Queen's Gardens Landscape Plan

Queen’s Gardens Landscape Conservation Plan - feedback closed

Hearings held on 22 March 2012.

14 people took the opportunity to give their feedback in person to Council.  This and the written feedback will help Councillors to make decisions about the management of the Gardens and any effect this might have on the proposed redevelopment of the Suter Gallery, which is being considered as part of the Long Term Plan process.

Previous information

The Council has recently developed a Landscape Conservation Plan for Queen’s Gardens. The Plan has been drafted to ensure the heritage values of Queen’s Gardens are recognised and preserved. This is a particularly important piece of work at this time as plans are being drawn up for the redevelopment of the Suter Art Gallery on the edge of the Gardens.

The Plan has been written by Landscape Heritage Architect, Louise Beaumont, and covers the history, people, physical environment and development of the Gardens. It makes recommendations about how the Gardens should be looked after into the future. 

The plan is a guiding technical document for Council and will not form Council policy or be adopted in itself. Your feedback on the Plan will help us to develop policies and management approaches for Queen’s Gardens as part of the Horticultural Parks Reserve Management Plan which we will be working on in the future.

Download a copy of the Queen's Gardens Landscape Conservation Plan (8.5MB PDF)

Specific issue

An important issue that Council is keen to hear from residents about is whether the two oak trees next to the Gallery should be retained or felled to make room for the redevelopment of the Surer Art Gallery.

The problem is that space to redevelop the Gallery is very limited due to the size and shape of the land available. To make the best use of the space we would need to remove two large oak trees that sit on the Suter Art Gallery grounds.

However, the two oak trees have been identified in the Conservation Plan as making a significant contribution to the heritage value of Queen’s Gardens.

Council is now faced with a difficult decision. A significant redevelopment of the Suter Art Gallery may not be possible if the oak trees remain.
To keep the trees would either compromise the objectives of the redevelopment or require a design that would not be in keeping with its location so close to the Gardens.

According to expert advice new construction should be restricted within the drip line of a tree. This is to protect the root structure and maintain the tree’s access to rainfall, nutrients and sunlight. Trying to work around the trees would add to the cost and create ongoing issues for the maintenance of the buildings as the trees continue to grow.

If the proposed redevelopment does proceed it is possible to retain most of the other trees in the grounds of the Gallery that have been identified in the Conservation Plan as significant.

Download a map of the affected trees in relation to Queen's Gardens (564KB PDF)

Why upgrade the Gallery?

At the moment some areas of the Gallery are not up to a suitable standard to store, preserve and exhibit significant artworks. Earthquake risk has been investigated and earthquake strengthening work is also required. If no redevelopment goes ahead this means that the Gallery’s collections will not be preserved and stored appropriately and might need to be moved to other facilities to ensure their preservation.

If the gallery is upgraded to internationally accepted standards it will be able to loan significant artworks and display touring exhibitions. The current issues with universal (disabled) access and flooding risk can also be addressed.

What are the options?


Retain the oak trees and don’t go ahead with redeveloping the Suter Art Gallery until the trees are at a stage where they can be removed (i.e. declining health).  Given the current condition of the trees this could be many years.


Remove the oak trees and redevelop the Suter Art Gallery into a facility that will serve Nelson well into the future.

Thanks for the feedback

Thanks to everyone who took the time to give us their thoughts and attend the information meetings. There will be a hearing for those who wanted to speak directly to Council about the Plan on Thursday 22 March.

About the Suter Art Gallery

The Suter Art Gallery was founded as a memorial to Andrew Burn Suter, Bishop of Nelson from 1866 to 1891. It opened on 31 May 1899. At the time, there were only two other art galleries in New Zealand.

Bishop Suter was a keen artist and his widow promised his art collection to an art gallery if established in his name.

As one of the first permanent structures built solely for the display of art in New Zealand, The Suter is now the oldest gallery in continuous use in the country.

The Gallery was designated as a Category II Heritage Building by the Historic Places Trust in 2007.

About Queen’s Gardens

Queen’s Gardens opened in 1892 to commemorate the jubilee of Queen Victoria. The Gardens were designed around a detached residual bend of the Maitai River known as the “Eel Pond’.

The Gardens retain many elements of its Victorian-era character including gates, memorials and planting arrangements.

The Gardens were designated as a Category II Historic Place by the Historic Places Trust in 2007.

About the oak trees

The trees are both English Oaks (Quercus robur).

They are thought to have been planted in 1892 to mark the official opening of Queen’s Gardens as part of Nelson’s Jubilee celebrations.

They are on the land belonging to the Suter Art Gallery, not in fact part of the Queen’s Gardens.

A proposal to have them removed in 2010 attracted strong opposition.

Both trees are classified as ‘Local’ trees in the Nelson Resource Management Plan (NRMP). This means they are of noteworthy interest but are not as significant as either Heritage or Landscape Trees. Their retention and protection is encouraged, but their removal is permitted