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

Monday, July 02, 2007

In-fill your submission form

My post about the proposed new infill regulations, and its follow-up concentrating on car use in the suburbs, turned out to be more controversial than I thought. If you want to have your own say to council about the changes, you'll have to hurry, since submissions close at 5pm today. There are more details and a submission form online, and in case you're interested, here's what I wrote on my submission.

1. Should the Council direct housing development to areas with supporting infrastructure and good access to public transport?

Yes: the key benefits of increased density require it to be in the right places.

2. Should the Council direct housing development away from areas sensitive to residential development including coastlines, steep slopes and key employment areas?

Yes, though I'm not sure what is meant by "key employment areas" - surely it's good to encourage more people to live close to workplaces?

3. Do you support the current approach of being able to build townhouses, terrace houses and low rise apartments anywhere in the suburbs and commercial areas?

No: Allowing moderate increases in density in places far from infrastructure will just result in more people living car-dependent lifestyles.

4. Do you support identifying areas of stability - where infill housing would be tightly controlled or not allowed at all? Provide examples.

Yes, but only a few. The most outstanding examples of heritage or character areas (e.g. a few parts of Thorndon or Mt Vic) could be adversely affected by infill, but most suburbs could benefit from increased density if it's well designed.

5. Do you support identifying areas of limited change - where infill housing would be allowed but with a greater focus on quality? Provide examples.

Yes: Pretty much anywhere with good public transport, or with the potential for good public transport, except for the examples above. Greater focus on design quality is needed everywhere.

6. Do you support identifying areas of change - where housing re-development would be encouraged, resulting in moderate to significant increases in residential density? Provide examples.

Absolutely! Harbour Quays, Lambton, Te Aro and Adelaide Rd can sustain much higher population densities than at present. There are also specific areas along the J'ville line (e.g. at Crofton Downs) and along the Basin Reserve - Newtown - Kilbirne - Airport spine that could support medium- to high-density housing.

7. Do you think a targeted approach to infill housing would better meet the needs of our population and lead to a more efficient, sustainable and better quality city?

Yes: urban form and transport infrastructure have to be tightly integrated and planned together.

8. Other comments:

Southeast Te Aro has great potential for increased density, but rather than allowing building random towers to the current limits or above (ten storeys is often too high) while other sites are vacant or used for low-rise bulk retail, there should be a coordinated approach that ensures appropriate heights (6 storeys is good for most of that area) and consistent streetscapes.

There also needs to be an emphasis on quality public space, with housing arranged along the lines of "terraces and mews" on public streets rather than tucked into private driveways or gated communities. Shared pedestrian streets or shared gardens could provide better amenity for families in the absence of private gardens.

Once plans are in place for population growth along the J'ville-CBD-hospital-airport spine, high-capacity sustainable public transit (e.g. light rail) is a must, even if it seems expensive based on current population levels.


At 3:46 pm, July 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good reminder. I have dutifully made a submission now.

At 8:51 pm, July 02, 2007, Blogger Unknown said...

Imanaged to get one in just in time. Thanks for the heads up.

At 6:21 pm, July 09, 2007, Blogger David said...

I'm coming to this late. But...

If I wanted to develop high density inner city housing in Wellington, then I'd look at the rail yards. I really have no idea why you'd waste all that inner city land, just a few hundred meters from Parliament, on shunting trains around. The yards are huge... about the size of the CBD itself.

Move it all out to Petone, or somewhere. Dig cut and cover tunnels for, say, four train lines... two each way. Which would make it easier to extend the lines to somewhere sensible, rather than terminating them at the railway station. Then build shops, offices, and high rise apartment blocks all over the land you've freed up. Plan for a light rail line on the surface, so that residents can get in to the 'old' center without having to slow the trains down with multiple stops.

I would be surprised if you couldn't build 100 blocks in the area available in the yards. Say... average 20 stories, 4 apartments per story, and 2 residents per apartment. You're looking at 16,000 inner city dwellers. And at, say, $300k per apartment, a development value of $25billion which is more than enough to pay for a spot of land for new yards in Petone.


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