Wellington calls in consultants for review of $6.4 billion programme

02 November 2020 Consultancy.com.au 2 min. read

Lets Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) is a comprehensive urban development programme looking to build the Wellington of the future. The programme has come under fire for extended timelines and inflated budgets, and consultants have been called in to clarify the situation. 

An LGWM statement revealed that three independent consultants have been brought on board to conduct an internal review of the programme. The goal is “to ensure it is best placed to successfully deliver its $6.4 billion investment package to the city over the next 20 years,” according to Andrew Body, LGWM programme director.

Established in 2015, LGWM is a joint venture between Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. Driven by the allure of new mobility, the project is conceptualised as a people-driven transformation of Wellington into an attractive harbor city with efficient transportation, shared streets and local attractions.

Over the course of 2016, data was collected in large volumes from Wellingtonians, specifically to identify pressure points, problem areas and positives about the city’s transportation system.

Wellington calls in consultants for review of $6.4 billion programme

Based on the responses, billions are now being channeled into developing a transportation system focused on building liveability, accessibility, safety, future readiness and reduced private vehicle travel. Best practices on technology, sustainability and urban planning are being applied in the reformation project, which is expected to take up to two decades to complete.

At the same time, the time and expense incurred for LGWM so far has raised eyebrows. Reports suggest that more than $4 million is being spent per month on consulting, developing business cases and public engagement. At a time when the New Zealand government is already under pressure for its heavy expenditure on external consultants, these figures have not sat well with the public – particularly as LGWM has produced few tangible results.

The “indicative package” – or detailed master plan – for individual projects was only produced in May last year, yet to clear public scrutiny or feasibility studies. Reports suggest that individual projects are also behind schedule, although official statements have opposed these claims. That being said, public opinion of the project is deteriorating.

One of the projects – renovation of The Golden Mile in Wellington – has been opposed by hundreds of businesses that believe it will damage their local advantage. In discussion of the project specifics, Body was accused of insulting a local businesswoman, which has not done LGWM any favours.

All in all, the comprehensive $6 billion plus project appears to be derailing, in need of a comprehensive review. A set of three consultants will now examine the specifics of the project to ensure that the core objectives of the project remain on track.