When is the Mall to be redeveloped?

Its a long story – full of much intrigue, greed and politics. But the bottom line is, ‘probably not for many years’, – due mainly to WCC policies that effectively prohibit it.

The Johnsonville mall redevelopment is an issue tied up with conflicting corporate priorities, Council determination to inhibit Johnsonville growth (lest it upset the profitability of CBD businesses), and WCCs refusal to pay for the roading improvements around the Johnsonville triangle that are already 20 years overdue.

J-Mall version 1 looked nice

J-Mall version 1 looked nice

DNZ applied for a substantially bigger Mall redevelopment than the one currently consented for – 7 years ago. WCC quickly changed the district plan to effectively forbid this development – solely to protect CBD businesses from the competition. As Johnsonville residents, most of us realize how deranged this is – if we want to go to a bigger shopping centre than Johnsonville provides, we go to the “free parking” Queensgate mall or the “free parking” Porirua mall & large format stores – rather than the Wellington CBD. As a result, DNZ was forced to withdraw plans to build a cinema here to fit the new size restrictions.

Next, WCC allowed a consent to be granted for a smaller mall redevelopment – contingent on $ 14.5 million of “Johnsonville Triangle” roading improvements going ahead (the “kicker” here is that it was a 5 year resource consent, and the WCC driven roading was scheduled to commence in 7 years! WCC political / Planning speak for “cross our palm with Silver!”).

After years of pleading from JCA and with the support of local councillors WCC finally agreed to stop waiting for the stalled mall, and build the new roading improvements. WCC have budgeted some money for it – $ 5.7 million in 2014 to commence this work (far, far less than what is needed to complete it!!), so funding is quite inadequate. WCC have thus far failed to convince NZTA that it’s a “good investment” for them to help with, despite the fact that imminent upgrades to the northbound SH1 Johnsonville off-ramp will ‘clear” Ngauranga gorge by utterly congesting Johnsonville with more traffic! 9Which, without the ‘triangle improvements – cannot flow….

So today, DNZ still find the new (smaller) mall redevelopment uneconomic – especially when they will be obliged to pay WCC $5 million towards roading if they build it (the true cost of interfacing existing roads with the new mall is a tiny fraction of this sum).

Sadly, if WCC had agreed to DNZs initial (larger) mall redevelopment proposal without the “strings”, Johnsonville will have had a bright new mall with a cinema complex years ago. One cannot turn the clock back, but JCA supports a reversal of the $5 million funding requitrement and the limit on Mall size, to allow DNZ to make the improvements all of Johnsonville wants them to make…..

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