Warkworth will have a new town centre spot in which to sit and watch the world go by, once the old Warkworth Hotel site in Queen Street has been redeveloped next year.
The paved area in front of the former tavern building, between Barfoot & Thompson and The Oaks retirement and retail complex, will be opened up for community use and landscaped with grass, plants and seating.
Oaks developer Real Living Group has offered to carry out and pay for the necessary work and put forward two alternative concept designs to Rodney Local Board, one with a grassed area and one completely paved.
Board members voted in favour of the design with grass at its meeting last month, and requested that Council staff liaise with Real Living Group to see if the seating could match that being proposed for the new Te Huihuinga Kowhai public space being developed between the library and the Old Masonic Hall (MM May 8).
Board chair Beth Houlbrooke said it would make sense for both public open spaces to use complementary designs, to unify the look of both sites and potentially reduce costs.
The piece of land in front of the old hotel had been earmarked for a ‘town square’ by the former Rodney District Council, before it was sold as part of the larger block for The Oaks development in 2010. The sale agreement provided for the ‘square’ being transferred back to Council when the tavern lease expired, which should happen in September, but will actually take place once construction work has been finished, probably in May or June next year.
The developer offered to carry out the construction and landscaping in exchange for a 1.5-metre strip of land immediately in front of the tavern building to allow access into the redeveloped historic building.
Council principal property advisor Allan Walton told Board members this was a good deal, as the cost of developing the open space was estimated to be more than the value of the access strip.
“The Investigation and Design team confirm that the development cost as proposed by the developer would be over $100,000,” he said. “Based on rating valuations of adjacent land, and allowing for time, the value of the land to be retained is (pro-rata) in the vicinity of $40,000 to $60,000. The offer from the developer therefore represents good value for the council.”
The final design will go before the Local Board’s Parks and Recreation Committee for final feedback and approval in the next few months.