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In the past year, Dunedin City Council 3 Waters coastal specialist Tom Simons-Smith and a team of specialist consultants have gathered feedback from across the community on three sections of the coast - St Clair Beach, Middle Beach and St Kilda Beach.
"We want to understand what people love about these areas, and what they are concerned about, so we can use these different values to consider future management options for the coastline," Mr Simons-Smith said.
The council is working with the Otakou Runanga and the wider community to create a vision and long-term plan for the coast, in the face of climate change and sea level rise.
Finding out what the community truly valued about the area helped the team to identify options that, over time, would solve multiple issues, build resilience and create new opportunities for recreation and environmental benefits along the coast.
Public feedback generally involved two major themes — the environment and sustainability; and access and connectivity.
"A lot of people perceive this coastline as being natural, when in fact is it actually highly modified," Mr Simons-Smith said.
"There has been a real history of challenging management at St Clair.
"Many people also highlighted the need for safer and better access on to the beach, particularly down at the St Kilda end where the dunes are so high."
Respondents had also expressed concern about the former landfill at Kettle Park, the St Clair seawall and sand retention.
Mr Simons-Smith said the team had been working on recommendations for managing different parts of the coastline better and more sustainably over the next 50 years.
These recommendations would be included in the draft coastal plan, to be released in late February for public consultation.
"We will be sharing our recommended pathways and visualisations, and also some illustrations so people can get a good understanding of the concepts.
"People should expect some interesting ideas - we are excited to share our thinking."
The draft coastal plan came under the umbrella of the South Dunedin Futures project, which aimed to make "the flat" (the southern areas of the city at sea level) more resilient to climate change.
"As South Dunedin used to be a wetland, and the city’s forefathers modified it to push the beach back, we shouldn’t be surprised that we have challenges in managing the coastline."