Monday, July 25, 2011

Arguing for business use

The proposed commercial restoration of historic Dudley's Cottage next to Arrowtown's Chinese miners' village is "the only future" for the building, longtime village resident Don Spary says.

He spoke at Wednesday's Lakes Environmental resource consent hearing on Arrowtown Mining Company's bid to use the site as a base for guided walks at the Chinese settlement, gold-panning tours and 4WD expeditions, primarily to Macetown and surrounding areas.

Positioned at the crossroads of high vehicle, foot and cycle traffic, the cottage had "extremely limited" residential use, Mr Spary, an Arrowtown Trust trustee, said.

"The cottage can only realistically be saved by permitting an appropriate commercial use for the benefit of residents and visitors." The two groups were "not divisible - we all have common interests to enjoy Arrowtown".

Arrowtown Mining Company sole director Scott Stevens told the commissioners the idea came to him when he was "conducting research from my back lawn on visitors numbers and how they arrived by foot or car. I noticed a lot of head-scratching went on and concluded visitors were expecting a point of contact and to be told where to go and what to see."

Mr Stevens welcomed late submissions from Chinese gold-mining historian Dr James Ng, of Dunedin, and the Otago-Southland branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association. He also referred to a recent conversation with former Dunedin mayor Peter Chin.

"He told me it was a positive vision and that people with the nerve and balls to make a bit of the Chinese Trail work - joining the dots of the trail - should be encouraged," Mr Stevens said.

At a Chinese tourism summit held in Queenstown in April, Mr Stevens said many Chinese delegates described the experience of visiting the Chinese settlement as "sad".

To counter this, Mr Stevens said he planned to highlight the "heroes" and those "revered" in the history of Chinese settlement in the region. Submissions to Lakes Environmental closed on March 31, with 20 in favour and five opposing, mainly due to concerns about the neighbouring Chinese miners' village.

The proposal has the support of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and the Department of Conservation.

Queenstown Lakes District Council-appointed independent commissioners David Whitney and Christine Kelly adjourned the hearing and said a decision in writing was expected within 20 days.

- By Matt Stewart on Fri, 3 Jun 2011

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