Filmmakers Call Shelly Bay ‘Exclusive Community’ That Will Cost Taxpayers

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Wellington film celebrities have aligned themselves against the development of Shelly Bay, saying taxpayers could be grappling with the cost of creating an “exclusive community”.

Sir Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and The Weta Group are among some 1,100 bidders to Wellington City Council, which is considering selling or leasing plots of land in Shelly Bay to make way for development, adjacent to Wellington Harbor.

The submissions were made public on Friday.

Sir Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh criticized the council's proposal, saying taxpayers will end up subsidizing speculative real estate development.

PROVIDED

Sir Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh criticized the council’s proposal, saying taxpayers will end up subsidizing speculative real estate development.

Jackson and Walsh’s submission said the enormity of the infrastructure to support development meant that “taxpayers are subsidizing what is essentially the lucrative business of a real estate speculator.”

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The Lord of the Rings The duo said that when considering the possibility of establishing a film museum in Shelly Bay, the council had led them to believe that simply repairing basic infrastructure would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Park Road Post Production Managing Director Cameron Harland is one of Weta's four contributors.

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Park Road Post Production Managing Director Cameron Harland is one of Weta’s four contributors.

“The land itself will be sold at a bargain price and the people of Wellington will be facing a huge infrastructure debt to make this business viable,” said Jackson and Walsh.

“Who benefits in the end? Certainly not the people who need social housing the most.

The submission opens the door for a blockbuster appearance by the movie moguls, who have indicated they want to make an oral submission on their position on the board.

Weta Digital COO David Wright put his name on the submission.

Weta Digital

Weta Digital COO David Wright put his name on the submission.

The submission by Weta, a group of Miramar’s major film production companies, takes issue with the way the council granted undisclosed consent to the development and the decision to make it a special housing area, this which actually meant he could cancel his own district plan.

Special housing zones were created by the government to speed up development as concerns about housing affordability mounted.

“We are particularly concerned that the legislation on special housing zones has been used when it is clear that the nature of this development is not, in our view, what the [legislation] was intended, ”Weta’s submission said.

While details are vague, Weta has offered to work on an alternate vision for Shelly Bay. There was a “significant opportunity to take a much broader, holistic and consultative approach to development in the Miramar Peninsula and the Weta group would be ready to be part of it.”

He criticized several aspects of the development as well as the management of Wellington City Council, including the lack of opportunity to have a say in development. The board is only asking for comments on whether to sell or lease the land.

The scale of the project – 350 housing units, a small hotel and a nursing home – was too dense for the area and at odds with the council’s district plan.

Weta went on to bemoan the impact the development would have on Miramar’s already strained infrastructure and the problems associated with increased traffic in the region.

“[The council] Will be aware that critics have noted that the estimated cost of infrastructure upgrades associated with development is underestimated and likely to increase over time. This would expose the council and its taxpayers to any overrun of that cost. “

He also argued that the proposed development had a bias towards housing for exclusive use and with limited public space.

“As residents and neighbors of the peninsula, we do not want the region to become an exclusive community.”

Council spokesperson Richard MacLean said he welcomed submissions from the film industry “as we do with all other submissions we have received.”

Most of the land belonged to the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, MacLean added, meaning it was up to the trust to comment on “Weta’s suggestions on how [the trust] should develop their land.

Wayne Mulligan, chairman of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, declined to comment as the process was a consultation between the board and its stakeholders.

Ian Cassels, director of the Wellington Company, said the trust had indeed been “blocked” by the lack of infrastructure spending at the site, and that the development offered a possible solution.

“In any scientific analysis, he is a net producer for the city, and I would be very keen to sit down with anyone who challenges him.”

This week it emerged that Sarah Crawford, a descendant of the man from whom the Crown acquired the land in 1886, set out to reclaim the land and halt development.


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