Opoia a medium density village

River Plan Objective: ‘For Opoia to be developed as a medium-density residential area (by the private sector) with the provision for public access and a strong connection to the river and central city’.
River Plan Projects: ‘Create a wide and appealing promenade style river walkway … Provide an improved connection to Claudelands Bridge, to complete a river’s edge walking and cycleway circuit’.
Use: ‘Opoia could be transformed to create medium density residential development … with a unique riverside character that is complimentary to the central city’.

From page 207 of Proposed District Plan Volume 1 – 13 Nov 2012

Volume 2 of Proposed District Plan – 13 Nov 2012 – Page 124:‘Future development preference for Opoia – long term vision of development along the eastern banks of the Waikato River – with retail and restaurants at ground floor level and residential at upper levels’. Note the words ‘long term’ here. Advice from the ‘New Zealand Urban Design Protocol’ is provided under ‘essential design quality – Choice … Flexible and adaptable design provides for unforeseen uses, and creates resilient and robust towns and cities … designs which are flexible and adaptable and which will remain useful over the long term’. In addition, here is a quote from The Dutch publication, The City at Eye Level, Lessons for Street Plinths (Second and extended version): ‘Shops may be the first things we think about when we work on active plinths, but we simply cannot plan retail everywhere. We need to think about other functions such as small businesses, fashion, leisure, care, food and last but certainly not least, housing’ … ‘17. Look at new upcoming functions in areas with vacancy, such as co-working spaces, temporary “meanwhile spaces”, restaurants and cafés, social functions such as elementary schools, and most of all residential living on the ground floor. Due to online shopping, it is clear that we cannot solely rely on shops to create a good public realm’. (Page 316-317)

Cologne water front

One does not need to spend much time in the Opoia area to see why the consultants and town planners found this waterfront so special and unique. Their proposed ideas will be benchmarked in future posts. To finish this post, here is the planners comment from Chapter 7, Central City – Vol 1, Hamilton City Proposed District Plan, Section 42A Hearing Report (29, 30, 31 October 2013) Report on Submissions and Further Submissions (Page 147):
‘In its current form, Opoia is considered to be an under-utilisation of resources, and does not promote best sustainable use of resources for the wider wellbeing of the community. By way of example, the area consists predominately of low density residential development, albeit it located close to the city centre and of extremely high amenity potential … the area offers limited public access and enjoyment of the river frontage; and, to date, the area has offered little in the way of investment opportunity. The long term vision for Opoia, outlined in the Central City Local Area Plan, seeks to address these issues and, in doing so, strengthen the Central Area as a first choice location for living, working, visiting and investing within.’

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Opoia, Jesmond Park, Claudelands Bridge, Sonning Park

For Sonning Park idea see end of post.

The Opoia section of the River plan project notes: ‘There was a flat area of land in front of and below the Opoia Pa which was a common meeting place for war parties before they went into battle. This land and the Pa itself were destroyed by the construction of the Claudelands Road and Railway Bridge. The Pa is now buried beneath the car park at Sonning Esplanade Car park’ (page 52 this link) and it plans to ‘Provide an improved connection to Claudelands Bridge to complete a river’s edge walking and cycleway circuit’. The proposal to providing a connecting accessible path through Jesmond Park is not a topography issue. It is more about whether it respects the descendants of the people who lived here before the 1860s invasion and confiscation. The answer to this will come from the partnership that ex-mayor King and current Mayor Southgate have begun building between the people and their strong relationship with the land.

Jesmond Park has three significant trees listed in HCC district plan schedule 9D: 2 London planes and a red oak. My proposal is for the path to be on the bridge side of the two London plane trees

Could Opoia link to Sonning Park? The image below from the Proposed District Plan Volume 2 – (p120) shows a continuous pedestrian promenade between the two bridges. The desire line shown could be extended north under Claudelands Bridge, linking into Sonning Park.

Again from the Proposed District Plan Volume 2 (p114) – the indicative concept has a path shown connecting Sonning Park to a river jetty. The distance between the northern end of the promenade shown above and the Sonning park jetty path is about 40 metres.

The option of going under the bridges is longer, but it allows an easy grade path, as Sonning Park is wide and the area between the existing car parking and the river’s edge is deep. The question the ‘River plan’ asks is: does improving access through Jesmond Park (1) cater for the people who live in and visit Hamilton; (2) enable development that will promote enjoyment of the river and benefit the community; (3) support Te Ture Whaimana O Te Awa o Waikato; and (4) promote the celebration of culture, sport, recreation and leisure? See page 1 of the Hamilton River Plan.

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