Consultation begins on next steps for new QLDC headquarters
There's some grand plans to turn a prime patch of public land in central Queenstown into a home for a dedicated headquarters for the Queenstown Lakes District Council, but to realise them a fair bit of manoeuvring is required in regards to land ownership and use.
A period of consultation on next steps for the Stanley Street site opened today.
Members of the public are being asked their views on some proposed 'land swap' options, which the council is arguing will enable the most effective use of the site.
Also up for discussion: the best construction and ownership model for any new council office building.
Being proposed is a joint venture and governance model with Ngāi Tahu Property.
Again, the council is arguing teaming up with a developer will unlock more opportunities for the site than if the council goes it alone.
The decision to consult on the plans was made in a council meeting in August, when Mayor Glyn Lewers used his casting vote to push forward with it.
While some of the councillors that voted against the motion expressed an unease at perceived community sentiment regarding solidifying a new high-cost public project in the current climate of rising debt and deferrals of key capex projects, those in the 'yes' camp emphasised the need to line up the necessary pieces of the puzzle to enable future development - whatever that may look like.
The consultation document released by the council today is a toned-down version of the draft shown to councillors at their August meeting, after it was suggested by some elected members too many flashy images of buildings that could eventuate at the site, but were far from guaranteed, "muddied" the topic actually up for debate.
In a written statement today announcing the start of the consultation period, Mayor Glyn Lewers says the Stanley Street site has long been a topic of conversation locally.
“The consultation starting today continues the kōrero and covers two topics. Proposed land exchanges to optimise the future potential of the site and proposed joint venture arrangements with Ngāi Tahu Property to develop and own the civic administration building,” he says.
“This process will help shape the next steps but it’s important to note that any decision to implement the project in the future will still require council decision making."
In the statement, QLDC's strategic project manager Paul Speedy further describes the consultation topics:
“The current status of the land making up the Stanley Street site means it’s difficult to achieve the best outcome for the community. Changes to the underlying land interests are proposed to provide the foundation and options for council to progress with the first stages of the project,” he says.
“Two options have been proposed, requiring land exchanges and changes to the status of land parcels within the site. The intention is twofold: firstly, to create an arts and community precinct on QLDC administered reserve land at the heart of the site; secondly to create future freehold land development opportunities, including the development of an administration building, surrounding the precinct."
Mr Speedy says the council's feasibility work on a new headquarters has assumed a joint venture arrangement with Ngāi Tahu Property on a 50/50 basis, requiring the creation of a Council Controlled Organisation.
“The creation of a CCO requires public consultation under the Local Government Act 2002, therefore forms part of our current process. However, any further decision making would be subject to the outcomes of this consultation, detailed negotiations with Ngāi Tahu Property on the terms and, finally, a council resolution.
“This proposal, if it proceeds, would unlock opportunities on the site to develop other community facilities, public spaces and commercial buildings over the longer term in an integrated way that would not be possible as a development led only by council. It also recognises the cultural connection with mana whenua and further builds on the partnership relationship."
The development of the Stanley Street site has been dubbed 'Project Manawa' by the council, and includes a long term vision for community and cultural facilities in central Queenstown to provide a 'heart' to the CBD.
All of it is subject to funding.
Only the council offices themselves, a library space equivalent to that already in existence at Gorge Road, and a proposed performing arts centre have any money attached to them in the most recent Long Term Plan.
A statement of proposal, which summarises the consultation topics and proposed options, can be read online at letstalk.qldc.govt.nz or collected from any council office, library or recreation centre.
In-person opportunities to discuss the proposals are also planned, with dates and locations on the 'Let's Talk' page.
Submissions close on Sunday, December 17, with hearings expected to be held early next year.
Main image (QLDC): An artist's impression of buildings proposed as part of 'Project Manawa'.