Support the Guardian

Available for everyone, funded by readers

Developers propose reshaping Triangle into laneway

Developers propose reshaping Triangle into laneway
Concept drawings of the Triangle closed off as a laneway. SUPPLIED

Developers want to reshape the historic Triangle precinct in Ashburton by turning it into a laneway and creating something special for the town.

Justin Skilling and Robert Grice have been restoring the old buildings along Victoria Street and have big plans for continued major redevelopment

Their latest concept is to close the section of the street off to vehicles to make a laneway.

Skilling said they have been working with the council around the plans and will submit to the long-term plan for the closure.

“We have the plans drawn up and now it’s a matter of engaging with the councillors and the public."

Justin Skilling has a vision of turning the Triangle into a laneway to create a special destination in Ashburton. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK/LDR

Between them, Skilling and Grice own all the buildings on the southern side of the street, and Skilling owns half of the north side.

Skilling’s redevelopments started with the Triangle Café and then last year Smoke, a restaurant and butcher.

The Rabbit, a dessert and cocktail bar, opened up while Berry Beauty and CosMedics moved into the renovated old Plunket Rooms.

Grice is preparing to redevelop his existing shops into an exciting new mixed-use hospitality precinct named The Ash.

It’s all turning the triangle back into a destination.

“It was never planned, it has just evolved.

“The next step for the regeneration of the Triangle is how we tie that into [Baring Square], the library and event centre.”

The concept will be part of a submission to the long-term plan to have the conversation about how and when it could work, he said.

“While we have the momentum and everyone is saying how great it is, why don’t we make it something special for the town for the future?”

Making the triangle a laneway would provide easy links to the Ashburton Event Centre to the north and Te Whare Whakatere, Ashburton’s library and civic centre, to the south, Skilling said.

Creating the laneway will also help tidy up a dangerous stretch of road, he said.

Living right on the corner, Skilling said he witnessed near misses most days.

“I would rather make the change to prevent a serious incident than it be done as the result of one”.

Another wider aspect to consider is car parking.

Closing off the street will reduce car parking but Skilling sees the Balmoral Hall site as an ideal, centrally located solution “that’s already being used as a car park”.

The council is proposing to sell the Balmoral Hall and Polytech grounds, rather than repairing the building for an estimated $1.4m.

Another option is retaining the site as a car park on the eastern side of the CBD, Skilling said.

The council is undergoing the consent process to build a second public car park on SH1/West St.

“We already have something on that side of the CBD,” Skilling said.

With the planned second bridge expected to bring more traffic through the eastern side of town, providing adequate parking rather than having people travel back across the railway line to SH1 would be beneficial, he said.

By Jonathan Leask