Vertical gardens could set town apart: councillor

Vertical gardens, or ''living walls'', could be the ''X-factor'' many had asked for during Balclutha's main street upgrade consultation, Clutha district councillor Hamish Anderson said.

A workshop in which councillors discussed the look and feel of the town's new street furniture, paving and planting led to questions about the ''green blur'' of the vertical planter boxes included in the designer's plans.

A last-minute addition to this week's council meeting could have scrapped the gardens, but the council voted to proceed with the walls.

While it was not the statue of a ''giant penguin'' that some had asked for during consultation on the $2.6 million central business district upgrade, the walls could be the point of difference for the town which many felt required refurbishment.

''One of the things that was discussed when we were talking about this main street upgrade was possibly something that would set the town apart,'' Cr Anderson said of the living walls.

''I actually think this looks very good. This might actually set our town apart, this might be the 'X-factor' we're looking for.''

The vertical gardens are proposed to line the vacant lot at the Elizabeth St-Clyde St intersection.

Councillors had looked at a materials study prepared by Baxter Design Group on the morning of the council meeting when using living walls was questioned.

The study also addressed the look and feel of the street furniture.

Modern designs for bench seating, streetlights, bike stands, a water fountain, rubbish bins, and removable bollards were also discussed.

In the designer's plans, Clyde St would have red maples (Acer freemanii) lining the street, and Boston ivy, New Zealand flaxes and hebes in planters, while side streets would have crab apples (Malus tschonoskii).

Cr Michelle Kennedy said she had hoped the council would look at alternatives to the ''green blur'' presented in the study.

She voted against proceeding with the concept, as did Cr Hilary McNab.

Cr Stewart Cowie did not vote.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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