Developers told to ‘broaden their minds’ and pick road names significant for Marlborough

7:44 pm on 12 March 2020

Proposed road names at Blenheim's newest subdivision have been criticised for reeking of "colonial cringe".

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A community such as Rose Manor in Blenheim should not have street names that lack imagination, a councillor says. Photo: LDR / Chloe Ranford

DeLuxe Property Group's request to "officially name" undeveloped streets at Rose Manor, on Old Renwick Rd caused councillors to butt heads at an environment committee meeting today.

Councillor Francis Maher said the council needed to "think of the future" and abandon the developers "very, very poor" preferred names - which were Albert Grove, Oakley Ave, Whitehall Drive, Chapel Close, Bond St, Granville and Arlington Close.

Maher said developers should "broaden their minds" and incorporate names that were of some relevance to the area.

"We have our own history and I am saddened at the lack of imagination that condemns the community to bear these names forever. For me, this reeks of colonial cringe ... I don't think this is appropriate," he said.

The committee was so divided on the issue the mayor had to cast a deciding vote. He then directed the proposal to name the streets to a full council meeting in April, so all councillors could have their say.

In a report prepared ahead of the meeting, council staff had already rejected the developers' back-up names which were Windermere Grove, Britannia Drive, Alexandra Drive, Berkley Close, Melrose, Lombard and Carlingford Close after a Google search said some were "not pure English".

They would not fit with the subdivision's English theme as Melrose was Scottish, Alexandra was Greek, and Carlingford Irish.

Councillor Thelma Sowman said she was in favour of recognising Marlborough's history, and suggested the council go back to the developer.

Councillor Gerald Hope said it was "clear" the council needed to send a signal to developers that it wanted to leave a legacy for future generations.

"I do not see a legacy in names that have been adopted from a foreign country."

Councillor Barbara Faulls said the names didn't recognise local history.

​"When I first looked at [the names], it reminded me of a Monopoly game."

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Developers need to draw on local history for their street names, some councillors say. Photo: LDR / Chloe Ranford

But Councillor David Croad supported the application, as he believed developers should have a say in naming their subdivisions, and the proposed names fitted within the council's road naming policy.

The policy says new roads names must be short, should not sound similar or have the same name as an existing road, and had to be named after a theme, a historical person or event, or given a traditional Māori name.

Council lead senior environmental planner Ian Sutherland said staff had already approved English-themed road names in the development, and the developer's first choice of names fitted council policy almost perfectly.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said councillors must take into account that developers had a "significant say" in choosing road names of subdivisions.

Councillor Mark Peters, who could not vote on the proposal until full council meets, but supported it, saying "at the end of the day, it's a rose by any other name".

"I don't think we should be so precious," he said.

Developer defends his choices

DeLuxe Property Group Limited developer Greg Smith said that changing the subdivision's English naming theme halfway through the development was "ridiculous".

He said there were "several objections" when the first round of road names went to the council, but he understood the English theme was approved because "no-one at that meeting could come up with anything better".

"If you look around Blenheim, you see Charles, Arthur, George streets at the centre of town ... Many people who live here, their ancestors originated out of the UK, including myself.

"We need a decision now as we're currently developing and throwing the names out would delay issues with titles."

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Developer Greg Smith says the criticism is ridiculous. Photo: LDR / Chloe Ranford

In a report to the council he said he had originally considered naming the roads under a rose species theme, but decided the Kiwi spelling of roses could be "outrageous", or a bird theme, but decided most good names had been taken.

Thirteen councillors and the mayor will vote on the proposal on 2 April. Five indicated at the committee meeting today they would support the proposal, while five looked likely to vote against it. Four had not decided.

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Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Newspaper Publishers' Association and NZ on Air. Photo: LDR

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