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Public airs views at meeting on draft Hagley Park/ Botanic Gardens Plans

28 August 2006

Uncertainties about the new visitor centre and the urgent need for new staff quarters at the Botanic Gardens were addressed at a public meeting to discuss the Council’s draft plans for Hagley Park and Botanic Gardens today.

Over 100 people attended the meeting at the Netball Centre to ask questions about the 56 projects proposed in the plans.

Transport and Greenspace Unit Manager Michael Aitken told the meeting many of the proposals were there for debate and some, such as narrowing Riccarton Avenue, had been included because they reflected earlier public submissions.

“Our aim is to listen to what people have to say,’’ said Mr Aitken. “If enough people say they think slowing down traffic in Riccarton Avenue is a good idea, then if the proposal was accepted we would work to fit it in with our roading plans,’’ said Mr Aitken.

Botanic Gardens Operations Team Manager Jeremy Hawker said some submitters wrongly believed the new visitor centre would be similar to the one in Cathedral Square.

“We need to emphasise it will be a purpose-built centre for education, scientific research, with a herbarium and meeting or lecture rooms,’’ says Mr Hawker.

Some submitters wanted more information about proposals for new staff quarters, he said.

“The operations area and staff facilities are of a concern to us and we are long overdue for an upgrade,’’ said Mr Hawker. “We have first-class collections in the Gardens, it is just our staff facilities and the operations area which have become run-down.’’

At present staff facilities had separate male and female tea rooms and staff offices were housed in a shed formerly used to store paint, he said. A library of books which would be valuable for research was currently unavailable to the public because of the lack of facilities.

The proposed new meeting room could also be used by community groups, he said.

“We don’t intend to lock it up for only staff use,’’ he said. “Currently we have nowhere for school classes to go if it is wet, so a meeting room could also provide educational opportunities.’’

  • The second meeting about the draft plans will be held in the Netball Centre on Thursday 31 August from 7.30-9pm.

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