Trying to make sense of the debate around housing and heritage in Mt Victoria? Here’s some information that may help.
The Wellington City Council recently finalised the Spatial Plan for the city.
The Spatial Plan consultation occurred last year, and proposed significant changes to inner city suburbs like Mt Victoria. Pre-1930s demolition rules would be removed for around two-thirds of the suburb, and new height rules imposed that would have allowed developments of four to six storeys outside of character sub-areas, with no notification required.
Mt Victoria residents were firmly opposed to this – as part of council consultation, 60% of Mt Victoria residents said they did not support the inner suburbs proposals, including 53% who strongly disagreed.
Based on consultation across the city, the WCC considered a revised Plan, which you can read about in this council document (see page 25). Planning and environment committee meeting agenda 24 June 2021
This proposal from council officers put back some of the heritage protections removed in the draft.
However councillors agreed to revert to the original boundaries of the draft spatial plan.
Mount Victoria Historical Society view
- Increasing housing supply is important, but it’s just one part of the picture; low interest rates and favourable investment conditions are other significant factors in the high price of houses currently
- Since the draft Spatial Plan was released in 2020, the council revised its projected numbers for the inner city suburbs down very significantly, from an additional 14,000 people to an additional 4,731. WCC now says that Mt Victoria only needs to accommodate between 92 and 188 new dwellings, (223 – 454 people) over 30 years. We estimate that new houses are actually being built faster than this right now, under current policy settings!
- There is plenty of other under-utilised land available in Wellington, that makes much more sense to develop first: Te Aro flat and Adelaide Road are prime examples. This land – currently occupied by car yards, storage facilities, restaurants, retail, and so on, could be turned into vibrant precincts that accommodate housing along with commercial operations. This has the benefit of being aligned with plans for infrastructure development, such as water pipe upgrades.
- Mount Victoria is already densely packed – in fact, we are one of the most densely populated suburbs in Wellington.
- Currently, 60% of Mount Victoria residents are renters. That will change if big old houses, currently rented out, are demolished and turned into expensive townhouses. This will lead to a loss of diversity.
- Mount Victoria’s heritage is nationally and internationally recognized. Once it has gone, it is gone for good, so decisions about its future should be considered very carefully.
The council will now start to consider the district plan, which is where the planning rules are set.