Archive for July, 2011

Wanaka Town Centre Character Guideline

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

The Wanaka Town Centre Character Guideline was formally adopted by the QLDC Strategy Committee last Tuesday so it is now an operative document. Although it has no statutory standing it will inform future versions of the district plan particularly in terms of bulk and height limits within the town centre.

You can view the document at  http://www.qldc.co.nz/strategies_and_publications/category/612/

My hope is that it will help tie in all the QLDC capital expenditure in and around the town centre with a common language and quality of elements and materials. There are two recent examples of where this would have been beneficial but unfortunately has not been carried through by the council itself;

1)    Due to delays in the roundabout on Ardmore and Brownston Streets, the council shifted the budget to the burying of power cables along Brownston Street, which also required new light poles along Brownston Street. The Town Centre Character Guideline references timber light poles (the Wilson pole) in at least three sections noting the importance of consistency in fittings that are non-period specific. However the trend to expedite the now at the expense of the future prevailed as the community board approved the council’s proposal to use octagonal steel poles that the guideline had specifically identified as being phased out. The reason given was that the timber poles are more expensive but I believe the small number of lights needed that this would have been a minimal cost in the scheme of things and somehow QLDC found the budget for these as these timber light poles have been utilized along Frankton Road leading into Queenstown. How can the council expect developers to buy into a better quality environment for the town centre when they are not prepared to do it themselves?

2)    The second example is the controversial speed humps along lower Ardmore Street. These have been on the radar for some time after being fleshed out by the Transport Strategy and the Town Centre Strategy so there is no issue whether they should be there or not. The issue I have is that the Town Centre Strategy and the Guidelines both identified that there needs to be both a comprehensive masterplan and consistency of materials and design. Neither the masterplan nor standard detailed designs of raised pedestrian crossings have been completed.

The council may argue that the Character Guidelines were not complete when this work was scheduled but this work has been in the pipeline for some time and the council need to fully adopt them if they expect the private developers to follow. The guidelines and strategies developed by the council are great, the big challenge is getting the various council department heads down to the worker on the street to buy into this vision, quality outcomes have now joined the timelines and budgets with equal importance.