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

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Not so fast!

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The Harbour Quays location of the indoor stadium is by no means a done deal. There's an article on page A8 of today's Dominion Post headed "Stadium site shift upsets wharf users". It's not online, but here's an excerpt:

Plans to put a $40 million indoor sports stadium on Wellington's waterfront have brought a flurry of concerned calls from shipping and wharfside operators.

Prospective tenants at CentrePort's new Harbour Quays office park were also raising issues, CentrePort chairman Nigel Gould said. He was concerned that moving the 12-court sports centre to land next to the development could be a poor option for economic return from valuable land.


The deal relies on a slice of CentrePort-owned land being gifted to the council. But Mr Gould said it was not that simple.

Port users have complained that the sports centre would cut off access to the port, and Harbour Quays tenants are concerned that the community facility would not fit into the business park.

"It couldn't be in a more contestable area," Mr Gould said.

Addressing those concerns was a priority for the port company, but the opportunity for the city would have a strong bearing in the deliberations. However, Mr Gould acknowledged that it "made a lot of sense" to concentrate big sports venues in one place.

The proposed location includes an area that's shown in grey on the masterplan and labelled on the design page as "operational port area", so perhaps port access is a genuine concern. It is, after all, still a working port, and that should take highest priority. On the other hand, I seem to remember that there were plans for "big box" retail here, and when I looked yesterday it seemed to be a big empty carpark without much "operational" activity going on.
Proposed location for indoor stadiumMy suggested alternative site, however, is marked as being entirely within the office park, so may not be subject to the same problems.

As for being "a poor option for economic return from valuable land", it's worth bearing in mind that CentrePort is mostly owned by the regional council, whose purpose is to "[promote] Quality for Life by ensuring our environment is protected while meeting the economic, cultural and social needs of the community." Thus we should expect them to look beyond purely economic returns, and an indoor sports and events centre is exactly the sort of thing that addresses "cultural and social needs".

As for the actual and prospective "tenants" who are worried that "the community facility would not fit into the business park", I presume they mean the building owners rather than the people who actually have to work there. I know I've got at least one reader from the Stats building, so I'd like to ask: would your workplace be better or worse if it had a variety of community facilities, rather than just being a "business park"?


At 3:43 pm, August 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This location, or one near this one, makes a thousand times more sense than the airport option (I suspect the schools use argument was a red herring).

The trouble is CentrePort (and WWL, sometimes) have both been given too much commerical focus to care about their respective councils wider remit for the community, eg "Quality of Life" in this case.

An interesting question will be whether this fits the bill for the indoor sports people at Shed 1, which will probably turn on how its going to be linked in with the CBD and rest of the city - unless all the lunchtime users are going to drive out there...back to your transport plan, Tom?

At 4:49 pm, August 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the moment I'm tempted to say I'd settle for either, as it certainly doesn't feel like I'm in a "business park" right now. There are a few businesses around here, but it's hardly what you'd call a park. As for adding a sports building, the short answer is that I don't see how it could detract from the environment. There'd likely be some more foot traffic but that's about it(?). I'm sure some of the more athletic staff here would be thrilled, if they could fit visits into their lunch hour/after work. Apparently some even play touch rugby on the stadium bridge overpass-thing.

As for a variety of community facilities, I'd be all for it if they included at least one decent cafe. We have one built into the ground floor which is contracted to Stanley Road, except ours is called Port Road. (Because ... we are by a port.) You would think their coffee would make up for their attempts at creativity, but to say they're mediocre is being generous. I'll spare you the rant.

Next door there's another cafe 'Wired' which is marginally better but still overpriced and inexplicably noisy.

So, I guess the answer to your question is the area would likely be better off with a variety of community facilities, so long as they're done well and include a cafe which doesn't have pocket-sized sandwiches for $3.80 and I can get a coffee without having to ask more than once. (Uh oh my rant has started...)

At 8:31 am, August 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

stats man: is there a link along the waterfront? Can you walk directly along there into the cafes at the Event Centre? Or do you have to go up and over onto the Caketin Concourse?

Have you heard anything about a link? There was meant to be one i thought, a simple 5 min walk into town, to make your day pleasant. But i can't see how you get past the wharf activities that are still ongoing.

At 11:52 am, August 21, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Anonymous: CentrePort certainly does sound very narrowly commercial in its focus, despite its remit. WWL is a little more balanced, though I'd prefer less emphasis on "highest and best use" and the introduction of mixed-income housing on or near the waterfront.

The proposed site is probably too far from the CBD for most people's lunchtime sport, though if it were built closer to the railway station it might be at least as convenient as Shed 1 for many potential users (see my map of Wellington CBD workers - there are a lot in Thorndon). Otherwise, the Clifton Tce carpark site would be closer.

Stats man: I don't envy you!

At 2:25 pm, August 21, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Stats man: I walked out to CentrePort at lunchtime and had a sandwich at Port Road. Ye Gods! It's worse than I thought.

Anon: as far as I know, you can't walk along the waterfront until you reach the Bluebridge terminal. If you want to get to Kumutoto or Queens Wharf, you'd have to walk along the Waterloo Quay slip road (with no shelteror safely designated pedestrian section) as far as Bunny St, and then you can go around the Waterloo on Quay apartments. So the walk to Queens Wharf would be more like 10 than 5 minutes, and most of that in very dull & unpleasant surroundings.

A better bet would be across the Stadium concourse (negotiating the ramp that doubles back from CentrePort). In 5 minutes you could get to the railway station (woohoo! Trax!) and from there it's not far to Sweet Fanny Anne's (friendly service and a good range of sandwiches) or the Thistle (for a pint!).


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