Whanganui port development vision shared

By Liz Wylie

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Consultant Phil Wardale presents the vision for the Whanganui Port Revitalisation Plan to business forum meeting on Monday.
Consultant Phil Wardale presents the vision for the Whanganui Port Revitalisation Plan to business forum meeting on Monday.

Myles Fothergill may have been in hospital recovering from a motorcycle accident at the weekend but he was a key player at a business forum held in Whanganui on Monday.

The business owner is reported to be making a good recovery while his business, Q-West Boat Builders was discussed as a lynch pin in the Whanganui Port Revitalisation Plan.

Consultants Bill McDonald of Vapour and Phil Wardale of Marine Industry Consulting have completed a feasability study for the revitalisation of the port area and presented the outline for their vision to the meeting.

Mr Wardale gave a powerpoint presentation of the plan with zones designated for different business and recreation purposes.

He said that unlike ports in other places, there are plenty of access roads to the port which should allow freedom of movement for all users.

The consultants said they are expecting geo-technical and drilling experts to arrive to Whanganui later this week and the existing port building will be inspected.

"We don't want to see all the buildings demolished if it is possible to salvage some of them and it will be good if some can become part of the new development," said Mr Wardale.

He was questioned about how the new cycleway would be incorporated in to the plan and Mr Wardale replied that the plan should not affect the route but there may be some adjustments if required.

Mayor Annette Main responded to the question as to why businessman Neville Johnson's proposal for a Whanganui to Motueka ferry service had not been included in the plan.

"We needed to know that Q-West would be willing to be part of the development before we could look at other initiatives," she said.

Ms Main also responded to a query about whether out-of-town "big business" would be able to secure contracts for the port development.

She replied that the council has a procurement policy which stipulates that a percentage of work goes to local business and said it is the first time a local authority has been able to secure such a guarantee.

Mr Wardale said central government has agreed to finance the plan to the tune of $500,000 and said Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce was enthusiastic about the plan when he visited Whanganui in August.

He stressed that there is still analysis to be done on funding and investment and there will be further announcements on the plan later this week.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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