Ratepayers will be given the chance to have a say on the sale of city council land at Shelly Bay – but it could turn out to be a toothless exercise, with councillors getting the final word.
The land is set to be sold or leased to the Wellington Company, which was last week granted resource consent to redevelop Shelly Bay, on the Miramar Peninsula, with hotels, apartments, townhouses, a rest home, a ferry terminal, a marina and a cable car link to Mt Crawford.
The Wellington Company has a commercial development agreement in place with the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, which owns most of the land, to transform the derelict area into the capital’s version of San Francisco’s seaside town of Sausalito.
Wellington city councillors voted behind closed doors on Wednesday to consult the public about the proposed sale or lease of the council’s land holdings to Wellington Company director Ian Cassels.
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It is understood that a figure of $7.8 million was floated as a price for about one hectare of land.
This week property investors Richard Burrell and George Wilkinson said they were worried the council could sell a slice of the waterfront land for just $2.7m, when the land’s true value was closer to $10m.
Burrell told councillors before their vote that the land could be divided up into 12 parcels and sold for at least $1m each.
“In Auckland, a similar site would go for $30m or $40m,” he said.
Council spokesman Richard MacLean said public feedback on the sale would be taken on board, but the final decision on a sale would be made by the council.
“It’s ultimately still up to councillors to make a call.”
Before the public were asked to leave the meeting, councillor Andy Foster said he did not agree with the vote being held behind closed doors.
“If we are going to get any meaningful feedback, the discussion needs to be in the open, and we at some stage we will have to give the public numbers.”
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said there was a case for public exclusion, but agreed all information should be made available.
After the meeting, Foster said councillors had many questions and wanted to put out a comprehensive package of material for the public.
“Nobody wants to see Shelly Bay mothballed, but ratepayers need to be confident we are not giving a subsidy to developers for the land and infrastructure,” he said.
The council will be providing an update on the Shelly Bay project on Friday, which will include an overview of the proposed sale of land, and plans for infrastructure.
However, commercial sensitivity will prevent some of the figures for the project being released.
Public consultation is likely to start within the next few weeks.