First step towards information centre

The much-debated new information centre for Cromwell is finally in the starting blocks.

The Central Otago District Council has applied to itself for resource consent to construct a visitor and information centre on Murray Tce that breaches the minimum floor area for the business area.

It has also applied to remove the "amenity planting" designation on the site.

The council has included $1.3 million in its long-term plan for the project in the coming year.

Corporate services manager Susan Finlay said there was "overwhelming" support in plan submissions for relocating the centre.

A review of Central Otago information centres last year backed the plans to build a new Cromwell centre closer to State Highway 8B so tourists could find it more easily. The existing one is in the Cromwell Mall.

Submissions on the resource consent close on July 12 and an independent commissioner will hear the matter and make the decision, council planning team leader Ann Rodgers said.

The hearing will be held in Cromwell in August.

The project has been deferred several times over cost and the need to link it with the planned town centre redevelopment.

Because information centres are considered a district responsibility, decisions about them are made by the council.

That raised the ire of some Cromwell Community Board members, who believed they should have been consulted.

The project came before the Cromwell board for the first time in December and the board agreed to support the relocation.

In the resource consent application, prepared by BTW South Ltd, planner Anita Dawe said the site designation would have to be removed before construction.

The information centre would be housed in a 300sq m building located somewhere near the big fruit sculpture.

The building would include a retail area, internet area, meeting room, information desks, storeroom and display area.

Most of the interior would be used for display of goods and services so was defined as a "shop", Ms Dawe said.

Under the district plan, the minimum floor area in the business zone is 600sq m. Ms Dawe said the effect of the breach was minor.

The site was between the main business area where the minimum floor area was required and the Cromwell Mall, where no minimum floor area was required.



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