Faye White: Principles for Napier's success

By Faye White

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Faye White.
Faye White.

Over the past year-and-a-half, the council and a select group of business and community leaders have been working hard to create a new vision for Napier.

The resulting strategy, City Vision - small city, big ideas - establishes a high-level framework for our central city Ahuriri and waterfront areas, and recognises a new way of working for the council.

It is an evolving, fluid document which is innovative and revolutionary and takes the council to another level.

The City Vision sets out six principles, by which every future decision will be tested. The first, "Putting People First", seeks to prioritise the experience of people in the city, whether they are locals or visitors.

This principle recognises the enduring quality of cities and seeks to ensure future projects continue to build Napier's legacy of beautiful buildings and streetscapes. It also encourages us to think of our city as a stage and meeting place, with vibrant streets and places.

"Open for Business" is all about collaboration, not being afraid to take risks, making regulation as easy as possible, and embracing new technology. This principle strongly influences the council's new approach to doing business.

"A Port and Coastal City" recognises our city's enviable position on the coast, with its access to beaches and open spaces, as well its coastal climate, flora and fauna.

The Napier Port is a key contributor to the success of the region, and its functional needs must be met and the opportunities it brings grasped with both hands.

The City Vision's fourth principle, "Our People, Our Stories", seeks to draw out and promote both those little-known stories of Napier and those more widely recognised, such as Art Deco. Weaving these stories into the fabric of our city through contemporary design such as street art and streetscape design offers a means to communicate both our history and our future aspirations.

"Ecological Excellence" is about promoting sustainable thinking and practices across all facets of city management and design. Napier's ecological assets such as the Ahuriri Lagoon, wooded hill areas and corridors, urban streams and coastal strip are a great place to start with improving the quality of the environment.

Designing with a net positive environmental impact, and encouraging a relationship with nature in our urban spaces, will all support the achievement of ecological excellence in Napier.

And finally, the sixth principle "Pedal Power" makes a statement to the world about Napier's commitment to capitalise on our already cycle-friendly assets and make it the most cycle-friendly city in New Zealand. Street design will focus on "complete" streets, with provision for all modes of transport. Cycling destinations and journeys will be safe, enjoyable and a memorable experience for all.

Taking these principles as a guide to inform decisions about future projects, the council's approach will be to first trial ideas and designs through a lighter, quicker, cheaper approach (where possible). This approach is well-tested throughout the world, and allows the council to trial different options in real time to see if the outcome is as expected, or whether tweaks need to be made, before the funds are committed, design is finalised and the project constructed.

We all know that modelling can only take us so far, and that it's not until we actually give it a go that we know the true outcome. This approach allows us to do this in a low-risk, low-cost way.

The key to the City Vision is collaboration. In this sense the council's role can be likened to that of the conductor, where every individual in the orchestra is needed to play their part if they are to make harmonious and beautiful music together.

By working together, with a shared vision, we can create the vibrant, attractive, exciting and sustainable city we know Napier can be.

This document highlights the need to have a direction and plan for our city's future. We need to build on our strengths, build resilience to changes in retail, technology, coastal erosion and climate change, and embrace ecological initiatives, an entrepreneurial culture and create healthy lifestyles.

It brings to mind the words of Sir Peter Blake: "The hardest part of any big project is to begin. We have begun, we are under way, we have a passion. We want to make a difference."

I'm sure having a City Vision will make a difference. Thanks to those who have taken the first steps.

- Faye White is deputy mayor of Napier and council board representative on the Ahuriri & Napier Business Associations.

- Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: editor@hbtoday.co.nz

- Hawkes Bay Today

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