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Group formed to name Marlborough roads after councillors say selections reek of ‘colonial cringe’

A new group will be formed to screen road names in Marlborough after councillors criticised developers twice last year for choosing names that were too English.

The new road names chosen for the Rose Manor subdivision were criticised by Marlborough councillors last year for having "colonial cringe". Source: 1 NEWS

By Chloe Ranford of Local Democracy Reporting

Councillors first butted heads in March last year after a developer asked to put down English-themed street names, some of which were criticised for being "very, very poor" names, that reeked of "colonial cringe".

Councillors were at loggerheads again two months later, when another developer proposed a street name that "invoked royalty".

The road names in Blenheim's Rose Manor subdivision, first signed off by the Marlborough District Council several years ago, included Whitehall Drive, Chapel Close and Bond Street.

Councillor Cynthia Brooks suggested at the time the council re-establish a sub-committee to help solve road naming issues, which the council agreed to in February.

But, not without some councillors voicing their disapproval - first in February, then again on Thursday - arguing a sub-committee added "another layer of bureaucracy" to the council's road naming process.

Councillor Jamie Arbuckle said ahead of last week's meeting that councillors "should just shut up" if road names satisfied council rules.

"We have a policy. If the developer's name meets the conditions of the policy, then the developer should be able to name the subdivision's roads whatever name that they wish," Arbuckle said.

"Developers have not enjoyed the current process ... I think having a sub-committee will not make it better for them. A sub-committee will have ideas on what their road names should or shouldn't be."

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett said at Thursday's full council meeting he agreed with Arbuckle's views. However, the sub-committee was agreed to in February, so councillors could only debate the committee's terms on Thursday, not the decision to have a committee.

The new sub-committee would have the power to name or alter the names of roads in Marlborough - including those put forward by developers - in accordance with the council's road naming policy.

The policy said new road names must be short, could not have the same name as an existing road, and had to be named after a theme, a historical person or event, or be given a traditional Māori name.

Council assets and services manager Richard Coningham said in a report a sub-committee would streamline the naming process and give developers more certainty that their names would be approved.

Beehive Development's Chris Thornley said after the meeting he thought a road naming sub-committee was "overkill".

"The name of a street is the name of a street. Once it's been named, the name of a street becomes irrelevant. We shouldn't be spending more money on a sub-committee where nothing really happens.

"We need less bureaucratic layers, not more."

DeLuxe Property Group developer Greg Smith said on Thursday the council's current road naming process was "painful".

"Delays can be caused if councillors start to debate a development's road names, because then you have to wait for the council's next meeting for a decision to be made, or one after that."

The DeLuxe Property Group's names for the Rose Manor streets were eventually approved, despite the clash over the choices.

The sub-committee would be chaired by Deputy Mayor Nadine Taylor, and include input from iwi representative Richard Hunter and councillors Francis Maher, Cynthia Brooks, and Jenny Andrews.

A similar sub-committee had stepped in after Blenheim's Omaka Landing street names were shot down for being "boring" in 2016.