Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s vision for the site at 320 The Terrace is that it will be the University’s front door to the city and provide a safe and attractive public pedestrian link between the Kelburn campus and Ghuznee Street. The site is currently occupied by the derelict and vacant Gordon Wilson Flats and McLean Flats.
The Gordon Wilson Flats is a large former state housing development that was completed in 1959. Structural issues were identified in 2011 and the building, then owned by Housing New Zealand, was deemed potentially earthquake prone. Residents of its 87 units were evacuated in May 2012.
In 2014, the University purchased the site occupied by the Gordon Wilson Flats from Housing NZ.
A District Plan change to rezone the site as ‘institutional precinct’ was considered at a Wellington City Council hearing in December 2015 and was approved in April 2016, along with an application to delist the building as a heritage site. This change would enable the University to provide improved educational and research facilities over the long term, for the benefit of Wellington and New Zealand.
In 2017, the Council’s decision was challenged in the Environment Court. Although the rezoning of land as ‘Institutional Precinct’ was approved, the right to appeal the delisting of the Gordon Wilson Flat’s District Plan heritage listing was turned down.
In 2019, the University purchased the McLean Flats, which neighbour the Gordon Wilson Flats from Housing NZ. This smaller block of flats dates from 1944 and has no heritage listing. They too are structurally unsound and were unoccupied upon possession. Both the Gordon Wilson Flats and McLean Flats are unsafe and unsuitable for renovation. Wellington City Council designated the Gordon Wilson Flats as earthquake prone in June 2019.
Although the site is currently unable to be redeveloped, it remains an important part of the University’s future development plans and presents a great opportunity for positive inner-city development.
Since July 2019, the University has been carrying out a feasibility study to better understand the site and any constraints. This is expected to take about a year.
1944—McLean Flats completed.
1959—Gordon Wilson Flats completed.
2012—Residents evacuated from Gordon Wilson Flats and McLean Flats after serious seismic and structural concerns.
2014—University purchases Gordon Wilson Flats from Housing NZ.
2016—Wellington City Council approves application to rezone the site as ‘Institutional precinct’ and delist Gordon Wilson Flats from District Plan heritage list.
2017—Wellington City Council decision challenged in the Environment Court.
2017—Environment Court upholds the right to appeal the heritage delisting of Gordon Wilson Flats.
2019—University purchases the McLean Flats.
2019—Wellington City Council deems the Gordon Wilson Flats to be earthquake prone.