Hamilton Gardens is set to get a new layout that retains the Rhododendron Lawn and improves access and traffic flow.
Hamilton City Council’s Community Committee today (17 November 2020) agreed on updates to the draft Hamilton Gardens Management Plan. Councillor Rob Pascoe dissented. The final plan will go to the 8 December Council meeting for adoption.
The draft plan was due for adoption last year but was paused after community feedback on proposed changes to the Gardens layout. The changes included moving the main carpark to the Rhododendron Lawn.
Hamiltonians were asked for feedback on the draft plan in April to June 2019 and again in July to August 2020. The most recent community engagement focused on revisions to the original layout to address public concerns about the loss of the lawn.
The Committee today heard that 84% of the 875 submissions received during the most recent community engagement supported the updated layout.
Councillor Mark Bunting, Chair of the Community Committee, said the public engagement process was robust and he was “convinced we’ve got this right”.
He paid credit to Council staff for finding a new layout solution that retained the Rhododendron Lawn when site constraints meant options were limited, and said the new layout was better than the one first proposed.
The revised layout introduces a potential treetop walk down to the Gardens entry and shared walking and cycling paths.
A new through road will link the two gates, improve traffic flow and allow easier, safer access to the Gardens using multiple forms of transport. The amended plan also provides for continued access to traditional river access points.
The new road will run past the glasshouses at the top of the Gardens site. Because of this, and because of the age and condition of the buildings, the glasshouses will close to the public from December 2020.
The Pasifika Garden, currently under development, will feature an energy-efficient glasshouse and the Gardens’ future plans include a conservatory.
Updates to the draft plan acknowledge the significance of the Hamilton Gardens site to local Maaori, with Council committing to work closely with mana whenua on future development.
Staff reported that community feedback on the draft plan in 2019 was positive, with 77% of people supporting the Gardens’ development direction. Twelve new themed gardens are proposed in addition to four gardens currently underway.
Decisions made through the 2021-31 Long-Term Plan process will determine the timing of development, including the layout changes. Council will adopt the Long-Term Plan next June.