Today (Monday) is the last day for submissions on the proposed District Plan that will govern the shape of the city for the next 50 years. You have until 5pm today to get a submission in, and then after that, your goose is cooked. The shape of the city is then set in stone, or concrete and steel, and in some cases, timber or even plastic. I’d encourage everyone to submit a submission, and I’d encourage them to think carefully about the issues of design before they do so.
Have you read the entire new proposed District Plan? I am fairly amazed at the way that the Council said they were going to simplify it, and then took the old Plan’s 13 chapters, and grew that to a rumoured 65 chapters. Good luck finding any relevant advice in there in 5 minutes! This new plan is the most important document to have been published in Wellington for the last 50 years, and will guide the shape of our city for the next 50, and yet most people still don’t know it exists and even if they do, they haven’t been able to find the time to read it all. Talk Wellington have prepared a simple “How to do a Submission” guide – refer to them.
It is not just Wellington that is having a DP update – all over the country Councils have got this as a deadline, and so people all over the country are all exploring the same problems – the incomprehensibility of the new DP layouts. Here in our region we must have at least 4 DP to review – Porirua is due today as well as Wellington, and I presume even the Hutt brothers will be brushing back their mullets and examining the minutae of the DP. Issues to resolve all over our region: how to cope with the increased density of the Medium Density Residential Standards (three houses per section, three stories high, and 60º sunlight access planes) in the majority of the suburbs, with vastly increased density in the inner city. The big issue to me: how do we control quality, given that there are no standards? Are we just simply going to be beset by ugliness, no matter how hard we try? Was the boring Bill English right after all, when asked a few years ago about the worth of Design, and he replied something like: “Maybe we just have to get a little bit ugly.” Personally I couldn’t stand English, with his dull Southlander’s way of thinking about everything (“If it is not a rugby ball or a dairy cow, then I don’t want to know”), but to me there is a difference between having the odd design gaffe vs falling out of the Ugly tree and hitting every branch on the way down. Aotearoa is facing a potential precipice of Ugliness. Does that clothing brand “I Love Ugly” come from New Zealand? Have we taken it too much to heart?
And in other news, a Queen died last week, the leader of some small insignificant island off the coast of Europe. The funeral will be next week.