Solid engagement with city projects

By Alexandra Newlove

Councillor Phil Halse says future projects in Whangarei should leverage private money where possible. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Councillor Phil Halse says future projects in Whangarei should leverage private money where possible. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Whangarei District Council has deemed its first foray into "conversational consultation" a success, with more than 2000 people going online to view a series of inner-city revitalisation projects.

In a document titled the "20/20 Momentum" plan - which was converted to a flashy interactive website last year - Whangarei District Council lists 28 projects set to shape the city over the next decade.

An interactive website detailing Whangarei's impending inner city projects has attracted more than 2000 users. Photo / WDC
An interactive website detailing Whangarei's impending inner city projects has attracted more than 2000 users. Photo / WDC

Whangare District Council senior strategic planner Tony Horton said a new civic centre in the CBD, the already-underway Cameron Street laneway and how to get the CBD to thrive were the issues that got residents talking online.

"People were most interested in the projects that related to urban regeneration, residential development and improvements to public spaces, and the feedback ranged from simple one sentence suggestions to detailed and lengthy documents," Mr Horton said.

Council staff were in the process of collating all 630 pieces of feedback to take back to councillors. The $10 million Civic Centre - likely to combine council chambers with a theatre and conference centre - was among the most talked about.

Under it, the council would either redevelop Forum North or set up shop in the lower CBD, bringing its staff, currently in three different offices, under one roof.

Mr Horton said because the 20/20 plan was a draft document, WDC was able to be more creative in how it reached out to people, including via social media and the website, as it was not not bound by legislation.

Council staff also attended meetings with more than 30 community and business groups to get their thoughts on the project.

"We have been overwhelmed with constructive feedback," Mr Horton said.

Councillor Phil Halse, who chairs the council's 20/20 inner city revitalisation committee, said his favourite projects were the development of inner-city living at Hihiaua Peninsula; the conversion of the carpark by Canopy Bridge into a green space; the new civic centre; and the Hihiaua Cultural Centre.

Cr Halse said the plan was not a council spend-up, but was geared towards leveraging private money and capitalising on pre-existing assets.

- Northern Advocate

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