Community hub a step closer

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A major new community hub in central Queenstown is a step closer to reality.

Queenstown Lakes District Council staff have recommended the council enter a partnership agreement with Ngai Tahu to develop a community precinct.

The council entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ngai Tahu Property to explore development options for the sites on Stanley and Ballarat streets in October last year.

In a report prepared for councillors ahead of Thursday’s full council meeting, staff recommend the partnership be formalised.

If the proposal goes ahead, it could mean a major new cultural hub for the resort.

It has also been touted as a possible new home for Queenstown’s Memorial Hall.

Mayor Jim Boult said in a press release the proposal provided a “community precinct” approach, with the intended development expected to realise a new dedicated library, a performing and visual arts centre, a town square, and commercial buildings, as well as the Council’s “one-office” administration building.

“Recent research has shown that people feel we need a step change in what this district has to offer for arts and cultural activities. What this proposed partnership can deliver has the potential to be a game changer,” he said.

”It was originally a strong case to build the new council office on the site. Now I think this bigger vision is a compelling no-brainer. This partnership can give us the opportunity to create a cultural and community heart for the communities of Queenstown and the wider district.”

Council chief executive Mike Theelen said the report recommends the partnership agreement with Ngai Tahu

Property over other options because of the ”mutual benefit this presents for both parties, as well as the benefits to the district and its communities”.

”In particular, the vision for the site delivers a range of exciting facilities for the arts community. Formalising the partnership has the potential to unlock more of the site for community assets and takes a longer term, intergenerational approach to the development that is one of the benefits that comes from working with Ngai Tahu Property.

”The partnership also has the potential to mitigate risk and development costs for QLDC, whilst giving us the opportunity to work with a reputable and respected developer.”

Ngai Tahu Property chief executive David Kennedy said it welcomed the opportunity to build on preliminary discussions following last year’s memorandum.

“We look forward to formalising our partnership with the council to develop a new civic, community and cultural heart which will serve Queenstown’s residents for generations to come.”

The sites are currently mainly occupied by public carparks.
The report states public carparking will not be retained on the sites other than what is
necessary for the new facilities.

Public parking would be ”provided elsewhere” and funding could be reallocated.

The site is also home to several community arts groups.
If the partnership agreement is approved by councillors, the council and Ngai Tahu Property will work towards a development agreement and explore a site development plan.

Community and stakeholder consultation and engagement for the potential community and cultural facilities planned for the site will then take place.

Council officers will undertake detailed discussions with any affected parties on the site, to ensure ongoing support in transitioning to a new location during the phased development of the proposed precinct.

Dates for consultation will be confirmed as the development agreement and a programme plan are defined.