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.