In 1995, the area that is now Waitangi Park (see below) was part of the infamous "Variation 17" proposals by Wellington City Council which provided for townhouses and apartment blocks all over the area in the photo, and high-rise buildings all along the rest of the waterfront. Not surprisingly, the people of Wellington were in an uproar. Waterfront Watch was formed under the leadership of Lindsay Shelton and Helen Glasgow to campaign for keeping the waterfront as open space for the public to enjoy.
Waterfront Watch with public support finally helped to defeat those proposals in April 2000, and together have managed to project the community's vision of the waterfront in the now widely-acclaimed Waitangi Park.Throughout this period Waterfront Watch has enjoyed massive public support:
1996: WW presents a petition to Council signed by more than 10,000 people opposing big new buildings on the waterfront.
1996: WW commissions professional market research company to find out what Wellingtonians want. 90% want buildings to be restricted and wants lots of open space.
1996: 800 people attend a meeting held by Lambton Harbour Management (precursor to Wellington Waterfront Limited) where they vote against plans for new buildings and they specifically vote for a park at Chaffers free of buildings (now Waitangi Park).
1997: Council survey, professionally run, shows a majority preference for more parks and residential areas on the waterfront and 70% state their belief that only minimal residential or commercial development should be allowed on the waterfront.
1998: City Voice (a weekly newspaper) carries a professionally run survey in which 70% state their wish for a 100% park at Chaffers.
2000: Wellington Town Hall packed with 2000 citizens protesting against Variation 17. Meeting passed unanimous resolutions opposing buildings on the waterfront and demanding the retention of public open space and views.
2000: Petition with 12,000 signatures opposing new buildings on the waterfront presented to Council.
2000: 2,400 submissions from the public in opposition to Variation 17. Of 932 submissions on Chaffers Park, only 3% supported new buildings on the Park.
2000: Variation 17 was withdrawn.
And so it has continued, with plans to develop the waterfront constantly going against the public's wishes, for example;
2001: Council commission market research to find out what people want. 86% vote against new buildings in the area between Te Papa and Chaffers and ask for landscaping. The plans subsequently drawn up show a series of huge buildings.
2002: The public vote for a Chaffers Park design with minimal buildings (again), and a Council funded professional survey finds a similar desire, but WWL/WCC choose a different design.
While we applaud some of the things the Wellington City Council has achieved, other proposals have been less well thought out, such as the defeated proposals to put a Hilton hotel onto the Queens Wharf.
After Variation 17, all the various parties collaborated to produce a blue-print for acceptable waterfront development - the Waterfront Development Framework. Unfortunately, the other parties to that document have since interpreted it in a different way to which it was very clearly intended - a point rammed home by the decision of the Environment Court in the Hilton Hotel case. Waterfront Watch will continue to press for waterfront development that fits that Framework.
See Current Work for the areas where we are actively engaged.