Blue Sky Thinking
April 23 2019 by David Mayhew, Chair KPCA
Blue Sky Thinking: Frankton without the airport? You may have noticed that, despite the beauty of our environment and the exciting buzz of the town, there is a lot of angst about. Traffic congestion, accelerating visitor numbers, housing shortage, ribbon development, water quality, inadequate acute medical facilities to name but a few topics of concern. Have we reached a tipping point in Queenstown’s development, from a small resort into an overstretched town servicing a major tourism destination?
Focussing on Frankton and the Airport, consider these factors:
• Queenstown Airport Corporation’s wish to more than double current aircraft movements to meet airline demand cannot be accommodated within its current, or foreseeable future, social licence (the community’s acceptance of the external costs imposed by the airport’s operations). Not to mention negative impacts on our community, infrastructure, environment and tourism industry.
• The speed and scale of development in Queenstown and Wakatipu Basin are moving the centre of gravity from Queenstown Bay to Frankton; and
• The Airport is now a drag on our overall economic development, inhibiting necessary infrastructure in and around Frankton - hospital, schools, homes - because they are ‘noise sensitive activities’.
The current location is an accident of history: the strip of land used as a racecourse for entertaining gold miners was designated an aerodrome in 1935. Its growth into an international airport only began to accelerate in the last 30 years. Now that growth is exponential – noise boundaries approved in 2009 on the basis they would last until 2037 will be reached in the next couple of years. To cater for airline demand, QAC not only wants to more than double flights into Queenstown, it wants to develop Wanaka for jet aircraft as part of its “dual airport business model”. So, the facts on the ground have changed. Can we carry on muddling through; or is progressive, big picture thinking required for the next 50 years?
‘Blue Sky Thinking – Frankton without the Airport’ is the plan to be presented to our community on 29 April by two local urban designers, Gillian Macleod and David Jerram. They will challenge the assumption that growth of the Airport is ‘inevitable’ and consider the facts and figures that lead to a radically different conclusion – that what IS inevitable is relocation of the Airport. They – with the support of both local community associations, want to get feedback from our community on whether their blue sky thinking resonates with people who live and work here. An engaged and informed community can then help set the agenda for the local elections later this year. See you there.
Where: Remarkables Primary School hall
When: Monday, 29 April at 8pm
Hosts: Frankton and Kelvin Peninsula Community Associations
David Mayhew, Chair KPCA