This Thursday is a big day for Wellington – the Council will vote on the Draft Spatial Plan and will decide whether or not to accept its recommendations. One of the big issues on the DSP is the issue of building heights – and I’m picking that this issue is only going to get bigger. The Dom Post picked up on this at the weekend with this amazing graphic – not high quality CGI, but fairly jaw-dropping regardless. It is not in the online version, so I had to take a photo from the Weekend paper instead.

a so-called “artist’s impression” of the unlimited heights for future buildings in Central…

This illustrates that a key proposal of the Draft Spatial Plan is to remove ALL height limits in the Central Area. That would be the expanded Central Area, with not just the CBD, and not just Te Aro as well, but including the new bit of the “Central”, namely the lowland section of Adelaide Road. So that means unlimited building heights all the way down to the edge of Newtown. Were you aware of that? I wasn’t. Here is the existing height limit map from the WCC District Plan:

the height limit map from all of 2000-2021

In case you are wanting to see that next to the Key, here is the current key on the Plan…

Watch those colours carefully – they are due to shift dramatically

You can see quite clearly here the reasonably clearly defined difference between the “Low City” areas (a mid-dark blue, labelled as 27.0m – although it used to be labelled as 27m (6 storeys)), and the “High City” area (various shades of pink, with numbers). Beware: all this is due to change. By how much, I hear you say? Have a gander at these:

a close-up look at what the proposed heights will mean to Wellingtonians, with numbers of storeys

That’s the Eye of the Fish take on the DSP, with my interpretations of the WCC’s number of storeys. The official website has the ability to zoom in and out at will (although a bit difficult to control!) and so I’ve just given you a snap shot of what is proposed. The full monty DSP is difficult to understand if you have all the buttons turned on, as shown below:

all the buttons turned on at once and multiple overlays ensueing…

So turning most of the layers off, and with just the enlarged Central Area on, we end up with this patch of damp, innocuous looking grey which is proposed as having no height limit at all:

Grey = Central, while Brown = Commercial/Industrial; and Yellow = Local Centre

And then the same map with the Outer Suburb height limits on show, which is a larger version of the same thing from the map about 3 images up. Post-Script: The crucial point to note is that the bright blue colour denotes “Type 4: Enable 6 Storeys”: So for instance, Mt Victoria is a mixture of Type 4 (6 storeys) and Type 2: of 2-3 Storeys, whereas the pink areas visible in Haitaitai, Kelburn Tce, and Brooklyn are now proposed to be Type 3, which means 3-4 storeys. Oh yes – and pink over in Kilbirnie and Miramar as well, which will allow 3-4 storeys in those central Kilbirnie / Miramar blocks. I’m not 100% sure that the homework has been done correctly, as both of those are fairly dodgy areas to build on – what with past and future tsunami and sea-level rise etc.

Getting the hang of it now?

Where else? Do you live in the Northern Suburbs? If you have to drive north up the Ngauranga Gorge, you’ll be familiar with the area around Johnsonville – which is a Local Centre.

Ngauranga, Khandallah, Johnsonville etc.

But if you actually live in Johnsonville, you may be more interested in the height limits proposed for Johnsonville / Newlands, marked up by Eye of the Fish with the proposed storey heights. This will allow the Johnsonville Mall owners to at last go up from their current single-storey high mall, to build apartment blocks on top, up to 8 storeys high. Possibly something like 2 floors of retail, 1-2 floors of parking, then 4-5 floors of apartments rising up in the sky, angled towards the sun and away from the motorway:

Some serious height limit rises for these suburbs…

and a little further north is Tawa and Linden, which look like this:

The narrow corridor around Tawa and Linden is readied for increased population post Transmission Gully

And seeing as I’m doing this, I’m going to end on Khandallah, where the people may possibly be unaware that their height limits could, after Thursday, look like this:

Six storeys high along much of the Khandallah suburban main route

That of course would enable the residents of Box Hill, Simla Crescent, Khandallah etc to sell their nice 1-2 storey houses to a developer, who may then build apartment buildings in the bright blue areas up to 6 storeys high. Possibly more. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. So would the Council, no doubt…