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Glen Hazelton will start in a new role as the Dunedin City Council’s central city plan project director next month.
He is one of three significant appointments announced by the council yesterday.
Outgoing Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan will join the council next week as economic development project manager, working within Enterprise Dunedin.
Another former council employee, Josh von Pein, will head the council’s project management office as major projects programme manager.
Dunedin City Council chief executive Sandy Graham said the appointments were part of a wider push to focus on economic development.
Dr Hazelton worked for the council as its heritage policy planner from 2009 to 2016 and he helped to inspire building owners in the warehouse precinct to pump more than $50 million into the area.
He moved to Australia, working in a heritage position at the City of Perth council until 2018.
He then took up a role at Heritage New Zealand in Wellington.
When he saw the position in Dunedin advertised, Dr Hazelton said there was no doubt in his mind he would apply.
"It’s both a project and a city I’m super passionate about and I thought it was a really great opportunity."
His new role will focus on city development.
That is expected to include George St, Dunedin's main shopping street.
Dr Hazelton said it was important to get alongside people and work with them.
"You can’t please everyone all of the time ... it’s very much about creating [a] partnership with all the different actors so you have a good relationship."
He was involved in developing the central city plan during his previous stint at the council, and hoped to see concepts such as distinguishing four quarters in the central city come to fruition.
"Localised space-making is really important ... you can create wee neighbourhoods within the city that are magnets for different groups."
Mr McGowan will work within Enterprise Dunedin's economic development team, under the leadership of director John Christie.
He will oversee management of Project China, Study Dunedin, Film, Good Food Dunedin and other economic development project work.
Mr Christie said Mr McGowan would bring an extensive network of business contacts from his previous role.
Dr Hazelton will be part of the Project Management Office, to be led by Mr von Pein.
Mr von Pein was formerly the DCC’s transport delivery manager and a key part of the Peninsula Connection safety improvement project, until joining the NZ Transport Agency last year. The Peninsula Connection project — creating a more resilient route and featuring an attractive cycleway — has also been widely praised.
Dr Hazelton said he planned to stay in the city.
"I’m in the process of trying to buy a house ... it’s definitely a long-term move."
Cr David Benson-Pope said he was delighted to hear of Dr Hazelton’s return.
"I haven’t met anyone who isn’t [delighted].
"He’s got a demonstrated set of skills, not only in urban design but also in communication ... he is more than capable."