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By Lance Walker• 14 Jun 2018
Wellington was recently awarded the accolade of the world’s most liveable city for the second year running by Deutsche Bank. The assessment was based on factors including the cost of living, property price to income ratios, traffic commutes, pollution and climate, safety, healthcare and purchasing power. The criteria used to make evaluations like this can be debated but sometimes it’s nice to take the recognition at face value and celebrate it.
Liveability as a concept is increasingly important for central and local governments who acknowledge that while prosperity and economic growth are the usual pinnacle goals, broader aims around wellbeing and liveability also have their place. This is important for those who live or work in a place but also for those considering visiting and investing there. This was brought home to me when a group of visiting US film producers recently said they like to shoot films in places that are nice to live in; it’s not just about studio facilities and physical assets.
For some liveability is about having dynamic public spaces and access to the environment. For others, it is about events and cultural activities or tied to broader concepts such as sustainability and community. To separate important issues such as connectedness, transport, housing, education and employment opportunities from definitions of liveability would also be difficult.
When considering the liveability of Wellington, it’s important to encompass the entire region. Extending north to Kapiti and Masterton, around 500,000 people live within the 8000 sq km Wellington regional boundary. Wellington City is the fastest growing part of the region, it makes up less than 4 per cent of the total land area but has 40 per cent of the population. But it’s also important to remember that more than 30 per cent of people who work in Wellington City live elsewhere in the region.
It highlights why interconnections within the region are critical to future assessments of liveability especially as new housing developments progress. Transport initiatives such as Let’s Get Wellington Moving, the Petone to Granada Link, the Northern Corridor and improvements to the Wairarapa rail link all loom in importance to future liveability assessments.
The regional narrative is a critical part of our story to the world. At WREDA we talk about making the Wellington region wildly famous. The word “region” is central to the storytelling. Some of our best tourist and visitor experiences lie outside Wellington City – for example, the Remutaka Incline cycle trail, the food and wine experiences in the Wairarapa, visiting Kapiti Island or just heading out for a walk in the myriad of spectacular and accessible trails in our regional forests and parks.
Future developments such as the Porirua Adventure Park, Kapiti Island Gateway, Dark Sky tourism opportunities and cycle trail enhancements in the Wairarapa will add to the regional visitor story. The more tourism and visitor product we have in the region the more attractive Wellington becomes as a visitor destination. Just as importantly, it also makes the Wellington region a better place to live.
Regional mayors and councils have been working alongside Greater Wellington Regional Council and WREDA on a coordinated regional investment plan. While there will always rightfully be some local parochialism, it’s recognised that talking with a singular regional voice is important especially when it comes to presenting investment opportunities to Government.
So toasting Wellington’s most liveable city accolade is entirely appropriate. But working together to ensure the region is the most liveable it can be now and into the future is something we should celebrate even more enthusiastically.