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

Friday, December 16, 2005

Odious comparisons

There are a lot of straw people being chucked around in the letters page of the Capital Times at the moment. Denise Stephens doesn't want the waterfront "completely built over", but then neither do I, and no-one's suggesting anything remotely like that. Even Kumutoto, which will have the closest to an "urban" feeling of anywhere on the waterfront, will be much less built up than the CBD, and there will still be big green parks at Frank Kitts and Waitangi. Not according to Lindsay Shelton, though, who apparently can't read a map or understand the meaning of the word "predominantly".

But it's the redoubtable Ms Swann who (predictably) takes the cake. She dismisses Amanda Morrison's enjoyment of Sydney's waterfront because Sydney's much bigger than Wellington. So: we're smaller than Sydney, so we have to have a boring waterfront? Morrison wasn't trying to compare the number of restaurants, but the character of the waterfronts, pointing out how much fun an waterfront can be when it's inhabited at night. And in any case, she uses a meaningless comparison (whether through intent or Alzheimer's) of Wellington City (no Hutt or Porirua) to the whole Sydney metropolitan region. If you use more relevant comparisons, the differences are not so great:


Yes, the City of Wellington actually has a greater population that the City of Sydney! These comparisons rapidly get complex and meaningless, but the main point is just this: that a lively, urban, mixed-use waterfront is a lot of fun. Anyway, I tried to squeeze what I could into 200 words, and fired it off today:
Pauline Swann misleadingly compares Greater Sydney to Wellington City, and anyway misses the point that it's density that drives the liveliness of the CBD, not absolute population. The City of Wellington actually has more people than the City of Sydney, and we have almost as many people working in our CBD as Auckland does. Wellington will grow by 35,000 in 25 years, and is already crying out for office and retail space.

How can the waterfront be "well catered for" with restaurants and bars, when there are only seven places open at night (and only a couple make a decent mojito)? That's the same as Featherston St or half a block of Courtenay Place, but spread out over 20 hectares! You could visit all seven places in a single weekend, if you can get a table.

Lindsay Shelton accuses the council of ignoring its policy that Waitangi should principally be a "large green park". Has he even looked at the map? New buildings will take up less than 10% of the area, bringing activity, variety, sheltered spaces and great architecture that more than make up for the loss of views from the Warehouse car park. Let's make it happen.


At 8:49 am, December 19, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

So, what were you wearing?!?

At 1:53 pm, December 19, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

Ah yes, I can see why you might have preferred a quiet and discreet environment! What was the theme?


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