A new (proposed / draft / actual – who knows, really?) District Plan has dropped and it fills me with dread. Horror. Revulsion. They’ve only gone and screwed it up again, haven’t they? I’m not going to mince my words about this – what is being proposed in terms of height limits in the Central Area is a crime against humanity.

Central CBD – with building heights noted

What was discussed and submitted on, at length, over the long course of nearly 3000 public submissions, was the prospect of height limits being raised – to at least 6 storeys in Te Aro, and up to 10 storeys. As I’ve noted before, that in itself is far too high for creating a good environment for humans – it loses all sense of scale. The current height limit in Te Aro is mostly 27m (“six storeys”) although some of the more crappy developers and their sycophant architects are already aiming for 9 stories in that height – and then pushing for 1-2 floors extra. Yes, you know who you are!

Te Aro – a blanket height of 42.5m over the whole suburb. That’s 14 storeys !

Endless submissions from the people who actually live in Wellington seem to have been largely ignored, particularly in Te Aro. I’m fairly shocked and staggered that what the Te Aro area seems to have ended up with is a “height limit” of 42.5m – that’s an overall 60% increase in height over the existing limit. And to be blunt, buildings of that height in the narrow streets of Te Aro will totally fuck the streetscape, the liveability, any chance of sunshine or daylight. I’m incensed, and very very pissed off. This makes me want to leave Wellington completely and go and live somewhere in the middle of nowhere – perhaps even Gonville. Or Eketahuna. Farewell, very cruel world.

Adelaide Road – a thin sliver of Central, with 14 storey heights down the length of it.

With a 42.5m height limit (and we know that unscrupulous developers and shitty architects will always ask for more height on top of that) that means about 14 storeys (assuming a small 3m floor to floor) or even 16 storeys if you build in the crappy 2.7m floor to floor fashion that some of the city’s worst architects and developers aim for. Streets WILL become canyons. Yes, density will increase, but at what cost? It’s a disaster.

Newtown, by comparison, is much more genteel to my eyes. Mostly 14m with some 21m / 22m limits

This is not a new thing. New York faced this issue back in the 1920s with canyon building then, where they feared that some streets would still be dark at mid-day, seeing as how far down a canyon they were. They solved that problem with a mandated series of set-backs, that Hugh Ferris beautifully illustrated to demonstrate the way forward. But all that accumulated wisdom has been ignored by the prats at the WCC, chief among them City Planner Liam Hodgetts, and supposed Urban Guru Christeller.

Hugh Ferris – step 1
Hugh Ferris – step 2
Hugh Ferris – step 3

I’m too pissed off to go on – but if you want something else to rub your rhubarb up the wrong way, have a look at the Heritage recommendations. Previously the Heritage list noted:

  • ▪ 547 heritage buildings
    ▪ 51 heritage objects
    ▪ 35 heritage areas
  • ▪ 66 Māori Sites
  • ▪ 204 heritage trees

That’s been changed to a far smaller – one tenth of the size – list:

  • ▪  58 buildings
  • ▪  10 heritage areas
  • ▪  2 existing heritage areas – the addition of new contributing objects and buildings
  • ▪  2 existing heritage buildings – the addition of features
  • ▪  4 heritage objects.

Read this and weep for your city.