Botanic garden's $6 million plan

Dunedin Botanic Garden curator Alan Matchett shows what the garden's new plant nursery will look...
Dunedin Botanic Garden curator Alan Matchett shows what the garden's new plant nursery will look like if the necessary resource consents are granted. Photo by Dan Hutchinson
The Dunedin Botanic Garden has applied for resource consent to shift a major part of its operation to the other side of Lovelock Ave in what would be a $6 million project.

The application for a facility to replace the ageing propagation and plant nursery was lodged yesterday and future plans for a visitor centre, cafe and lookout were also revealed.

Garden management staff propose demolishing the nursery and glasshouses, just above the aviary, and rebuilding where the Botanic Garden Centre is, on the other side of the road.

The long-term plans for the cafe, visitors' centre, viewing platform, potted vegetable garden, bus stops and car parking would rely heavily on fundraising.

The final resource consent application had to be scaled down to fit within the $6 million budget and that meant the current administration building and workshop would not be replaced.

Botanic garden curator Alan Matchett said the nursery was ''a dog's breakfast'', inconveniently laid out on several levels and occupied the area of the garden with the best views.

The new facility would be on just one level with high eaves and, although it would be an ''off-the-shelf'' type of structure, it would take care of the garden's needs well into the future.

Funding of $2.6 million was already included in the Dunedin City Council's 2012-13 budget and a further $3.4 million had been included in the draft annual plan for 2013-14.

Mr Matchett said the garden would be working with the Friends of the Garden on fundraising for the future plans.

In the meantime, provi-ded the garden received consent to move across the road, the old site would be cleared and planted in grass.

''We are taking out something that is right in the centre of the garden. You can see the skyline and city and up the Leith Valley. It will be incredible,'' Mr Matchett said.

The fall-back plan in case consent was not granted was to build on the same site but that was fraught with issues, including what to do with the thousands of plants that were there.

Council project manager Hamish Black said the propagation and plant nursery was a ''pretty critical asset in dire need of replacement''.

The Botanic Garden Centre will need to be demolished or moved to make way for the new facilities.

Traffic movement from the new buildings across Lovelock Ave to the main part of the garden was also covered in the resource consent application.

A soft screen of plants and solid fencing would also be constructed in the space between the new buildings and Lovelock Ave to create a ''soft edge''.

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