This video has been doing the rounds lately but I’ve only just had the chance to watch it. There are some fairly strong parallels with 1970s Netherlands and 2012 NZ . The narrator talks about the economic crisis, energy shortages (I see petrol has gone up again), high road tolls, and cities not built for cars being ‘re-landscaped’ with buildings torn down to make way for roads.
All of those things are happening in Wellington. The most recent road development is, of course, Karo Drive (controversial in itself), but if you have a look at the south end of Victoria Street you’ll notice that the buildings are all less than 30 years old. A network of small residential streets and alleys was demolished to extend Victoria Street up to Webb Street. The last remnant of these is a tiny cottage on Kensington Street, which until relatively recently was occupied by it’s long-time owner, a little old lady by the time I knew her.
Would Victoria Street and Karo Drive have been necessary if we’d take the Netherlands’ route? Maybe. We can’t know. But I’d bet my bottom dollar our city would look different. More people-oriented. And I’d like that.