Queenstown’s masterplan for success

Steve Wilde and Lorraine Nicholson
Steve Wilde and Lorraine Nicholson
Steve Wilde and Lorraine Nicholson

Iconic southern hemisphere resort Queenstown has a new and ambitious plan to help guide town centre development and performance.

Its CBD strategy, funded by Queenstown Lakes District Council and developed by specialist consultancy First Retail Group, is designed to identify and respond to key opportunities that will influence future success and ensure commercial resilience.

The comprehensive plan supports stakeholder organisation DowntownQT that is charged with town centre guardianship. The member-based group is led by Queenstown identity, Steve Wilde, and guided by a board of directors representing retail, tourism, hospitality and property sectors.

The project was first initiated by Queenstown’s Chamber of Commerce after it recognised the need for dedicated town centre representation and strategy. Rapid changes in the local market place were seen to require closer oversight and guidance to enable the resort to develop to full potential.

Outwardly, Queenstown is a successful place to do business; however its CBD businesses face unique challenges driven by capacity, remoteness and resourcing.

The well-known tourist destination is struggling as it battles rapidly increasing visitation and growth in local population, which are placing strain on the town’s infrastructure. These trends look to continue, necessitating a fresh and innovative approach to issues such as parking, transport and streetscape.

“Improving service levels, standardising opening hours and developing an experiential shopping and dining environment are further key elements within the strategy,” says First Retail Group’s Lorraine Nicholson. “Visitors to the CBD have high expectations and it’s vital they are not disappointed in this last mile of delivery.”

The resort is a highly aspirational destination not only for tourists but also for businesses according to Nicholson. “With a waiting list of retailers anxious to secure prime sites, the strategy identifies potential for category clusters and precincts that develop a critical mass and destination value for consumers.”

The Town Centre Strategy is a living document, managed by DowntownQT.  “We have adopted an agile approach because of the highly dynamic nature of Queenstown’s downtown economy,” says Wilde. “We want to be able to adapt our vision to stay ahead of trends, respond to opportunity, and assist stakeholders navigate risk.”

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