News | 17 September 2021
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Frank Kitts Park options proposed

Next Thursday 23 September Wellington City Council’s Pūroro Āmua Planning and Environment Committee will consider three options for resolving the quake-prone car park building in Frank Kitts Park and supporting the next stage of nationally-important Fale Malae on the city’s waterfront.

Aerial view of Frank Kitts Park, looking north.

The car park building affects planned or potential development in the wider park, which is why a decision needs to be made now. They include:

  • replacing the children’s playground in January 2022
  • creating a Chinese Garden, which shares a structural wall with the car park
  • a potential proposal from the Fale Malae Trust to develop a Fale Malae in the park. The Trust would carry out public engagement on this proposal if it is successful in securing funding support from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

“Wellington’s waterfront is an iconic space dear to the heart of Wellingtonians,” says Mayor Andy Foster.

“The advice is we need to address the quake-prone car park building. We have the proposal for the Chinese Garden, which has consent, and one for a Fale Malae. Both proposals, if they were to proceed, would require seismically solid foundations. Both proposals hold great importance to significant parts of our community.

“The importance of Frank Kitts Park and the deep passion Wellingtonians have for the park means there will almost certainly be a need for significant engagement in due course regardless of which direction is ultimately chosen. This will be vital in achieving a coherent development plan that safeguards the look and feel of this treasured space in our city,” says Mayor Foster.

“We have heard for many years from Pasifika communities about the need for a Fale Malae for the city and it is time to honour this request,” says Committee Chair Councillor Iona Pannett.

“We need to make this decision so the Fale Malae Trust can continue the design process, which would include public consultation and seek funding from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

“This would enable the vision for iconic, recognisable Pasifika architecture on the capital’s waterfront which holds special importance to Pasifika communities. It would also provide publicly accessible open spaces on a site with geotechnical challenges due to the challenges of building on reclaimed land subject to climate change. Any engineering work done will need to be done to a very rigorous standard.

“Wellingtonians value green open spaces and with an ever-increasing inner-city population, the need for open public space will only grow. This building will be a public one with extensive open space around it, with plans to create more green space in our CBD. A green network plan will be debated by the committee in less than a month’s time to meet this need,” says Cr Pannett. 

The Council stopped using the car parking building for large public events, such as the Wellington Underground Market and Homegrown, in early 2020. This followed an engineering assessment which rated it earthquake-prone. 

Council officers say the investment required to strengthen the 30-year-old car park would be uneconomic. Estimates from March 2021 predict that to achieve an NBS (New Building Standard) rating of at least 34% would cost around $10.5 million, and $18 million for an NBS of at least 67%. An NBS of 67% is in line with expectations for a high-use public building to enable public safety in the event of an earthquake. These estimates do not include costs for landscaping on top of the car park, demolition and building consents and traffic management, as they are identified in a more detailed design process.

The three options the committee will consider are to:

1. Develop a plan to:

    • remove the car park and Jervois Quay overbridge as they are connected
    • work with the businesses and organisation located in the building on options for relocation
    • guide the design of the whole Frank Kitts Park area. 

      This plan would be carried out in 2022 and reported back to Council for approval.

2. Strengthen the building to either ≥ 34% NBS or ≥ 67% NBS to provide a modest sized car park building. This would be dependent on funding being approved in the 2022-23 Annual Plan or the Long-term Plan. 

3. Close the car park indefinitely until plans for a proposed Fale Male and the Chinese Garden are clearer, noting that the car park must be strengthened or demolished by 2034. 

You can read the full Council paper in the meeting agenda: Planning and Environment Committee - 23 September 2021.

Frequently-asked questions

If the Council votes to demolish the car park building, will the public be consulted?
While a significant asset, the car park building is not a strategic asset so it does not meet the criteria which would require public consultation. Community views on the waterfront, including those related to structures and other assets, are well understood through the Waterfront Framework 2001, which was developed with the community. However, if the other options are adopted, including the proposed developments, this would include engagement with the public.

Why is the Council recommending the potential removal of a green space in the inner city?
The Council is developing a Green Network Plan for Wellington. This plan will identify areas lacking in green spaces against the predicted levels of growth for the city. It will then recommend an approach for increasing high-quality green spaces across the city.

Any loss of open space in the park, such as the footprint of a building, will be accounted for and compensated for elsewhere in the city. If the Fale Malae development was to proceed the building footprint of it will have to be accounted for and replaced.

Do the estimates include demolition costs?
The cost to remove the car park and Jervois Quay overbridge is estimated at $1.2 million (additional un-costed items include addressing ground contamination, consenting fees and backfilling and dewatering, re-established of the park and associated furniture and planting).

Is the Council concerned about the loss of revenue from not replacing the car park?
The Council’s primary concern is resolving the seismic issues with the building whether through strengthening or removal. This cost significantly outweighs the rental revenue which is $265,000 per annum for the car park and $125,000 per annum for the retail spaces.

If the car park is removed, will a new overbridge be created?
This has not been considered at this stage. Any decision on a replacement structure would need to consider how people access the area, as well as Let’s Get Wellington Moving transport plans for the waterfront.

If the car park is removed what would happen to heritage features, such as plaques?
The Council will work closely with all the waterfront stakeholders such as the RSA and Polish Society, so these important cultural and historical stories continue to be highlighted in the area.

What is happening with plans for the Chinese Garden?
The 2018 consented design of the Chinese Garden relies on the car park building for support. On the premise the car park building is demolished, the design of the garden would need to be reconsidered. 

The Chinese Garden Society is working alongside the Fale Malae Trust to integrate their designs.

If the amendments to the design are relatively minor, section 127 of the Resource Management Act provides for the Trust to apply for a variation to the existing resource consent. This would not be likely to require further public notification.