Hamiltonians have given proposed layout changes to Hamilton Gardens the thumbs-up with 84% of people who made a submission agreeing with the changes.
Hamilton City Council consulted with the community on the proposed changes over a four-week period from 11 July to 9 August 2020. The consultation attracted 875 submissions with the majority in favour of the proposed layout.
The Council’s Hearings and Engagement Committee today (Tuesday 25 August) heard verbal submissions from 25 groups and individuals.
Committee Chair Cr Martin Gallagher said the strong response showed how important the Gardens were to Hamiltonians.
“The number of submissions and the passionate views and thoughtful, innovative ideas that people put forward show how invested our community is in the development of this amazing world-class space.”
The consultation focused on whether the proposed layout changes addressed concerns raised by the public last year about a previous proposal, which would have seen the main carpark shifted to the Rhododendron Lawn.
The revised layout retains the lawn. It adds new cycleways and pathways and a through road connecting the two gates, and features a potential treetop walk from the upper carparks to the Gardens entrance.
The proposed changes allow for further development of the award-winning visitor attraction and address congestion, traffic flow and access issues.
The layout changes are part of the draft Hamilton Gardens Management Plan. Staff will update the draft management plan based on community and councillor feedback and report back to the Community Committee later this year.
At today’s meeting, the Friends of Hamilton Gardens and the Hamilton Gardens Development Trust urged the Council to adopt the plan so the next stage in the Gardens’ development could proceed.
A broad range of issues were raised in verbal submissions, including whether the changes would provide adequate parking given the Gardens’ popularity and questions over access for the elderly and people with mobility issues.
The need to retain public access to the river when riverfront land was developed and whether the proposed changes went far enough in encouraging people to visit the site on foot or cycle were also noted.
Several submitters suggested the Council build a pedestrian bridge between the Gardens and Council-owned land across the Waikato River to relieve pressure on on-site parking and better integrate the Gardens with the river.
Decisions on the timing of the developments proposed in the Hamilton Gardens Management Plan, including the layout changes, will be made through the 2021-31 Long-Term Plan, which will set the Council’s budget for the next 10 years.