$22m design for New Plymouth airport is councillors' 'plane' favourite

The view from the tarmac of the proposed design for New Plymouth Airport.
simon

The view from the tarmac of the proposed design for New Plymouth Airport.

New Plymouth district councillors want the wow factor and nothing less for the redevelopment of the city's airport.

In a unanimous decision at Tuesday's full New Plymouth District Council meeting, members decided to move forward with a full business case and costing for a new "iconic" New Plymouth Airport - estimated to cost between $16.4 million and $22m. 

In an uncommon move, councillors - without any arguing - approved the most expensive option for the redevelopment, rejecting plans for a cheaper, more functional building.  . 

The view of the iconic build coming down Airport Drive.
Supplied

The view of the iconic build coming down Airport Drive.

However, those who spoke at the meeting agreed the value added by a design which incorporated a cultural narrative and provided a worthy gateway to the region was worth the extra cost. 

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Internationally-renowned New Zealand sculptor and artist Rangi Kipa was involved in the design process to include the narrative of Puketapu hapu and the importance of the land the airport is built on.

An aerial view of the "new iconic build" option for the airport expansion.
Supplied

An aerial view of the "new iconic build" option for the airport expansion.

Peter Moeahu, speaking on behalf of the Puketapu hapu, said council didn't have to choose between functional and "outstanding". 

"We support it because it is a fantastic design. The team behind it have provided concepts that are amazing."

"The 3a design reflects the Puketapu affinity to that land. It respects Puketapu - that's what 3a does. 3b does nothing.

He said council had made a conscious decision to include and respect the views of Puketapu in discussions over the design.

"We deserve 'wow!'," he said.

And councillors agreed. Councillor Howie Tamati said the iconic design would give the building life, depth and spirituality. 

"I think it's outstanding," he said. "It will provide mana and pride for this province." 

He said Kipa is one of New Zealand's leading artists and the depth he provided to the project through his cultural knowledge had been amazing. 

Councillor Grant Coward, who had opposed projects which would come at a cost to ratepayers, supported the $22m design. 

"It might come as some surprise that I actually support this. But I'm a cynic as you all know - and unlike councillor Chong I don't believe a financial implication on our ratepayers. 

"On the face of it I support it because I like it and the people I talk to like it." 

His comments were met with laughter and applause around the council table. 

While four options were presented to council, one of two new build options was recommended.

The other option was a functional build, based on the Invercargill Airport terminal - which Wootton pointed out did win a regional airport award - costed more modestly at between $12.9m and $17.5m. 

However councillors were assured it would not impact on ratepayers. The Crown and NPDC have a 50-50 partnership in the redevelopment, which will be funded by loans from landing fees, car parking and commercial rentals. 

Several councillors who spoke on the proposal also congratulated council officers and Beca Architects along with New Plymouth firm Jackson Architects, for their comprehensive consultation with hapu on the project, which they believed strengthened the design. 

 - Stuff

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