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

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The World on our doorstep

Just imagine the reaction if a huge multistorey structure appeared at Queens Wharf, full of wealthy foreigners, and serviced by coaches that interfere with pedestrian movement. There'd be a huge outcry, wouldn't there? People would be rushing down to the wharves to protest against this view-blocking monstrosity taking over our beautiful public spaces!

Not if it's a cruise ship, they won't. People will indeed rush to the waterfront, but in order to gawk and take photos. The massive floating apartment block The World arrived yesterday, and at lunchtime today the outer T was full of people keen to get a look (Flickr's PhillipC already got there with some much better photos than mine).

'The World' apartment ship at Queens Wharf, WellingtonOf course, my implied comparison with the Hilton was a little disingenuous, as a permanent hotel won't have the novelty value of a cruise ship. On the other hand, the Hilton will be half the length, two storeys shorter, and won't block off the public wharf (unlike today, when crowds had to peer through temporary fences).

You'll be aware the Waterfront Watch and others are appealing against the decision to allow the hotel. There was also an article in Saturday's Dominion Post saying that the hotel's backers are appealing some of the conditions in the consent. What a bloody cheek, I thought! As I said before, while I'm generally in favour of the hotel, "if the developer is not willing to comply with [the conditions] then we definitely should reject this proposal".

But I've seen the details of the developers' appeal now, and it doesn't sound so unreasonable. The first part of their appeal is that instead of a fixed limit of three delivery vehicles per day using the Shed 6 route, they want 93 per month. That sounds fair enough to me, as it's the same overall number of vehicles prescribed by the conditions, but with the ability to schedule them more flexibly.

They also want up to 12 coaches a year to be able to pull up to the hotel, while that is an increase over the zero allowed by the conditions, one coach per month doesn't sound like a huge increase. As they point out, cruise ships currently bring coaches to the wharf (as today's one did) and no-one complains about that. Overall, with the requirement for all other traffic to use the tunnel, I still think there'll be much less traffic around the Shed 6 route than there is at present.

One thing worth noting is that if the Hilton goes ahead, this particular cruise ship will no longer be able to berth at Queens Wharf, as at 196m it's about 50% longer than the new limit that would be imposed. That's a bit of a pity, but most cruise ships are either too big already (and have to berth by the ferry terminal) or would be small enough to berth at the southern end. There will still be plenty of interesting ships visiting the wharf, plus a hotel with bars and restaurants - and sitting on the sunny side of the outer T with a mojito sounds like a great idea right now.


At 5:29 pm, October 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

an answer to all this: why don't Hilton just buy a boat and moor it there?

At 9:12 am, October 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of mojitos, there's a jam jar mojito night at the excellent imbibe this friday (the 27th). I have *heard* that this involved said mojito's being two for one, which, given the normal quality of cocktails at imbibe, is really rather deliciously enticing.

Just thought, you know, you might be the sort of person that would want to know.


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