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

Friday, July 15, 2005

Harbour Quays

There's a big article in today's Dominion Post about a major 6.5ha "business park" to be developed on CentrePort land, between the railway station and container port.

Harbour Quays site outline
The development has been discussed before, and has been mentioned in the council's plans for the City Gateway, but this marks its official launch and naming as Harbour Quays.

This could be very positive for Wellington: 4000 office workers (not quite the 8000 mentioned earlier, but still significant) within 2 to 10 minutes' walk of the station, and the conversion of an unfriendly brownfield site into an extension of the city, complete with landscaped public spaces, retail and harbourfront cafes. However, I have some reservations:
  • The very phrase "business park" makes me suspicious, as it evokes exurban images of anonymous, isolated buildings among wide carparks, with a few token patches of grass and a gate to keep out the riff-raff. The descriptions and renderings appear much better than my pessimistic view, with quality landscaping and public amenities, but I'm still wary of the emphasis on "maximum space" rather than an urbanist approach of streets and city blocks.
  • They mention some retail and entertainment, and that "the potential for apartments ... would be considered as the development progressed", but I'd prefer to see more emphasis on mixed use from the start. It should be easy to incorporate at least 500 residents without adding too much height to the proposed buildings.
  • The site is adjacent to the CBD, but there's a real danger of isolation. There are vague references to footbridges across Waterloo Quay, and development along the Quay could provide enough shelter and activity to make walking from the city less of an ordeal. But these need to be done properly if they are to succeed, and more needs to be done to connect across the railway to Thorndon.
On the whole, though, this is an exciting development, and if this could be combined with the proposed indoor stadium, short-stay apartments on the west side of Waterloo Quay, revamp of the Government Centre Precinct and a real commitment to public transport, then the northern end of the CBD could become a truly vital part of the city.


At 1:28 pm, January 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apartments, eh? Why that's what I've always wanted. An apartment next to the railway station. I'll pony up half a mill for that!

Think of the benefits! The nights listening to Neal Diamond and 20,000 middle aged fans singing Sweet Caroline! A stadium full of rugby fans pissing in my doorway on their way into town after the big match!

OK, so that's perhaps a little pessimistic, but if I were a retailer on the strip between the current CBD and the railway station I'd be looking at this with fear and loathing; I would have visions of office workers who currently enjoy a gentle amble down Lambton Quay as they head off to catch the train, window shopping as they go, being relocated to an office where they commute in, go to work (2 minutes), go home (2 minutes), and drop not a dime in the city.


Post a Comment

<< Home