Council bows to pressure over car parks

Fifteen central Queenstown car parks have gained a temporary reprieve.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council had plans to spend $250,000 widening the Marine Pde footpath, scrapping the 15 parks, opposite Skyline Enterprises' new building.

It has now apologised for not consulting businesses and agreed to temporarily reinstate the parks when Skyline

finished its construction work.

Car parks in other parts of town will be found before the footpath work is completed.

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ann Lockhart said the chamber was not consulted on the footpath work and it met the council on Tuesday.

‘‘In future we would like to hear about decisions being made in advance,'' she said.

‘‘I don't think there was anything mischievous about it but we're definitely a little bit surprised not to be consulted, especially when there have been other car parks that have been removed and we've certainly given feedback to council previously.''

Ms Lockhart said businesses wanted the council to spell out the ramifications of its transport plan clearly.

Pharmacist Kim Wilkinson, a DowntownQT and chamber board member, said 23 people at an urgent meeting on Monday were ‘‘certainly against the proposal''.

‘‘There's strong feeling about it, there's no doubt about that. There's a lot of unrest about it.''

Former mayor Warren Cooper said the council process was flawed.

‘‘In my experience it's the antithesis of what is required in regards to transparency from the council.''

In a statement, council chief executive Mike Theelen said the council acknowledged it should have been ‘‘quicker to engage with stakeholders this time''.

Councillors thought reinstating Marine Pde would have been a lost opportunity, he said.

He said the council believed the public would welcome the change to make the waterfront more attractive and accessible.

‘‘By doing some of the work while Skyline is completing the hotel development, we can transform Marine Pde into exactly that sort of environment earlier, at a lower cost and without having to first reinstate the street and footpath and then dig it up again later.''

Skyline chief executive Jeff Staniland said under the consent the company had to reinstate the footpath and the road when its new building was finished.

But that would result in a sharply-angled footpath.

He was adamant the loss of the car parks was ‘‘nothing to do with us'', while adding a flatter footpath was a ‘‘better outcome" Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden said Skyline asked her in February last year if the council would consider lifting the road and she asked the infrastructure department to consider that.

Councillors had discussed the proposal, she said, and a more pedestrian-friendly Marine Pde was flagged in its town centre strategy.


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