Council Planning its Future Direction
The Hurunui District Council has now held four workshops in preparation for its draft long term plan for 2018 to 2028. With more workshops planned, the council expects to finalise proposals over the next few months before taking them to the public for consultation around March 2018.
The council is exploring several possible major proposals to be included in the long term plan such as the development of a ‘destination playground’ in the district.
Mayor Winton Dalley says we have two major state highways running through the middle of our district, SH1 and SH7, and we need to entice visitors to stop and enjoy the district in order to reap the economic benefits of this.
“The district is well known for our thermal pools and spa complex in Hanmer Springs and the Waipara Valley wine region. However, we have more to offer and the long term plan will provide ways of advancing the district’s overall attraction to visitors if projects like the destination playground are included.”
Another proposal being explored is the potential future use of the Queen Mary Hospital Historic Reserve and the historic buildings on the site. The reserve and buildings were originally used for soldier rehabilitation during the world wars, then as a hospital for drug and alcohol-related issues. However the site now sits unused and despite seeking interest in the reserve across the globe, the council has not yet been able to secure any leases for the buildings.
Hurunui District Council Chief Executive Hamish Dobbie says a main issue that has held this kind of development back has been the enormous cost of upgrading historic buildings like the Queen Mary Hospital site.
“If we can develop sustainable options for future use of the site in the long term plan, then this could have the potential to provide huge benefits leading to long-term economic growth in our district” says Mr Dobbie.
The council is also having to consider the cost of meeting new earthquake building standards. With 50 Council owned buildings potentially being less than 34% of the National Building Standard, decisions will need to be made on how much to allocate over the next few years to strengthen buildings and decide which ones to strengthen.
The council will make final decisions on its draft long term plan around February 2018 and will widely publicise this to give residents and ratepayers the opportunity to have a say on any proposals.
Mayor Winton Dalley says this stage of public consultation during the process is where our communities can really make a difference.
“We are interested in what our residents have to say and the democratic processes of local government allow proposed plans to be fine-tuned as a result of public opinion” Mr Dalley says.