More detail recommended to justify build

A Queenstown Lakes District Council hearings panel has recommended greater detail needs to be provided to justify a multimillion-dollar development in the heart of Queenstown’s CBD to house council staff.

Dubbed Project Manawa, the proposed civic and commercial centre, which would include a performing arts centre, gallery and library and commercial properties on land fronting Stanley St, has been a bone of contention in the Wakatipu.

While most of the 178 written submissions on the proposal were negative, council’s strategic projects manager Paul Speedy said many did not address the specific topics consulted on.

However, "some important key themes" came through, he said.

"These included concerns about the location of a proposed council office, impacts on traffic and parking, the need for further consultation on the location or the need for such facilities, the cost to ratepayers, lack of information on the proposed joint venture arrangement [with Ngāi Tahu Property], and whether a project of this nature was a priority compared with other infrastructure projects."

A total of 27 submitters spoke to the hearing panel, comprising councillors Lyal Cocks (chairman), Melissa White and Craig Ferguson in February — its recommendation to the council sought to address the concerns raised through the consultation process.

The panel has recommended proceeding with "option 1" for a proposed land exchange to optimise potential opportunities for the site, enabling a "whole of precinct" solution, which would preserve land around the historically important Ballarat St axis and unlock more freehold land for future development and/or revenue-generation opportunities.

However, the panel recommended a review was completed on the location and ownership of the proposed council office, "providing greater detail on why the Stanley St site was identified as the preferred location, for comparison with an alternative site in Frankton".

The recommendation also outlined a proposal be developed for further consultation with the community on those matters, and that negotiations on the proposal for the joint venture should not proceed until the review was complete, subject to further consideration and approval by the council.

The panel also recommended the council unlock additional carparking on the Stanley St site "in the medium term".

The council will consider the recommendation at its next full meeting on Thursday.