21 Apr 2019

Jackson hits out over council approach to Shelly Bay project

4:27 pm on 21 April 2019

Sir Peter Jackson has delivered a scathing critique of the Wellington City Council's plans for a major development.

Peter Jackson

Sir Peter Jackson Photo: AFP

In a long Facebook post to his 2 million followers, he likened the council's actions on the Shelly Bay proposal to something out of The Sopranos or communist Albania.

Included in the 5000-word post are copies of emails sent between council staff and developers, discussing roading needs if the development is to go ahead.

Artists impression of Shelly Bay development

One of the original images for the Shelly Bay project that was quashed by the Court of Appeal. Photo: Supplied

Emails show the council is considering ignoring the advice of a report which says a 14-metre-wide road and 8 metres of pedestrian paths should be built for the road, instead opting for a 6-metre wide road with 1.5 metres of pedestrian space.

Sir Peter said the council is willing to ignore its own reports on the required width of the road, and ratepayers will have to swallow the cost of the roading.

"That the WCC is prepared to ignore the advice of its own experts is deeply concerning, but it comes as a shock to see the ease that Wellington ratepayers are being thrown under the bus (assuming there is actually a bus service operating at the time)," Sir Peter said.

"And why should they care? There's no accountability, and the council appear to have a well-oiled practice of slipping huge budget blow-outs through the system with minimal public outcry.

"I suspect that this is not the first time it's happened."

Sir Peter said local residents are against the development, and the fight will only get uglier.

Late last year consents for the $500 million project were quashed by the Court of Appeal, which ruled Wellington City Council had got the law wrong when issuing the consent for the project.

The developers, Taranaki Whānui and the Wellington Company say the project's designers have been challenged to deliver not only highly efficient and sustainable structures, but also beautiful building forms befitting its pristine coastal environment.

Wellington's Mayor Justin Lester is defending his council's involvement in the development which he said was a good deal for ratepayers.

The council will spend $10 million on infrastructure such as pipes but will recoup $8m of that from a land sale, he said.

Mr Lester said the Court of Appeal has described the council officers as acting appropriately and professionally.

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