'Colonial' names get Marlborough council backing

2:49 pm on 8 April 2020

Marlborough councillors concerned with preserving history have asked to form a group to "control" developer road names, after criticising streets in Blenheim's newest subdivision as being "colonial cringe".

No caption

Councillor Cynthia Brooks suggested the council could help developers who were struggling to find street names. Photo: LDR / Chloe Ranford

DeLuxe Property Group's request to name undeveloped roads at Rose Manor, on Old Renwick Rd, was approved at committee last week, but not without some asking to change the council's road naming policy.

Councillors clashed over the request last month, with some looking to abandon the developers' "very, very poor" preferred names - which were Albert Gr, Oakley Ave, Whitehall Dr, Chapel Cl, Bond St, Granville Cl and Arlington Cl - and others saying they fit the policy.

Rembrandt Drive in Blenheim

Rembrandt Drive now joins Albert Grove, Oakley Avenue, Whitehall Drive, Chapel Close, Bond Street, Granville Close and Arlington Close in Blenheim's Rose Manor subdivision. Photo: Chloe Ranford / LDR

Councillor Cynthia Brooks suggested last Thursday the council re-establish a sub-committee to help developers who were struggling to find street names, or if issues cropped up.

The sub-committee had stepped in after Blenheim's Omaka Landing street names were shot down by councillors for being "boring" in 2016.

"What's come out of this is something we can use to ensure this is managed a whole lot better in future for both council and developers."

Ms Brooks said she had contacted the developer to offer them help in naming future subdivision roads, but found most had names in place.

"I'm more than comfortable to leave that with him," she said.

Councillor Francis Maher, who last month dubbed the proposed road names as a "lack of imagination", said the council should approve the request, but that its road naming policy had "room for improvement".

The current policy said new roads names must be short, could not 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.

"There is a street name in one of our towns that was actually named after the [developer's wife's dog]... that's the sort of thing that has the potential to happen unless there are strict guidelines around this."

Councillors Barbara Faulls and Jenny Andrews also supported the suggestion, saying it was a "better approach" to the current method.

Council lead senior environmental planner Ian Sutherland said last month that forming a sub-committee could streamline the process.

"The sub-committee gets involved right at an early stage, rather than going through this process, which can take two or three months, before we go back to developer. That can be quite frustrating for them."

But councillor Jamie Arbuckle said he thought the sub-committee would only complicate future road naming requests.

"The developers need certainty ... This should have been clear-cut from the beginning. The policy was clear and the theme was set."

Councillor Michael Fitzpatrick agreed with Mr Arbuckle.

"We now want to set up a sub-committee so we have control over [road names] in future ... I don't think we need to go down that path. Let's leave it up to [the] developers to come up with their names."

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett, alongside councillors Mark Peters, Gerald Hope and David Oddie, supported the proposed names as they fit within the council's road naming policy.

Mr Oddie said the policy was reviewed after the subdivision's first round of road names caused "the same fracas" at the council in late 2015, but in the end there had only been some "very small changes" made.

​"Now the developer has come back with not dissimilar type names."

The council agree to adopt the names and put addressing the policy's "issues" high on its to-do list, once it finished more urgent business.

DeLuxe Property Group Limited developer Greg Smith said on Friday he thought new development should be scrutinised by the council, "otherwise who knows what [the region] could end up with".

But he said changing the subdivision's English theme halfway through was "not practical".

no metadata

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

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs