments that are already underway. There's room for approximately another 1300 residents in other proposals that are still either undergoing consent (such as the Hilton) or have been approved but show no sign of immediate construction (like the Watermark update: that's now confirmed). That adds up to ... well, just over 3000 extra inner city dwellers, many of whom will be moving in within a year.

I created a map to show just the first 1700, to show where the most likely and imminent population increases will be. Each red dot represents a new resident, shown randomly distributed within 100m of their home-to-be.

Map of new apartment dwellers and green space. One red dot per new resident; green rings show distance from green space.There are some fairly strong patterns here. Most of the growth will be in Willis St, southern and eastern Te Aro, and near the waterfront from Te Papa to Oriental Parade. Lower Cuba St is pretty quiet for now, and the Lambton Quarter is generally static after many years of apartment developments along the Terrace.

What is that strange green fungus growing underneath? Long-time WellUrbanites might recognise that as my "green map" from nearly a year ago: the brightest green shows areas of urban green space, with expanding rings of paler green showing increasing distance from those spaces, while grey areas are more than 300m from the nearest patch of public lawn. There's one big cluster of new developments (Century City, Monvie) near western Courtenay Place, so if you believe that compact local parks are an important amenity for city dwellers, then the proposed park upgrade seems very timely. Submissions close tomorrow!

But one area stands out as a potential problem: deep into SoCo, near the corner of Vivian and Tory, several hundred people are about to move into the greyest part of Wellington. In fact, there are no quality public spaces here at all. I've already suggested three sites near upper Tory St that could potentially be turned into pocket parks or local squares, and there's another one between Lorne and Tennyson streets that might also work. While Cobblestone Park could definitely do with its planned upgrade (and the map shows plenty more residents on the way), I still believe that SoCo should be the greatest priority for urban design and public amenity improvements.

6 Comments:

At 11:35 am, July 05, 2006, Anonymous John said...

"a further 3000 inner-city restaurants"? Fantastic!! :-)

 
At 11:53 am, July 05, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

We should be so lucky! Duly noticed and fixed: thanks!

 
At 2:16 pm, July 05, 2006, Blogger Maximus said...

Tom, can you make sure that the Council gets a copy of your latest map? It's spot on - the overlap of grey (parkless) with new people, hungry for food and green spaces, really does point up the crucial need for a decent sized inner-city park.

I'm really not sure that the promontory on Courtenay is going to be useful - it'll be nice to have it car free, but noone will ever really go there to relax. A traffic free space is what is needed - yet in the hub of it all. Swan Lane car park is one perfect example - and perhaps the Noel Leemings carpark off Tory is the other (as you showed earlier).

Swan Lane already has the start: great bars and galleries on the edges. Leemings has... well, it had a nice tree, now butchered - but not much else going for it. It's not enclosed, not near any good architecture, and currrently has no people living there... unless someone were to purchase it and start again...

 
At 4:11 pm, July 05, 2006, Anonymous Simon said...

Couldn't agree more about the need for a park and its location. your map shows it perfectly! You must be quite the GIS guru Tom.

As for council, it is my understanding that there is/will be a budget to buy some land for a park in this are of Te Aro on the understanding that there is a large gap of public space in this [increasingly] high demand area. not too sure on timeframes however. If I find out more, I'll post more info..

 
At 4:46 pm, July 05, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Maximus: I've put a link to this post in my comments on the Courtenay park, so with any luck at least someone on the council might have a look! My site traffic stats seems to confirm that.

I've seen quite a few people sitting or lying down on the grass at that Courtenay triangle in the past, so it looks to be reasonably attractive at the moment, and I think that more space there would make it even more so. It might be more of a "spread out the tables" square (given the presence of The Jimmy, Burger Fuel and the new wine bar) than a "sit on the grass" park, but either way, I'm sure it will be popular.

Swan Lane would indeed be great, but now that $1m+ has been spent on Glover Park it's very unlikely to happen. Besides, it's a bit of a trek from the grey bit of SoCo, so it's unlikely to fill the niche of a casual neighbourhood park for residents of Sol, Trinity, Vivo etc. I'm basing my analysis on the need for this sort of "backyard substitute", rather than a destination space like Waitangi Park or Cuba Mall.

You're right that the Leemings carpark has nothing going for it now: except location and space, and everything else can be created. Imagine the parking banished underground and entered via Fifeshire Ave rather than Tory St. Imagine apartments above the buildings to the south and east, bringing residents and enclosure without blocking sun. There's already a lot of retail activity going on at weekends, providing the potential initial customer base for cafes and small retail. This is one place that could really benefit from an integrated and proactive approach from the council, rather than the usual "let's see what the developers do".

By the way, what do you mean, "not near any good architecture"? There's a rather nice new apartment block just down Frederick St ;-)

Simon: not quite a guru! I did the original "green map" in Freehand rather than GIS, and superimposed the red dots (which I did use MapInfo for) onto it with Photoshop. I know the council is talking about another park in Te Aro, but I hadn't heard anything specific about this area. They had been talking about doing some complicated land swap down by Lombard St, which as I said at the time is not a bad idea, but doesn't fill the biggest gap. I think they've now shelved that plan (mostly for financial reasons), and the LTCCP talked about upgrading Cobblestone Park (I've heard that Megan Wraight will be working on that), but I've never heard anything specific about southeast Te Aro. If you do hear anything, please post away!

 
At 5:31 pm, July 05, 2006, Blogger Maximus said...

Somehow, and i'm not sure how, the Council needs to have a strategy on space instead of just seizing little left over pieces. There's a little pocket park at Bond/Victoria. There's another at Ghuznee/Victoria. There's going to be one at Courtnay/Taranaki. But they're all just SLOAP - and so they're awful spaces to be in. There has been huge amounts of research done into what makes a good park/place/urban spot, and those 3 each score about 2 out of 10.
Cobblestone's a 5ish, Glover is a 5ish, but Swannie is about a 9/10 which is why i keep going on about it.... ...don't give up - it WILL happen (one day....)!

 

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