The Eye of the Fish

August 26, 2010

Helene Ritchie writes

Johnsonville Neglected by Council.

“Wellington City Council has failed and neglected Johnsonville for a long time – thatís obvious. Projects proposed to be started, finished and funded have not been.

Last night Council (by a majority of one) made that worse in an election panic ad hoc move by two councillors which sees no real commitment to comprehensive integrated urban design or to expenditure or programming of needed infrastructure and services. In the case of the new library their move acknowledged no step forward to progress it. Johnsonville has been plagued by ad hoc infill and development and needs a considered and integrated quality approach.

The plan change (DCP 72 and 73) is more about services needed in Johnsonville and surrounding, and less about housing – and not about infill as such. The plan change recommends one building per site permitted instead of the present two but does permit a greater site coverage (50% instead of 35%). The height, 8 metres remains the same as before.

The Change is about the possibility of well designed areas of medium density housing to take advantage of existing and future nodes of services such as public transport. I welcome the possibility of an integrated comprehensive design (including the centre triangle, Main Road, Mall; along with the area of medium density). It is an exciting prospect if it gets off the ground and is implemented.

Fortunately some progress has been able to be made for Johnsonville through successful motions that I proposed last year to ensure that the funds allocated years ago to the upgrade of the Johnsonville pool were committed. A further move of mine has ensured funding for a feasibility study of co-locating a long overdue new library next to Keith Spry Pool with a shared administration area and some shared planning.

The reality is that Johnsonville is the centre of the fastest growing area of Wellington. The area is already the size of a New Zealand City. Quality urban design is needed now and in the future. With the medium density housing proposed (in the ďarea of changeĒ) this becomes even more compelling, with an expected future increase in population.

Of all areas of the City Johnsonville stands out as needing attention in many ways, and the recommendations of the Commissioner who heard the Plan Change must be heeded by the Council.”

Helene Ritchie Wellington City Councillor Health Board Member
26 August 2010

26 - 08 - 10

Helene’s right. It’s obvious that the WCC has failed Johnsonville for a long time. Pity she’s been a councillor for a long long long time.

Perhaps we need some new councillors who can fix things in under 33 years.

27 - 08 - 10

Not sure I like where this is heading. Is the Fish becoming just a conduit for Council propaganda and electioneering statements? While Cr Foster’s comment was relatively informative, Cr Ritchie’s ‘statement’ reads more like I, I, I, self-puffing agrandisement, which we could probably do without. Are you going to now give space for all Council candidates to take the platform and have their say ?

Seamonkey Madness
27 - 08 - 10

Agree with both Richard & Arthur.

Cr. Andy’s had a more natural flow, as if it was a one-off piece.
Cr. Helene’s sounds more like a press release, destined to be cut & pasted on webpage thingies all around the interwebs.

27 - 08 - 10

Arthur, Seamonkey, point taken. Rest assured that we’re not a Council monkey. Check back today after 3pm, when we take a different tack….

27 - 08 - 10

Agree – an interesting development that Crs and even the Mayor suddenly take an interest in engaging with online fora such as this all at once. it is difficult not to be cynical.

At least Cr Foster has ‘engaged’ with issues under discussion, and seems more interested in that than establishing his personal credentials/ego…

Helene Ritchie
27 - 08 - 10

Hi Maximus

First, congratulations on endeavours to promote democratic discussion and in the absence of other media.
The very important DPC 72/73, the Council debate on it and the outcome has not been reported anywhere else, although Scoop have covered it. A Dompost reporter came to the debate but did not report on it or the effect of the changes.

Unfortunately Andy Foster was absent from Council and did not vote on this most crucial aspect of his portfolio.

DPC 72/73 amounts to almost a review of our entire District Plan and has effect
right across Wellington and also in specific areas.

Johnsonville is especially relevant because it serves a huge (City size) population in the North and has been neglected in crucial infrastructure areas and services-in some cases funding allocated but gone elsewhere, and in others not allocated at all.

As a Councillor I have been able to effect specific positive change this triennium in the pool funding and the library as outlined, but the library ongoing funding is still in serious jeopardy-my reason for highlighting it. I have been able to make many other positive changes for this part of Wellington over the years but at personal cost, and I am but one of 14 councillors and a mayor-hence my concerns that Council focus on Johnsonville.

Comprehensive and integrated urban design in Johnsonville is crucial and its absence obvious. It is now an adopted recommendation of DPC 72/73 to focus on implementation of this and other infrastructure priorities.

I had hoped that those of you interested in making a positive contribution in urban design might do so.

Finally I look forward to constuctive discussion to replace the evident personal attack.


Helene Ritchie
Wellington City Councillor (Northern)
Capital and Coast District Helath Board member

27 - 08 - 10

I guess this could be kind of a ‘watershed’ moment in the life of eotf – will Crs remain committed to engaging in such debate outside of election years. I think all of us would wholly welcome that – if it is in the nature of true discussion and debate… It would be sad if the site were hijacked for puff pices and media releases.

As for the substance of the actual post, there isn’t much to argue with, from my point of view. I have been ‘excited’ (as much as anyone can be about a far-flung suburb of this nature ;) about Council-speak on Johnsonville, wrt to the ‘urban spine’ etc. The lack of actual action IS a concern. Johnsonville really needs to grow up and claim its place as a ‘place’ – hopefully Sawyer and crew will migrate to Churton Park, or better still, the North Shore, where a more homogeneous population demographic, and complete lack of vitality will not disturb their desired catatonia…

As for Council inaction on this – that’s a bigger issue that will probably never be resolved when it is led by career politicians, and the consequent populism that this inspires (populism that is undemocratic when it is in the nature of the squeaky wheel etc…).

27 - 08 - 10

In the end it all boils down to money, whether it is publicly or privately funded. Evidently, for whatever reason, the Council has been dragging it’s feet over implementation of policies and action in the Northern suburbs. So too has the private sector – and in a way, the timid nature of the changes proposed will only prolong that. Why on earth limit height to just 8m ? Why not encourage some real REAL medium density housing and raise the limit to 16m ?

27 - 08 - 10

@Arthur – I quite like the direction EotF has taken for the election. Getting the city’s elected officials to provide something for us to judge them by on urban design is great.

@Helene – Exactly what is this ‘personal cost’ you claim to have borne? That is a very bold claim. Rather than making positive changes as you assert (please provide some concrete examples from the last 33 years), your contribution to the waterfront seems to have been disruptive and reactionary. I think Maximus himself has said it best with regard to your efforts on that front:

Thank goodness she didnít become Mayor. She should, if she ever reads this, make an apology to Wellington Waterfront and publicly admit that she got it wrong, and that its actually quite nice down there now. It certainly seems to be popular with the public. (comments on )

Also the word from Wakefield St this week is that you made anything but a positive contribution on Wednesday. I guess that’s why the media commentators and the mayor rate you so poorly –

27 - 08 - 10

“The reality is that Johnsonville is the centre of the fastest growing area of Wellington. The area is already the size of a New Zealand City. Quality urban design is needed now and in the future. With the medium density housing proposed (in the ďarea of changeĒ) this becomes even more compelling, with an expected future increase in population.”

The reality is that Johnsonville is constrained by topography and geography, and attempting to do much more with it will just exacerbate an already dangerous transport bottleneck, with the presumed knock-on effect of transferring the load to the Hutt Valley. The REAL answer to over-population is to rein in the procreative urge.

Seamonkey Madness
28 - 08 - 10

So sorry about that Jan, old pip.
I’ll just pop out the back door and hack my brass seamonkey bollocks off with a rusty hacksaw, shall I?

Either that or invest heavily in Chastity Belts Inc.

29 - 08 - 10

Jan’s comment was awesome. From serious contribution to the debate to nutbar in two sentences. Hats off, man.

29 - 08 - 10

“Johnsonville is constrained by topography and geography, and attempting to do much more with it will just exacerbate an already dangerous transport bottleneck,” ??

Really? Tell that to the people of Hong Kong, who have a population double or triple that of New Zealand, in an area less than that of Wellington, and a geography a helluva lot more harsh than poor old Johnsonville. The simple fact, as evidenced by Sawyer et al at the JPA anti-progressive situation, is that they don’t want any one else let in, in case their children couldn’t also buy a house in the same suburb. That’s inter-generational enforced stagnation right there – and about as dull as ditchwater as you could get.

19 - 09 - 10

would the 7.5 million of community money held by the charitable trust help!