Wellington's Shelly Bay development granted resource consent

An artist's impression of the Shelly Bay development. - Photo: Photo / Supplied

A new resource consent has been granted for the controversial Shelly Bay development in Wellington.

The development was issued a resource consent back in April 2017, but that was then quashed in December 2018 following an appeal lodged by the business group Enterprise Miramar.

As a result, when a new resource consent application was filed from the developers, Wellington City Council decided to outsource the decision-making to independent commissioners.

It has taken until now for those Commissioners to decide on whether to grant resource consent.

City council chief executive Kevin Lavery said: "Regarding consent conditions, other than some refinement to improve clarity in terms of what is required of the consent holder, these are consistent with the conditions as first imposed when the initial Officer decision was made."

However, while it is a step forward for the developers, The Wellington Company, there are still some significant hurdles in the distance.

Earlier this year, there was much talk about a review process into the council's involvement in the development.

In July, Mr Lavery told councillors that a second vote into selling and leasing land to Shelly Bay Investments Ltd would take place. However, he confirmed that such a vote would only happen after the election, and after the Independent Commissioners came back with their decision.

"It is appropriate that the transaction be reconsidered by the Council", Mr Lavery wrote in an email to councillors.

That email followed a Notice of Motion lodged by Andy Foster a month earlier, where he requested more clarification around the terms of the sale and lease. That Notice of Motion was voted down by nine votes to six.

Just a week before that vote, there was scheduled to be another vote, this one around the terms of reference for the review. A review had been guaranteed to happen since 2017 when the initial vote to sell land was granted.

But when it came to it, it was agreed that the vote would be delayed until after the election.

While many councillors agreed a review into the sale and lease was appropriate, they were concerned with the timing, with Mr Foster running against the incumbent Justin Lester - who supported the development - for Wellington Mayor.

With Mr Foster now becoming mayor, there will be some significant decisions yet to come.

Namely, the second vote by councillors on the decision to sell and lease the council land. Now the decision on the resource consent has been given, this vote should be occurring in the future.

But the new makeup of the council means the outcome of that vote is difficult to predict, with new and inexperienced faces sitting at the council, who have yet to get their teeth into Shelly Bay.

On the other hand, The Wellington Company director Ian Cassells said he was confident the public would get behind the development and he did not believe that Shelly Bay was a key issue for voters at elections this month.

Mr Cassells said while it had been a frustrating process, the granting of the new resource consent was good news for his firm, iwi partners, and the city.

"I wasn't born to annoy people and build something they don't want to see, particularly at my age in life, like it's got to be a good thing and it is a good thing. If somebody convinces me that Wellingtonians by and large don't like it, we won't build it."

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