It’s gonna get intense!
Wellington is finally starting to acknowledge how badly it needs more intense development. Isabella hopes we don’t have to suffer a Welly version of Auckland’s toxicity to achieve a good balance of density.
The Wellington City Mayor’s Housing Taskforce report is just out and it’s got some great stuff. While it misses an opportunity to also produce housing that’s less bad for the environment, (e.g. for urban water), there’s some great direction-setting. Whether we create Special Housing Areas or not, bringing affordability to the top was a great move. And overall, the Taskforce report augurs for some long-overdue progress towards a sustainable and liveable city for more people. So the main thing to take from this is a resounding ‘Yeah!’.
There’s a lot to think and talk about with intensification, and TalkWellington will be having a great time stimulating good kōrero this year. Lots of our fellow information-peddlers are writing on it, like Eyeofthefish, and we’ll bring you the best of it all. Naturally, we’ll be covering intensification around the region, because while there’s not been a Housing Taskforce in other cities, there’s a heap to gain (or lose) for all our communities.
But for now, one thing on this writer’s mind is a sort of broad-spectrum civic fear. It’s a hangover from following the Unitary Plan debates on Auckland’s intensification; a fear that despite what I want to believe about Wellingtonians, our debates about density will descend into the sort of soul-sucking toxicity that enervated Auckland for months (and fuelled this sort of blackly hilarious coverage).
Because I love our region and want the best for it, I fear and I hope.
- I don’t want to see Wellington’s debates driven by passionate arguments to protect localised self-interest and prevent Wellington from offering a much better quality of life to more people.
- I don’t want to believe our communities have the same capacity for flagrant NIMBYism, or rampant profit-seeking, or categorically dismissing the views of entire generational cohorts.
- I don’t want to think that our cities’ councillors can be captured by groups with greater lobbying resources, nor that they can make major decisions apparently without any knowledge of well-established facts of urbanism, nor that council officers will make bewilderingly naïve missteps in tactics and process.
The Unitary Plan is a much bigger kahuna than Wellington’s housing taskforce – it’s a megaplan, an überplan for the entire city. But it was the intensification bits that brought out the worst in Aucklanders, and intensification is the biggest single change for how Wellington does housing.
So there’s hoping, but there’s also action. TalkWellington will be doing our darndest to help Wellington have constructive, informed debate about how, where, why to increase density so it’s good for everyone overall.