Shelly Bay development cancelled after years of protest as Sir Peter Jackson buys land

The controversial plan to develop Wellington's Shelly Bay has been cancelled after years of protests and opposition.

The land has been bought by Hollywood director Sir Peter Jackson, who plans to let it return to its natural state.

The waters around Shelly Bay are shimmering on the first day of spring, and the new season brings a new future for the old Air Force base.

"I'm still a little bit speechless... a little bit gobsmacked," said Shelly Bay protestor Anaru Mepham.

That's because after years of protesting, Mepham finally received the news he was after - development plans for the site have been ditched. 

"I think it's fabulous news and it has been a victory long in the making actually."

The Wellington Company, led by Ian Cassels, has pulled the pin on its half-billion-dollar plan to turn the site into 700 apartments.

In a statement, Cassels said the decision to step away from the development was not an easy one and was carefully considered.

"I was looking forward to seeing an increase in affordable housing with this development. I'm disappointed to see that go, but I'm looking forward to seeing other opportunities come through," said Wellington mayor Tory Whanau.

The land was occupied by Mau Whenua, a group of Taranaki Whānui iwi members, who weren't happy with the decision to sell the land to Cassels.

Mau Whenua were evicted after 525 days.

Meanwhile in June, a fire destroyed a warehouse and the site was cordoned off due to asbestos.

That meant the local Chocolate Fish cafe had to close for the foreseeable future.

"The last three months have been horrible, just horrible," said Chocolate Fish owner John Pennington.

"But this news today just feels great," he told Newshub.

A fire destroyed a landmark building at Shelly Bay in June.
A fire destroyed a landmark building at Shelly Bay in June. Photo credit: Newshub.

New owners Sir Peter Jackson and his partner Dame Fran Walsh plan to turn Shelly Bay into a recreational place for the community.

In a statement they said: "It's a wonderful coastline that holds a great deal of cultural and historical significance. Suffice to say we are looking forward to restoring the natural beauty of the bay."

"They have a heart for their community and a heart for their people," Mepham told Newshub.

"I feel that the community around Shelly Bay will probably be quite happy as well," said Whanau.

And two Hollywood heavyweights have rolled the end credits on what has been a long-running saga.