Beyond the flyover: what’s next for the Basin Reserve? A seven-point plan from Save the Basin


Basin Reserve rainbow. Photo: Patrick Morgan.

Basin Reserve rainbow. Photo: Patrick Morgan.

Save the Basin’s feature article on post-flyover next steps appeared in the Dominion Post last Friday. The core of the article is this seven-point plan of next steps at and around the Basin. This has received a good reception so far, but we’re still trying to get to grips with the consultation process on post-flyover options. We’ve been told that it will be open and consultative, but it remains shrouded in secrecy so far.

But when the six-member Governance Group is ready to listen, we’re ready to talk. Here is our set of proposed next steps:

  1. Reframe the Basin as a sporting, urban development and heritage area as well as a transport corridor. The politicians and the NZTA need to grab the opportunity to engage the community in thinking about the future of the Basin and its surroundings.
  2. Create a master plan for the whole area. Its national significance needs to be given appropriate recognition: instead of seeing the Basin, Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, the Governor General’s residence, numerous local schools and the heritage of Mt Victoria as isolated pieces, the rich history of the whole area should be celebrated.
  3. Go through a robust process to evaluate which of the transport options highlighted by the Board will have the most benefits. Start by carrying out small improvements to bring relief to frustrated transport users, and evaluate these before considering whether a more expensive option is justified. .
  4. Upgrade the Basin and strengthen and preserve the Museum Stand.
  5. Prioritise a Reserve Management Plan for the Basin (as already agreed by the City Council) that will establish key principles on how the ground should be preserved.
  6. Put in place heritage protection for the whole ground in the City Council’s District Plan.
  7. Re-develop Kent and Cambridge Terraces as grand public and private spaces well connected to the Basin – which could include uncovering Waitangi Stream that flows between them.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges: NZTA Intends To Enter Into “Open And Collaborative Process” Over Basin Flyover Aftermath

In a letter to the Save the Basin Campaign (in response to one we sent to John Key soon after the High Court decision was announced), Transport Minister Simon Bridges says some encouraging things:

The NZ Transport Agency advises me that … it intends to enter into an open and collaborative process with councils and the community to spark new conversations and ideas about the best way to deliver substantive solutions to the congestion at the Basin and other pinch points in the network.

I appreciate that you have had a strong interest in this issue over a period of time, and thank you for the time that you have already committed to developing and presenting alternative solutions for consideration.

This is great to hear – but there are concerns that the process adopted so far is neither open nor collaborative, and furthermore that the experts who have developed alternative solutions which the Board of Inquiry said deserved further consideration have not been consulted in the wake of the flyover decision.

Let’s hope that Minister Bridges’ views, as expressed in the letter above, result in the Regional Transport Committee, City and Regional Councillors, and NZTA officials demonstrating a new openness and willingness to genuinely and widely consult on the Basin, and on the best options for Wellington’s transport network.

Wellington Journalists Ask: Can Former Flyover Fans Be Trusted To Evaluate Basin Flyover Alternatives?

As Wellington Scoop reported on 10 September, a small group of local body politicians and NZTA officials has taken it upon themselves to make decisions about the future of the Basin Reserve – and all but one of those local body politicians was in the pro-flyover camp:

At yesterday’s regional council meeting, three councillors sought an integrated approach to deciding on at-grade roading improvements around the Basin. Paul Bruce and Sue Kedgley were supported by Barbara Donaldson. But Paul Swain refused. He said that a small governance group of himself, Fran Wilde, Celia Wade Brown and Andy Foster, plus two Transport Agency staffers, would make the decision, and would then report back.

In a comment on this article, Councillor Helene Ritchie christened this group the “Secret Six”.

This group subsequently promised to work with the community, but there remain concerns about how well this work will in practice given the composition of that group, and whether they will be prepared to take a fresh and unbiased look at non-flyover options they had previously rejected out of hand.

In the Dominion Post, columnist Dave Armstrong came up with a memorable analogy:

It’s like getting the Keep Our Old Flag Society to design a new flag. Will this group report back with recommendations that are the urban design equivalent of three boring silver ferns and a koru that looks like a cow doing number twos?

Wellington Scoop has dug further into the track record of the members of this “governance group”, and what it has found does not inspire confidence.

For its part, Save the Basin hopes that NZTA’s decision not to pursue its flyover plans through the courts will enable even the most entrenched flyover supporters to think afresh, and we are pleased that the New Zealand Transport Agency has indicated it will take a new and more genuinely consultative approach to post-flyover discussion and decision-making. But we’re mindful of the point the preceding Wellington Scoop report makes in its final paragraph:

No doubt there’s no way of excluding Transport Agency representatives from the next round of road planning for the Basin. But the Agency should consider its past bad behaviour and find some new faces who have the ability to listen, rather than to threaten or dictate or just misrepresent.

As both Wellington Scoop and the Dominion Post have pointed out in these articles, there are real alternatives on the table at the Basin, including the BRREO, Option X and tunnelling. As Dave Armstrong points out, it makes sense to focus on approaches which are low-cost and don’t foreclose other options if they become necessary:

Some critics say that BRREO is only a short-term solution. Even if that is true, wouldn’t it be worth giving it a go? If it works, keep it; if it doesn’t, start digging for a longer-term alternative. When you look at the time and money already been wasted by myopic officials intent on a flyover, BRREO and Option X deserve some serious consideration, not just by sore losers.

What’s more, Wellington transport needs much more than a rethink at the Basin. FIT Wellington and Generation Zero have made a valuable and timely contribution to this debate with their revamped light rail (modern trams) proposal for Wellington, released last week.

What Save the Basin Said To The Regional Transport Committee On Tuesday

On Tuesday morning, Wellington’s Regional Transport Committee met – the first such meeting since NZTA abandoned its pursuit of a Basin Reserve flyover through the courts. That issue was prominent in public participation, and below you can read what we said in our three-minute slot.

There were many good presentations, among them this one on a revamped light rail (modern tram) proposal for Wellington from FIT Wellington and Generation Zero

Comments to RLTC public participation – 8/9/15 – Tim Jones, Co-Convenor, Save the Basin Campaign Inc.

  1. The NZTA decision not to pursue further legal action over its Basin flyover plans provides a welcome opportunity to advance modern, sustainable transport options for Wellington. But that discussion needs to be about more than transport. As the Board of Inquiry clearly showed in its 2014 report, the landscape, urban design and heritage aspects of the Basin Reserve precinct are of vital importance. This time round, they must be taken into full consideration.
  1. NZTA’s concept of proceeding to make limited optimisation improvements soon is worthwhile. At the Basin, such an approach is entirely compatible with the Basin Reserve Roundabout Enhancement Option (BRREO) or a development thereof. BRREO would be far cheaper and quicker to implement than any other option at the Basin, and it doesn’t foreclose other options if they later prove to be needed. I agree with the Mt Victoria Residents’ Association call for a detailed and fair-minded reconsideration of the BRREO proposal.
  1. The effect of at-grade changes at the Basin can be enhanced by making changes along Kent and Cambridge Tces – I understand the Newtown Residents’ Association and Mt Victoria Residents Association have done some further thinking about what this could entail.
  1. Evidence presented to the Board showed that the congestion problem identified with the Basin has its roots in other parts of Wellington’s transport system. Therefore, we need to look at solutions that can be made across Wellington. To quote Ellen Blake of Living Streets Aotearoa, “What we need is an integrated look at transport issues in Wellington combined with decent urban design and planning”.
  1. It’s time for Greater Wellington and the WCC to work cooperatively on this issue, both with each other and with the community, including community groups and groups with expertise in sustainable transport solutions.

NZTA has decided not to try to appeal the High Court Basin Reserve flyover decision

The New Zealand Transport Agency has decided not to seek leave to appeal the High Court decision which upheld the Board of Inquiry decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover.

Here is the NZTA statement:

The following paragraph is of especial interest:

Ms Chetwynd said that the High Court ruling means this project will not proceed as the Transport Agency does not have the required approvals. She says the Agency is committed to working together with the community and local councils, particularly Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council, to spark new conversations and ideas about the best way forward for delivering vital transport improvements for the Capital.

Who will be part of these conversations, and whose voices will be heard? It’s important that, this time, community voices and sustainable transport alternatives are to the fore.

Save the Basin’s press statement in reaction to NZTA’s announcement is below.

Save the Basin Campaign Congratulates New Zealand Transport Agency On Decision Not To Appeal Basin Reserve Flyover Issue Further

The Save the Basin Campaign today said that it was pleased that the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has decided not to seek leave from the Supreme Court to appeal the High Court decision on its proposed Basin Reserve flyover.

“It’s taken a long time for the NZTA to come to its senses,” said Save the Basin Campaign spokesperson Tim Jones, “but the decision not to pursue further legal action means central and local government and community groups such as ourselves can finally sit down and have a meaningful discussion about the best alternatives for Wellington.”

“That discussion needs to be about more than transport,” Mr Jones added. “As the Board of Inquiry clearly showed in its report, the landscape, urban design and heritage aspects of the Basin Reserve precinct are of vital importance. And what’s more, the transport issue is about more than the Basin Reserve. The decision not to pursue a flyover provides an opportunity for Wellington to develop a modern, sustainable transport system that is appropriate for the 21st century.”

“If central and local government agencies are ready to engage in open, constructive discussion,” Mr Jones concluded, “then Save the Basin will be keen to play its part.”

An Excellent Analysis By The Architectural Centre of NZTA’s Options

NZTA has until Friday 4 September to decide whether it will seek leave from the Supreme Court to appeal its defeat in the High Court over its Basin Reserve flyover plans.

While we wait to see what their next move is and respond accordingly, it’s well worth reading this excellent analysis of NZTA’s options by The Architectural Centre.

Some Media Reactions To The High Court Basin Reserve Flyover Decision

Cartoon: Ron Beernink

Cartoon: Ron Beernink

As we reported on Friday, the High Court dismissed NZTA’s appeal against the Board of Inquiry decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover.

There was a lot of media reaction to this decision – below is a selection.

As mentioned above, Wellington Scoop’s Flyover category is a great place to keep up with coverage and reactions. Here are some specific items worth looking at, none more welcome than the first:

Dominion Post editorial, Mon 24 August: Time to leave the flyover behind

TV3: Basin Reserve flyover a no go after appeal dismissed

Radio New Zealand: Basin Reserve flyover appeal rejected

Stuff: Basin Reserve flyover project killed off by the High Court

New Zealand Herald: Basin Reserve flyover project killed off

Wellington Scoop: Iona Pannett tells City Council to end its flyover fixation

Wellington Scoop: Seven years of community opposition, and the defeat of the Transport Agency

Wellington Scoop: News release from Richard Reid and Associates: Architect pleased at support for his Basin roading enhancement option

Save the Basin Delighted at High Court Decision

The High Court this afternoon dismissed the New Zealand Transport Agency’s appeal against the 2014 Board of Inquiry decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover.

The High Court decision is available here:

Naturally, Save the Basin is delighted! Below is our press release from earlier this afternoon – check out all the coverage and reactions to the decision on Wellington Scoop.

Save the Basin Campaign Delighted by High Court Decision

The Save the Basin Campaign today said that it was delighted the High Court had rejected the New Zealand Transport Agency’s appeal of the 2014 Board of Inquiry decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover.

Save the Basin Campaign spokesperson Tim Jones said that the Campaign was confident the Board of Inquiry decision would stand up under the High Court’s scrutiny, and that the Transport Agency had failed to mount a strong case. He also thanked Matthew Palmer QC, who appeared for Save the Basin at the High Court, and Nathan Ross, who assisted.

“Just because the Transport Agency hates to lose to community groups, that doesn’t mean it has the right to have decisions overturned that it doesn’t like,” said Tim Jones. “We hope the Transport Agency and the Government will finally take the message on board that a Basin Reserve flyover would be ugly, unnecessary, outdated and inappropriate, and that Wellington deserves modern, sustainable transport options that are appropriate for a modern capital city.”

“We hope that the NZTA and the Government have seen sense and will not seek to waste yet more taxpayer money on appealing this decision further,” Mr Jones concluded. “However, if they do try to pursue further legal avenues, we’ll be ready for them.”

Action Station makes a vital contribution to Save the Basin


As Wellington Scoop has reported, Community campaigning group Action Station has made a vital contribution to the campaign to save the Basin Reserve from a massive motorway flyover which the New Zealand Transport Agency wants to build there.

Despite a Government-appointed Board of Inquiry ruling in 2014 that a Basin Reserve flyover should not go ahead, the New Zealand Transport Agency took the matter to the High Court in July, attempting to overturn the Board’s decision.

NZTA is able to spend millions of dollars in taxpayer money to pursue its flyover obsession, which puts community groups such as the Save the Basin Campaign and the Mt Victoria Residents’ Association, which jointly opposed NZTA’s appeal in the High Court, at a huge financial disadvantage.

Save the Basin Campaign spokesperson Tim Jones said “We’re delighted that Action Station agreed to help with our fundraising. Their support allowed us to reach a new audience and provided a crucial boost to help us meet our fundraising target for our legal fund. Our supporters may not be able to spend up large with taxpayer money, as the Transport Agency does, but they make up for it with determination and commitment.”

For Action Station, Nina Atkinson said “ActionStation exists to make it easy for progressive New Zealanders to take action on the issues they care about. Hosting the crowdfunding campaign and asking our community to chip in for this people-powered effort was the very least we could do and we’re so glad it helped.”


Fundraising through Action Station raised close to $2000 for the legal fund. The cheque handover took place at Tuesday lunchtime at the northern entrance to the Basin Reserve, near where NZTA wants to impose the flyover monstrosity. The High Court hearing on NZTA’s appeal finished on 31 July, and the hudge’s verdict is now awaited.

Now It’s Save the Basin’s Turn: Week 2 At The High Court

Most of the first week of NZTA’s appeal in the High Court against the Board of Inquiry decision to decline resource consent for a Basin Reserve flyover has been taken up with the case of the flyover proponents: first NZTA itself, and then the Wellington City Council, whose submission supported part of NZTA’s case.We thank everyone who attended the High Court during the first week and sat through the NZTA and WCC submissions!

But now it’s our turn. Matthew Palmer QC, for Save the Basin and the Mt Victoria Residents’ Association, began presenting our case around Friday lunchtime, and he is currently expected to be continuing to present our case throughout Monday the 27th, and on into Tuesday. Philip Milne will then be presenting the case of The Architectural Centre, before NZTA gets a final right of reply.

So, if you can possibly get along to the High Court on Monday, or during the rest of the coming week, please do so. Here’s what you need to know about coming to the High Court:

Media Coverage Roundup

Here is some media coverage, mainly focusing on our case:


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