WellUrban

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

Friday, June 15, 2007

Quick questions


Is it better to have a supermarket in Mt Cook, so that the locals can do their shopping on foot rather than taking a taxi from Thorndon via the bypass, or a swimming pool? Is it possible to have both, even if it doesn't make any money?

Would replacing Crossways with 3-4 storeys of apartments, and creating a new set of community facilities on the ground floor, be a possible compromise that would keep Mt Vic residents happy? Or is it just a much a case of "please don't let the world change"?

Is it election time already? With long-awaited central government funding recently announced for the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary visitor centre and the School of Music, can a permanent home for a combined national photography and portrait gallery at Shed 11 be far away?

What amazing new statistical analyses will be done by the general public after August, when the census digital boundaries (and a whole lot more) finally become free?

22 Comments:

At 4:53 PM, June 15, 2007, Anonymous erentz said...

"Is it better to have a supermarket in Mt Cook..."

Heck yes. I've been waiting for this ever since it was announce (what 2 years ago?). Hopefully it will have a decent deli section, and most importantly be designed by an architecture/developer combo that actually gives a damn. (Should make that be a requirement, "Must demonstrate actually gives a damn", before you're allowed to develop anything.)

"Would replacing Crossways with 3-4 storeys of apartments..."

3 stories maybe, 4 stories maybe not. Given its location right on the corner whatever happens will need to be well thought out. I'm not in a rush to see the the character of Mt Vic and other suburbs demolished. It'd be nice to see the transition from Kent Tce to Mt Vic properly developed first, replacing the light industrial buildings and completely poor land use (i.e car yards, KFC parking lots, etc.) with a 5 to 6 stories at the Kent Tce edge, fading into ~3-4 story through the transition into Mt Victoria.

(Of course being a good hypocrite if they do develop 3-4 story apartments, and they're any good, and within my price range (ha-ha), I'll buy, cuz its such a primo location.)

 
At 5:11 PM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"3 stories maybe, 4 stories maybe not."

I was thinking of the Art Deco-ish block just down the road on the corner of Elizabeth St & Moncrieff: I seem to remember that being about 4 storeys, but I may be wrong. The "character" of Mt Vic is actually quite diverse, and includes a lot of Art Deco, industrial and modernist buildings among all the Victoriana, so a building of similar size & style could be at least as (if not more) in keeping with Mt Vic than some of the pseudo-historical pitched-roof stuff that's been slapped up recently. On the other hand, as you say, it's on corner site on a slope, so 4 storeys might stand out more there.

"It'd be nice to see the transition from Kent Tce to Mt Vic properly developed first, replacing the light industrial buildings and completely poor land use (i.e car yards, KFC parking lots, etc.) with a 5 to 6 stories at the Kent Tce edge, fading into ~3-4 story through the transition into Mt Victoria."

Absolutely! Kent Tce has some terribly wasteful land use.

BTW, there's a report (482kb PDF) that's just come out on the council web site that has some interesting demographic analysis of the Mt Vic "community". It comes down to the fact that Mt Vic has a lot of young, transient, well-off people, and the role of a community centre is very different than in other neighbourhoods. They then look at how other council facilities in the CBD and nearby suburbs might be able to meet some of Crossway's existing functions.

 
At 8:54 PM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Sue said...

Plus - how many of those residents actually use crossways right now themselves?

and how much is crossways actually used vague references to support groups don't equall any actual figures?

what of other facilities in the area, like the ones offered bu the open bretheran.

 
At 1:58 AM, June 16, 2007, Anonymous Weasel said...

I went to crossways for 15 years, and think it would be sad to see it go. It is used as a creche, and hosts support meetings for those with mental illness, etc. Stop this money machine called "land grab' that threatens mt vic again like it did in the early 80's.. From a true mt vicker (see that green car around with the number plate - mt v1c? yeah, that's me baby..)

 
At 5:34 PM, June 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and how much is crossways actually used

There are a number of popular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings there during the week.

But then, so there are just around the corner in the Quakers hall in Moncrieff Street.

People come to them from all over Wellington and suburbs, so they are not just for locals.

 
At 7:18 PM, June 17, 2007, Anonymous maximus said...

uuuuh, ok, my 2c worth on the suitability of siting a major supermarket right on the corner of a roundabout in the most congested part of the key transport spine... as you may guess - i think its a bad idea. Traffic. Choked. Will be. Bad idea it is.

 
At 7:52 PM, June 18, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why oh why does the supermarket in Mt Cook have to be a pak'n'save and not a New World?

P&S are soulless precast concrete barns surrounded by acres of desolate windswept carparking. The selection of fresh veges and meat is usually f**king awful and the people who shop there are scary, at least in Kilbirnie.

While you may save several dollars you are made to feel like you are in a 3rd world UN food programme depot, with concrete floors and towering shelving.

There is just no need for the crap buildings, it costs virtually no more to make a supermarket a more pleasant place. It's nothing more than marketing bollocks to convince you that you are getting a good deal (which is of course bollocks, their profit margins are virtually identical to competitors). The Warehouse is another example of thi s kind of cheesy marketing ploy.

IMHO A cheap and nasty yellow barn, even with some token leaky apartments on top is totally out of place in a compact Victorian suburb like mt cook. Remember they do everything to save your money, including wrecking neighbourhoods with shite concrete box architecture. It's a shame they can't put it elsewhere, like a few moments drive away. Oh wait.

New World would be much welcomed, as they have a much better track record in small stores. And a better colour scheme. The one at the railway station is just plain cool.

 
At 10:25 AM, June 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"New World would be much welcomed, as they have a much better track record in small stores. And a better colour scheme. The one at the railway station is just plain cool."

I agree the P&S make you feel like you are in a packing shed, but I the railway NW has more to do with the Railway station being a grade one listed historic place, rather than New World's largesse, Many would say that the Chaffers street NW is as much an abomination as some of the big box retailing.

Speaking of the Railway station, I noticed that they are surveying and drilling in the car park opposite,(near the new holiday inn),

I had seen some fairly ugly impressions of the office block originally planned, has any one heard what exactly is to be put up there,

 
At 2:04 PM, June 19, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"IMHO A cheap and nasty yellow barn, even with some token leaky apartments on top is totally out of place in a compact Victorian suburb like mt cook."

I share your loathing of Pak 'n' Save, but I wonder why you automatically assume that the apartments will be leaky? Also, while the site does back on to Tasman St, I think most of it is best described as "random light industrial" rather than Victorian.

"Many would say that the Chaffers street NW is as much an abomination as some of the big box retailing."

The NW metro stores have been a lot better than the average supermarket, but then they are aiming at a different market. I'd agree that Chaffers NW is an abomination, and apart from putting it on the other side of the site, on of the best things they could have done differently is to build apartments on top. That's one reason why I (tentatively) support the P&S development, though I haven't seen actual plans and there's obviously a lot of parking, traffic and urban design issues to get right.

"Speaking of the Railway station, I noticed that they are surveying and drilling in the car park opposite,(near the new holiday inn),

I had seen some fairly ugly impressions of the office block originally planned, has any one heard what exactly is to be put up there"

I haven't seen anything more recent that the big lumps I wrote about in October. I noticed the drilling, too, so it looks like things are finally underway: for better or worse.

 
At 3:50 PM, June 19, 2007, Blogger Stephen said...

"the people who shop there are scary, at least in Kilbirnie."

BOO!

We operate a multi-supermarket strategy - staples at Sack'n'Pave, goodies at Moore Wilson Fresh, emergency topups at New World Metro on the way home.

I'm afraid P&S is quite markedly cheaper for most things, and I'm prepared to be scary for my wallet's sake.

Having said that, I wonder at the scope for a ginormous PNS so close to the Newtown New World (are they happy, I wonder?) and Kilbirnie. I'm surprised that their format would work there, unless their strategy is to kill off all the other grocery retailers between them and Island Bay.

 
At 10:44 PM, June 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I wonder why you automatically assume that the apartments will be leaky?"

As someone sort of involved in the industry, I used to see a bit of this- an ivory tower architect creates a nightmare to build, which is subsequently tendered out to the lowest bidder, cut every corner, quality be damned. A year or two down the line, if the useless body corporate can agree on anything, repairs have to be made on water tightness, interiors and exteriors, HVAC, fire safety, street noise problems, and occasionally even structure.

I guess that's a 90's view of the industry, and things are more regulated and MUCH better now, but I always look at unconventional designs and wonder who built it, and whether it's entirely held together with silicone glue. Cynical for sure!

"Also, while the site does back on to Tasman St, I think most of it is best described as "random light industrial" rather than Victorian."

Fair point; although I bet the view up the hill hasn't changed much in 100 years... I love those old photos of Wellington.

 
At 11:30 PM, June 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bugger the commercial realities, this brings out the idealist in me.

Heck, yeah, let's get rid of the only place kids can learn to swim in the CBD, and the swim school with the best reputation in Wellington City. And let's replace it with... a frickin' supermarket. Yay, a supermarket. Wellington needs more supermarkets, oh yes. Sorry kids, you little bludgers need to harden up and get REAL! Pay your own way, you pint-sized wastrels!

It just seems messed-up to me, losing the one place in the CBD (I think) where kids can learn this vital life skill, for a P&S monstrosity.

And yes, vested interest, my 5 year old son attends TSW. He loves it, and the instruction is excellent.

Toby

 
At 8:59 AM, June 20, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"I bet the view up the hill hasn't changed much in 100 years... I love those old photos of Wellington."

Well, I love some of the old photos of Wellington, but others show just what a straggly little hick town Wellington was. And I'm not sure of the exact timing, but I'm pretty sure the view up the hill has changed a hell of a lot since the 19th Century: for a start, there really used to be a Mt Cook before they flattened it to build a jail.

"Heck, yeah, let's get rid of the only place kids can learn to swim in the CBD, and the swim school with the best reputation in Wellington City. And let's replace it with... a frickin' supermarket. Yay, a supermarket. Wellington needs more supermarkets, oh yes."

I'd have thought that food was at least as vital as learning to swim.

While I agree that it would be good to find a way to incorporate a replacement pool in the complex, what mechanisms do you propose to ensure that that happens? It's not a council-owned facility, so should there be legislation to stop St Johns "sell[ing] the facilities and [using] the funds to initiate and support community and youth projects"?

Bear in mind that no-one's seen any plans yet, and Foodstuffs haven't even applied for a consent, so it's hard to tell whether it'll be a "monstrosity". I vaguely remember something about there being between 2 and 4 storeys of apartments on top of the supermarket, but I'm not sure. Maybe the council could allow some extra storeys in part of the complex in exchange for Foodstuffs including a swimming pool? Extra height wouldn't be appropriate right next to Tasman St, but depending upon how far east into the block the complex goes, something similar to the rather nice Tasman St Apartments (up near the corner with Buckle St) could work well.

 
At 9:23 AM, June 20, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

And it won't be the only supermarket between the Basin & Newtown...

 
At 11:16 AM, June 20, 2007, Anonymous erentz said...

Councillor Andy Foster said Progressive had argued with the council that it would not be appropriate for a Newtown supermarket to reflect the character of the Edwardian shops across the road.

"We agreed, and took the land out of the character area."


So... ahh... all anyone has to do is decide they want to build something that doesn't fit in a character area, and the character area gets removed.

So tell me again, what was the point of having a "character area"? It turns out to be completely meaningless.

 
At 11:34 AM, June 20, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"So tell me again, what was the point of having a 'character area'? It turns out to be completely meaningless."

It certainly sounds that way. Though in this case, if there's currently a Bunning's depot on the site, why was that specific site designated as a character area in the first place? And I shudder at the thought of a supermarket dollied up in pseudo-Edwardian kitsch.

The bit that irritates me is this:

"The council had also insisted that verandas cover the footpaths outside the supermarket. Progressive had appealed against this in the Environment Court."

While I don't want the supermarket to be a historical pastiche, I do want it to create a pedestrian-friendly environment, and verandahs are one very simple way to create a more sheltered and intimate street environment. Good on the council for insisting on that, and for this:

Mr Foster said the proposed site was the gateway to Newtown, however, and the design of the supermarket would have to reflect that.

"Just sticking a bunch of car parks there, and sticking the supermarket way back on the site, is not what we would be envisaging."

Now, they should build some apartments on top of it :-)

 
At 1:26 PM, June 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about this obsession with putting apartments on top of things, Tom.

Down on Te Aro flat sure - but take for example the proposed Mt Cook P&S. The original plan was for a level or two of parking, the P&S (2 story height) and then the apartments of a couple of floors ... a 6 story building would be completely out of scale with the surrounding neightbourhood which is 2 story at most.

Maybe foodstuffs is trying to generate customers on tap, as you can't tell me we need 4 supermarkets between chaffers and newtown (approx 3km's.

Still doesn't justify such a huge building right in a light industrial and residential area.

 
At 1:56 PM, June 20, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"I'm not sure about this obsession with putting apartments on top of things, Tom."

Because it's a waste of space not to. The legacy of having some two storey shops, next to some two storey offices, then some one or two storey homes, has left us with spread out and unsustainable cities.

"a 6 story building would be completely out of scale with the surrounding neightbourhood which is 2 story at most."

Well, for Tasman St itself I'd agree, but as the site spreads towards Belfast St and Adelaide Rd I wouldn't agree. The Adelaide Rd area is the next place (after Johnsonville) on the council's list of places to plan for greater density and population growth, so six storeys is likely to become the norm there. Just because it's currently out of place among a mishmash of panelbeaters and warehouses, doesn't mean it's going to be out of place forever.

"Maybe foodstuffs is trying to generate customers on tap, as you can't tell me we need 4 supermarkets between chaffers and newtown (approx 3km's."

Well, that makes for a maximum distance of 500m to a supermarket along that stretch, which is probably just slightly more than a reasonable walking distance, so if part of the point is to encourage people to do their shopping on foot (which it should be), I don't see a problem with it. I remember the days when there were no supermarkets in town, and it was acceptable to have a 5km spacing between supermarket because no-one lived in town and, hey, everyone drives everywhere, right? I'd much prefer clusters of specialist local shops to faceless supermarkets, but it's still better than completely separating work, shopping and living.

"Still doesn't justify such a huge building right in a light industrial and residential area."

But 6 storeys doesn't sound like a huge building to me! It's bigger than what's currently there, but 6 storeys should be normal for an urban residential area, and I look forward to the time when Adelaide Rd through to Newtown is as "urban" as Te Aro is becoming.

 
At 2:20 PM, June 20, 2007, Anonymous Julian said...

If you think that the Push'n'Shove at Mt Cook will be horrible, wait until you see the proposed Countdown on Adelaide, John and Hanson Streets in Newtown.

The Council is requiring pedestrian verandahs... which might protect us unfortunate pedestrians from the rain but won't protect us from the stark and blank (apart from a big illuminated sign) 2-3 storey wall immediately against the footpath.

The ComPost reports that the Council considers that having the building set back on the site is unacceptable (agree) but you have to wonder what the Council thinks the road frontage will be like... ugh.

 
At 4:16 PM, June 20, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"The ComPost reports that the Council considers that having the building set back on the site is unacceptable (agree) but you have to wonder what the Council thinks the road frontage will be like... ugh."

The only way to make large-scale retail like that really work in an urban context is to provide a "skin" of smaller, active-edged shops along the street edge. I think the Newtown New World does that quite well, at least along the main road (the side streets are a bit of a write-off).

Then again, what's the edge of Bunning's like at the moment? It's a while since I've been past there, but I seem to remember that it's just a blank wall and a few fences at the moment.

 
At 7:05 PM, June 20, 2007, Anonymous Julian said...

Agree with you Tom, the only good way to deal with the street edge is to have some real shops fronting the road. There's plenty of examples in Christchurch of the mistake of allowing tall walls along the road front. The current Bunnings road edge is pretty terrible so it probably couldn't be worse...

 
At 10:48 AM, June 26, 2007, Blogger Hadyn said...

Sorry I gave up reading half way down.

I will undoubtedly move away from Tasman St well before the supermarket gets built but I could not think of a dumber idea (well I could but that's a different thing entirely).

A New world Metro-style market might work because the reason most people in that area want a closer supermarket is that they walk home and it's a looong way from Chaffer's New World.

But I think that the last thing you want is a freakin' 100 car carpark (I'm assuming here) on a small street right next to one of the city's largest traffic bottlenecks.

 

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