Bold ideas to transform city

By Alexandra Newlove

7 comments
Fancy a dip downstream from this Whangarei landmark? Within 10 years you may be able to have one, if the council sticks to its vision for the city centre.
Fancy a dip downstream from this Whangarei landmark? Within 10 years you may be able to have one, if the council sticks to its vision for the city centre.

The suite of 46 projects set to characterise Whangarei in 10 years is finalised - the plan including a man-made beach near Te Matau a Pohe, swish marina view apartments at Hihiaua and a multimillion-dollar civic, arts and cultural precinct.

Whangarei District Council adopted its final "20/20 Momentum" plan yesterday, which lays out the vision for the inner city.

Some projects would be completed solely by the council, including a new bus terminal, the $10 million amalgamation of WDC's offices and the extension of Laurie Hall Park. Among the more far-fetched concepts was a promenade and artificial beach downstream of Te Matau a Pohe, though the council was yet to allocate funding for this.

Councillor Phil Halse chaired WDC's Inner City Revitalisation Committee and said he was "rapt" with the plan.

"We've got to be bold and signal what we want to do. Most [projects] are subject to change, but it's a good chance for our ratepayers to buy in, it's our best shot of what we want to do."

The council wants to facilitate 11 of the 20/20 projects using private investment, including the building of hotels on Riverside Drive and Dent St, a residential living precinct at Hihiaua Peninsula, and an arts, culture and conference centre likely to be at Forum North alongside new council offices.

More than a year of public consultation around 20/20 saw the inclusion of four new projects including improvements to historic Bank St; more signage and landscaping to help people to find their way around town; a 50-berth marina near Limeburners Creek; and a focus on city nightlife.

The ambitious strategy was set to aggravate parking problems by removing up to 700 spaces, and relied on a private firm building a multi-storey carpark to replace these, with a site on the corner of Hatea Drive and Dent St earmarked for this.

Council senior strategic planner Tony Horton said carpark occupancy in the CBD across the course of a week was at about 60 per cent, but acknowledged there were areas where it was difficult to park. Mr Horton said part of the solution could include live signage telling drivers where carparks were and how many spaces were available.

"Our first stage is to better promote the parking that we've got," he said.

The corner of Hatea and Dent was seen as suitable because it would service both the CBD, Town Basin and planned Hundertwasser Art Centre.

It would also help replace 229 parking spaces by the Canopy Bridge which would go when the area was converted to green space next year.

- Northern Advocate

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