Wellington inner residential zones: Almost 90 per cent have character protection

Almost 90 per cent of land parcels in Wellington’s inner residential zone are covered by character protection, the Herald can reveal.

The figure has left city councillor Laurie Foon angry.

She told Newstalk ZB’s Nick Mills she “felt really sick and stunned” when she found out just how much of the city has been protected from development.

Foon said the inner suburbs were exactly where the council should be enabling young people to live.

“Enabling more people to be living in the central city close to good amenity and be able to move about the city in low carbon ways.

“A city doesn’t work unless we’re fair and at the moment we’re not providing fair housing.”

Foon said she has seen families “disappear overnight” at her local school in Berhampore because they have had to move elsewhere to find more affordable housing.

Wellington City Council has recently signed off on its spatial plan, which outlines how the city will prepare for between 50,000 and 80,000 more people over the next 30 years.

The plan shrinks protected character areas by almost three-quarters, allows at least six-storey developments in suburban centres and along key transit routes, and expands walking catchment areas for railway station stops and the central city.

The most heated debate was over how much protection character areas in the city should get.

Character areas have blanket heritage protection where a resource consent is required to demolish any buildings built before 1930.

These areas, as they are currently, have been described as only accounting for about 7 per cent of the city’s overall housing stock.

But following further questioning from Green Party councillor Laurie Foon, it has now been revealed how much this character housing accounts for in inner-city suburb stock.

Council officials have reported back to Foon that 87.9 per cent of land parcels in Wellington’s inner residential zone are under character protection, and 75.9 per cent of units.

The inner residential zone is the area mainly between the town belt and CBD area, encompassing suburbs like Mt Victoria, Thorndon and Newtown.

Foon earlier told the Herald she was stunned by the current amount of character protection.

“The general public needs to know how much of our inner city has been stitched up for 30 years and this is not enabling Wellington to do its bit in providing more homes close to the city centre.”

Foon said it confirmed the case for why character protection was reduced by almost three quarters in the spatial plan councillors signed off.

The decision means 219ha will be freed up for development.

Foon said she was angry Wellington has been in the current situation for so long.

“It is impacting so many people that we need to make our city vibrant and function, who can’t find or afford a warm, dry home in Wellington.”

Initial consultation on potential growth scenarios for Wellington showed majority support for a high-density CBD and inner suburbs along with developing around existing suburban centres.

Only 24 per cent agreed a new suburb in Ohariu Valley was the best path to go down.

Just 29 per cent were keen to extend suburbs around Takapu Valley, Horokiwi, and Owhiro Bay.

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