Home Tourist attractions The six-year battle to expand Akaroa’s giant house continues – now everyone can have a say in its future

The six-year battle to expand Akaroa’s giant house continues – now everyone can have a say in its future

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Giants House owner Josie Martin hopes to get permission to create a more accessible entrance and build a new cafe.

John Kirk-Anderson / Stuff

Giants House owner Josie Martin hopes to get permission to create a more accessible entrance and build a new cafe.

For six years Josie Martin has been trying to expand her popular tourist attraction of Akaroa – now the whole town of Banks Peninsula can have a say too, in fact anyone can.

The artist owns The Giant’s House, a unique mosaic garden in the seaside town, which regularly attracted 30,000 visitors a year before Covid-19.

But some people were unable to visit the garden because the entrance is via a steep driveway, which the elderly and people with reduced mobility find difficult to cross.

“They look down the aisle and think ‘I can’t walk up there’ and they walk away,” Martin said.

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Six years ago, Martin’s son bought an adjoining property, so Martin could create a more accessible entrance and build a new café.

But before work can begin, resource consent is required.

After several years of back and forth with Christchurch City Council, Commissioner David Mountfort ordered in December 2020 that consent be given public notice.

He believed 23 properties would be affected by the expansion.

A design proposal for the new cafe in the sculptural garden of Giant's House in Akaroa.

Provided

A design proposal for the new cafe in the sculptural garden of Giant’s House in Akaroa.

Public notification opened this week and now everyone can have their say on the expansion.

Mountfort was concerned about the loss of privacy for some residents and the noise from traffic and visitors that could be generated.

He believed there was a realistic possibility of collisions between vehicles and pedestrians, which could result in serious injury.

However, a few adjustments have been made to the plan since then. Martin’s application, submitted by city planners Davis Ogilvie & Partners, says the negative effects of the proposal were acceptable and no more than minor.

The latest application said the proposal would have notable positive impacts.

“The proposal will increase the overall sensory experience for site visitors, while increasing the efficiency of site operations and providing a greater level of accessibility for all,” he said.

Josie Martin has spent 26 years developing her mosaic garden.

JULIET NICHOLAS/NZ GARDENER

Josie Martin has spent 26 years developing her mosaic garden.

“The Giant’s House is considered a major tourist attraction in Akaroa and will continue to have economic benefits for the district.”

The cafe and entrance building would also require additional staff, creating more jobs in the city.

“The Giant’s House also contributes culturally and socially to the local community,” the app says.

Martin said the main purpose of the expansion was to provide better access, which has been a recurring problem for several years.

New Zealand gardener

Sculptor, painter and horticulturist Josie Martin has created what she calls the world’s happiest garden, right here in New Zealand.

She hoped the request would receive support.

Martin started developing the attraction from scratch 26 years ago. It has been recognized by the New Zealand Garden Trust as a garden of international significance.

“I no longer have a place at the top. I want to continue creating the garden.

People have until July 19 to bid on the expansion.