Just a few days after a clean sweep at Kumotomo, the Athfield-designed proposal for the Overseas Terminal has suffered a setback when an officer’s report recommended that the project be declined.
For those unfamiliar with the project, the development would create a retail ground level, with 4 upper floors housing 70 luxury apartments. A parking level would also be created on the underside of the wharf, and the public promenade upgraded. Tom’s excellent critique of the project is of course, recommended reading.
The report assesses that in its current form, the project will have severe adverse effects on the environment (assumedly this means both the ecological and urban environments)
“The recommendation for the decline is due to effects on the historic heritage of Clyde Quay Wharf and on existing users and surrounding activities during the construction period. There were also issues around the effects of the proposed building on wind speeds, traffic management, views and construction-related effects such as noise dust, vibration and the release of sediment into the harbour.”
Other problems were mentioned, but the “fundamental” issues were related to the conservation of the wharf’s heritage and the effects of construction upon the immediate surrounds.
It begs the question, what exactly is the wharf’s heritage comprised of? Obviously the OPT was initially created for the benefit of international visitors, but any traces of this history or programme seem to have vanished long ago. Today we are left with a series of bulky buildings, a medley of businesses, and a space that is rarely used by the public. I initially thought that this point could be an oblique reference to potential viewshaft or traffic issues – issues that I would have thought to be major concerns – but these are instead mentioned separately elsewhere.
Hopefully these issues will be reconciled easily, and that the project can move forward quickly. It certainly doesn’t seem like there are any serious alternatives – no other proposals were publicly considered, and the wharf’s reinforcing is in a fairly dire need of the $16 million upgrade that would be provided by the developers. The original estimate was for the new OPT to be completed in late 2008.
The hearing that will decide the project’s future is to be held on the 18th of February (viewable by the public), giving the applicants a change to respond to the issues raised by the report. The committee will decide within a fortnight.