Town centre plans prompt business group's formation

Central Wanaka, with Ardmore St running down the hill towards Lake Wanaka at centre. Photo by...
Central Wanaka. Photo by Marjorie Cook.
A new group has been formed to represent Wanaka businesses most affected by Queenstown Lakes District Council plans to change the town centre.

It is called the Town Centre Business Group and chairman Jeremy Warnock said yesterday about 40 business people met council staff on Thursday night concerned by the idea of streets being closed to vehicles.

The meeting followed the trial closure of lower Ardmore and Helwick Sts.

Mr Warnock said more than half the group was "negatively affected" by the trial closure.

He believed the council representatives had "taken on board" the fact businesses were not consulted about the trial, and they agreed the new group should be represented on the community reference group.

The reference group at present is made up of Wanaka Community Board members and six other members of the public and its job is to "test ideas" and ensure proposals meet the needs of the community.

Mr Warnock, who is the major shareholder of the Cork Bar in Helwick St, said the group was now working towards having input to a council workshop on the master plan for the Wanaka town centre on April 4.

"That's our priority, to get businesses together to come up with what we suggest for the town centre going forward."

Mr Warnock said it was "pretty much unanimous that no business wants road closures" but alternatives would be put forward.

Deputy mayor Calum MacLeod said yesterday the workshop was designed to draft a list of options for public consultation.

"It's not a meeting to decide anything.

"This is starting the conversation and the only thing that's off the table is doing nothing."

Mr MacLeod said a decision on changes to the town centre would "definitely" be made this year.

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