Car-free lakefront being considered

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is considering removing car parks on Wanaka’s lakefront to...
The Queenstown Lakes District Council is considering removing car parks on Wanaka’s lakefront to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Photo: ODT
The future of Wanaka’s lakefront could be one without cars — at least, not where they are now.

Queenstown Lakes District councillor and Wanaka Community Board chairman Quentin Smith said the "focus and direction" of the Wanaka lakefront development plan and upcoming Wanaka masterplan was to "progressively remove cars from the Wanaka lakefront reserve and to potentially look at a more pedestrian-focused town centre".

At present, much of the lakefront reserve is used as a car park.

In the lakefront development plan, which serves as a vision for the lakefront in 30 years time, the  car parking on the lakefront would be removed and replaced by promenades, gardens and a village green.

However, it would not be all doom and gloom for cars.

Cr Smith said many of the car parks lost from the lakefront would be replaced as angle parks on the section of Ardmore St from Dungarvon St to McDougall St.

The development plan indicates there would be room for about 230 angle parks along that section of road.

The car parks and bus stops next to the Dinosaur Park would also remain.

In the draft 10-year plan, $11.3 million had been allocated to parking improvements in Wanaka over the next six years.

With a focus on pedestrianisation in the town centre, Cr Smith said it was likely some streets in the town centre would be converted into "shared spaces", and street closures would be possible.

Shared spaces are streets without kerbs, road markings or traffic signs, and are intended to be shared by cars, cyclists and pedestrians.

Cr Smith said one stretch of road "certainly being considered" as a shared space, or being closed to cars altogether, was Ardmore St from Dungarvon St to the Lake Wanaka Centre.

He believed  for the town to embrace such change, a "behaviour shift will be critical".

However, a social media poll conducted by the Otago Daily Times yesterday showed many were in favour of a more pedestrianised town centre.

Sixty-three out of 93 respondents believed the entire town centre stretching from the Lake Wanaka Centre to Pembroke Park and Brownston St should be pedestrianised.

Active Transport Wanaka spokesman Simon Telfer also supported the plan. He believed that with better access for walkers and cyclists, there would probably be a decrease in cars travelling in and out of the town centre.

"I think people from overseas are surprised to see that we allow our lakefront to be a car park. I’ve heard that first-hand."

"There needs to be opportunity for, particularly, tourists and visitors to park outside the CBD and to enjoy a walk into the town."

"You look at what Auckland has done in the Britomart area. What were streets are now pedestrian only."

"It attracts so many more people, retailing increases, and everybody will look back and say, ‘why didn’t we do this sooner?’"

The Wanaka masterplan is set to be developed later this year, and will include planning for parking, active travel, transport and lakefront development.Cr Smith believed the development of a masterplan was "really exciting for Wanaka".

"The potential to improve and evolve our town centre is massive."

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