Quake spurs busi­ness hub plan

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - CATHER­INE HAR­RIS

‘‘There's a lot of Welling­ton CBD busi­nesses that want to have a Plan B site within the re­gion.’’

Plans are afoot for a sig­nif­i­cant busi­ness park in Up­per Hutt aimed at pro­vid­ing Welling­ton busi­nesses with a place to go in case of dis­as­ter.

De­vel­oper Wil­lis Bond & Co is propos­ing to build a 50,000 square me­tre mul­tiuse campus on part of the old AgRe­search site at Wal­laceville.

Direc­tor David McGuin­ness said the aim was not to take away from Welling­ton’s CBD, but to com­ple­ment its re­silience.

‘‘There’s a lot of Welling­ton CBD busi­nesses that want to have a Plan B site within the re­gion so if there was an event there is an al­ter­na­tive lo­ca­tion they can use.’’

Cor­po­rates have been rethinking their views of Up­per Hutt since last Novem­ber’s Kaik­oura earth­quake, which sent many busi­nesses and gov­ern­ment de­part­ments scram­bling for short­term space while their build­ings were re­paired.

Wil­lis Bond was talk­ing to var­i­ous po­ten­tial ten­ants, both in the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor, McGuin­ness said.

He would not re­veal who they were but ‘‘the re­ac­tion to our pro­posal has been very pos­i­tive to date’’.

The build­ings would not lie empty be­cause many big or­gan­i­sa­tions had teams which could op­er­ate away from the CBD with­out prob­lems, he said.

‘‘The in­ten­tion is for the campus to be com­ple­men­tary to the ex­ist­ing ac­tiv­ity in the CBD; en­abling busi­nesses to stay rather than leave the re­gion.’’

Other or­gan­i­sa­tions that have a base al­ready in Up­per Hutt in­clude In­land Rev­enue and com­puter ser­vices firm Rev­era, which built a $40 mil­lion data cen­tre at Tren­tham in 2011.

The pro­posal is still at the plan­ning stage but Wil­lis Bond hopes to break ground on the site by the end of next year.

It will fea­ture vil­las built out of tim­ber with open, col­lab­o­ra­tive work spa­ces and a strong seis­mic rat­ing of 130 per cent of New Build­ing Stan­dards.

McGuin­ness said the old AgRe­search site had many at­trac­tive fea­tures in­clud­ing es­tab­lished park-like sur­round­ings, and its po­si­tion as one of the safest ar­eas in the re­gion, with a low risk of tsunami, liq­ue­fac­tion, ground shak­ing and slope fail­ure.

Wal­laceville also had good ac­cess to pub­lic trans­port and road­ing links. This would be­come even more im­por­tant after the new Hay­wards in­ter­change, Trans­mis­sion Gully and the State High­way1 ex­press­way were com­pleted.

McGuin­ness said the cost of the project was con­fi­den­tial. He con­firmed Wil­lis Bond did not own the 11 hectare site, but it had a con­tract with the owner, who he de­clined to iden­tify be­cause set­tle­ment had not oc­curred.

The vil­las in­clude sus­tain­abil­ity fea­tures which will make them less re­liant on ex­ter­nal sources in a ma­jor event.

With so much space, McGuin­ness said it was pos­si­ble to do some­thing quite creative with the campus in­spired by the work­places of big cor­po­rates like Google and Ap­ple.

There was po­ten­tial for run­ning and cycling loops, cafes, con­fer­ence cen­tres, fit­ness stu­dios, and child­care fa­cil­i­ties.

He ex­pected it to ap­peal to of­fice and project teams, tech­nol­ogy hubs, data cen­tres, spe­cial­ist tech spa­ces and dis­as­ter re­cov­ery fa­cil­i­ties.

‘‘This site al­lows us to plan for large open-plan floor plates, flex­i­bil­ity for build­ing uses, a green and sus­tain­able en­vi­ron­ment, and meets a grow­ing de­sire by many for bet­ter con­nec­tions to pub­lic trans­port and af­ford­able hous­ing,’’ he said.

The pro­posed site is also near ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties for IRD, NZ De­fence Force, ASB and the Min­istry of So­cial Devel­op­ment.

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