A strategy for the future of Featherston
During 2014 and after taking ownership of the block of land that had been cleared to enable a proposed new supermarket to be built on, Council kicked off a number of processes to look into the future of land this area. Expressions of concern about the image this “empty” block presented had been made in the Featherston community and Council was eager to see change.
The first initiative of Council involved a proposal to form a new town square at the north eastern end of the block. This proposal was developed and consulted on by Council during 2014. Following the consideration of the consultation feedback, the proposal was refined to “design concept” status by a professional Landscape Architect and was again consulted on.
This proposal has now been costed and decisions around this and whether to proceed are now in train. If this proceeds it will utilise the eastern end of the Council owned block of land and “extend” across to Clifford Square and into the immediately surrounding streets.
Menzshed / VUW Student Study
The second and third initiatives have been underway in parallel with the new square project.
The second was site specific and involved the establishment of a Menzshed facility to the rear of the new town square. This is now largely complete.
The third was a much broader VUW student study of Featherston (commissioned by the Community Board and Council) which generated a series of conceptual designs based around the landscape architecture discipline for Featherston.
The student based work stream arose from an approach by the Victoria University School of Landscape Architecture for its senior students to undertake studies of Featherston and its environs, in partnership with the Community Board and Council.
The concepts and ideas created through this process were a means of stimulating discussion about the possibilities for public and private projects to foster and shape the development of Featherston.
The results (there were 5 group and 21 individual projects) were presented to Council and the community by the students through a public exposition held in Featherston late in 2014.
Follow through actions by Council
Council received a report at its November meeting which looked broadly at the results of the students work and identified both the strengths and weaknesses of it. The report set out a path for undertaking a more detailed review of the ideas and concepts embodied in the students’ work.
The first step identified was to evaluate the work to “extract the core values” which could be used (as themes) to drive further investigations and planning. This assessment was presented to the Infrastructure and Planning Working Party of Council in February 2015.
These evaluations established that 4 main themes could be drawn from the study, these focussed on
- “A sense of place”,
- “A vibrant town centre and public space network”,
- “Accessibility and Infrastructure” and
- “Valuing ecology and amenity”.
Within each of these themes the 21 individual and 5 group projects of the students could all be grouped, linked and tested.
The IPWP agreed at that time that the next step was to take the projects so categorised and identify what were the “key actions” under the four themes. In effect which projects were practical and should go forward for further detailed investigation, including engineering assessment, planning and urban design review and costing.
This process was necessary because of basic gaps in the students’ work, for instance some themes had several projects dealing with a single issue (such as Infrastructure with transport), which took different approaches and presented conflicting solutions.
This evaluation was reported to the June 2015 Council meeting. This resulted in Council adopting a broad based strategy for Featherston (Featherston 2033) and from that prioritising two key tasks for immediate advancement. These projects are closely related and relate to the alignment of key transport routes through Featherston and the identification of the entrance points to the town in terms of “gateways”.
Focus of Next Steps
The Menzshed, the town square development and student study caused a heightening of public interest in the future of the centre of Featherston.
Outside of the mainstreet area though other key issues exist, for instance transport links in and around the town need to be investigated along with what are referred to as the “gateways” to Featherston.
Actions over next year (2015-2016)
- Action the July 2015 Council resolution to investigate transport routes and gateways - target completion date is end of first quarter 2016.
- Consider findings and budgetary impacts (AP and LTP)and work requirements (resources) to implement by end of second quarter 2016.
- Commence investigations into landuse requirements and economic development opportunities at end of first quarter 2016 (if funding available).
Click here to see a copy of the full presentation.