Saturday, April 13, 2024

Concern over potential demolition of info centre

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FUTURE-FOCUSED: Public consultation closes next week on the Howick Village Centre Plan outlining the next 30 years of development for Howick Village. Photo supplied.

The next three decades of development within Howick Village have been penned in the Howick Village Centre Plan, but not everybody’s happy with the suggestions that have been made.

Local board member Adele White hopes the plan, which was formed late last year in light of a growing need for a structured plan to take Howick Village forward, will offer locals and visitors the best of what Howick Village has to offer.

It outlines four key concepts forming a vision for Howick’s future – a green village, an accessible village, a character village and a community village.

The village plan is a non-statutory document that provides strategic guidance and potential projects and actions to improve the centre, but does not contain any specific rules controlling development.

However, there’s one particular suggestion that has caused outrage among some residents – the potential demolition of the Howick Information Centre.

Planning documents state other options could include keeping the existing information centre or repurposing it.

However, an artist’s impression of what the town square could look like if the site was developed in the future, as published in the draft village plan, shows no sign of the existing centre.

It’s a concerning depiction of Howick’s future, according to chair of the Howick Ratepayers and Residents Association, Gayleen Mackereth, who told the Times she has been contacted by many “very upset” residents regarding the centre.

“Council has no right to remove our monuments to our history for current commercial gain. We say do not remove the information centre. It is manned at no cost to the community by volunteers. It is a necessary hub and source of information and citizen’s advice and provides an indispensable free legal service.

“As one of the war memorial buildings built in memory of fallen ex-servicemen of Howick aided by funds raised by former ratepayers, we are sure your readers feel equally that removal of this historic building would be sacrilege at the time of the centenary of WWI.

“Leave our historic character buildings alone. Only by recognising the buildings which relate to the Special Character of Howick can we hope to preserve our identity in the future.”

Local board member Garry Boles has also voiced his opposition to the suggestion, calling for increased utilisation of the existing centre.

“I don’t want it to go. For me, it’s the hub and the centre of the community… it doesn’t seem sensible to me. I’ll be opposing it all the way.”

Public consultation on the plan closes on Friday, May 5.

Mrs White encourages locals to have their say in the public consultation before it closes, particularly regarding aspects of the plan they wish to see changed.

“There has been considerable feedback to the Howick Village Plan suggesting that the building currently housing the information centre be pulled down. Some have offered ideas as to how this area might be used. Other feedback indicates the building should be retained, and some suggest it could be redesigned for other use.

“The Local Board wishes to consult as widely as possible before making any decisions. I would encourage local residents and business owners to take these final opportunities to have your say.”

The final centre plan will be adopted by the board in June.


Last chance to have your say 

  • Visit, email the team on or attend the final drop in session at the Howick Market on Saturday, April 29 from 8am to midday.

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