Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Public land for private gain in Civic Square?

Well, front page story today, plans to in part privatise Wellington's civic heart.  The Jack Ilott Green, car park beside the Michael Fowler Centre and the Council's main admin building are all up for grabs.  Note this isn't a sale but a lease situation for 99 years.

As I say today, on balance, this is a good move.  I have long opposed the use of public land for private purposes but in this case think a sensible compromise needed.  The cost for earthquake strengthening the Town Hall has gone from $45.6m to $60m which is obviously a lot of money. Something needs to give (acknowledging at the same time that $60m would go a long way to strengthening a number of other buildings around the city).

Three of the other benefits are a possible green roof on top of one of the buildings.  I'm pleased about this as I have been looking for a site and this provides an opportunity.  Furthermore, people in these buildings will bring the Square to life, it is often dead at many times of the day.  Lastly, it will really strengthen our cultural capital tag, a music and arts quarter right in the middle of the city.  

There are of course risks in such a proposal - the buildings may take away rather than add to this important public space and the city may get outplayed by commercial players who may spot a good deal.  

This proposal will be out for consultation, you can have your say formally early next year.  

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