Wellington waterfront park plan 'outdated' - opponents

9:15 pm on 11 October 2016

Opponents of a controversial Wellington waterfront development have told a resource consent hearing they want the project scrapped, saying the design is outdated and the public was not consulted.

The plan for the new Waterfront park.

The Wellington City Council has applied for resource consent to put a Chinese garden in Frank Kitts Park. Photo: Supplied

The Wellington City Council has applied for resource consent to redevelop Frank Kitts Park and put a Chinese garden on the site.

The plan for the redevelopment - which would cost the city $5.5 million - includes bulldozing the amphitheatre, installing a bigger lawn and expanding the children's playground, while taking it closer to busy Jervois Quay.

The entire park would be re-orientated toward the harbour and the garden - which would be funded by Chinese interests - would take up roughly a sixth of the park.

But there has been anger from some in the community about the proposal, with opponents today speaking at the resource consent hearing for the park.

Waterfront Watch president Patrick McCombs said his group was intentionally excluded from the consultation process.

Waterfront Watch president Patrick McCombs

Waterfront Watch president Patrick McCombs Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

"Frank Kitts Park has been on the waterfront for 25 years now and Wellingtonians just love it," he said.

"It's a very distinctive shape [with] the curved concrete seats, and the walkway going through to the harbour... The council just wants to change everything."

Dr McCombs said office workers took shelter from the city's notorious wind in the park's amphitheatre at lunch, which the proposed redevelopment would remove.

Alexia Pickering, who uses a wheelchair, was also upset.

"My principal concern is the current design does not provide full access for all those wishing to visit," she said. "We need to think about the wheeled pedestrians - is it going to be accessible?"

Alexia Pickering

Alexia Pickering Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

The idea of a Chinese garden had been around since at least the 1990s, but it was not until a decade ago that Frank Kitts Park was confirmed as its home.

The design brief dated back to June 2006, and the design itself was of a similar vintage.

Landscape architect Steve Dunn said that it was outdated, and the entire project needed to go back to the drawing board.

"A more up-to-date, realistic assessment of the needs, opportunities and requests for a remodelled Frank Kitts Park needs to be carried out," he said. "The application's design is already 10 years out of date.

"With the likely further delays of funding and implementation, we might be past the [design's] average life in terms of appropriateness and relevance," he said.

Pauline Swan, who had been railing against such redevelopments for 20 years, spent 10 minutes giving the commissioners a condensed history of the Chinese garden and Frank Kitts Park.

Councillor Andy Foster said there had been plenty of consultation including two rounds of discussions with locals - two years ago and 10 years ago.

The Chinese Garden Society was expected to make its own submissions tomorrow, when the resource consent hearing enters its third and final day.

An artist's depiction of the planned park space.

An artist's depiction of the planned park space. Photo: Supplied