Arrowtown wall reconstruction stalled after heritage assessment and price jump

by Lauren Pattemore - Nov 24, 2023

Arrowtown will need to wait until next year to see what priority a heritage project in the township is given in the Queenstown Lakes District's next ten year plan.

A budget blow out for a reconstruction project to stabilise the historic retaining wall by Butlers Green has forced the council to push back a decision on its future into the Long Term Plan process, set to be finalised in March next year.

Members of the council's infrastructure committee yesterday voted unanimously to defer any longer term decision on the project until then, after being told costs had more than doubled.

In this year’s annual plan, $600,000 had been put aside to remediate the existing wall by tying it with anchors and mesh or stabilising it with bracing. However, a heritage assessment has steered away from recommending this option.

The wall, built in 1887, is listed as a Category 2 Historic Place with Heritage New Zealand.

The assessment, undertaken by Origin Consultants in September, details that the remediation option would obscure the wall and impact on heritage values and aesthetics.

QLDC infrastructure boss Simon Mason told elected members that the recommendation was to cease any investment into the current approach and reconsider it as part of the 2024 to 2034 Long Term Plan, for which a formal consultation process will begin next year.

“We have a discrepancy between the preferred option from a heritage perspective and our current budget,” Mr Mason says.

There have been ongoing concerns regarding the stability of the wall, which is made from stacked stone, which have begun to move. 

Mr Mason says since the wall was not structurally designed, the council doesn’t know how strong it is.

The QLDC told Crux in November last year that a feasibility study related to the wall had been completed, and the decision made to fix it rather than replace it was made as the most cost-effective option.

However it was shared in the meeting yesterday that the QLDC has had feedback on the wall from both the Arrowtown Planning Advisory Group and Whakatipu Heritage Group, who both say rebuilding the wall is their preferred option.

So, it appears to be back to the drawing board for next steps towards a permanent fix for the problem-plagued wall. For now, councillors have given staff the all clear to do the bare minimum to monitor and maintain until a bigger restoration project can be undertaken.

Elected members present at the meeting yesterday included councillors Gavin Bartlett, Cody Tucker, Craig Ferguson and Lyal Cocks.

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