Right now Wellington is undergoing hearings on what may be the most important discussions on the future – the Hearings on the proposed new District Plan. There have been a number of these Hearings, which have looked at General District Plan matters, Suburban matters, Heritage aspects, and in the current hearing, the City Centres. The outcome from these Hearings will affect the city looks, works and feels for the next 50 years – in other words, probably for at least the rest of our lives, and probably  lot longer. Seeing as this is so important, you might be thinking that the Hearings would be packed out with members of the Public, and at least full of the Press (eg the Post and the Scoop). Sadly, you would be wrong. It’s all fairly empty and void of content, except for the four Commissioners and a couple of Submitters at a time. “Dry” would be a polite way to put it.

I’ve recently found that these Hearings are being recorded and posted on line as YouTube videos, so you can watch them later. I presume that they are also being streamed live, but if so, I do not know where they are. But, so, at present you can follow the presentations by Submitters online, if you have lots of spare time. Each YouTube video is 6 or 7 or 8 hours long – so it is not for the faint-hearted.

What would be great here is for someone to provide a summary of each of videos within each of the Hearing Streams – but that isn’t going to be the Fish, as life is simply too short for anyone here to want to do that. I’ve added in a brief summary of what I understand is in each of the Hearings (but having not sat through them all, I could be wrong!). Feel free to add in further information in the comments below.

Hearing Stream 1 (General)Week One, Day One. This took the Hearing into some uncharted territory which was interesting in terms of trying to define what is a “Rapid Transit” public transport system, as opposed to a public transport system that caters for the Public, yet is not really very Rapid at all. Yes, the focus was on the Johnsonville Line and therefore the suburbs that this serves – the Khandallah Darlings who most certainly do not want to have any multi-storey buildings at all, regardless of who lives in them. But especially if there is Medium Density housing, if any at all. I suspect that this Stream will have got most of the publicity – certainly appeared so from the newspaper.

Hearing Stream 2 (Residential/Suburban)Week One, Day One. I don’t envy the Commissioner’s tasks here at all – it is a very mixed up bag of kittens that they need to sort out. A lot of discussing the Section 32 reports, whatever those are? And the Section 42a reports, and the NPS-UDC etc. Starts off with discussion from Mr Patterson and Mr Lewandowski.

Hearing Stream 3 (Heritage)Week One, Day One. This Stream was all about the Heritage aspects of Wellington, of which there are many, and these are varied. Heritage Areas, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Sites, and other things – whether they are indeed Heritage or not. Presumably here there are also discussions on what is Heritage and what is Character. Basically – should old buildings still exist, and if so, then on what grounds do they exist?

Hearing Stream 4 (Centres, including City Centre)Week One, Day One. This is the one that is on now – all about the Centre of the City, and also the Centres away from the Centre – eg Neighbourhood Centres, Suburban Centres, etc. I’m suspecting that there will be many property developers submitting on this aspect – no doubt asking for such dubious outcomes such as unlimited building heights and a complete absence of any need for Public Notification.

It strikes me that this is a hazardous and haphazard way of sorting out a city’s future. There are four Commissioners, not necessarily knowing very much about Wellington, who are summing up and making rulings on the future Plan for Wellington, despite apparently not knowing very much about the city. Two of the Commissioners are female and two are male, if indeed we are still allowed to classify people by their gender in this modern age. As one of the Commissioners just said, “This is all a big learning curve for us”. Does not fill me with confidence.

A major arguing point for the submitting Developers is that there should be no Notification of developments – basically because that means that if people know what is being proposed, they will object to it, and this will slow things down and that will cost someone money. Does that ring true to you? Or is it more true that people will object to something bad, over something good? And why does Notification need to take so long?