Project Manawa - QLDC presses pause on $50m new HQ project

by Peter Newport - Mar 28, 2024

Documents being presented to next week’s full Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting have recognised widespread community opposition to the cost, funding strategy and location of the proposed new $50 million council headquarters.

The panel of three councillors (councillors Lyal Cocks, Melissa White and Craig Ferguson), who heard submissions on February 19, say in their report that many elements of the project should be paused, and that consideration should be given to an alternate site in Frankton. There is no mention of the council-owned land at 516 Ladies Mile being an alternate site in the panel's report.

However, the report throws some support behind the idea of going ahead with a complex and potentially risky CBD land swap that would change the reserve classification of the Stanley Street site.

The thinking behind the land swap is that it would make the large block of valuable CBD land open to more commercial development opportunities. However, the public submissions cast doubt on there being any community appetite for complex council land deals, especially where there is limited or no involvement of the community and elected members.

The panel also recommends that the proposed joint venture with Ngāi Tahu Property does not go ahead, at least for the time being.

As an apparent peace offering to the community the panel suggests that the Stanley Street site be used for public parking while future discussions take place.

The panel also recommends that Ballarat Street be permanently shut off, regardless of where the new council HQ gets built. This move would form part of the proposed land swap.

Discussion at next week’s council meeting will focus on whether the land swap is necessary, risky or advisable.

The panel also commented that many submitters felt that there was not enough information supplied to the public to allow informed submissions to be made.

Technically, the recent consultation was only on the land swap and proposed Ngāi Tahu joint venture, but most submitters decided to make their views heard on the bigger issues of cost, risk and location.

Read the panel's full report to council here.

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