At the Shaping Our Futures forum in September 2018, participants were asked what characterises our people and what were their aspirations for the community. Answers for the first included peaceful, welcoming, vibrant, passionate and community centred. Answers for the second included liveable, peaceful, connected and community.
They were then asked what obstacles they thought might block these aspirations. The resounding answer was - the airport. But in subsequent consultation forums run by Queenstown Lakes District Council such as the district's billion dollar transportation plan, discussion regarding relocation of the airport was studiously excluded - it hovered as the "elephant in the room".
This and the overwhelmingly negative response by all sectors of the community to Queenstown Airport Corporation's proposal in September 2018 to expand its noise boundaries, were "penny drop" moments for urban planners and architects David Jerram and Gillian Macleod. It caused them to consider how they might help achieve the community's aspirations and how Frankton might look if the airport was relocated.
They wanted to show an alternative vision - one that would create a thriving and fantastically liveable village that could become the heart of our district. Instead of a patchwork of special housing areas and suburbs sprouting everywhere across the Wakatipu, none having the commercial, recreational, or educational mix needed for a cohesive community, they proposed an alpine village centered in Frankton.
The images below show the process by which they developed their vision. It's not a final answer, as if the proposal to develop Frankton were adopted then a substantial consultation and urban design process would be needed, but it does give us a chance to visualise the potential.
These penny drop moments caused us, a small group of local residents, to question the inevitability of growth and of the current location of the airport. We engaged in some 'blue sky thinking' to look outside the box. We researched and investigated. What we found surprised us.
Our investigation indicated that relocating the airport would have significant positive effects across almost all sectors. It would not just be better for Frankton, but also for the whole Wakatipu, Wanaka, and the region. Better for the community, tourism, local transport, the environment, and global climate change. Better financially for housing affordability, for ratepayers, for the airlines, and for Queenstown Airport Corporation.
We encourage you to read other sections of this website to learn how.
David and Gillian's starting point was to leave surrounding zoning in place and use the airport land mainly for residential development so as not to compete with existing land owners and developers.
The next step was to identify the opportunities. Key among these would be the ability to connect the northern and southern retail areas, and the chance to link all of Frankton Flats to the lake, the sport and recreation reserves, and to the river.
The next step was an important one. It's where the major decisions are made regarding the general layout of the village. It determines the placement and flow of all of the components that make up the development. For this, their key moves were:
The existing main roads surrounding the area continue to work as currently developed, routing traffic around the township while allowing access at multiple points.
An inner circulation route provides opportunity for effective and constant public transport.
Internal roads and alleyways provide low impact transport options, while retaining supply access to all areas. People are prioritised over vehicles, with limited roadside parking.
All key community assets including schools, shops, sporting facilities, recreational areas, community centres and major transport links are easily accessed, with minimal need for private vehicle use.
Good access to high quality reserves and green spaces provides a healthy and replenishing environment.
The ability to locate 5,000 dwelling units accommodating 12,5000 residents within Frankton Flats reduces pressure to carve up the Wakatipu Basin.
Carefully developed zoning and planning rules, modelled in the Hobsonville development, would provide flexible and attractive development options while reducing consent costs.
Intensive development would greatly reduce the per-person cost of building infrastructure such as roading, sewerage, power and so relieves pressure on rates.
It would Provide a wonderfully livable community within the heart of the Wakatipu. An alpine village, with development scope to manage the growth pressures in this district for decades to come.
Why would high density residential development be the best use of Frankton Flats and the airport land? We think the reasons are compelling.
Without this our district becomes a spread patchwork of special housing areas and suburbs, with none having the commercial, cultural, recreational, or educational mix needed for a cohesive community. The unique character of our district would devolve into an american style development that requires car centric transport into shopping malls clustered about the noisy industrial airport zone.
Contrast this with a european style alpine village or even Whistler in Canada, where people are in the center of the community. The easy proximity to everything makes walking the preferred mode of transport. Children walk or cycle safely to schools that are close, to sports just down the road and to their friends who live nearby. Parents can walk to the supermarkets, stroll to the cafes or to their work. The cultural center shows and restaurants wouldn't need car trips and associated parking.
A vibrant, peaceful and livable community that becomes the living, sporting and cultural heart of our district. As a flat, sunny, substantial and central site, it is our cheapest place to build. It is the most efficient place to locate the sewerage and other infrastructure, with the intensity making it the lowest cost per dwelling of any alternative and using the least construction or operating resources. It would substantially reduce dependency on vehicles and increase the viability of public transport, as well as increasing the use of active options such as cycling, scooters and walking.
We have heard some refer to Queenstown Airport as the 'heart' of our community. A steroid accelerating economic growth perhaps, but it saddens us to anticipate that the best heart we might focus on in this stunning district with its passionate people is the industrial zone.
An incomplete list of the many advantages of creating a high density residential zone in the heart of our district includes:
Sign up here and we'll keep you up to date with new information. To be sent links to breaking stories from the news media, subscribe to the blog in the Media page.
We put our analysis into the public arena where it can be critiqued, peer reviewed and challenged. We will quickly correct any errors. Our goal is to deepen our collective understanding of the many aspects involved in this discussion so that wiser choices can be made.
Use the links below to learn more