Trust supports funding for harbour redevelopment

Money budgeted to redevelop the Oamaru harbour will be money well spent, the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust believes.

The Waitaki District Council is proposing to spend $1.4 million during the next financial year in the first stage of developing the Oamaru harbour, but that has attracted a mixed reaction in submissions on its 2011-12 draft annual plan.

The trust, which administers the Oamaru historic precinct, has backed the redevelopment with chairman Phil Hope believing it will attract more visitors which will attract more private investment.

He has urged the council to speed up the project, but ensure any redevelopment preserves the "authenticity and uniqueness" and "unique culture and heritage features" of the area.

The harbour redevelopment was "long overdue", Mr Hope said.

There had been various reports over the past 20 to 25 years and he was personally involved in the Harbourside co-ordination group which reported to the council in 1996.

The Oamaru harbour had been described as New Zealand's only surviving authentic Victorian-Edwardian deep water port which parallels Oamaru's uniquely intact colonial architectural importance.

It had a unique assortment of heritage wharves, sea walls, sheds, rails and other features".

However, there was a need for cohesion across the various players involved in the harbour precinct. Everyone needed to be "on the same page" with the council's plan.

"Our community's resources are too small for us not to be all pulling in the same direction," Mr Hope said.

Part of the redevelopment includes a campervan park, which has drawn some opposition from other submitters. A park would be an enormous improvement and sensible controls could be implemented to ensure the area was appropriately landscaped, he said.

The redevelopment proposals would cost a lot of money and some people would say it was too much to spend in one area.

However, Oamaru was the hub for tourism in the district and the harbour and the historic precinct were the must-see attractions, Mr Hope said.



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