Quake spurs business hub plan
‘‘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.