A precinct plan that aims to provide an attractive and supportive City Centre for residents, businesses, employees and visitors has been adopted by Whangarei District Council.
Senior Strategic Planner Sonya Seutter said the city core in Whangārei is changing, and now is the perfect time for Whangārei to capitalise on the private and public projects that are happening.
“The City Core Precinct Plan was adopted last month. It aims to initiate plans for the future of the city’s core in a strategic way, addressing any issues that come from increasing numbers of people and making the most out of opportunities to come.
“The colourful plan contains maps of possible layouts for the city core based on a range of development, land uses, and short and long term projects. It also contains images of elements that have worked well in city core precincts in other parts of New Zealand and around the world.
“It proposes three programmes of work. The first is around making the streets work better for drivers and pedestrians. The second is about making the city core and waterfront very visitor friendly, and the third outlines how to create connections across and through the core. This will make it easy and more enjoyable for people to move from place to place.”
“Currently the city centre faces challenges with traffic flow issues at peak hours and a real lack of pedestrian connections and wayfinding.
“We know that in the next few years, managing visitors from cruise ship excursions and tour buses will be increasingly important in and around the city centre.
“Finding solutions to support the right kind of improvements by both Council and the private sector is a priority in the plan. The Plan shows how Council funding is being allocated to short-term actions, to create a foundation for improvements over the next three years.
“Some of the biggest changes will be to our streets, which the City Core Precinct Plan looks at cohesively, not in isolation.
“Whangārei’s streets have been traditionally car centric, and much of the road work over the last 20 years has been focused on traffic flow.
“However, recent changes to the city centre – for example, the Cameron Street mall, the James Street shared space and the Hatea Loop walkway - have been pedestrian focused. A review of our streets is necessary to further integrate these and make any future changes work.
“These days more people are walking and cycling, and shared paths are becoming more of a priority. Changes to policies and support from New Zealand Transport Agency have helped to increase the number of shared paths in Whangārei. People also want more public transport. This Plan pulls these factors together and creates a direction for us.
“Our city centre is set to become more of a destination for people on foot. Pedestrians are becoming more and more important as they bring vibrancy to an area, activation, surveillance, business and future opportunity. As a District, we must support the public realm with great quality design and construction in our public spaces, as well as supporting and enabling these aspects through private developments.
“Getting from place to place easily in a city core is crucial. Making connections obvious, safe and pleasant are all priorities. Investing in these public spaces, including wider footpaths, street trees and street furniture can inspire private developers to adopt similar priorities.
“Another big change affecting our City Core is a change to the way people shop. Globally much more purchasing is happening online, so service and hospitality experiences including restaurants and cafés, gyms, hair and nail salons are increasing in inner cities.
“Our City Core Precinct Plan is flexible. It outlines what we could achieve but does not tie us to solutions that might not be suitable if rushed. The benefit to this approach is that we can have a list of projects, and based on the ‘climate’, can work alongside private businesses and developers to achieve the best outcome for our city centre.”
Follow the link below to view a copy of the City Core Precinct Plan.