Sir Peter Jackson has slammed Wellington mayor Justin Lester in a searing email after an invitation to discuss the controversial Shelly Bay development.

The email, provided to the Herald, shows Jackson and partner Dame Fran Walsh were invited to a meeting with prominent property developer Ian Cassels and the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust to talk about how they might "be involved" in the development.

"As you know, we're loyal Wellingtonians who care deeply about our city, and we want to see it prosper. However, we see little point in having this meeting at the moment," Jackson said the email.

"Fran and I are not, and never will be, interested in associating with a team who seem determined to turn Shelly Bay into something that has been described as 'Sausalito' - but which, in reality, will invoke blocks of Soviet-era apartments dumped on Wellington's picturesque peninsula."

A artists impression of the proposed Shelly Bay development. Photo / supplied
A artists impression of the proposed Shelly Bay development. Photo / supplied

Jackson acknowledged something needed to happen in Shelly Bay, "but we believe any development should be sympathetic to the environment and as a unique piece of foreshore, Shelly Bay should retain a large public use component".

He described the peninsula as a "precious green space" and said there was "no place" for the proposed development.

"In short this development does nothing to benefit the people of Wellington or the local community, and we want no part of it."

Shelly Bay's project manager, Egmont Dixon, hit back at some of Jackson's claims.

"The development provides an enhanced level significant public space, more than what is currently available to the public," development director Earl Hope-Pearson said.

"The development will deliver significant public benefit, namely housing, employment and most importantly a long over-due response to the Shelly Bay question," he said.

Jackson, in his letter, also accused Lester's office of spreading rumours about his opposition to the development.

"Fran and I are aware of rumours being generated that we're opposing this Shelly Bay development because 'we want the land for ourselves'. We have been told that one of the sources of this piece of misinformation is your office, Justin," he said.


"Let us make it very clear that we have no plans, or desire, to build anything on Shelly Bay. The land does not belong to us and we have long since made other plans in regards to an alternative location for a film museum.

"We respectfully ask that your office desists from spreading this rumour."

Plans for Jackson and the Wellington City Council to work together on a movie museum and convention centre fell apart in August last year.

The project appeared to have failed because of money, although both sides said it was a "mutually-agreed parting of the ways".

In response to Jackson's email, Lester said in a statement everyone agreed more housing was needed in the city.

"Most people also agree Shelly Bay is in decay and needs improvement. I want to make sure interested parties get together and talk and find out what the common ground is," he said.


"If it gets to court the process has failed."

A major blow was delivered to the development plans last year when the Court of Appeal sided with community group Enterprise Miramar, quashing a decision by the council to grant resource consent.

Mayor Justin Lester says Shelly Bay is in a state of decay and needs improvement. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Mayor Justin Lester says Shelly Bay is in a state of decay and needs improvement. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The project included construction of 350 new homes, an aged care facility and a boutique hotel.

The court found the council made an error of law in its interpretation and application of a section of the Housing Accords and Special Housing Act when granting resource consent.

As a result, matters such as the environmental effects of the proposed development weren't given appropriate consideration by council.

It meant the council had to reconsider the application for resource consent afresh and consider whether or not to appoint independent commissioners.