Work on a plan to revitalise the Hastings CBD that includes proposals for an Eat Street, a public table tennis table and converting buildings to apartments began this week.
On Monday, selected trees began being removed from the Heretaunga St central mall to allow more light into the pedestrian area between retail shops, and support the growth of the remaining trees.
In addition, seating would be installed around existing planter boxes, with astroturf used to provide areas for small children to sit and play.
Movable chairs and tables would provide further seating options, with a suggestion that City Assist personnel could put these out and put them away each day.
The performance platform would be moved further into the mall, retaining its roof, but with an extension built on the back to provide a storage area for performers' equipment.
This work was due to start in Autumn this year.
Councillor Damon Harvey said the Hastings city centre was evolving into an exciting and vibrant place to work, live and play.
"A city centre can no longer be just about retail, but a lifestyle precinct that is the heart of the community. We have some exciting plans to enhance the city centre – both for locals and visitors.
"This is the start of potentially a very exciting time for Hastings; we want to see more people living in the city centre, and the Opera House precinct will also begin to take shape over the next year. This will hopefully attract new retailers, professional service firms and hospitality providers."
In an update to the Economic and Urban Affairs committee in September last year, council officers said two lockable poster cabinets would be put up in the mall and Albert Square to promote events, and a table tennis table installed like that in Havelock North (own bats required).
There was also interest in developing an Eat Street in Heretaunga St East, and city centre apartment developers were at the time of the report preparing marketing brochures to gauge demand for first-floor apartments.
Extra lighting was also being considered to enhance buildings, artworks, trees and other features in the area.
A revised 10-year CBD upgrade programme was adopted in February last year following consultation with the Hastings Business Association, and general manager Susan McDade said the association was fully supportive of Hastings District Council's initiatives to ensure Hastings city centre was a place for everyone to enjoy.
"We are absolutely thrilled with the design plans which are designed to attract more people to stay longer and make better use of the space. The surrounding businesses can't wait to see the finished result."