Going for growth in Wellington

10 September 2014

The Wellington City Council today discussed a ten year strategy for growth in the Capital that would see key economic projects delivered while maintaining existing high standards in infrastructure and services for communities.

The Council has initiated its process for its 2015-2025 Long Term Plan (LTP) in a workshop today to set the parameters for developing with Wellingtonians the strategic direction of the Capital over the next decade.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the Council will continue its course of action for economic, social and community growth.

“We want to grow Wellington’s commercial and residential rating base and today Councillors discussed our plan to invest in the Capital,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

“The Council showed a collective energy and positive attitude for the work ahead of us, and today’s decisions on events and immediate project funding that we will see in 2015 underlined this.

“In today’s workshop Councillors discussed a broad scope for how to fund the projects key to unlocking Wellington’s economic potential, such as the airport runway extension, film museum, better transport choices and an indoor concert venue.

“These projects are designed grow the city’s rating base, increase employment opportunities and attract talent to the Capital. More dwellings and higher value commercial properties will also contribute to this.”

Councillors were briefed on new asset management planning to more effectively forecast lifespans and optimal replacement times for city networks such as pavements and pipes.

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, chair of the Governance and Finance Committee, says better asset management will deliver efficiencies and savings but not enough to fully fund projects to grow the economy.

“The Wellington City Council has held a line of prudent financial management in recent years and this will continue,” he says.  “We’ve got more confidence in how we manage the condition of our assets, and savings in this area will partly fund our growth projects. A key conversation is how we cover the rest.

“We have a choice: stay the course we’ve set in recent years and risk stagnation or ‘dying’, or invest in the economic initiatives we need for Wellington to strive, at a potential additional one percent per year rates increase.

“Are Wellingtonians willing to spend a little more to deliver substantial growth and prosperity to the city? That’s the question we want to ask our communities,” says Cr Lester.

The next step, next week, is to discuss Council’s investment approach with stakeholders, including residents associations, Maori groups and business associations.

Some of the projects up for discussion have already been promoted through the Council’s economic growth agenda, which include:

Film museum: A high-quality tourist attraction in the central city, celebrating the contribution Wellington’s film sector has made to the country’s economy and reputation.

International air connections: A runway up to 300 metres longer would allow planes to fly direct to and from Asia and raise the prospect of one-stop flights to and from other destinations. This would help to increase visitor numbers and strengthen education and business connections.

A tech precinct: A CBD tech precinct would offer opportunities to foster growth in high-tech companies and encourage connections between creatives, business people, investors and the education sector.

Indoor concert venue: Wellington needs facilities able to cater for 12,000 music fans. Such facilities would help support the city’s famous hospitality industry.

Miramar framework: Miramar is now home to Wellington’s international film industry, employing more than 5,000 people and contributes hugely to the region’s economy. The proposed runway extension and recent announcements on the filming of Avatar sequels mean there are opportunities to enhance the area and its reputation as a centre of creative work.