Q&As

How do we build earthquake safe buildings?


We can never guarantee earthquake safety. But we can better manage the risk through engineering features like base isolation. Most new buildings in Wellington now incorporate this kind of resilience, for example the PWC building, Children’s Hospital, and we are about to see the first base isolated apartment block.

Do you think growth in the CBD is sustainable given rising sea levels, water issues, and earthquake risk?


Properly managed, there is no reason that growth in central Wellington cannot be sustainable. But this does mean changing how we travel and how we consume energy in our buildings. This change needs to at least commence over the next decade. The biggest change is probably going to be a reduction in our reliance on the private motor vehicle. We also have some tough choices to make around rising sea levels, water conservation and heritage/character areas. We need to have an honest public debate about these things, about acceptable levels of risk, and the trade-offs we are prepared to make.

Where did the 50K to 80K projected growth number come from?

The 50,000 projection is a medium population growth projection and comes from Forecast.id. The 80,000 projection is a high population projection and comes from Statistics New Zealand.

Is there a point where we say enough is enough – no more growth?


Councils have a statutory requirement to provide for growth under the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity. We need a coordinated plan for this growth. Without this, housing will become more unaffordable as demand outstrips supply, and travel times and congestion will increase (as people are forced to live further from where they work).  So it is important that we have a coordinated plan for growth that ensures the city remains liveable.
Forecasts and projections are for Wellington to keep growing. The intention of this project is to ensure the growth that we do get is managed well.

With more people, will my rates go down?

Not necessarily – where existing infrastructure and facilities can be used by new residents and no new investment is required then this will not necessarily lead to increased costs to ratepayers. Where new infrastructure and facilities are required (eg for greenfield development) then this could add to the overall costs, however it will be spread across a greater number of ratepayers.

How do we protect our green space?


The Outer Greenbelt and Inner Town Belt provide a solid foundation for the city’s natural environment and help to maintain our compact urban form. We have heard from the recent consultation on the Draft Outer Green Belt Management Plan that the community places a high value on this area.

If greenfield development is supported and taken forward into the Spatial Plan we will need to plan these new suburbs carefully to ensure these values continue to be protected.

Where does the question of more jobs come into the equation?  Where will people work and what will they do?


The scenarios are focused on residential growth as this is likely to be the most significant change for the city.

There will be continued demand for commercial and business land and floor space in Wellington which we must also provide for. Most of this land will be for retail, health, education and training, while the floor space requirements will be in the commercial and government sectors. Overall the city will need more than 24 hectares of land and more than 60 hectares of floor space over the next 30 years. This is the equivalent of 20 Majestic Centres. Alongside this is ensuring the economy is supported with good quality transport options as well as continued housing options for current and future residents.

Once a preferred approach for growth has been identified through engagement with the community, further work will be done to determine whether additional areas for commercial and employment activity will be needed and if so, where these areas should be.

What are the infrastructure costs of the different scenarios?


At this point we are focused on getting a direction from the community about where and how they want the city to grow, and then we can do more detailed investigations into the costs.  
Regardless of the scenario there will be a need to increase existing infrastructure capacity, providing the necessary community facilities, and amenities. We have briefly outlined this in the supporting information with the scenarios and on the Key Issues page of the website.

How will you make sure new housing is good design?

We want quality housing, not just quantity. This means that we will be considering how we can improve design across all building types. The District Plan is where we can influence these outcomes and we will be looking closely at how well the current rules and design guidance are working, and what might need to change to maintain the ‘cool little capital feel’.

Will there be provisions for our aging population?

We will certainly be making sure that housing for the elderly and residential aged care is provided for in the city’s future. This is important. The reference to ‘residential’ in the scenarios covers all types of housing, and this includes how we can design new homes to be accessible for the elderly and disabled. We will be considering this as part of the District Plan review.

Can we treat character areas differently, to protect these special suburbs and streets?

The future of the pre-1930s character areas need to be considered within the wider Planning for Growth work because they cover so many properties in an area that is under pressure for future development. We are starting the conversation about these areas now as they are a key factor in what growth model we land on for the city. We will then have a clearer idea of what changes (if any) we will need to make through the District Plan review process in terms of the rules that currently protect these areas.

We have recently completed an assessment of all the properties.