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

Friday, December 14, 2007

Slightly less super

When you're considering what to submit for the Adelaide Rd consultation (due in less than 4 hours), it's worth bearing in mind the current state of proposed private developments. There was an article in yesterday's Dominion Post (now online), and a media release from the council, stating that a demolition consent has been applied for for the proposed supermarket site that has been much discussed. While both articles are primarily concerned about the possibility of the site being left vacant for months, there's a small point mentioned in the Dom article that's quite interesting: the proposal has been scaled down somewhat.

Instead of a 6000 sq m Pak 'N Save with 60 apartments, Foodstuffs are now proposing "a medium-sized New World supermarket above a car park with space for 157 vehicles, and a couple of four to five-storey blocks, each with 20 apartments". The façade of the old BGI swimming pool will also be retained and incorporated, and while I'm always wary of façadism, this all sounds like some sort of compromise is happening quietly during the pre-application stage of the consent process. If the actual consent process (which Foodstuffs expects to start in March) were able to ensure that the final design incorporates plenty of active edges and maybe even a replacement for the pool, then I think we could go a long way towards balancing the needs of what could be a valuable development with the legitimate concerns of current residents. Fingers crossed.


At 1:37 pm, December 14, 2007, Blogger Hadyn said...

A New World: yes.
But make it a New World Metro. More cars in that area will choke the roads into a mess.

At 5:27 pm, December 14, 2007, Blogger Seamonkey Madness said...

"While both articles are primarily concerned about the possibility of the site being left vacant for months..."

You know as well as I do Tom that those concerns are unfounded. It will be part of the resource consent that there will be a minimum time that the site can be left bare. Otherwise Council officers tend to get all tetchy. ;-)

I think the journalists who wrote these articles (note that I haven't actually read them, just going from what you have said here) that they need to do some bloody homework on RC processes.

At 5:28 pm, December 14, 2007, Blogger Unknown said...

The Dompost story was online: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominionpost/4322312a23918.html

At 5:53 pm, December 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

rather than keep the Facade of the old Boys and Girls Pool, it would be a lot more bloody useful to the public if they kept the pool ! Swimming space is at an absolute premium in Wellington, and its a real shame that is proposed to be sunk. Imagine if a pool was retained so you could do a few laps and some shopping as well.... come on WCC and whoever the architects are, get those thinking caps on ! And Mr O'Stykes, consider your shopping patrons ! Altogether now, "Pool Pool Pool"!

At 3:37 pm, December 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo Foodstuffs! That's fantastic news that they might be going to at least save the facade in some way.

I really like the way the New Worlds in Thorndon and the Railway station have worked with the heritage buildings instead of just flattening them. In fact I much prefer shopping there because they have gone to the effort to actually integrate their buildings into the city rather than impose their standard design on a site.

"It will be part of the resource consent that there will be a minimum time that the site can be left bare."

Let's hope so- the site of an old hotel in Cuba St, next to the Marion St apartments, is still a carpark 20 years later!

At 6:48 pm, December 15, 2007, Blogger Seamonkey Madness said...

Anon @ 3:37 - You'll love the Foxton New World then.

At 1:07 pm, December 17, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Seamonkey: "You know as well as I do Tom that those concerns are unfounded. It will be part of the resource consent that there will be a minimum time that the site can be left bare. Otherwise Council officers tend to get all tetchy. ;-)"

Well, the council news release perhaps was the sound of them getting tetchy, in a restrained way: "We are concerned about what happens to the site if the buildings are demolished before plans are agreed for a new use. We really do not want a large vacant site in this prominent location for a long period." And fair enough. But the worry is: what happens if economic conditions change between demolition and construction, and Foodstuffs decide to pull out? How do you enforce it and make them build something? The worry is that we'll end up with a huge vacant lot for a decade, as anyone who knew Courtenay Place in the 90s would be familiar with.

pcrewdson: Thanks for the link. I couldn't find it online when I wrote this, so either Stuff was slow to publish it or their navigation wasn't up to it.

Maximus: I agree that it would be better to keep the pool (or even better, build a new one, since the current one is pretty decrepit by some accounts). Who should fund it?

At 1:34 pm, December 17, 2007, Blogger Seamonkey Madness said...

Tom, just do what every has happened to every other vacant lot in the central city, and charge people to park on it! :)

At 3:20 pm, December 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least the WCC is pushing for higher density housing than Foodstuffs are keen on. It's a good start for the Council in making this area a good catchment for a light rail station.

At 7:54 am, December 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, who should fund the pool? The users, same as now. You wanna swim, you pay for a swim. Its easy enough now, as it is existing. But once it has been allowed to be demolished, there will never be the money to build a new one...

At 9:00 am, December 20, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Not so much the operational funding, as the fact that, supermarket or no supermarket, the pool needs some major refurbishment or rebuilding. According to the Mt Cook Mobilised blog, the operators of the pool say that "the swimming pool in the BGI building is a the end of its life and would need to be significantly upgraded or replaced with a new facility".

That's likely to be a multi-million dollar job (at a guess), and the current operators are unlikely to be able to afford it. As it's also unlikely to be a commercially self-funding operation, someone like the council would presumably have to step in and pay for the upgrade or rebuild. That's fine, but we need to be aware that this situation is not the council letting its facilities fall apart or selling them off, and that to retain or replace it would require the council to start funding or operating facilities that had so far been run by a private business or charity.

I think that it should be physically possible to incorporate a replacement pool in the new complex, it just requires a complex joint venture or accord between WCC, Foodstuffs and perhaps the current TSW. After all, I've heard of libraries being incorporated into shopping malls, so why not a supermarket/residential/pool complex? But that's not something that any one protagonist can do on their own, so some delicate negotiations would have to take place.


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