WellUrban

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Stepping back


182 Lambton Quay, WellingtonThere was a brief article in Saturday's Dominion Post about the conversion of 182 Lambton Quay into a hotel. This will require the addition of eight storeys to the existing nine storey building. The resulting seventeen-storey tower would hardly be out of place on Lambton Quay, but there is something special about this site: it's due west of Midland Park.

The developers wanted to extrude the building straight up, thus maximising the floor area, but the council told them that it would cause too much extra shading onto the park. After quite a bit of behind-the-scenes wrangling, the modified design now steps back in a series of terraces, resulting in what's described as only minimal extra shading, and none during the peak noon-2pm period. From what I could see of the design, it also looked a lot more visually interesting than a straight tower.

The developers sounded very grumpy that it took so long to get consent, and were quoted as saying that they shouldn't have to worry about shading the park. I'm all in favour of more density, but Midland Park is something special, and it's good public spaces like that that help make Wellington and attractive place for visitors in the first place. As it stands, it seems like the process has worked well: the developer still gets to build a hotel, but the building ends up looking better and impact on the public realm is minimised. We usually only hear about the consents process when it goes wrong, but from what I've seen, this appears to be one of the cases when a compromise will provide better results for everyone.

8 Comments:

At 7:25 PM, June 12, 2007, Anonymous maximus said...

I'm not sure quite why the developer in question thought that he should have any right to shade the park at all. The District Plan says, quite clearly, No Shading to public Places, and as one of the most - if not THE most popular public spaces in the capital, it seems ot me that it is a foregone conclusion.

Except that it is not. You're only NOT allowed to shade a public place at lunchtime, ie defined between 12 and 2. Apparently no-one ever uses a public space outside those 2 hours a day. Not even at weekends it seems.

Personally i don't think that's good enough. Public spaces should be protected, if not a full 24 hours a day, but at least more than a measly 2 hours at weekday lunchtimes.

The newspaper article said something about it only being made a little bit worse. Isn't that just like being just a little bit pregnant?

 
At 12:02 PM, June 13, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"The newspaper article said something about it only being made a little bit worse. Isn't that just like being just a little bit pregnant?"

Well, the word "worse" implies that it as a continuous quantity, whereas pregnancy is fairly binary :-) But I get your point.

I guess it comes down to the definition of "a little bit". If a few square metres of the park get shaded between 4 and 5pm during three months a year, I can live with that. If it's a lot more than that, I wouldn't think it acceptable. One assumes (hopes?) that if the extra shading were significant then it would have had to be a notified consent. Wouldn't it?!?

 
At 1:13 PM, June 14, 2007, Blogger stephen said...

I'm interested as to how "significant" is defined.

"The developers sounded very grumpy"

Is it wrong of me to take a certain kind of pleasant glee from that statement? ;)

 
At 10:52 PM, June 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on the new Pak n Save in Mt Cook, Tom? Would love to hear your opinion ...
Bevan.

 
At 8:51 AM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

"Any thoughts on the new Pak n Save in Mt Cook, Tom? Would love to hear your opinion ..."

Generally in favour. I know people who live in Mt Cook and have said how good it is to have the bypass now that it makes taking a taxi from Thorndon New World much quicker. Wouldn't it be better for Mt Cook residents to be able to do their shopping locally than build motorways to make it easier for them to drive halfway across town? At the moment, neither the Chaffers nor Newtown New Worlds are an easy walk away (at least if you're carrying shopping).

I haven't seen a detailed plan, but I do like the idea that they'll have apartments on top of the supermarket. That's a much better use of urban space than the "one story shed surrounded by carparks" typology.

I do wish they'd find some way of replacing the swimming pool, though. It does sound like a valuable community asset, and there should be some way to incorporate a comparable facility in the new complex if they tried hard enough.

 
At 11:43 AM, June 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I do wish they'd find some way of replacing the swimming pool, though. It does sound like a valuable community asset, and there should be some way to incorporate a comparable facility in the new complex if they tried hard enough. "

Pools never make a commercial return thou,

and havent the Council just spent a pile of money (5-10 million)to increase the size of the regional Aquatic centre in Kilbirnie to accompdate more learn to swim classes etc, this will also free up space at freyberg,

Foodstuffs have owned the site for a number of years and I suspect that the reason the pool continues to exist is that the swim clubs/schools do not pay a full commercial return.

Foodstuffs are not a charity, and the WCC subsidises its pools by a huge amount already, why should a supermarket chain do the same.

What should happen thou, Is that the redesign of the Tasman/Buckle intersection due to the memorial park should include traffic flows based on the supermarket being built as a baseline, rather than as an add on later.

 
At 3:36 PM, June 15, 2007, Blogger Joanna said...

Foodstuffs are not a charity

No, but they are pushing very hard to advertise themselves as local rather than being some big faceless organisation. So maybe they could actually walk the walk as well.

 
At 10:36 AM, June 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Foodstuffs are not a charity...
but they are pushing very hard to advertise themselves as local rather than being some big faceless organisation.


Foodstuffs really are local. All New World, Pak N Save and 4 Square stores are owner-operated while the central organisation that supplies them is a co-operative owned by the individual owners. In each store, you will find the owner working there alongside the staff.

It is one of the very few major chains or organisations in NZ that has not been gobbled up by a foreign owner, as it is protected from takeover by its co-operative status. Almost every other chain retailer is foreign owned.

 

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