A plan to build two "looming" 10-storey apartment blocks overlooking the national war memorial has changed, with developers shaving some storeys off the proposal in hopes of avoiding public notification.
But veterans are unhappy with the prospect of the plan going ahead without public debate, saying the potential for loud parties near an area of solemnity was concerning.
Developers Willis Bond initially came to Wellington City Council with a proposal to build two 10-storey apartment blocks near the Pukeahu National War Memorial in Wellington, council spokesman Richard MacLean said.
But the developers tried to fast track the process after council told them the proposal would require public notification because of its height and how it would "loom over the park".
MacLean said public notification was an expensive and risky process for developers.
Willis Bond tried to bypass the need for notification by using the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-track consenting) Act, but failed to get approval.
They had now returned to council with a revised proposal for a building design, potentially with fewer floors, which might skate in under the threshold for public notification, MacLean said.
It would not be clear for another few weeks whether the notification would still be needed, he said.
"The area is right next to Pukeahu . . . as such it is wāhi tapu, so it is sacred space, not just for veterans, particularly for veterans, but for New Zealanders," said Aaron Wood, main trustee for No Duff Charitable Trust, a group providing support for veterans and their families.
"Any sort of development going on around Pukeahu is obviously of concern," he said.
Recent "desecration" of the cenotaph at Parliament during the anti-mandate occupation had shown not all New Zealanders understood and respected war memorials, and the question of whether tenants of the proposed apartments would hold that respect was in the air.
Numerous events and commemorations are held at the Pukeahu memorial throughout the year.
"It is a place of solemnity, it is a place of remembrance, it is a place where we pay our respects - it is, for all intents and purposes, much like a cemetery."
The war memorial, which is home to the tomb of the unknown soldier, is "not a place to have loud parties anywhere near it" during events of remembrance.
It was not known how many people would be in the apartment blocks, what they would do there, and whether they would be holding events that clashed with Pukeahu's events, he said.
"Pukeahu comes first as a priority, but again, in light of recent events we wonder if all of New Zealand understands that."
Wood wanted to see greater consultation on the plans so any possible issues with the proposed development could be discussed and resolved.
A Willis Bond spokesperson said they acquired the 1 Tasman St site in 2020.
"Historic seismic assessments had identified the existing Tasman Gardens Apartment building and annex buildings as earthquake-prone and the eight townhouses on the Tasman St edge of the site as having significant water ingress issues," the spokesperson said.
"We have been working with Athfield Architects on a new seismically resilient base-isolated apartment scheme for the site.
"We are following due process and working through the planning and consenting stages of the project with Wellington City Council now."