Retain heritage, resolve traffic, involve locals and think creatively about urban development

September 16, 2007 at 10:58 am | Posted in Events | Leave a comment

These are some of the main themes expressed at a meeting of residents and friends of Mt Cook, held on the 21st of August at the YMCA stadium in Tasman Street.

The Meeting was warmed up by speakers who talked about a range of topics including: the proposal to develop a supermarket on the Tasman/Rugby Street site where the Boys and Girls Institute is located; the history of Mt Cook; the proposal for a Memorial Park and moving Buckle Street; the response of Mt Cook School to the plan to move Buckle Street – Sate Highway 1; the WCC’s plans for the area surrounding Adelaide Rd, and; the uncertain future of TSW Swim School currently using the BGI pool.

Following the speakers about 75 of the over 200 people attending the meeting stayed to participate in “break-out” groups to discuss the following questions:
1. What do we like about Mt Cook?
2. What are some great possibilities for Mt Cook?
3. What concerns us in Mt Cook?
4. What are the best options to deal with concerns?

The charts are used here to show how often particular themes came up in discussions

1. What do we like about Mt Cook?

The things that people liked were the character and history of places and buildings in Mt Cook. They liked the mix of people/cultures living in the area and the variety of people on the streets, the diverse amenities and “community facilities” – the parks, pool, gym, educational institutions, and combination of small retail and commercial services. Participants also appreciated the health and safety benefits associated with using local parks and being able to walk to town and the green belt. Ready access to public transport, and the trolleys in particular, was also valued.

Chart 1. Mt Cook “likes”

Mt Cook likes

Chart 2. Mt Cook – the “other” category of likes


2. What are some great possibilities for Mt Cook?

The things that people liked about Mt Cook are also the things they want to focus on looking forward. They want to retain, and gain recognition for, the historic character of Mt Cook and therefore to control or influence the development of the area. Participants wanted a Memorial Park “done right”, and believed community facilities should be retained and further developed (e.g. create a recognisable community centre, a “supermarket and recreation combined”) more trees, play areas and a community garden. They also wanted improved traffic flow and management, and improved safety for pedestrians.

Chart 3. Mt Cook – great possibilities (the blue line)


Finally local people wanted greater influence in local matters and thought the formation of a residents association, and mobilising residents more generally, might help Mt Cook gain greater recognition as a suburb. The visioning exercise planned by WCC for Adelaide Rd and surrounds provides us with an opportunity – to “maintain and improve destination Mt Cook”.

Chart 4. Mt Cook – the “other” category of great possibilities (the blue line)


3. What concerns us in Mt Cook?

The major concerns by a long way revolve around the following three themes.
1. The loss of historic buildings and a sense of heritage as a consequence of 2.
2. Intensive housing development. People are particularly concerned about “junky apartments” and/or “low quality development (hostel style housing)”
3. Traffic management and volumes – congestion and parking problems

Other concerns are also linked to these big three. With the increasing traffic volumes in Mt Cook comes significant health and safety concerns related to air pollution and pedestrian safety. With increasing numbers of people and housing in Mt Cook comes the threatened loss of community facilities (pool, stadium/gymnasium) in favour of a potentially inappropriate supermarket. All of these problems are expected to impact on the culture of Mt Cook – the social environment.

Chart 5. Mt Cook concerns (the red line)

Mt Cook concerns, relative to likes & possibilities

The lack of a recognizable community centre and not having a local residents association are seen as contributing to all these concerns. Participants indicated that Mt. Cook is not recognised as a distinctive place or “destination” in its own right and that “there is a lack of unified voice and consultation” about many things that happen in the neighbourhood.

Chart 6. Mt Cook – the “other” category of concerns (the red line)

Mt Cook - other concerns relative to likes & possilibilities

4. What are the best options to deal with concerns?

A sampling of “best options” for dealing with concerns are:

  • Form a residents association – develop a vision, charter and/or manifesto for Mt Cook’s future development
  • Input into/develop a traffic plan
  • Engage with WCC and Massey University (and other larger developers)
  • Generally increase opportunities for public consultation and public involvement in local decision-making
  • Keeping Buckle Street as it is and use a trench or tunnel/bridge when developing Memorial Park
  • Moving Mt Cook School to the BGI site and developing a supermarket on the school site
  • Encourage walking and promote more and different kinds of pedestrian crossings, including using bridges and tunnels
  • Propose limiting parking for the supermarket and encouraging a Metro-style development
  • [Continue] to record and map Mt Cook’s history – its features and personalities

For more detail on the meeting – the speakers presentations and notes, and for the access to the worksheet summaries from the break-out groups click here.


There is a follow-up meeting on Sunday 16 September for those interested in organising to address concerns by making those “best options” and “great possibilities” a reality. The meeting is at 40 Wallace Street Mt Cook at 4pm. Any problems getting there or apologies – just give me a call, Geoff 021 204-3678 or click on my name below to email.

Posted by Geoff


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