Opinion: Go the YIMBY’s!

Mike Cole

Property developer, architect, observer, over thinker, very slow learner. I do tend to wear my heart on my sleeve (so apologies in advance).


Mum & Dad grew up here – I was born and raised in Blenheim as Mum & Dad stopped there on their way to Aussie in the 1950’s and stayed – family holidays were often in Wellington to visit their friends and our extended family.

Hmmmmmm this is actually HARD. I’m trying to find the positives about Wellington today – I love the place – it has been very good to me – and I really want to be good to it in return.

Great things

Natural topography…

it’s not flat and boring that’s for sure – and the harbour / coastline – second to none in the world.

The Weather….

Nah just kidding.

Wellington City Council…

this may be a surprise – as they are frustrating at times – but they do usually mean well – and the Council is small enough to meet with officers/mayors/councillors and have constructive discussions.  Council’s current Urban Design team – especially – want a better city.   They have a HUGE influence on the city – which is somehow often forgotten.

The true shame though is how do Council retain great staff? – for a reasonable length of time?  A few great people do stay – because they truly care for the city – but in general Council’s staff turnover is far too high. (Which makes continuing engagement painful – as the best projects come about through consultation and engagement and a continually changing Council team is very hard to work constructively with).

A bunch of young people…

who are speaking up to move NIMBY’s out of the way – and let us provide innovative projects in areas they want to live – go the YIMBY’s!!

The “Arts & Culture”…

street art (some crazy developer believes in incorporating street art into projects – and even on their own house!), dance, sculpture, galleries, shows – the list goes on – each making Welly a more vibrant and engaging place to live. 

Not so great things


that is simply not up to it – or the organisations that manage them.

Wellington Water…

substandard in all regards – and so hard to communicate with.

Wellington Electricity…

capacity in the city is dismal – and communication is as bad as WW.

And I actually feel like crying at the thought of 3 Waters making an even bigger and less accountable organisation to deal with.  I can’t think how they could be worse to deal with – but they will be. 

Regional Council…

A typical timeline would be 9 to 12 months for a normal WCC Resource Consent for a building on a site BUT in the order of 3 years + for the subdivision’s consent itself from GWRC should you try a green fields subdivision project.  This has a significant impact on house prices/availability as it greatly slows the process of releasing land for housing.

WCC/GWRC rates impost…

 has become unsustainable – all on the back of “commercial landlords can’t vote us out….” – so let’s take the mickey and change the differential AGAIN.


the physical issue – danger to life – and the financial issue of insurance premiums and geologists continually trying to tell us that the risk factors etc should be higher – so load factors need to increase again….. meaning 100% becomes 57% NBS……… terrific – lets wipe people out financially before mother nature does it.

General stuff

When I first started as an architect – I heard an older architect in our office on the phone to someone at Council.  It wasn’t a constructive conversation, and the term “grumpy old man” sprang to mind – I would have been mid 20’s at the time and the person I’m referring to would have been younger than I am now…… At the time I decided I DIDN’T want to become that grumpy old man. 

Becoming the President of the Wellington Branch of the Property Council for 3 years – and being on the Exec for longer – has allowed a better “look under the bonnet” of how things happen at Local and Central Government level………. the sad thing for me is that it has just opened my eyes to how unnecessarily frustrating local and central governments are now – and how much time and energy is wasted on stuff that doesn’t really matter.

While I get the biggest buzz out of helping other people now – I must admit that I am pessimistic about Wellington’s future – which breaks my heart.   I’m not grumpy – I’m just very sad to see such a cool city dying before my own eyes – through both inaction and over reaction on the part of local and central government.  (I appreciate “change” is a constant – but change for the worst should be challenged).

My son is doing amazingly well with his science start up (in Wellington) – others are doing the same in different fields – and I guess if I look at things through their eyes – it’s not so bad here.  They don’t remember when it was the coolest little Capital in the world…… they just see expensive property with a decaying CBD with serious social housing issues. 

Anyway ……….young, clever, energetic people please start making some more noise – I for one will do what I can to help you shape a better future for Wellington – it was fun being the coolest little capital in the world – and it can be again. 

Mike Cole

Director / Architect, Archaus

Mike co-founded Archaus in the early 90’s alongside Dennis Burns.

Extensive experience on various types of projects has led Mike to form Vicinity; a development company, which has greatly assisted Mike’s understanding of the process from client perspective.

Through extensive travel, Mike has founded the idea that: “We can do better – particularly if we utilise lessons learnt in other places. Whatever the project – there is often similar examples overseas that we can study to see what works – and importantly – what doesn’t.”

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