News | 13 July 2022
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A snapshot of Wellington’s future infrastructure and growth

This is a snapshot of one of the five major challenges facing the capital, as laid out in Wellington City Council’s Pre-Election Report for 2022. This report is produced every three years before the local body elections to provide information and promote public discussion about the issues facing the local authority.

Animated image of a building.

With 50,000 - 80,000 new residents expecting to call Wellington home in the next 30 years, robust planning will ensure the building blocks are in place for the capital to grow and be a good place to live, work and play.

Wellington is widely recognised for its compact nature and stunning environment. It also has the country’s highest proportion of people walking, cycling and using public transport for journeys to and from work. The city’s population is growing, and accommodating more people has been an important focus area for Wellington City Council.

Putting our planning into practice involves following the city’s recently developed Spatial and District Plans, and building and maintaining the infrastructure to make the city tick. Pōneke is already experiencing a lack of infrastructure, and it needs substantial funding to provide the infrastructure our city needs now and in the coming years.


  • Wellington's population is expected to grow by 50,000-80,000 people over the next 30 years (SensePartners 2022)
  • The inner-city population is forecast to double in the next 10 years (SensePartners 2022)
  • Usage of green and open spaces is increasing (RMS 2021)
  • Transport accounts for 48 percent of the city's carbon emissions (Te Atakura)
  • 31 percent of Wellingtonians are using walking as a form of transport more often than before COVID-19 (QoL 2020)
  • 89 percent agree Wellington is a great place to live (QoL 2020)
  • 86 percent identify traffic congestion as a problem (QoL 2020)
  • 30 percent disagree that public transport is reliable (QoL 2020)
The street of Lambton Quay.

Activity planned for the next three years

Over the past three years, a significant level of planning and a start on upgrades have put in place the building blocks for the city’s transformation. 

In the next three years, the Council will continue its infrastructure programme and start upcoming projects, including multiple Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) projects, three waters infrastructure upgrades, and key waste infrastructure projects. Find out more about these projects below.

LGWM Transformational Programme – Mass rapid transit, urban development and travel behaviour change initiatives

In July 2022, the LGWM partner organisations, also endorsed by the Government, approved the preferred Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) option for the city. This package includes light rail to the South Coast and continuous bus priority to the East, and focuses on a new Mt Victoria tunnel with dedicated provision for public transport, walking and cycling, as well as upgrades at the Basin Reserve to improve flows and physically separate movements and extend the Arras tunnel. The option moves the most people possible from the southern and eastern suburbs, supports the most housing and urban development of all the options, and makes city streets better for everyone.

The next stage will involve detailed investigations, which will test assumptions. Bus Rapid Transit will also be investigated further as a reserve plan may be appropriate given technological developments.

LGWM City Streets programme

City Streets supports the wider LGWM programme by improving connections for people on buses, bikes or walking on key corridors between the central city and suburban centres, ahead of the larger changes delivered by the Transformational Programme. 

The targeted improvements project, including up to 83 individual improvements across Wellington, is underway with construction due to be completed in 2024. 

LGWM 3-year programme

This programme will deliver early improvements to start moving more people with fewer vehicles, and improve travel options ahead of the transformative projects to come.

Golden Mile transformation
LGWM is developing a detailed design to transform the Golden Mile (Lambton Quay to Courtenay Place). This focuses on vibrant and attractive public spaces, safer walking and biking, and more reliable public transport. Fewer vehicles will mean wider footpaths, better public transport and make it a safer and more pleasant place to walk, shop and dine. Bus services will be improved by having dedicated bus lanes. Bus stops will also be improved, consolidated and relocated to improve bus travel time and reliability. The changes will support and encourage more walking, cycling and public transport use which will help reduce our carbon emissions. 

Thorndon Quay and Hutt Road improvements
One of the city's most important commuter routes, it’s also the busiest bus route outside of the city centre and Wellington's busiest cycle route. On an average weekday, there are more than 10,000 bus passengers and up to 1,300 cyclists.

New paths proposed as part of this project will complete the walking and biking link into the central city from Ngauranga. This project will also link to Te Ara Tupua, the planned shared path between Ngauranga and Petone, which will enable more people to walk and cycle between the Hutt Valley and Wellington
A new roundabout on Aotea Quay is proposed to make Hutt Road safer for everyone. Public feedback on the design will be sought in late 2022 with construction planned to start in early 2023.

Central city walking improvements
Following upgrades to two intersections on Whitmore Street in 2021, further work is underway to make central city intersections safer, more accessible, and more efficient. Work began on five intersections along Vivian Street in April 2022, with waterfront intersection improvements scheduled from July 2022, and Bowen Street/ The Terrace intersection improvements scheduled from October 2022.

Cobham Drive crossing
In late April 2022, speed limits on State Highway 1 east of Mt Victoria were reduced to improve safety for all road users. To make it safer and easier to walk and bike in the Miramar, Kilbirnie and Rongotai area a new crossing on State Highway 1 Cobham Drive is being constructed and due to be completed in 2022.

Paneke Pōneke – Bike Network Plan

The 2015 Cycleways Masterplan has been updated by Paneke Pōneke, and confirms which streets are included in the network. The Council has already made a start on improving two critical routes – Newtown to the city and Botanic Garden ki Paekākā to the city. In the next triennium, 50km of our street network will make the transition to prioritise movement of people, no matter what way they chose to move around. This will help to make low- and zero-carbon modes of transport the easy, safe, efficient and attractive option for Wellingtonians.

Our Green Network Plan will be used in urban design

As the central city’s population doubles during the next 30 years, the Council will develop greener city streetscapes, providing more public green spaces for people to use in a variety of ways – in addition to the hilltop parks of the nearby Wellington Town Belt. 

As key transport and urban development projects are built over the next three years, we will see green streets, parklets, urban parks, and water sensitive design begin to transform our central city streets and spaces.

Read the full Pre-Election Report