Views shared on future of Vincent Ward

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Future proofing . . . Siblings Francesca (7, left) and Pippa Denley (5) look at a map in the hope of finding their house during the Vincent spatial drop-in session, hosted by the Central Otago District Council at Alexandra Community House on August 19. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

F uture planning was the topic of conversation across the Vincent ward last week.

Drop-in sessions, hosted by the Central Otago District Council, attracted residents who were keen to have their thoughts and ideas heard.

Some of those ideas had been highlighted by the community earlier in the year, when the council conducted a survey of the ward.

The general consensus from the survey suggested there was scope for improvement in Omakau, Alexandra and Clyde.

Among areas highlighted were roading, waterways, warmer homes and making more land available for housing.

Central Otago District Council community and engagement manager Paula Penno said the drop-in sessions were well attended.

About 20 people visited the Omakau event, 50 went to Alexandra’s and 60 to Clyde.
‘‘People were very engaged and took time to share their views on what they value about this place and where and how they believe Vincent’s townships should grow.’’

She said there were a variety of views and opinions and it was helpful to hear and understand them.
‘‘Our team is analysing the feedback currently and will provide information on what came out of those conversations once this is completed.’’

Options will be developed to address those issues and will be shared with the community to seek feedback on which option(s) are preferred, and why. The findings will form the content of the spatial plan.

Council planning and environment executive manager Louise van der Voort said the aim was to gain an understanding about how to accommodate growth and where people thought towns could grow.

She said that included providing for lifestyle development in a way that preserved what was valued by the community and avoided conflicts with rural activities.

Some of those at the Alexandra event were disappointed it was not an open meeting where they could voice their concerns in an open forum.  Instead, they moved around various stations.
Barry Hambleton was among those who had hoped for more open discussion.
‘‘This is just a gathering.’’

He was concerned the council would consider the drop-in session as ‘‘consultation’’.
Selwyn Tomkins agreed the event should have had more focus on open discussion.
‘‘I think everybody should have an opportunity [to hear views]. What’s the point of it otherwise?’’

However, Ms Penno said the drop-in session format was used to enable ‘‘meaningful’’ one-on-one conversations, ‘‘and we certainly did achieve this’’.