Thanks to the very friendly and amenable Wellington City Council External Media Advisor, Richard Maclean, we’ve been able to bring you some further info about the proposed new expansion to Johnsonville Mall. Now that’s what I call a helpful public service. So, to recap since our last message on Johnsonville, although the Council is still deciding whether it will publicly notify the scheme or not, the project is available for public view anyway, and as part of that we thought it would be helpful for you to see some of what is being proposed. Especially, no doubt, if you live in Johnsonville. We can’t show you it all: there is stacks and stacks – its a massive application, with a vast amount of written information and some very useful images. Here’s a small part of the elevation on Johnsonville Road, and below that is a similar small sized chunk of the Broderick Street elevation.



Yes, it’s true, the Broderick St facade has a small area of wild criss-cross things in a manner fast becoming common in recent Wellington building proposals. All that aside, what is most obvious about the elevations is the need for the architects (Buchan Group) to keep to below a maximum building height in the area. Yes, I know its a vital pre-requisite to avoid the scheme being pinged into a Notified category, but for goodness sake: Johnsonville is a hollow! You could break through by a floor or two in the middle, and no one could tell a thing. Anyway, its all as flat topped as a sailors cap. The plan may tell us more:


Well, as noted in our previous post, there is indeed a feature we described as: 

a glazed atrium thingy over a confusingly shaped central walkway to help you lose track of time and the way out,    

and in this case it appears as a lozenge shaped food court and a horse-shoe shaped atrium. The architect describes this more politely:

A two level galleria style retail core with generous floor to floor dimensions affording high shopfronts for tenants, appropriately located major tenants to anchor to each level, large penetrations or voids between floors to maximise visibility within the spaces and extensive roof lights over to introduce natural light and an awareness of external conditions.  

Its all a vast improvement on the present scheme that is for sure, as can be seen by this helpful before and after shot of the entry to the Mall from Johnsonville Road’s more northern end. There is a vast porch suspended out over the footpath in a grand gesture that is done so well in more bustling metropolis, although I have my suspicions about it’s usefulness as a protective device against the southerly (it appears that a second canopy appears lower down the legs of the column as a more prosaic, functional gesture). Still: it does certainly offer a sense of grandeur notably missing from the present scheme, and for that I thoroughly applaud it (or would if I could, but Fish don’t have hands). 


There’s a car that’s been parked in front of the building that’s been there for a long time and surely would have been towed away by now. Sorry, shouldn’t jest: these viewshot things are vitally important to get accurate. So here’s another one, from a nearby footpath on the other side of the motorway:


Small picture I know, but still, you can see that it is hardly obtrusive, and seems to nestle into the hollow quite nicely. The final picture we’ll reproduce here today is a sun-study from mid-winter, which casts some nice shadows on the plans so we can actually see them alright, and indeed right down into the horseshoe shaped atrium over the double height of shopping. The present railway station is still sitting to the left of the picture, untouched: presumably waiting for the Council to step in and take an interest, or Kiwi Rail or OnTrack perhaps. Whatever / whoever: the architects claim that the scheme will allow full seamless interaction between the Bus, Train and Mall. All very good. But then it hit me:


Where is the housing? The Fish is sure that when this area was discussed initially with the WCC, there was a strong desire to integrate housing into a revamped Johnsonville, by looking at some rooftop dwellings – and by some, the intention was for: quite a lot. There must be a certain gnashing of teeth at the plans from certain members of the planning team – despite their best wish lists, there is not a skerrick of housing to be seen atop the rooftops here. I can’t exactly blame the developer in the current climate – there was a vast amount of parking to squeeze onto the site, and a tight height limit: and besides, apartments are difficult to give away at present, given the shortage of available readies.  But it is as if the concept of living above the shop has scared the developer off from trying – or is it the fear that the happy J’ville suburbanite might not wish to purchase an apartment above the Mall? Its a common enough scenario overseas – well, Europe and Asia, if not the USA. The Council’s own development plan for Johnsonville proposes that developments should: promote the opportunities for mixed-use development in the town centre with apartments on upper storeys, including through increased maximum building heights and other incentives. Clearly that hasn’t happened here – whether the developer got cold feet over breaking the height limit, or the council didn’t offer enough of the ‘other incentives’ we’ll never know. So tell us what you think of the Mall, and if you know anyone in Johnsonville who hasn’t seen the application yet, then please encourage them to visit this site, and comment on the comments area below.

And here’s an update: an extra plan and a section for LAS (oh ye of little faith, I’m not lost in the mall yet), with the section at least showing that you can walk straight through from the pedestrian crossing on one side, to the train station on the other side, although this funky atrium thing is one floor up – you’ll be drawn up by the escalators, pulling you through the unique retail opportunities till you get to the roof top carpark and escape:



Now the thing of course is: assuming that you have made your way through the labyrinth of women’s speciality clothes stores, shoe shops, sports training gear shops, and past the large major anchor stores and the mini major anchor stores, you’ll find yourself at the Train Station, which has not been upgraded, and the west side of the store – which will look something like this: