Plan Change 7 – Dunedin Harbourside

### ODT Online Fri, 5 Mar 2010
Cull pushes for harbourside rethink
By Mark Price
A rift is developing in the Dunedin City Council over its “50-year vision” of turning the industrial harbourside area into a locality of apartments, bars and cafes. The plan requires a change of zoning for the affected land. Cr Dave Cull this week said “plan change 7” contained “ghastly negative repercussions” that would lead to hundreds of job losses.

Cr Cull has sided with the Otago Chamber of Commerce and five businesses which have appealed to the Environment Court against the change.

Read more

Post by Elizabeth Kerr

19 Comments

Filed under Economics, Politics, Town planning, Urban design

19 responses to “Plan Change 7 – Dunedin Harbourside

  1. kate

    Elizabeth, you surprised me with reference to this article on Friday at the hearing – I didn’t know it was in there. I think this site has the potential to be a very important site as a think tank for urban design, and just considering how communities work and want to be seen to work in our City.

    It therefore upsets me as it did last week when the wise visitors to this site again continue to focus on one issue and cannot divert their attention to other important and possibly more pressing issues – you raised some very good points on the ports and silence. I think Harbourside was mooted and signed off before this site was up and running – or maybe that is my ignorance – yet those that express passion for the City are not engaged with equally important issues concerns me.

    There is a time to start to move on – and I appreciate that many will find that hard – some have to move on for pragmatic reasons and hence I can understand ODT being criticised for only running positive stadium stories, but they have always been great supporters of Otago and what else can they – or any of us do.

    That does not mean that we clap our hands in excitement at the project, but it might mean instead we look at other areas of interest and make sure the same mistakes of process, planning and public understanding are not repeated – and I think Harbourside – developed out of an idea to give Dunedinites more access to the harbour has turned around to something quite different and potentially harmful. Yes there is a similarity to the stadium debate – let’s save Carisbrook and now we have something totally different. There is little hope to change that now (yes a hole in the ground might be cheaper long term but it is not going to happen!) and maybe we need to focus on what other issues we need to ensure do not follow that same expensive, changeable, solution process.

    I am listening to those that still have very open sores but they will never heal and other matters will go unchallenged if we keep on scratching the sore.

    • Elizabeth

      Kate – What if? was initiated by Paul as a ‘stadium design’ blog in March 2007. On invitation to co-author I started posting here in February 2009.

      Harbourside is something I’ve been involved with, via my chairship of NZHPT Otago Branch, since 2001. And later, via NZIA Southern and the Southern Urban Design Forum – and as an individual.

      After the stadium project was given the go ahead by Dunedin City Council there came a time when no news was issuing about the said project. At that point, in particular, Paul and I widened subject matter at What if?

      I agree with your comment.

      In a city, in an urban-rural district, discussion has to range wide to appreciate the full extent of spending priorities to keep the local economy and community well-being pumping – for future generations.

      The stadium nobbles some of that thinking – however, personally, I have no plans to be limited or restricted by the council’s lack of accountabilities for the stadium project; it is worth exposing at the same time we keep building our other asset and business bases. If my telecom goes bust, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop paying the carrier pigeons.

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Sat, 6 Mar 2010
        ORC eyes merger decision
        By Simon Hartley
        Port Otago’s 100% owner, the Otago Regional Council, favours discussion continuing over a proposed merger with rival Lyttelton Port of Christchurch – preferably with a decision made by the end of 2010.
        After a non-public briefing by Port Otago chairman John Gilks last week to the ORC, its chairman, Stephen Cairns, said yesterday the council had “agreed in principle” that Port Otago continue discussion with LPC management.
        “This is a proposal of huge regional importance. We want to see more details,” Mr Cairns said.
        Read more

        ****

        Stephen Cairns is on the nail:

        When asked to quantify ratepayer benefits from a merger, Mr Cairns said yesterday, “This won’t go anywhere if there aren’t benefits for the ratepayer. It has to be demonstrable that there is an upside for ratepayers.”

  2. Russell Garbutt

    Kate, a lot of us have huge other issues with the Council and the decisions that continue to come out of the whole mess.

    Let me look at just a few that I have dealt with, with absolutely no success, as I sense that I am one of the people you may be thinking of when making your comments.

    The submission process. What can you really say when some Councillors say that they only read or look at 10% of the submissions? How much time should be spent in thinking carefully about issues when those people making submissions know that, or know the sort of reception they get from some who treat the whole thing as a process to be endured, or treated as some sort of perverse game?

    Traffic engineering. Anyone who looks at what has happened and continues to happen with traffic engineering from the DCC is amazed. I have spent considerable time trying to find out just why a simple thing like the London Street Clearway was removed. After heaps of emails, and finally the process under the LGMOI Act, I got a response after 20 days which was frankly a nonsense. No data, just a change for apparently change’s sake.

    Road surfacing. Another disaster. Ride a cycle or a motorcycle round Dunedin particularly in the wet and you will find out the disgraceful condition of the road surfaces. Try and get some answers. Almost impossible. Try and have a discussion and it invariably comes down to no money being available. Wonder why that is?

    I have taken part in the Harbourside process in one of the focus groups, but my impression was that it was a done deal from day one. It was never really an open blue skies process in my view.

    The attitude of the City to its elderly. What can you say that shows that the City is a caring and supportive community? Not much there. How many times does the Hospice have to plead for money to keep going? Again, I’ve done my best in the time available to write to those making the decisions and the responses are so similar to those that come out of the DCC. An inability to listen to suggestions, but an assumption that there is a complaint that needs to be “ticked off” in a compliance process.

    I’ve tried to address the ORC as to what their intentions are when the Alpine Fault major earthquake occurs. Despite a significant amount of evidence being gathered and presented, the overiding reaction seemed to be somehow, it’s not our worry, we are more concerned with justifying borrowing $40m for a stadium that isn’t even in our area of responsibility.

    The stadium is truly indicative of the sorts of things that are wrong with the processes and decision making that go right through the fabric of the town and no wonder that people seize on it as it is there, it’s going up despite what the people want, it’s costing a bomb, and it’s only there to serve a few. Oh, and yes, a few individuals have benefitted at our collective cost. Why wouldn’t we be concerned, as this debt and associated costs to us all are the main reason why other worthwhile projects will never see the light of day.

    And in case that you or others may think that I can’t see the good things that happen in our City, I have written in praise of the local walking tracks, our reserves, our gardens. There are some good things that happen, but compared to the stadium debacle, they are few and far between.

    So, I hope that I for one have shown that I am not a one issue person, but can you think of any other project in Dunedin’s history that has divided it so much, has placed it in so much debt, or constricted its long term planning and vision? I can’t.

  3. Richard

    Says Russell: “So, I hope that I for one have shown that I am not a one issue person, but can you think of any other project in Dunedin’s history that has divided it so much, has placed it in so much debt, or constricted its long term planning and vision? I can’t.”

    Well, that is mind-blowing.

    Sorry, but please do not kid us you are anything BUT a one-issue person, Russell. My email files and record of your blogs prove that conclusively!

    And yes, I can easily think of several other major issues that have divided Dunedin as much – if not more than the stadium – but (and it’s a BIG BUT) what’s the point?

    You show your hand when you say things like: “can you think of any other project in Dunedin’s history that has divided it so much, has placed it in so much debt, or constricted its long term planning and vision? I can’t.”

    Well, I can.

    I have some pride in our progressive past and, indeed, in our future. FUTURE.

    And therein lies the fundamental difference between us.

    Pride in our PAST and confidence in our FUTURE.

    Or as Thomas Bracken put it: “Poor souls with stunted vision”.

    And he was not saying that we had to agree on everything!

  4. Richard, I can’t believe you just said what you did about Russell. You may not have intended it, but it comes across as plain vindictiveness. “Mind blowing” you say, your email files and record of his blogs prove he is nothing BUT a one-issue person. That is unmitigated nonsense, and if you believe that then you are blinded by your prejudice.
    Russell says he can think of no other project which has divided the city so much, nor placed it in so much debt. You say, “Well I can.” But you don’t say what it is. Why? You say you have some pride in our progressive past and, indeed, in our future. FUTURE.
    We would all have a pride in our PAST and confidence in our FUTURE if it were not for the debt load the city will be carrying into that future. Debt put there due to ill thought out actions by you and your colleagues and administration. Richard, you cannot argue that the city will be comfortable with its debt position in the future when your own treasurer Athol Stephens said publicly a couple of years ago that the city was full of debt with no room for any substantial activities in the future. Since then the position has considerably worsened.
    “Poor souls with stunted vision.” Said Thomas Bracken. If he were here today, I wonder to whom he would be referring with that statement?

  5. Richard
    I thought you said you wanted to get onto things more ‘constructive’. I can’t see that with your latest tirade towards Russell. Or are you having us on? Or are you just plain cussed?
    You know this stadium issue has badly divided the city. You don’t want to see it because of your own part, as Chairman of the Finance and Strategy Committee, in foisting this project on us and thereby ripping the city apart. To be honest, if I was in your place I’d be big on denial too. I suspect you know history will not be kind to you and your colleagues who have taken us down this disastrous path. I’m sure you will want to be remembered from your time as Mayor, but this stadium debacle has kind of ruined it for you.

  6. kate

    Thank you Russell for your response and sorry I meant that the site which Elizabeth has said she would like to see broadened has stayed one issue – I think the other issues you raised are interesting and I will consider further when time allows – but they are the sort of things that equally should be tossed up here occassionally and ideas floated and hopefully comments made – equally with the ports and harbourside.

    I hope that readers wouldn’t think I would get into the personalities and am sorry to see this thread has descended to that when the issues raised by Russell are exactly the other sort of issues that we should be discussing.

  7. kate

    Elizabeth – is Mr Cairns’ duty to the ratepayers or the residents of Otago? They are not one and the same.

    • Elizabeth

      Kate – I’m hoping your question is rhetorical, since Mr Cairns in his ORC role is directly accountable to ORC ratepayers given the ORC-Port Otago Ltd relationship. The residents of Otago – and Southland – of course, will be affected by the ports outcome, as will ratepayers.

      {Given Kate’s following comment, I should say Mr Cairns is responsible to Otago residents (his catchment), which includes a smaller subset of ratepayers; but that with respect to the ports merger – or non merger, he/ORC is responsible to the good people of Otago Southland, so affected. -Elizabeth}

  8. Kate
    As a city councillor I can appreciate that you see there are so many issues to deal with in Dunedin – not just the stadium. So true. You no doubt also feel that you have a role to lead and heal wounds in the community – and ‘move on’, as they say.

    When you, and your colleagues, are in the hot seat I can understand this desire to get away from the stadium madness that has enveloped the local council. The bugbear of the stadium, meeting after meeting, must get draining.

    However, I don’t think this is the right time to ‘move on’ from the stadium and make do. This ‘sore’ you speak of is not one that, exposed to a bit of fresh air and sunlight, will form a scab and heal. This is an infection with oozing pus. It needs antibiotics. Accountability has to occur for what has happened and, yes, personalities are naturally involved. How can’t it? Richard’s ‘you’re being personal’ is symptomatic of this. He takes his own public accountability as a ‘personal attack’ – in the sense of name calling and ‘not being nice’. By doing this it avoids the issue.

    There a lot of good things still happening in Dunedin, despite the stadium, but there are also some bad things happening that are symptomatic of the same stadium thinking and bad process. Dave’s comments this week concerning the Harbourside are a case in point. He raises important issues that need to be addressed there.

    I know we want happy news stories so we all feel good. ODT positive stadium news stories, drummed up artificially, to engender ‘excitement’ is part of the campaign to paper over the cracks and not deal with the infection. I’m afraid it ain’t over yet with what still has to come out concerning stadium shenanigans over the last few years. Kate, you risk being sucked in by the understandable desire to ‘move on’, to just have happy news stories. If we do so now, we let the proponents of the stadium off the hook for their own accountability for this debacle and they go on to do more damage.

  9. Russell Garbutt

    Richard, you had an opportunity to move onto real issues on the “DCC is a borrowing machine, who pays in the end?” thread where I asked you a really specific question on the issue of depreciation and interest. The post was, in case you have lost it in your comprehensive filing system:

    “Now you are dealing in some issues, can I ask you to perhaps tell us your views on a matter that has come up on another thread on this site – that of the need to provide DVML’s Net Profit after Tax forecast figures. It is clear from published forecasts that the stadium will only perhaps break even in terms of operating if it doesn’t allow for interest and depreciation. Do you agree that interest and depreciation for the stadium should be ignored, and if so, why?”

    Your response to that was to ignore it, and instead move into familiar territory for you. Abuse, berate and attempt to belittle the questioner.

    Richard, I repeat again for your benefit, as you seem unable to hear or read, I am not a “single issue” person – read my post again – and I’m not going to stoop to your level of personal abuse.

    Looking forward to your answering the question.

  10. kate

    I think I have been misunderstood, I appreciate sores might not heal, but I hope in checking on the sore on one limb so often we do not miss the ulcers on the other – and in the debate on this site we are failing to see the other ulcers/blemishes or whatever and they all need consideration.

    I love to hear all the view points on this site – they enrich my understanding. Not all views are ones I share – and I understand that not everyone sees what I see, but please let’s learn to listen to each other’s views, not say they are right or wrong but reflect the nature of us all coming from different viewpoints, different understandings and different values.

  11. kate

    I agree with Calvin and Russell that the processes can be better – I have championed for that but while the Council as a whole chooses to govern at a very restricted level we will not get better processes. Take recent discussions on new bylaws – badly drafted, badly considered and a Chair that just wants to rubber stamp staff views, that is the problem. At least a majority has twice delayed it.

    Accountable governors would make better processes and ensure that they were applied. I personally long to be involved in such a governance body. But I cannot change what we have, the residents aged over 18 can.

    Hence my comment about who does Mr Cairns work for? The residents of which only the electoral role will give me some indication albeit not a large young population, or the ratepayers a much smaller group. What happens when a project is good/bad for ratepayers and bad/good for residents who so we act for, who is our duty to? I think from the quotation on What If, Mr Cairns might have it wrong.

  12. Russell Garbutt

    Kate – you are right about learning from other’s points of view. I would contend that some will never learn from other’s point of view because they are simply not in a place where they can learn.

    You are also right in looking at the wide picture – but I’m not sure that in all of the LTCCP’s or even Annual Plans, there has been really community debate on what is good about Dunedin, what could be good for Dunedin, and what is bad for Dunedin.

    What is clear that the debate cannot be contained within a hearing room in the Town Hall. Thanks to this site, and many others like it, the discussion and debate is reaching a much wider community. How to bring that debate and discussion to those that sit round Council tables that have no idea that there is another world out there that they don’t even see, let along connect with, is a problem.

    As Elizabeth has pointed out up to [500] people per day read the postings on this site alone. I have no idea what the readership on the other sites is, but what I do know for example, is that 5 years ago, virtually no students at the University downloaded podcasts. Last year over 300,000 podcasts were downloaded. What does that statistic show you? The ways of communicating are changing faster than we could even imagine 5 years ago.

    Many people in our community still rely on traditional means of news – but experience over the last year or so shows that this type of media is controlled. What the ODT, for example, chooses to print comes down to a few individuals’ choice of what to print. They would not agree that this is a form of censorship, but it is certainly selection and therefore control. People in our community that don’t have the ability to access alternative means of communication therefore are not necessarily well informed.

  13. kate

    The interesting thing too is that this form of communication is connecting with an age group that otherwise is not necessarily heard or read in other forms of communication – albeit I am uncertain of ages represented from readers of this actual site.

  14. I think we need to be realistic about the influence of these sites. Up to 500 visits per day-including numerous ‘call ins’ by the same people – does not reach the mass of the voting public. Even a big daily like the ODT only reaches about 50% of homes, I understand. Don’t get me wrong. This is a useful discussion forum, but we fool ourselves if we think there are masses out there hanging off our every word. Most are oblivious to these sites.

  15. Russell Garbutt

    Peter, you are correct regarding reach of the voting public. I don’t think for a moment that masses are out there reading all the various threads, but I suppose that people’s choices are now much wider.

    The difficulty is that anyone that wishes to reach the majority of the Dunedin ratepayers is that they have to use as many media as they can, as effectively as they can. What people don’t really appreciate is that this type of media we are using is bi-directional and generally not bounded by too many controls. Information or views can be readily debated, but it is interesting to note that out of all of our Councillors of the DCC or the ORC only Kate Wilson takes part in conversations in a constructive way on a wide range of issues. Richard Walls sometimes appears, but as we all know, he has a very different style of communicating.

    Newspapers, radio and TV are uni-directional and heavily controlled. It is also true that a lot of mass media simply get their facts wrong, or won’t report things that they don’t consider important. Today was a brilliant example on radio when the reports of the rower that died on Lake Dunstan got his age wrong, and the time that his boat was recovered completely wrong. But how many other people that listened to that broadcast would know that? The assumption is that if you read it in the paper, or hear it on radio or TV then it must be correct.

    I don’t know the answer on how to increase the numbers of people who are not aware of the many issues that are regularly debated or discussed on sites such as this, but that answer must be found well before October.

  16. No argument with what you are saying here, Russell. The getting the message out is already underway- by virtue of the council’s own, out-of-touch actions. The opposition to the current council won’t need to worry about the depth of arguments presented here and trying to explain them in detail. It’ll all come down to a repetition of sound bites, I imagine, with a few salient facts (not too many or you bore people) thrown in. People now know, I believe, that the council has been on a spending spree with our rates. They see it on their rates bill. They are becoming more and more aware of the rising debt levels. The parking issue was a ‘boon’ and such a simple catalyst for change which Joe Blow can see firsthand and understand.
    The community is already anti council, as I say, because of the council’s own actions. This is not to say there will be a council clearout. All electoral systems throw up anomalies and of course it depends on the quality and number of candidates who present. I hear there will be a good number of candidates for Mayor and Council. The new council I think will be a mixed bag like the present one. Of course the media will influence/direct electoral choices by how they report. All very interesting.

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