Cromwell water-front town plans pitched at Peter Kenyon workshop

An artist's impression of what a new town centre could look like at Cromwell's water-facing Alpha Street Reserve

An artist's impression of what a new town centre could look like at Cromwell's water-facing Alpha Street Reserve

A Cromwell architectural graduate has pitched a grand proposal for a water-front town centre.

Jessie Sutherland was one of about 60 people attending a community development workshop in Cromwell on Thursday, led by Australian-based community enthusiast and social entrepreneur, Peter Kenyon.

The workshop involved interactive sessions where the participants were invited to share "big ideas", exploring where their community is now, where it wants to be and how they can get there.

Bank of Ideas director Peter Kenyon.
Nicole Gourley

Bank of Ideas director Peter Kenyon.

Sutherland presented a detailed plan, including artist impressions, of how the Cromwell township could be transformed into a vibrant water-front space.

"I was born in Cromwell and did all of high school in Cromwell before studying architecture in Wellington and working for Athfield Architects. Here I learnt a lot from Ath and his passion for vibrant and mixed use public spaces. I then lived and worked in the UK and Australia, in some great and not so good towns. 

"Moving back to Cromwell in 2015, I couldn't sleep until I put these ideas on paper and reviewed what the town is and the potential it has. People love living on water. Cromwell was given an amazing lake but we have an inward mall that acts more as a retail park than a town centre. Since moving back I have met with many amazing old and new locals all with a drive for a quality town who would love to have a place with vibrancy to appreciate our amazing location.

"I think the mall is a great building stock, it is just trying to be something it isn't. It would be well suited to a mixed-use development that is compatible with and strengthened the existing shops and had a use that meant that people were constantly there. Without too much work it could be a polytechnic campus, language school, early childhood centre, apartment accommodation.":

The Alpha St-Main St idea could be developed as a waterfront town centre, where a vibrant mix of retail, eateries, offices could be located with lakeside amenities, such as bike and kayak hire and a greenway walk around to Old Cromwell.

"It would not build over the rec ground where community events could take place. It would be easily visible from the state-highway and protected from the wind of the lake. The new town could act as a flagship for energy efficient building and acknowledge the growth of the community. Many other towns are developing new retail parks where they have vibrant town centres. We need to chase our tail and develop a town centre. Imagine if Wanaka, Queenstown, Taupo only had their retail park areas."

Central Otago District Council community development manager Paula Penno said many participants had called for making the most out of town's lake.

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"The workshop did make you refocus on all the great things we have, and all the possibilities there are."

Penno had facilitated Kenyon's visit to support existing groups and organisations in the community who were doing "amazing work".

"There were a lot of thought-provoking ideas that came up and a range of comments and messages. One of the key messages from Peter was don't bother waiting for the cavalry - you are it. If you want something to happen, now is the time. It is your place. You can make it what you want."

Kenyon has worked with more than 2000 communities in Australia and in 59 countries seeking to facilitate fresh and creative ways that stimulate community and local economic renewal. He has also written 16 books on community and economic development, youth policy and enterprise. He was a finalist in this year's Australian of the Year Awards.


 - Stuff


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