A BUSINESSMAN who is working with the Invercargill City Council on its inner-city master plan said the project was “an investment for the future”.
This week, H&J Smith chief executive and governance group chairman John Green presented the $20 million plan to councillors, who approved it unanimously.
The master plan proposes a range of streetscape and other changes in the inner city, with the aim of aligning and integrating community spaces and revitalising the central city.
The document, prepared by the Isthmus Group, identifies key problems such as poor connections between the city centre and the wider city and a lack of places for people to socialise and move safely as it was vehicle dominated and inhospitable in bad weather.
A lack of pride and vibrancy was also identified during the process, which started in April.
“Working together [council and community], the city can return to [being a] thrilling location where people are important and it is a fun place to be,” the report states.
One proposal was to transform Tay St into a one-lane road, in each direction.
The report says the current double-lane traffic arrangement is not required from a vehicle capacity perspective.
The change to one lane will also slow traffic speeds, shorten crossing distances and unlock green social spaces and sheltered areas, it says.
Don St is defined as the “entertainment street” in the plan and the proposed streetscape, with courtyards and laneways designed to support businesses and create spaces for temporary exhibitions, social gatherings and outdoor dining.
Esk St’s proposed streetscape would connect key civic, social and commercial anchors, including the new inner-city development and The Langlands Hotel.
Kelvin St would work as the retail street and would be the connector for the “heart of the city centre”.
Dee St would work as the “main street” as it had more traffic capacity and space for pedestrians and quality connections to the central city.
Councillors praised the work of the governance group at Tuesday’s infrastructural services committee meeting.
Cr Lesley Soper said the plan was not only a nice idea, but an essential part of revitalising the heart of the city.
She remembered her excitement when she visited the city centre as a child and believed this sense of pride had been lost in recent years; she hoped the new plans would fix that.
Invercargill Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark defined the plan as “stunning” while Cr Lindsay Abbott said it was one of the best presentations he had seen in recent years.
Mr Green also addressed concerns about parking.
Some retailers were worried about the potential loss of car parks in the area.
“The city centre is for people, not cars.”
He said council staff were working on a parking strategy which would be presented to councillors in February.
However, he said 700 parking spaces would be available in the new inner-city development and people would need to change their habits and get used to not parking their cars right outside the shops.
Ngai Tahu kaumatua Michael Skerrett, who was also part of the governance group along with Mr Green, ILT chief executive Chris Ramsay and Southland Housing Action Forum chairman and SBS chief executive Shaun Drylie, urged council to act.
“Don’t be like central government. They spend more time working out why not to do something than doing something.”
In an open letter to council and media, architect Bob Simpson says it is a good idea to create good, safe, sheltered environments for people with disabilities, pedestrians and cyclists.
However, he believes council needs to consult with urban planners who have a good understanding of the existing preferences Southlanders have and a good knowledge of the local weather.
“Tay St adjacent to the lopment with the new 20m-high buildings will often be in shade and the area will be even windier than it currently is.
“This will be an unpleasant place for people.”
The public would have the opportunity to offer feedback on the master plan until January 20, and council would consider it early in the new year.
Council Environmental and Planning Services manager Darren Edwards said gathering community views was an important part of the master plan development.
“The master plan itself is just the start of the process. It offers a framework for future projects, along with guidance on how we can make the city centre work better for people.”Sports brandsadidas Yeezy 350