By DAVID HILL
Residents are being encouraged to have their say on the future of the Kaiapoi town centre.
The Waimakariri District Council has released its draft Kaiapoi Town Centre Plan and is seeking feedback, which closes on September 3.
Mayor David Ayers says the draft plan “presents a renewed vision for the future of New Zealand’s best river town”.
“It presents the culmination of significant work that has gone into planning for the future of the Kaiapoi town centre and we are grateful to everyone who has contributed, both during the development phase and now through the consultation process.”
The council’s business centres manager, Simon Hart, says the draft plan considers the existing town centre, plus the addition of three mixed-use business areas in the regeneration area totalling 8ha, which will increase the town centre’s size by 60 percent.
“There is significant opportunity to grow over the coming decades, which is why we have called this plan 10 Years and Beyond. Some projects will take us beyond the next 10 years.”
Mr Hart says there has already been interest expressed by developers and organisations keen to invest in the mixed-use business areas, but the council is keen to have input from residents before committing to new developments.
There are several factors to consider, including geotechnical land reports, the cost of remediation and who will pay, competition with other centres, and possible government involvement, he says.
“There are challenges with the land, so we have begun receiving engineering reports to see how it all works and what work is involved getting the land up to a good quality.”
While the Government has signed over the land to the council, there is a deal that the state will receive a half share in any proceeds after cost, so there may be some room for cost-sharing arrangements for any land remediation costs incurred by the council, Mr Hart says.
He says one of the challenges identified was “how does Kaiapoi compete commercially with the likes of Rangiora and Christchurch’s business areas, being 10 minutes down the road?”
“A common theme is that we don’t want to compete, but we have a great river asset and a fantastic coastal cycleway is being developed, so we should be focusing on enhancing those things.”
One thing which could set Kaiapoi apart is the development of small boutique businesses rather than big-box retailers.
He says around 40 people have been involved in a stakeholders reference group to provide feedback during the plan’s development, including local residents.
Drop-in sessions are planned for the Ruataniwha Kaiapoi Civic Centre on August 16 and 23.