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Proposal to retire and re-purpose all or part of Happy Valley Park, improve housing supply, develop artificial turfs, improve cricket wickets, enhance affordability of football and cricket, enhance Owhiro Stream and the local environment, complete Wellington’s ‘wild’ reserve network, contribute to new inner city parks and reduce debt servicing costs.
- This paper asks Council to start a process to consider rezoning and revocation of the reserve status of part of a recreation reserve (Happy Valley Park) to facilitate housing development in the area, and to deliver a wide range of environmental and recreational benefits throughout the city. A critical aspect of the proposal is that the funds raised from the process would be invested in significant enhancements of service levels to the two sports codes (football and cricket) that currently use the park, significant enhancements to Owhiro stream, local ecology and recreational tracks, and general amenities, and to provide funding to complete the City’s wild reserve network including the Outer Green Belt and support initiatives to protect privately owned areas of significant indigenous vegetation. Remaining funds could be applied to new Central City parks, and to supporting asset management of important military heritage on City reserve land. In the meantime they would replenish the City’s Reserves Purchase and Development Fund and reduce debt servicing costs.
- Happy Valley Park presents a unique opportunity. It is listed as a HAIL site (Hazardous Activities and Industries List) with some limited historic landfilling of short duration. It was never formally a landfill, but appears to have been used for a short period for dumping of construction material (clean fill). It is highly likely that it holds no or few concerns for development. Also crucially it is a low quality sportsfield. It is not Town Belt or Outer Green Belt. It is of sufficient size to be worth considering for development.
- As a housing site the land would be conservatively worth approximately $24,000,000 or more likely in the range of $28,800,000. The proposal fully recognizes that the change would affect cricket and football and the local community, and therefore it is proposed to use a significant proportion of the funds raised to benefit these communities. In addition, it has been difficult to persuade recent Councils to allocate funding for completion of the City’s ‘wild’ reserve network. The current (2016-19) Council has made significant advances through purchase of Te Ngahere o Tawa, 268 Ohariu Valley Road, former Town Belt land off Devon Street, Aro Valley, and a site on Miramar peninsula. However because no financial allocation was included in the Long Term Plan, the consequence is that whenever land is purchased it is wholly debt funded and no development contributions can be charged even for reserves clearly in growth areas – notably the northern suburbs and central city. It is proposed to use remaining funding in the first instance to help pay for acquisition of the land needed to complete our City’s ‘wild’ reserve network. Other investment is proposed, notably in Central City Parks and if possible to support conservation and maintenance of important military heritage on our reserve network.
- The proposal is strongly supported by Capital Football and Cricket Wellington. I have discussed the proposal with Owhiro Bay school (neighbour) Principal and Board of Trustees and with Friends of Owhiro Stream who were more cautious in their feedback. The school listed several concerns. The report details the valuable feedback from all four key stakeholders in Section 22 below. There may well be concerns raised by some other parties if this proposal advances. However it is also clear that there will be very strong support from many parties. As a result of feedback from Owhiro Bay School BoT I have made some amendments to the original proposal which are now built into the report. The most significant is that an option, subject to consultation, would be to leave a part of the Park as community open space.
That the City Strategy Committee (or its relevant successor committee):
- Receive the information
- Agrees to develop and if needs be refine the proposal to retire and re-purpose Happy Valley sportsfields as proposed in this paper.
- Confirm that agreement to advance this proposal is specific to Happy Valley Park, and that Council does not intend to remove reserves elsewhere, and indeed this proposal intends active pursuit of expanding and completing the wider City reserve network.
- Request the Chief Executive to undertake initial exploratory work into the depth and composition of the fill.
- Assuming that the initial exploratory work does not throw up any critical barriers, request the Chief Executive work with me to further consult initially with the relevant key stakeholders.
- Agree that subject to no critical barriers being raised by key stakeholders, and guided by that feedback, the Chief Executive undertakes wider consultation to inform any subsequent formal consultation on reserve revocation and disposal and rezoning.
- Request that the Chief Executive keeps councillors informed of progress.
- Note that should the proposal proceed to that point the Committee will receive a paper seeking authority to undertake the formal reserve revocation and disposal process and rezoning process.
- Note that future urban development could be led by Council or undertaken by the private sector with any design or affordability guidance Council deems appropriate.
- Request officers to commence work with the landfill operator on future options for the T and T landfill lease land.
- Happy Valley Park is a mediocre cricket ground in summer, and an awful football ground for most of the winter. Most years it moves from rock hard to muddy bog in the space of a couple of weeks of commencement of the winter sports season.
- Happy Valley Park is 4.78 hectares in size. It is zoned Open Space A and is a recreation reserve. Roughly ¾ of the site, perhaps slightly more, is flat, with the remainder being the Owhiro Stream and adjacent steep hillside along the east of the site. (details appendix 1)
- It is a HAIL (Hazardous Activities and Industries List) site. It has a brief history of limited scale unauthorized ad hoc tipping between 1972 and 1977. WCC Chief Resilience Advisor and former Closed Landfill Manager Zac Jordan’s advice (appendix 2) is that there appear to be no material concerns in that history preventing development. Archival information indicates that any dumping was largely clean fill (construction material) and some fly tipping (inert material such as glass). Importantly there is no history of chemical dumping. The history supported by the low altitude, the topography, adjacent stream and land levels all indicate any fill would be likely to be shallow.
- By way of background Happy Valley is not listed as a former landfill although it appears as such on the Council website list of landfills. All landfills are HAIL sites, but HAIL covers a multitude of situations beyond landfills. Just some of the HAIL sites in Wellington include the land under Civic Centre, Te Papa, Waitangi Park, the ASB Stadium, Kilbirnie Park, and indeed most of our sportsfields, and there are a large number (hundreds if not thousands) of houses built on HAIL sites. A nearby example is at the end of Severn and Wye Streets – above Owhiro Bay. HAIL categorization says a site might have contamination present, but does not confirm that a site is in any way contaminated. It is sometimes necessary to confirm whether or not contamination exists and what the source, depth and nature of any contamination is. Even landfills are often developable. The award winning Regent Park, which Council redeveloped and opened in March 2012 was formerly a landfill. Fort Dorset in Seatoun had two shallow landfills. That site has been redeveloped for housing and a school.
- Zac advises that the first step to take would be to do exploratory testing to confirm that the Archival evidence is accurate. This is a common process involving a tractor borne coring drill. It would test the depth and compaction of fill to ascertain whether there would be any issues in respect of piling depth or ground compaction in any part of the site. It would also ascertain whether there are any issues in respect of contamination. Contamination, if found, can be dealt with by removal of the top soil to about 500 mm depth, covering with a geotech layer, and importing new soil material. This was done at Regent Park for example. We have also recently undertaken a similar coring process with Arlington.
- Zac’s advice is that the cost of initial exploration would be only in the few thousands of dollars, that this should be done with Happy Valley anyway, and that it could be funded out of the Closed Landfill provisions (already budgeted). The likelihood is that Happy Valley will have only shallow fill depth, it will be relatively compacted, and has a low contaminant risk. All of these factors are good for development. The coring work would quickly determine whether there are any material physical barriers to repurposing the reserve.
- Appendix 5 theoretically lists all the city closed landfills from Council’s website. Zac’s advice is that Happy Valley should not even really be listed as a landfill per se, but as a HAIL site. He advises that there are additional (unlisted) generally small actual landfill areas around the City. Regent Park is not listed for example. Nor is Creswick Terrace. Most former landfills are either good quality sports grounds (and therefore should be retained as sports grounds) or playgrounds, or are landfills with extensive history generally of municipal landfilling which makes development impossible. The latter are generally very poor sportsfields, but impossible to use to any great degree. The key issues there are depth of fill, stability of fill and nature of fill. Organics in particular break down and create methane and other gases. None of these issues appears remotely likely for Happy Valley Park.
- Of the existing closed ‘landfills’ (or HAIL sites) only three appear to have development potential. The former Defence land in Seatoun (Fort Dorset) has already been developed for housing and a school. Maranui is proposed to be developed for a marine education centre. If the MEC does not happen it could be used for alternative development options. Happy Valley is the subject of this proposal. Regent Park was not listed as a landfill though it did have some history as such and de-contamination was required. Subsequent to that decontamination process, which involved a geotech layer, Greater Wellington Regional Council has removed Regent Park from the list of contaminated sites.
- The proposal is to permanently retire the ground as a sportsfield, uplift reserve status over the flat parts of the site (retaining the stream and hillside as Reserve/Open Space – with its classification being uplifted to Open Space B if this proposal proceeds), and rezoning it as outer residential. The Resource Management Amendment Act 2017 allowed for reserve and rezoning processes to be run contemporaneously. An option within the proposal would be to retain a proportion of the park as a community open space essentially within any development.
- The land could then be developed as Council sees fit to help alleviate housing pressure.
- It is absolutely not generally desirable to remove reserve land. However in this case it should be made clear that there are specific circumstances related to Happy Valley Park which do not hold anywhere else in Wellington, so this is a one off and in no way the thin end of a wedge to dispose of reserve land. To reinforce that point the proposal involves reinvesting all of the proceeds back into the reserves network and recreation. It is proposed that part of the proceeds would be used in helping acquire more land, part in improving the facilities and affordability of the sports field network, and part in improving the Owhiro stream/streamside environment and providing local amenity. The remaining proceeds would need to be earmarked for reserve purposes because the land proposed to be sold is reserve. In effect this would reduce debt and debt serving costs until all the funds were utilised. The proposal clearly delivers a wide range of very significant benefits to the reserve network and to the sports codes currently using the park.
- It is worth noting that Auckland City is doing this in a substantial way particularly with golf clubs and racing clubs to provide for more housing.
- Housing in this Happy Valley location is likely to be relatively affordable in a Wellington context, and the suggested lot sizing and approach could ensure this is the case.
- It is also worth noting that there are large amounts of reserve areas for informal recreation and the Owhiro Bay school in the immediate vicinity. The school Principal advises that most casual recreation occurs on school grounds, though it is clear that some occurs on Happy Valley Park. The proposal would enhance the environment and recreational tracks in the area above Happy Valley Park. However it is clear from meeting with the BoT and Principal that there are a range of users.
- It is worth noting that since 1992 Council has purchased or repurposed several very significant areas of land in the immediate vicinity. This includes land along Tawatawa Ridge – purchases from Wesson, Price, and Fletcher Housing (Oku St reserve), and repurposing Tawatawa Ridge itself from housing / roading purposes to reserve. It also includes acquisition of Owhiro Bay Quarry, retention of two formerly rural sections at the end of Owhiro Bay Parade, and most of the land held for landfill purposes becoming de facto reserve (Te Kopahou).
- Furthermore the T & T landfill just up the road is coming to the end of its consented life. It has approximately 4 years to run. Council owns the southern 88 hectares of the site. In theory this is a clean fill, though clearly has issues (including recent leachate history) that would likely prevent its use for housing. Zac Jordan advises the T and T landfill cover is more porous than the older clay landfill covers (such as Happy Valley) and this would allow any sportsfields developed there to be better draining should there be any future need. Personally I think it should also be considered for a paid campground. The City is clearly short of campground space, and demand for camping is rising. The valley occupied by T and T could – post landfill – become an attractive area for camping. There would certainly be ample space for both. There will be a variety of other potential uses. It could be made into a very attractive site. It is worth noting that there is now a ½ hourly all day bus service along Ohiro Road (29 and 29 e) which is valuable for any camp ground. Council should be commencing discussions in any event with the landfill operator as to their aspirations and a closure plan as the landfill moves towards the limit of its capacity and the end of its consented life. Natural and assisted revegetation and stream clean up and enhancement should be considered. It clearly has carbon sink potential.
- The proposal would conservatively generate proceeds of approximately $24,000,000. At that level there would be an ongoing opex benefit (debt reduction) of $960,000 per annum at 4%, plus reduction in sportsfield maintenance cost, estimated at approximately $52,000 per annum. If proceeds were higher then the opex benefit would be commensurately greater. (full calculations appendix 3) The proposal includes retaining the stream and a streamside area as public pathway or track. If a greater part of the Park is retained then the proceeds would be proportionately reduced.
- Proceeds would be used to:
a) Permanently offset the costs of football use of artificial and natural turf (reducing the cost recovery target from 40% to 10%, or zero if wanted). Capital Football’s advice to the 2018 LTP hearings was that they pay Wellington City Council $140,000 to $145,000 a year on artificial turfs, and $51,000 on natural turfs. Offsetting the entire cost would equate to a capital cost of $4,900,000. (c4% interest cost average over the life of the LTP). Note this is not proposing offsetting training costs or other sport use.
b) Permanently reduce the costs of cricket matches on Council grounds for Wellington based players. Cricket Wellington has some 276 teams based in Wellington City (294 if North City is counted as Wellington rather than Porirua) out of 428 teams total. Cricket Wellington currently pays ground fees of approximately $150,000 across the 4 cities, therefore 276 / 428 x $150,000 = $96,729 or 294 / 428 x $150,000 = $103,037 per annum. Capitalizing those at our current c4% interest rates means setting aside $2,418,225 or $2,577,415. $2,500,000 is used for the purposes of the financial calculations in Appendix 3.
c) Invest in improved cricket turf / reduced fees / roll out wickets / outfields allowing junior cricket to play on artificial turfs – I propose approximately $1,000,000 be invested in this way.
d) Fund two additional artificial turfs in the appropriate locations. Capital Football have suggested three areas for artificial turf. One is certainly Tawa/Grenada – (this should be funded in future by Development Contributions following which the operating costs of a new turf could be offset and the remaining funds put to debt reduction). Capital Football have suggested the areas where there is a need for greater capacity are in the south (suggested option is for a third turf at Wakefield making it an even stronger hub for events) and the Central/ Western area (they suggest Wilton as an option despite parking limitations. I am aware of a club desire to look again at ‘The Cage’ at Ian Galloway Park though this would require discussion with Rugby) Two artificial turfs and associated lighting are estimated to cost up to $5,000,000.
e) Create a walking track and improved amenity alongside the Owhiro Stream through the site, improve the stream environment, and create tracks and undertake biodiversity enhancement thoughout the surrounding reserve areas (between Ohiro Road and the Island Bay ridgeline) An allocation of $2,000,000 is proposed. There is potential for some attractive links to be created.
f) Invest in purchase of new reserves to complete the city Green Belt. Post development contributions this is costed at approximately $2,750,000.
g) It is proposed that a Natural Heritage fund be created to support protection of privately owned areas of significant indigenous vegetation. This would assist the work that is being undertaken through the Council Planning for Growth team. A provision of $1,500,000 net of development contributions is suggested for this.
h) Replenish the Reserves Purchase and Development Fund. This has the effect of reducing debt servicing. If the park net proceeds realise $24,000,000 then debt reduction would conservatively be of the order of $4,350,000. This assumes two new artificial turfs are fully funded through this proposal. Development contribution funding of a Tawa / Grenada turf is assumed, and there would likely be some more modest growth component of the other two turfs. If the proceeds were in the order of $28,800,000 then the debt reduction figure would be of the order of $8,750,000. That sum could be used to fund other reserves purchase and/or development.
i) It is proposed that this sum be used in the first instance to contribute to the non-growth related proportion of any new parks being contemplated in the Central City.
j) If there is any remaining money then it is suggested that it be used towards the asset management of the valuable but neglected military heritage installations on Council Reserve land.
- Happy Valley is proposed because it has several key characteristics:
a) It is a very poor quality sportsfield – one of the worst 3 or 4 in the city. It rapidly changes from rock hard in summer to a muddy mess during most winter with just a week or so of rain.
b) It is a HAIL site. It has a limited history of ad hoc landfilling, but it was only used briefly (dates 1972-77) and in a limited fashion, effectively for construction fly tipping. Zac Jordan’s advice after searching the records is that landfilling will be limited, shallow and easy to build on. It does not have issues with gas emissions.
c) It is not Town Belt or Outer Green Belt.
d) There are no other Wellington City sportsfield-landfills/HAIL sites that have all these characteristics. The only other really obvious site for disposal or development is Maranui depot which has indeed been considered for disposal, or for reuse for development of a Marine Education Centre. (list of ‘landfills’ – appendix 5). Drainage, or lack of drainage is the main issue for most ex landfills. Some are also still settling as the material underneath breaks down. Some landfills are really terrible sportsfields, and some are so bad they cannot even be used as sportsfields. Some have gas migration issues. (eg Southgate and Ian Galloway) All that also makes them unbuildable on.
- The benefits of this proposal are:
a) Provision of easily developable land for housing.
b) As part of the LTP submissions Council heard from Capital Football, the winter (and main) user of the ground that they are very concerned about cost pressures from Council ground fee charges. This would allow Council to permanently reduce or remove ground fees from all turfs. (not training fees or fees for other codes)
c) The proposal would allow a reduction in football levies of approximately $1408 (35 – 40 %) per team for seniors making playing football more affordable and providing clubs with some headroom for investing in gear, coaching etc. Some of that benefit may go to junior football depending on the way in which clubs respond to reduced costs. Although junior sport pays nothing for ground hire for matches it does pay for training.
d) Provide funding two further artificial turfs. This would significantly enhance the network’s capacity. An artificial turf can in theory accommodate as many as 16-18 matches in a weekend. Even a good quality grass turf should be limited to just a couple of games in reasonable climatic conditions to protect the grass, although Council often exceeds that at least early in the winter.
e) Support improved cricket wickets and outfields citywide to the tune of approximately $1 million.
f) Allow for a reduction in cricket levies in line with the proposed reduction in football levies.
g) Improving local amenity and environment of the Owhiro Stream and adjacent reserve land, and contributing to local amenity and activity.
h) Reducing opex costs for Parks, Sport and Recreation.
i) Providing a lasting legacy by completing the city wide ‘wild / green belt’ reserve network.
j) Supporting protection of privately owned areas of significant indigenous vegetation. This would assist the work that is about to commence through the Council Planning for Growth team.
k) Supporting the non-growth related portion of Central City park purchase and development.
l) Making a useful contribution, at least for a time, to reducing debt servicing costs and effective net debt, and replenishing the Reserves Purchase and Development Fund.
m) If there is any remaining funding, supporting any high priority capital projects within the Reserves network. A suggested area of investment is in supporting a future asset management plan for military heritage assets on Council owned land.
- Process proposed:
a) Undertake core drilling investigations.
b) Engage formally particularly with Capital Football, Wellington Cricket, the Owhiro Bay community and Friends of Owhiro Stream. It may also be worth as a second component engaging with various relevant sports clubs, not just those that use Happy Valley but also those that would benefit from development of artificial turfs and improved cricket wickets and outfields.
c) Make very clear in any resolution that this is a one-off, and not the thin end of the wedge to remove any other reserves. This is reinforced by using all any funding for reserves and recreation. A large part of the proceeds would be applied to reserve land acquisition and investment in sports facilities and reduced or removed ground fees, with any remnant left for future reserve related purposes.
d) If proceeded with after consultation, undertake the necessary reserves revocation and planning (rezoning) processes. The RM Amendment Act 2017 allows these two processes to be undertaken together. The District Plan review would be appropriate timing.
e) If proceeded with Council either develops the land for housing or partners with another provider(s) such as Housing New Zealand and/or private sector developer(s).
- Consultation: In testing this idea out – initially without identifying the ground in question (though several participants nominated themselves it as a particularly poor field) I spoke with and obtained information from :
- Zac Jordan – Chief Resilience Advisor who formerly had responsibility for closed landfills.
- Peter Brennan – Manager Property
- Mike Mendonca and Emily Taylor – Hall
- Martin Read – Finance
- Parks Sport and Recreation (Paul Andrews, Matt Bialy)
- Capital Football – Chief Executive Richard Reid, Operations Manager Lisa Jones
- Wellington Cricket – Chief Executive Cam Mitchell
- Real estate advice from several agents
- Friends of Owhiro Stream – Martin Payne and Paul Blaschke
- Owhiro Bay school – Principal Tineke Giddy and Board of Trustees
- Comments made by key stakeholders.
Thank you for sharing the document with us, it is a thought provoking read.
You have asked Capital Football for some comments that can be included in the final doc;
“Capital Football is pleased to see such innovative thinking & is fully supportive of the proposal given it would greatly enhance facilities at the expense of some truly horrendous ones. The proposed cost recovery reduction from 40% to somewhere between 0 & 10% would be a huge bonus to football. As you have rightly pointed out Capital Football has made submissions to the Wellington City Council as to the ongoing cost of the sport so anything that can be done to alleviate that would have our support.”
“Finally you have correctly identified three potential sites for artificial turfs (as “replacements” for Happy Valley) being; Grenada North (which we note is already in the WCC LTCCP), “West Wellington” (Ian Galloway or Wilton Park) & an extension to Wakefield Park in Island Bay. Just so that we are clear the order that they appear in this note is Capital Football’s preference based on our clear understanding of where the “pressure points” currently are within Wellington & our understanding of future growth projections of the city.”
“Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to have a look at the proposal & once again we are delighted to see such lateral thinking, should you require any further detail please do not hesitate to ask”
Richard Reid/Lisa Jones
‘Cricket Wellington is extremely supportive of the proposal to retire Happy Valley Park. As a combined football and cricket venue, Happy Valley Park is not fit for purpose – reinvestment of the funds generated from the repurposing of this reserve to facilitate housing development will enable Cricket Wellington and Wellington City Council to accelerate the facility enhancements outlined in Cricket Wellington Facilities Strategy (May 2018). Should this proposal be adopted Cricket Wellington also anticipates being able to significantly reduce team levies which we believe will have a positive impact on participation which supports The Living Well Wellington Region Sport and Active Recreation Strategy.’
Cam Mitchell – Chief Executive
Friends of Owhiro Bay Stream – Martin Payne – this follows a good conversation with Martin and draft email from me to reflect that conversation, which Martin has edited as set out below:
Friends of Owhiro Stream’s (FOOS) purpose is Friends of Owhiro Stream purpose is to protect and restore the ecological health of the Owhiro Stream. Advocacy and working with the community is central to their kaupapa.
FOOS appreciates being part of this consultation. At this stage, as a community group with a specific focus on the environment this conversation need to be seen as an initial response to this proposal rather than an endorsement of it.
FOOS are obviously focused on protection and enhancement of Owhiro Stream. As one of the few urban streams not extensively culverted this paper considers that the existence and health of remaining streams and restoration where possible of culverted streams is of very high importance. The stream is of great value to the Owhiro Bay community. FOOS would want to consider carefully what the implications of, and opportunities are from this proposal. Layout in relation to the stream would be very important.
FOOS are interested in this proposal, and would want to further explore the detail as the proposal is developed around how it might interface with the stream.
FOOS main issues are about water quantity and quality.
Quantity – the increasingly rapid rise and fall of the stream in heavy rainfall. Owhiro Stream suffers from the common problem of urban streams, caused by the high level of impervious surfaces in its headwaters. Where once rainfall would enter the ground and then discharge into the stream over an extended period, now increasingly it falls on roads, roofs and driveways and flows very quickly via stormwater pipes into the stream. Consequently there is little recharge of ground water. The more extreme the difference between high flow and low summer flow, generally the worse for the health of the stream and the greater the stress on aquatic life.
The review of the District Plan is seen as an essential opportunity to incorporate water sensitive urban design into the planning rules. Controls on vegetation removal are seen as critical. This paper makes provision to assist in vegetation protection in areas of significant ecological value.
We discussed the stream condition itself. It is clear that the stream has been very significantly modified over the past 180 years. FOOS understanding is that originally the stream once meandered in its middle and lower reaches, back and forth across the valley. It is thought that it once flowed to the west of where Happy Valley Park and Owhiro Bay School now are, and it is now channelized on the eastern side of the Park and School. The Park and roads have all been raised significantly above the natural levels. The channel is now a deep narrow channel where originally the stream would have been in a wider shallower channel. Happy Valley Park itself constrains the stream channel. An option for stream enhancement would be to widen the channel along the length of the Park.
This widening could make provision for a streamside track which could be allowed to flood in high rainfall events. Advice would be needed from stormwater engineers, but this may assist in ameliorating occasional flood impacts on a number of properties further downstream. FOOS is interested in creating a track along the Happy Valley Park section of the stream but there is currently no space to do that along the western bank of the stream because of the sports field. This proposal would allow that to be considered. FOOS want the stream to be ‘part of the social space of Owhiro Bay, not an extension of the backyards of any properties developed.’
Setting development back sufficiently from the stream is considered important.
The proposal includes that provision, as it was always predicated on community accessibility along the stream, a streamside track and planting area being created.
Quality – Landfills in the catchment are the main issue here. Waste transportation and on-site management are particularly important in preventing contaminants, particularly plastics, entering the stream environment. Again landfill management of surface water and groundwater is critical. Landfill leachate continues to degrade water quality in the Owhiro stream and current landfill design methodology is decreasing groundwater recharge and increasing peak flows in the stream.
Importance of consultation
FOOS advised that the consultation process would be very important and were very interested in the multi stage approach required (initial stakeholder dialogue, informing full consultation on reserve revocation and rezoning, and on any proposed subdivision layout, and on relationship to the stream)
We discussed where this proposal might fit in with Council’s wider Planning for Growth work, and that we could expect changes across most of the city. As with everywhere else, how changes are designed and managed is critical.
FOOS observed that one of the problems with the former campground proposal for part of Happy Valley Park was the lack of certainty over layout, size and most particularly management. They also noted that there was no reference to the proposed development’s proximity to the stream. Developing certainty at the right point of this process, if advanced, was considered important. Developing options and then having good community consultation is seen as important.
FOOS also advised that invasive weeds in the reserve lands above and to the east of Happy Valley Park are an issue. Weed eradication is an issue all over our city. This proposal may allow for some resources to be put into weed removal, planting and track development in the reserve areas above and to the south of the Park – that is rising up to the ridgeline between Owhiro Bay and Island Bay.
‘It is great that you are putting thought and time into this. This will need strong processes and the ability to turn the idea upside down and around to get the best results.’
Response to FOOS issues
Ongoing engagement with the local community would be crucial if this proposal is advanced.
The Happy Valley Park proposal itself would have relatively limited impact on the stream because it is lower down in the catchment, but would nevertheless have an impact. Design would be very important. This includes development being set back from the stream, possibly making it a model for water sensitive urban design could be a requirement. Working through design with the community will be critically important. The review of the District Plan will need to include provisions about water sensitive urban design including permeable surfaces across the city. That doesn’t fix existing problems immediately but would help ameliorate future problems. This paper makes provision for $2 million in environmental improvements in the catchment. The $ 2 million provision could be used in part to create wetland areas, and stormwater detention areas to allow a gentler, steadier run off of stormwater into the stream. Investment is proposed in a streamside track and planting, and could also be made in track development, weed removal and revegetation on the eastern hillside above Owhiro Bay. There could also be investment made in other local amenity enhancements.
Owhiro Bay School
Initial contact with Principal Tineke Giddy – Original advice on first contact was that the school doesn’t use the park. Public often use the school grounds. School has strong interest in the stream and eels.
I had a longer follow up meeting with Tineke and the Board.
The discussion included the potential for local area improvements. Issues raised included improving the road crossing outside the school, the potential for a dairy as a result of more development, and enhancements to community used facilities within the school.
Discussion also included a range of informal uses of the Park. The scale of that use compared to the scale / frequency of community use of the school grounds for recreation purposes was not entirely clear. As a consequence of that conversation the paper was amended to allow for consideration of not repurposing the entire park, but retaining some of it as a community park space as opposed to a sportsfield.
The Board’s reflection by email is as follows:
We have had more discussion a board around the report you are presenting to the Chief Executive of the council. We would like our comments to be included if still possible.
The Owhiro Bay School Board of Trustees is open to further discussion around the development of Happy Valley Park, however we do have a number of concerns.
Our concerns relate to the following:
- A development of this scale would significantly increase traffic into the suburb, including around the primary school. There is also concern for the large numbers of cyclists that use Happy Valley Road both to commute and ride recreationally should the traffic increase.
- The sports field was formerly a land fill which could be both contaminated land and geo technically unstable.
- The Owhiro stream is already heavily degraded and has poor quality water, largely because of both open and closed landfills in the catchment, and ageing sewage infrastructure. A dramatic increase in people in the area, along with earthworks in a former landfill, will add to the degraded state of the water quality.
- With the expected increase in people in Wellington, parks, reserves and sports fields, will become even more important for quality of life and health. As explained in WCC’s Suburban Reserves Management Plan 2015:
“The suburban reserves sit within this citywide open space framework and play a critical role in determining the character, quality, and function of the suburban environment. They contribute to local residents’ quality of life and can enhance the visitor experience”
“Open space can also play a critical role in post-disaster resilience” (some of Owhiro bay is within the tsunami evacuation zones and sits on a fault line)
“There is limited opportunity to provide more suburban reserves in established suburbs. The potential values, functions, and use of existing open space need to be carefully considered to get the most from the parks that we have, and ensure those values are suitably protected”
Happy Valley Park is part of the neighbourhood’s intrinsic character and value. We feel lucky to have Happy Valley Park, we believe it provides some balance in a narrow, hilled valley.
- Island Bay has direct access to – Wakefield Park, Berhampore Golf Course, Southgate Park, Shorland Park, Liadet Park, Lavaud St Park
- Houghton Bay – Sinclair Park, Buckley Reserve
- Owhiro Bay – Happy Valley Park, Tawatawa Reserve
- Wellington’s urban growth plan 2014-2043 (WCC) states that the growth plan is “To keep Wellington compact, walkable and to minimise the need for new infrastructure, this plan directs future development to existing urban areas with good transport links, infrastructure and community facilities, and to a limited number of new urban areas”. This potential development does not achieve any of these outcomes.
- Flooding in Owhiro Bay from the Owhiro stream is occurring downstream of the school. Any new development would increase the height and speed of the stream during heavy rain events. This is because there would be an exchange of permeable grass field surfaces with impermeable concrete and roofs, combined with stormwater drains and pipes. Flooding in the area would be exacerbated.
- The school has some capacity to grow, however should there be significant development early consultation with the Ministry of Education would be recommended to ensure the school was prepared for any significant growth.
We would like to understand what other areas are under consideration, and the relative merits/disadvantages of each.
Thank you for the discussing this proposal with us, and for the to comment early in the process we love forward to discussing it again shortly.
Owhiro Bay School Board of Trustees.
Response to Owhiro Bay School issues raised
- Traffic issues would need to be carefully managed. Wellington will see increased movement across the whole City with increasing population, so this is and will be an issue across the entire City. Also applies to The Board’s Point 5.
- The sports field wasn’t a landfill. Details are in the report, sections 3 – 8.
- Water quality is a significant existing issue. The solutions are far broader than Happy Valley Park. They relate to management of landfills. Council is proposing a solution to at least the Southern Landfill as part of its Stage 4 development. They also relate to water sensitive urban design, which should be a feature of design at Happy Valley, but are also an issue with any other development in the catchment.
- I agree with the Board’s comments about the value of parks as the City grows. The proposal is absolutely predicated on any proceeds from any redevelopment being reinvested wholly in significantly increasing the area of land held as reserve across the City, and enhancing its usability (artificial turf and cricket field upgrades) and affordability. The proposal also includes funding to enhance the immediate local environment.
The proposal contemplates the option of retaining part of the park as a community park in response to issues raised by the Board.
It is worth noting that since 1992 Council has purchased or repurposed several very significant areas of land in the immediate vicinity. That land is all of Open Space B wild / natural character. That detail is included in Section 15 above.
- Flooding risk could be addressed by WSUD and stormwater detention if deemed necessary. Upstream risks could be reduced by increased vegetation cover and WSUD. Widening the channel alongside Happy Valley Park could help reduce flood risk downstream.
- School capacity will be an issue for all communities as part of Planning for Growth. Statistical projections show that growth will be disproportionately of older people. Nevertheless the Ministry of Education will need to show it can accommodate anticipated school roll growth. It is worth noting that Owhiro Bay School is not currently zoned which is relatively unusual in large parts of Wellington. (For example Island Bay and Brooklyn are both zoned, Ridgeway is not, and almost every school in the Western suburbs is zoned)
|The core sampling identifies significant issues of fill depth, compaction or contamination that are hard or overly expensive to address.
|Risk is considered low by Zac Jordan. If this does eventuate then the only loss is of a few thousand dollars for core sampling to get the information, which would be good for Council to know anyway.|
|Public opposition||Always a risk when trying something new and different. There is strong support from the key sports codes. There are also a range of significant benefits for the environment. The biggest risk is of local community seeing too many downsides compared to the upsides – in the context of a growing city. Council would have to weigh the pros and cons of the project and nuances of it. It is notable that in recent days there have been proposals to develop housing on two city golf courses, Miramar (private) and Berhampore (Town Belt so can not be developed)|
|Failing to achieve consent for rezoning and uplift of reserve status||Always a risk. Mitigation by demonstrating the positive outcomes especially for the environment and recreation.|
|Financial risk – revenue lower than predicted||Relatively conservative budgeting. Property prices are a known factor, and trending upwards rapidly. Even if the full expected income were missed by a percentage then the wider benefits would be very significant. Council could simply choose to fund some of the lower priority (for this project) intended investments in a different – conventional (debt) – way. This would in the first instance be Central City Parks which Council is now being asked to contribute to. Therefore regardless this Happy Valley repurposing proposal will save significant money intended to be spent anyway.|
|Timing||The process may take some time to work through. Some of the land acquisition proposals may come to Council before rezoning and reserve revocation is complete if proceeded with. That would not prevent any funding being used to offset purchases already committed to. A key factor would be Council updating its Development Contributions Policy, but this is already overdue and needed regardless of this Happy Valley Park proposal.|
|Overall risk||Council can at any stage halt the process if there are unforeseen or insurmountable risks.|
This report offers some lateral thinking to achieve a wide range of Council objectives. It is potentially challenging to re-purpose a reserve. I chose Happy Valley because of the unique combination of its poor quality as a sportsfield, and the information from officers about its very limited landfilling history. The proposal has strong support from (some / all key stakeholders)
The report is commended to City Strategy Committee for your support to undertake further work.
Councillor Andy Foster
Portfolio Leader Urban Development
Appendix One – Happy Valley Park
Appendix Two – Landfilling History (Zac Jordan)
Happy Valley Park (Lot 55 DP 75796)
- Happy Valley Park is currently a Recreational Reserve and has a brief history of limited unauthorised tipping that extended from 1972 to 1977.
- It is classified as a HAIL site.
- Although there are no formal records of the waste disposed of to this site, materials from builders’ excavations and broken glass bottles are believed to have been disposed of illegally. The ultimate fill-height achieved with a final cap of clean fill material.
- In 1987 the area was converted into the sports fields and in 1992 WCC carried out a number of tests at this site which were published in ‘South News’ stating that the tests indicated no problem with toxic substances.
- Wellington Regional Council Resource (GWRC) Investigations Department carried out independent investigations on a number of open and closed landfills across the region in 1998. In that report, Happy Valley Park was marked as a Cleanfill (although all are called Landfills) with a site priority ranking of ‘Low’.
- The site remains defined by GWRC as a Verified History of Hazardous Activity or Industry (HAIL) site and has not been considered a priority for further investigation.
- Parks Sports and Recreation (PSR) maintain the sports field and provided the site is not excavated, the contents disposed of in the 70s will be contained.
Appendix Three – Financial calculations
Site size 4.78 ha
Assume conservatively ¾ is developable (remove hillside and stream) = 3.585 ha.
Assume housing on 300 sq m sites – low/medium density = 119.5 dwellings. Use of airspace could increase that.
Remove 20% for internal roading/space = 95.6 dwellings. (that would give sections of 20m depth / 15 m width separated by a 7 m wide shared driveway – 2m footpath, 2 m parking, 3m driving space, noting roadways only have to be approx. 60-70 metres long. Intelligent design could utilise this space better)
Advice from Real Estate agents is to expect at least $250,000 plus for 300 sq metres, flat land, south/east Wellington, no sea view, reasonable sun access, easy access for services. $300,000 is considered more likely. Assume conservative sale value $250,000 ($833 per square metre) = $24,000,000 – sale price is likely to be higher but offset by process and development costs. $300,000 x 96 = $28,800,000.
The exact nature of any development and who undertakes it (Council, Kiwibuild, UDA, private sector partner, private sector development) would be a subsequent question for Council to determine. I would anticipate Council would require good urban design, and seek to ensure affordability, and therefore some control over the size and nature of the housing would be desired.
The proposal is that (conservatively) the proceeds are approximately $ 24,000,000
That would have an ongoing annual opex benefit (debt reduction) of $960,000 at 4%, plus reduction in maintenance costs of the playing fields. (Capital Football pay $2,600 for the two grounds, assuming Wellington Cricket pay the same and cost recovery is 10% – that would make the cost of the ground to Parks Sport and Recreation $52,000 per annum)
Proceeds would be used to
- Permanently offset the costs of football use of artificial turf (reducing the cost recovery target to 10% from 40% – or zero if wanted). CF’s advice to the LTP hearings was that they pay $140,000 to $145,000 a year on artificial turfs, and $51,000 on natural turfs. Offsetting the entire cost in perpetuity would equate to a capital cost of $4,900,000. (4% interest cost on $196,000 average over the 10 years of the LTP)
- Invest in improved cricket turf /reduced fees / roll out wickets allowing junior cricket to play on artificial turfs – the proposed amount initially is $1 million. Cricket Wellington CEO Cam Mitchell has outlined investments in a number of ‘grass roots’ wicket blocks needing work. Most of these are concrete based blocks.(Linden West, Grenada North, Churton Park, Ian Galloway, Kilbirnie, Miramar) There are a number where outfield drainage work is desired (Linden West, Alex Moore, Nairnville, Ian Galloway, Kilbirnie) and several where investment in blocks for Pearce Cup level cricket would be ideal to complement the Basin Reserve and Karori Park wickets. (Alex Moore, Nairnville, Anderson, Kelburn, Kilbirnie)
- Cricket Wellington’s presentation to the 2019 – 2020 Annual Plan (May 2019) said ‘We do not believe we need more, but we do need improved facilities.’ CW’s submission focused on its ‘Facilities Strategy May 2019’ document. The document says ‘it is generally accepted that there are sufficient grounds to cater for the current demand for cricket….’ but ‘the variable quality in the cricket grounds (wicket blocks, artificial wickets and outfields) provided across the region has been identified as a key issue by the clubs and by Wellington Cricket.’
- The report identifies issues with school wickets (possibly not Council business), noting that there are 118 primary schools across the region with 11 artificial wickets. It also notes a potential back up first class venue should be considered either at Karori (outfield issues) or at Trentham – though we have had past issues with men’s first class cricket at Karori. It also notes the lack of quality outdoor grass training blocks and suggests upgrading the reserve Karori block.
- Club feedback noted ‘virtually all groups indicated they had some issues, problems or needs related to improved playing facilities – generally these related to outfield care and drainage and better rolling of junior wickets in particular.
- Richard Reid (Capital Football CEO and former international cricketer) advised that junior players currently playing on ordinary grass ‘wickets’ (not properly rolled cricket blocks) get little and inconsistent bounce, and this detracts significantly from playing the game. He says Cricket is losing players and juniors are its future. He therefore suggested roll out wickets to sit on top of artificial football turfs. Cam Mitchell advised that this could compact the turf filaments and is unlikely to get Parks and Gardens support. This may need further discussion, but is a matter of detail.
- Fund two additional artificial turfs in the appropriate locations. A turf is currently proposed in Council’s LTP at Grenada. This should be largely or wholly funded in future by Development Contributions. $2,500,000 is used for the purposes of the financial calculations in Appendix 3. Capital Football have suggested the other areas where there is a need for greater capacity are in the south (they suggest a third turf at Wakefield, which would also better support larger scale events in one location) and the Central/ Western area (they suggest Wilton as an option despite parking limitations, and lack of clubrooms. Alternately in this area I have also been approached about re-considering an artificial turf at Ian Galloway Park ‘The Cage’). This would likely be only partially growth funded (Central area growth) but those calculations would need to be undertaken as part of the review of Development Contributions Policy and levels. The assumed cost of two turfs, lighting etc is $2,500,000 each, ie $5,000,000 excluding any development contributions offsets.
- Offsetting ground fees for Wellington based cricket clubs. Cam Mitchell advises that ground charges across the 4 Councils total about $150,000 spread across 428 teams in the four cities. Of these 276 teams are based in Wellington City (294 if North City is counted as Wellington rather than Porirua). Therefore 276 / 428 x $150,000 = $96,729 or 294 / 428 x $150,000 = $103,037 per annum. Capitalizing those at our current c4% interest rates means setting aside $2,418,225 or $2,577,415. I have used $2,500,000 in developing this paper.
- Improve the Owhrio Bay stream and create a walking track and improved amenity and planting alongside the Owhiro Stream through the site. Other local amenity improvements are an option which could be determined in consultation with the local community. Suggested investment of $2,000,000.
- Invest in purchase of new reserves to complete the city Green Belt. Post development contributions this is costed at $2,750,000.
- Supporting protection of significant indigenous vegetation on private land (assuming 50% development contributions) is costed at $1,500,000
- Contribution to purchase and development of inner city parks. This figure assumes that 75% of costs are growth related and therefore paid by development contributions or equivalent non rates sources. Costed at $6,000,000
- Use any remainder to replenish the Council’s Reserves Purchase and Development Fund. This has the same effect on debt servicing as repay Council debt. If the park net proceeds realise $24,000,000 and all the above costs were incurred then the net cost to Council would be 1,650,000, while if the net proceeds were $28,800,000 the debt reduction would be $3,150,000 This assumes no development contributions in respect of the two artificial turfs proposed.. (ie conservative)
If the Park net proceeds realised.
Total Revenue (conservative) $24,000,000
Capitalised reduction of Capital Football fees $ 4,900,000
Cricket grounds $ 1,000,000
Cricket fees $ 2,500,000
Artificial turfs $ 5,000,000 less any DCs
Owhiro Stream and Reserve enhancement $ 2,000,000
Green Belt completion $ 2,750,000
Support protection of significant indigenous vegetation $ 1,500,000
Remaining funding to increase RPDF/reduce debt costs $ 4,350,000
Potential allocations for Reserve Purposes –
Contribution to Inner City Parks (note DCs likely) $ 6,000,000
Net cost to Council $ 1,650,000
Supporting Asset management of military
Heritage on reserve land $ tbc
Net cost (revenue) to Council if revenue $28,800,000 ($ 3,150,000)
Note – Development Contributions based on 96 units at $5,299 (Brooklyn – Frobisher area) – all of which is allocated to infrastructure, there currently being no provision at all for reserves $508,704
Appendix Four – Future needs for grounds in the area if required.
The nearby T and T landfill (theoretically a clean fill, but with clear evidence of issues such as leachate) is due for closure in the near future (maximum approx. 4-5 years).
Council owns the lower/southern part of the site – 88 hectares.
It is considered by Zac Jordan, Mike Mendonca and Emily Taylor – Hall that T and T will not be suitable for housing, but because of the nature of its cap (more porous than the clay caps of many former landfills) will likely be suitable to provide some potentially considerable playing field space were that required at any point in the future.
It may also be worth considering as a campground option.
Establishing permanent forest as a carbon offset on part of the land is also well worth considering, and quite appropriate given the proximity to three currently active landfills.
Given the finite lifespan of the landfill, and even regardless of this proposal, Council should commence discussions with the landfill operator and owner of the northern part of the site about optimal land use outcomes.
Appendix Five – list of Wellington city landfills
|Why not appropriate for housing|
|South Makara Road||Small landfill, part of cemetery ? Rural zoned|
|Church Friend Street||Assumed to be part of Futuna site – already developed (would have been small)|
|Benburn Park||Limited landfilling. Good quality sportsfield|
|Appleton Park||Terrible park (drainage). 1930s landfill. Not compacted, still settling.|
|Ian Galloway Park||Very poor park (drainage) except for ‘The Cage’ which is on the edge of the former landfill. Closed as major city landfill in 1977. Still settling. Substantial methane emissions.|
|Landfill Onslow Road||Assume this is the informal park at the bottom of Onslow Road ? Used as a dog exercise area.|
|Ex Bengal Street Tin Tip||Already developed or in use ?|
|Blind Gardens||Well used inner city park|
|Anderson Park||Botanical Gardens. Also well used reasonable sportsfield close to central city.|
|Kelburn Park||Town Belt. Well used good quality sportsfield close to central city / University.|
|Central Park||Town Belt. Assume this is under the Renouf Centre ?|
|Rugby League Park/Winter Show Buildings carpark||Town Belt. Used as carpark site. Could be used and laid out better than it is, but needs to be consistent with the Town Belt Act and Management Plan.|
|Hanson Street Building||Town Belt. Unsure where exactly on Hanson Street.|
|MacAlister Park||Town Belt, Major reservoir on part of site. Adequate sportsfield.|
|Polhill Gully Landfill||Active landfill (T and T)|
|Carey’s Gully Landfill||Active landfill (Southern Landfill)|
|Burrell Demolition||Active landfill (C and D)|
|Happy Valley||Poor quality park. Very limited landfilling. Could be developed|
|Southgate Reserve||Well used local reserve – proposal likely for playground. Recent history of gas emissions.|
|Sinclair Park||Very poor playing fields. Recent landfill. Issues with settling, leachate, and emissions.|
|Maranui Tip||Generally good rock. Small landfill area. Could definitely be developed. Decision required on Marine Education Centre or alternative use.|
|Martin Luckie Park||Town Belt. Good sportsfield, recently upgraded. Used by Wellington Phoenix.|
|Kilbirnie Park||Good park. Very important part of sportsfield network.|
|Moa Point||Assume this would only have been a small landfill. Now already used for Airport/Sewage treatment plant/housing purposes.|
|Strathmore Park||Not sure which one is meant – children’s playground and local amenity park.|
|Miramar Park||Valued part of the sportsfield network. Reasonable playing fields.|
|Fort Dorset||Already developed for housing and school. Limited landfill was dealt with during this process.|
Appendix Six – Sections for sale – Wellington City.
These numbers are from late 2018.
There aren’t a huge number of sections for sale, most are in the northern growth area.
Martin Birks 022 0663170 69D Chamberlain Rd 888 sq m BEO $300,000 steep/bush – house consented
Colin Kelly 021 439727 109 Calcutta St 1116sq m BEO $620,000 steep/great views – 2 houses consented. Great views.
Wrightway homes – Steve Platt (Ray White – 0274 463906) Don’t appear to sell undeveloped sections.
Unit / stand alone on 177 sq metres – sale price $640,000 approx.
These properties all look to be quite steep. Pricing is around $500 per square metre except for largest section which appears to include a substantial steep hillside.
(Contact Mike Russell – Russell Properties 0274 482 233)
131 Silverstream Road
These are all $1000+/- per usable sq metre – using discounted prices quoted – highest $1,290, lowest $850. I have assumed $500 per usable sq metre. It is worth noting that the Silverstream Road development is essentially sold out for Stages 1-4 (with last 2 stages yet to be released)
More recent numbers for sections in Wellington (2 June 2019)
|Suburb||Section size sq m||Price (BEO)||Section description if available|
|Crofton Downs||393 useable||420|
|Houghton Bay||332||395||Sea view|
|Johnsonville Comber Pl||267||315|
|Khandallah 78A Jubilee Rd||606||595|
|1791||195||Mostly conservation covenant|
|3325||649||Mostly conservation covenant. Steep.|
|Kingston Montreal Cres||718||199||Difficult site slope and shape|
|Newlands (Spenmoor St) – 53 sections||399 – 940||330 – 500||Will have good views. Exposed site. Likely some flat – some slope|
|Ngaio||351||235||Difficult steep site with stream requires pole house|
|Ngauranga (Malvern Rd)||900||250||Sea views – steep|
|Tawa (Turniff Cres)||521||260||Just over ridge from Broken Hill Rd|
|686||379||Just over ridge from Broken Hill Rd RV 155|
|842||325||Just over ridge from Broken Hill Rd|
|Wadestown (Cecil Rd)||594||220||North facing, views, steep|
Capital Football Club membership (Senior)
Capital Football Membership – Senior and Junior
There are 142 Wellington City based senior teams paying Capital Football levies. $200,000 /142 = $1,408 per team. This is the prospective reduction in subscriptions per senior team. (equates to a reduction of around 35-40% in cost of playing and would also potentially allow clubs more capacity to pay for gear, coaching etc)
Turf numbers are those allocated to football (not rugby or hockey)
Seatoun 273 Natural turfs
Miramar 559 Artificials 1
Island Bay 804 Natural turfs
Brooklyn 576 Artificials 4
Wellington Utd 435
Victoria Uni 320 Natural Turfs
Artificials 1 (VUW – Boyd Wilson)
Waterside Karori 876 Natural Turfs
Artificials 1 (small size)
Onslow 836 Natural Turfs
North Wgtn 834 Artificials 2 (1 full, 1 middle size)