Main street trees: ‘we’d like to reinstate them somehow’

Milton's main street in August last year. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Milton's main street in August last year. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Trees may be back on the cards for Milton’s main street, following Clutha District Council discussions on Thursday.

The council hopes to begin work on a $5million upgrade to the town’s Union St shortly, after it was identified as a community project in 2018.

During its meeting in Balclutha on Thursday, councillors reviewed updated concept designs for the project, presented by Rough & Milne Landscape Architects director Brooke Mitchell.

When initial designs were first shared with the public in 2020, some residents and business owners raised concerns about tree plantings included in the designs and their effects on footpaths, drainage, and pedestrian visibility.

Since that time, further refinements to the plan, following consultation with stakeholders, had removed many of the trees, Mr Mitchell said.

However, that was to the potential detriment of the overall effect of the upgrade.

"There was a lovely rhythm of trees when we started. We’ve since lost that.

"We believe the loss of trees has impacted the overall balance of the design, and we’d like to reinstate them somehow."

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said he too was concerned about changes to the original design, and the removal of trees from the concept plans.

"I worry that we’ve breached the original brief for a modern, urban streetscape look.

"We did it with Balclutha, and I’m worried we’re doing the gutless politician again here. I look at the Balclutha main street upgrade and say, ‘I’ve failed’. I don’t want us to fail again."

Bruce ward councillor Gaynor Finch said business owners’ concerns about trees were detailed and specific.

She said their wishes should be respected.

However, several councillors questioned the wisdom of hiring professional streetscape designers, then adjusting their proposals.

Kaitangata-Matau ward councillor Bruce Graham said the public needed to trust the experts.

"We hire experts to make these designs for us, then turn around and change everything. I think there’s too much emphasis on [car] parks. With the issues with obesity nowadays, it wouldn’t do any harm to have to walk another 50 metres."

Balclutha ward councillor Alison Ludemann also appealed for limited change to the original designs.

"We’re doing this to make [Milton] more vibrant and lift the place. Let’s let the designers do their job."

Councillors made an amendment to a motion to approve the draft plans, subject to "a final approval of trees".

This passed 12 votes to three.




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