We don’t want this to be a gossip column, but a couple of readers have forwarded us an ill-tempered e-mail exchange between certain present or past Destination Waikanae members and local ward Councilor Michael Scott, which prompted us to have a chat with Sue Lusk of DW about it over the weekend.
The essence of the exchange, which was copied to several recipients, was that Michael Scott was promoting ideas in the local papers for the redevelopment of the town centre as his own, when they had been formulated over a period of time by DW members.
Sue Lusk takes our view that it doesn’t really matter who trumpets ideas, if they are beneficial for the community and something positive happens as a result.
While individual retailers and service businesses may want to see an integrated and innovative redevelopment of the whole area, the obstacle is the various owners of the buildings who really don’t care about anything except the return on their investment which can be summarised as “we only want to spend as little on the buildings as we think we can get away with while collecting as much rent as we can”. This isn’t unusual: we have experienced such attitudes on the part of a certain property businessman close to where we are.
Waikanae isn’t Shanghai or Dubai, and there are limits to what the council can do when it owns the open areas, but not the buildings (except the library). Compulsory purchase and redevelopment of all of them would involve many millions of dollars and no doubt years of contests before it happened.
The best strategy as we see it, is for the council to buy buildings as and when they come up for sale, demolish them and make the space into part of the garden, pending something becoming possible long term.