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

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Stadium sprawl

Today's Wellingtonian has an article about the council's purchase of Cobham Drive Park in Kilbirnie. The council has spent $3.7 million to ensure that the land is retained for recreational use, which I'm sure is laudable, though it does seem like a lot of money.

Cobham Drive Park - aerial photo
I don't often comment on happenings beyond the central city, but part of the article shows that this might have a flow-on effect for the city. This is because the council is considering using this as the site for the proposed indoor sports stadium, counter to the previous proposal to put this stadium above the concourse of the Westpac Stadium:

Stadium concourse with proposed indoor stadium site
The city site has many advantages:
  • Right next to the city's major public transport hub
  • Within walking distance of the CBD
  • Cleverly makes multiple use of brownfield land (stadium, concourse, parking, railway)
  • Provides shelter for users of the existing stadium concourse
  • Adds more regular activity to a part of town that is dead apart from on game days
  • Complements the Harbour Quays development and helps connect it to the city and Thorndon
In contrast, building it on the Cobham Drive site would:
  • Require more users to drive (there are decent bus services nearby, but anyone from the northern suburbs would have to change at the station)
  • Irritate the residents
  • Make a single use of greenfield land
  • Displace existing recreational users
It's close to (but not within easy walking distance of) the airport and aquatic centre, but otherwise produces few synergies. Otherwise, the only advantage I can see is that it's cheaper and easier to build.

This is sprawl thinking: build a big box on a cheap empty site on the outskirts of the city, rather than rising to the challenge of integrating it into the city fabric. It's shortsighted, unimaginative, and goes against the sense of Wellington as a compact city.

Update: The Wellingtonian published my letter on this subject on the 19th of January. Another letter writer and the editorial both agree.


At 2:48 pm, January 12, 2006, Blogger s. said...

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At 2:52 pm, January 12, 2006, Blogger s. said...

Bloody daft idea.
1. Where're the cars gonna park. There's gonna need to be space for a lot of cars. Compared to the easily-reachable-by-public transport site by the stadium, that is.
2. That concourse is horrible in anything other than warm, calm, dry weather.
3. People already boycott the centre in Newtown - in favour of Petone - because they don't want to have come through town. Making them go out to Rongotai is hardly an improvement.

And, there was me thinking that that "park" was Rongotai College's sports field.

At 4:14 pm, January 12, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Rongotai College is a couple of blocks further south. There are so many schools, parks and playing fields in the area, it's easy to get mixed up!

You're right, it is daft. It's not the first choice, and the council and Wellington Basketball Association have always preferred the city site, but if they can't find or justify funding for it they'll look for something cheaper like Kilbirnie. The worry is that now they've paid for the park, they might consider it a sunk cost.

Maybe they could subsidise the cost of building it beside the stadium by selling apartments on top of it? Best seats in the house!


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