The Eye of the Fish

August 30, 2008

Inner City Residential

Just a short note to alert residents of the Inner City to a meeting for a possible formation of an inner-city Residents Association. It’s on Monday 1st September, at 5.30pm at the Southern Cross Bar in Abel Smith St.

Initially an initiative of Grant Robertson, the Labour candidate for Wellington Central, and echoing a similar initiative from Mark Blumsky, a National MP and former mayor, who was keen on setting up a Cuba St association, it seems that everyone wants to get into the hearts and minds of the residents of the inner city – goodness me, it must be election year.

Cynicism aside, its probably a well-overdue and much needed initiative, as residents of the inner city have so few rights compared to other residents of the city. While the well-heeled suburbanite readers may scoff at this, remember that there are stringent rules protecting the suburbs in terms of daylight recession planes, site coverage, usage, and access, with mandatory standards for parking, footpaths, etc. None of these rules apply to the inner city. Its sobering to think that only a couple of decades ago, inner city living was almost unheard of, and was in effect largely banned. Wellington City was strictly zoned for Commercial, with Retail restricted to Lambton Quay and Willis St, and banned from the Terrace and Featherston St. Residential, of course, was fit only for the suburbs.

But now we have a high amount of inner city residents in Wellington:

Between 2001 and 2006 the number of inner city residents (from Willis Street to Cambridge Terrace) jumped from 3,981 to 5,620 an increase of 41% in only five years.

Blumsky is more concerned about the behaviour of drunks and drug-users (possibly fair enough given his bruising brush with a late night cruiser):

“As a resident, it is clear that we have not yet fully addressed the issue of liquor, drugs and anti-social behaviour, particularly in the mall and parks. People also tell me that they remain concerned about their safety on many streets. Wellington City Council and Police have made a number of positive moves to address these problems but there is still a gap between results and public expectations.”

But Eye of the Fish, given that it is an Urban Architectural blog, is more concerned about the design of the urban environment, the quality of the built environment, the standards that are not yet in place to safeguard Urban living. At present Residential use is not really treated any differently from Commercial or Industrial, or Retail: and yet, I’d wager that you might want to have more access to air and light than, say, a warehouse, and certainly a different relationship with the street from, say, a kebab-shop. There are parts of the inner city that are virtually all Residential, and yet they’re not protected by a single Residential rule. We’ve been living in the city for 2 decades now: it must be time to set up some reasonable safeguards for residential living.

30 - 08 - 08

Residents in the inner city total only 5620 (in 2006) ? Seems somewhat low? I thought we were up to about 10,000 by now – or is that the target by 2012?

1 - 09 - 08

For me the fundamental problem that is so evident, everyday, twice day, is the consideration of pedestrians. I walk from the terrace down into cuba street, crossing the terrace, along boulcott until willis. There is a signalled cross walk on the terrace, but the ramp that leads from the terrace to boulcott doesn’t even have a pedestrian cross walk. Cars come flying off the terrace ramp speed up the street to get to boulcott and pedestrians have to dart back and forth between cars to get across that little area.
The second is just around the block at the next street. If you look at the street there are yield signs that indicate that cars are to yield. They don’t. They try to run over pedestrians. A signalled crosswalk needs to be installed her. Then there is every other kerb cut along boulcott that makes the walk constant dodging of cars trying turn into the car parks.

Something needs to be done from the intersection of the terrace and the motorway to get motorists to slow down and realise that they are now in an urban environment not on a motorway, and it needs to continue all the way to willis street.

From an architectural perspective the walk is most dire path in wellington, (ok, slight hyperbole)
There seems like there could be some potential for significantly improving the streetscape if the projects in that willis/boulcott area go forward.

1 - 09 - 08

These issues are timely ones to raise. The Council has recently released their Walking and Cycling Strategies, and are calling for submissions right now:
Submissions close 22 September. Please make a submission regarding these issues you raise.

1 - 09 - 08

I also walk along Boulcott every day (but the opposite direction), there must be 80% of Wellingotn’s parking buildings on Boulcott/Gilmer.

But, what I really want to say. There surely should be some rules in place preventing the examples like Monvie/Century City and Courtney Apartments/Bellagio building right up against each other blocking the older apartments windows.

Perhaps the older apartments never dreamed anyone would ever build beside them ….

1 - 09 - 08

I believe the recent WCC Plan Changes have taken spacing and setbacks into account. Unfortunately they’ve come too late for issues like the Century City/Monvie issue.

1 - 09 - 08

DeepRed: well, Yes, but No. Plan Change 48 has proposed changes, but its not working properly yet. There are proposals around that just replicate the Century City / Monvie clash all over again.