Queenstown Lakes District Councillor and 20year Frankton resident Alexa Forbes talks about Frankton.
Frankton to me is a place between. Lake Wakatipu to the west, the confluence of the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers to the east. Frankton, or Kirikiri as Maori named it, is a natural hub, a meeting place. It’s also between other settlements – Wanaka and Invercargill for example, Queenstown and Arrowtown and the smaller suburbs. This position means that growth in any part of the district has an impact on Frankton residents. Frankton is also home to our district’s major man-made strategic asset, Queenstown Airport, which is the gateway to our district for about half of all visitors.
Flat sunny land and proximity to beach, shops, schools and trails makes it geographically a wonderful place to live and if you’re fit and able, you don’t need a car to get around. The community is well established with strong neighbourhood connections, a balance of permanent homes and holiday houses and a demographic that feels inclusive and broad.
However, the issues of growth are keenly felt and adjusting ourselves to our new reality as a commercial hub for the district has caused stress. Many are uncomfortable with the negative impacts and the loss of some of the reasons we live here. Some have moved away of course, but others, including me, want to stay, be energised by the growth and work to build our own sense of place and character.
Currently we are a community physically divided, severed north south by the airport and east and west by the State Highway 6. Insensitive development designed for those living in places other than Frankton has resulted in highways and roundabouts enabling cars, buses and trucks to move fast between three big box retail developments, an industrial development and between towns and suburbs, without thought for local needs. Add a drive in theatre and we’d look just like a 1950s, American mid-west city suburb.
Development has been almost entirely car-centric as a result of failing to ensure easy access across the community for those on foot or bike. This makes it nearly impossible for our kids or those not in a car to get to our beach, shopping centres, sports fields or schools.
I’d like to see us move from this position of having development done to us, to one that is more supportive of our residents and community. Physically, I’d like to see connections built between the separate commercial areas and the places we live and play so we can create a unity that reflects our specific geographical place. This means great bike and walking tracks that are also good for walkers, prams and skateboards.
Practically, I’d like to see us connect through our community association to collectively envisage the way we’d like our village to be and then get to work to achieve it. Right now there’s thinking going on about how to improve our foreshore and work happening to improve the transport links, plus the landowners all have development plans. Let’s be sure to get across all this so we can collectively make Frankton’s future about the people who live here as well as those who are passing through.