Wellington's 'big deal': 10 year investment package to grow Capital

5 March 2015

An ambitious investment package to grow the Capital's economy beyond the next decade has been approved for consultation by the Wellington City Council as the centerpiece of its 2015-2025 Long Term Plan.

Councillors signed off the draft Long Term Plan last week and today the Consultation Document has received approval from Audit New Zealand, as required by law. The formal consultation period will now go out for full public consultation from next Thursday, 12 March to 17 April.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the 10-year investment plan will “boost our value well-beyond this decade” and promote sustained economic growth for the region.

Mayor Wade-Brown says that the invest-to-grow proposal maintains all existing services and includes new initiatives. Under the plan, Wellingtonians would be limited to a modest 3.9 percent rates increase per year on average over 10 years.

A ‘business as usual’ approach, maintaining all current services but not investing in growth, would see rates increases of 3.1 percent on average over ten years.

“Our Long Term Plan is an unprecedented investment package,” she said. “With this plan, the Council is demonstrating our commitment to take on the challenge of competing globally with the likes of Sydney, Singapore and San Francisco.

“Wellington’s economic success will underpin our progress for the environment, our social wellbeing, healthy communities and cultural growth. We’re investing in our communities, we’re not making trade-offs between our economy and the aspects of Wellington that make our lifestyle second to none in New Zealand. Smart cities are inclusive.

“In December 2014, Council agreed the limits of borrowing and rates increases, and we’ve kept to these limits in our invest-to-grow scenario of 3.9 percent on average over 10 years and the borrowings limit of 175 percent of income,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

Formal public consultation on the Long Term Plan will begin next month.

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, Chair of the Governance, Finance and Planning Committee, says the LTP is ambitious – “but it’s affordable and it’s necessary.

“We have two options in Wellington: to manage a decline of the city and region - or invest to grow. I know which option I prefer.

“The City Council is in a strong financial position – so we can afford to invest in major projects for the good of the economy and the region.”

Mayor Wade-Brown says the invest-to-grow plan would contribute to an international film museum, war and peace museum, an indoor music arena, airport runway extension, convention centre, a tech hub, and a screen industry enterprise zone (all subject to business cases stacking-up) over the next decade.

The plan also aims to transform the inner city, its laneways and key transport spines such as Adelaide Road into vibrant, mixed use areas with shops, offices, cafes and apartments.

“Our Urban Growth Plan is a very forward-looking transport, housing and biodiversity package,” says the Mayor.

Chair of Economic Growth and Arts Committee Jo Coughlan says Council’s focus has been on implementing the Capital’s economic development strategy, “and now the rubber meets the road,” she said. “This plan strongly signals this Council’s commitment to income-generating infrastructure projects for the city.”

A key feature of the LTP is an exciting proposition to strengthen the Town Hall, revitalise Civic Square and develop a National Music Centre in partnership with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Wellington and Victoria University’s School of Music.

Wellingtonians can take the opportunity to stamp their mark on the future of the Capital through the consultation process, which will run through March and April.

The Mayor’s proposed budget received majority support from councillors and there were minor additions proposed for public transport, graffiti eradication and dog parks.

Next week, Council’s new Long Term Plan website will be launched when consultation formally begins 12 March, giving Wellingtonians more opportunity than ever before to engage and provide feedback. In the meantime, visit our website for more details: http://wellington.govt.nz/your-council/plans-policies-and-bylaws/plans-and-reports/long-term-plan/long-term-plan-2015-25

Overview of LTP details 2015/16 to 2025/26

The overall operational expenditure outlined in the draft plan:

Environment: $1.8 billion 2015/16 to 2025/26

Water, wastewater & stormwater; waste management; urban agriculture, gardens and reserves management; Zealandia & Wellington Zoo.

Social & recreation: $1.2 billion

Social housing; libraries; community centres/halls; sport & recreation facilities, community grants and access subsidies; public health & safety.

Transport: $731 million

Streets & roads; cycleways & walkways; bus priority lanes; road safety; parking; network planning & control.

Urban development: $301 million  

Development of waterfront & public spaces; urban planning; heritage; building & development control (including consents); managing earthquake-prone buildings

Economic development: $512 million

Tourism & city promotion; events; venues; regional & external relations; grants fund.

Cultural and arts: $207 million

Galleries & museums; festivals; grants; arts partnerships; community arts; cultural attractions (Te Papa & Carter Observatory)

Governance: $182 million

Local elections; informing & engaging with residents; managing service requests; research, relationships with mana whenua; City Archives.

Invest for growth

The proposal provides capacity for us to invest with others in a range of initiatives to stimulate economic growth in the city:

  • A 300 metre extension to the Wellington International Airport runway, bringing extra visitors students and economic benefits.
  • A new international film museum, to showcase talent and attract and encourage visitors to stay in the city for longer.
  • A tech hub, supporting ICT start-ups to get established, collaborate with other businesses, and become successful exporters.
  • A large scale performance arena to fill a gap in our current offering and draw in more large concerts and more visitors.
  • In addition we aim to stimulate economic growth through:
  • An urban development agency, to support the creation of vibrant, mixed use inner city neighbourhoods.
  • Major urban regeneration projects to stimulate the supply of housing.  The northern part of Adelaide Rd and the blocks along Kent and Cambridge Tce in Te Aro are priorities.
  • An expansion of our arts and events programme including the NZ Festival
  • Contribution to a WW1 commemorative exhibition as with a view to a permanent museum space being created.

Expansions and smart projects

The invest to grow programme also has provision for a number of discretionary projects:

  • Expansion of the City to Sea Museum adding to its appeal as one of the Top 50 museums in the world.
  • Upgrade of Frank Kitts Park with the inclusion of Chinese Garden and renewed playground.
  • Funding for the creation of Ocean Exploration Centre on the south coast subject to matching funding from third parties.
  • An urban activation fund that will see pop-up events making use of the existing open spaces around the city.
  • A brand new library in Johnsonville to serve the growing northern area.
  • A hydraulic model of the city to guide our planning and future investment decisions around climate change adaptation.
  • A real time stormwater modelling system to improve the performance of the network and quality of our waterways.
  • A new hockey turf at the National Stadium and rejuvenation of the Basin Reserve.
  • A proposal to trial cheaper bus fares at weekends and a modest contribution to reducing student fares.
  • A $1m annual heritage building strengthening fund for three years and an extension of our rates remissions settings
  • A development scheme to strengthen the Town Hall and Civic Square and create a prime NZ music hub
  • Te Motu Kairangi Heritage Park.