Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Candidate's radical ideas for Tutanekai St (+video)

2 comments

A one-way system for Tutanekai St, free parking and a free inner city bus loop are some of Rob Kent's ideas to transform Rotorua's central business district.

Mr Kent, one of seven Rotorua mayoral candidates, said he saw the future of the CBD like "an open-air mall" where there was always something happening to attract pedestrians and shoppers.

"I see Tutanekai St probably ending up half its width and one-way, south to north, with a 10km/h speed limit and 15 minute pick-up and set down, as well as parking for the disabled only throughout its length."

He said people in cars or on bikes didn't shop.

"Only pedestrians do. They get out of their cars, or off their bikes, to shop.

"They look for the nearest free car park or they, in general, don't bother.

"And they don't walk far, unless there is good reason to do so. That's why the Central Mall is so popular.

"I see free parking in the side streets so pedestrians have leisurely time to wander the length of our new city centre, which is the whole of Tutanekai St.

"I see the other half of Tutanekai St being where night markets can become all-day, any-day markets, full of tourists and locals alike.

"I see art galleries, green spaces where pedestrians can rest and chat or sit outside having a cup of coffee while they wait for the fashion parade, or make-over show to start.

"I see street art, buskers, puppet-shows to attract the kids and their parents. I see life."

He said a free bus circling the CBD and passing through side streets would allow people to "hop on or off to go to work, or with their arms full of shopping get back to their car".

If he became mayor, he said he would consult the public before moving forward with any of his ideas.

Mr Kent said plans for the up-coming redesign of the City Focus were, in his view, badly designed safety nightmares and as mayor he would communicate and listen.

During the 2013 election Mr Kent put forward the idea of building a monorail between the airport and the lake end of Tutanekai St. He said he still thought the idea was a good one but, "was probably 20 years ahead of its time".

Rotorua's six other mayoral candidates comment on his ideas.

Mark Gould:

As a retailer for many years in the CBD I have seen many changes.

What hasn't changed is the need to provide parking in convenient places.

Good lighting, shade and shelter are necessary, as any future plans must consider safety as a vital component.

It's important to remember that the city is not just for retailers and shoppers but also for the hundreds of people that call the CBD their workplace.

A vibrant and exciting place to visit, it also needs to be calm and green so that workers can enjoy quiet time outside.

John Rakei-Clark:
This has always been a cultural town and we like to take our wakas to the shops.

This town has been divided by cutting out the road, separating Tutanekai and Hinemoa.

We are not a lazy culture, we are efficient in what we do, hence we like to drive to our shops.

At the moment Rotorua roading is inefficient and the culture of Rotorua has been affected, hence empty shops and less local shoppers.

RangiMarie Kingi:

It's the central meeting point of Hinemoa and Tutanekai streets.

A meeting place for a variety of community groups, arts and entertainment showcasing our local talent, this should remain its City Focus - a locals and tourist rest spot.

Dr Reynold Macpherson:

It is too easy to brain storm and collect bright ideas online.

Sustaining a restart-up strategy for the CBD will be much harder than commonly supposed. It is why MBA students are taught to research and write a rigorous business plan using many perspectives.

In this case it would include joint governance by owners and elected representatives, identifying products and services for potential customers, operational management, marketing, finance and measurable goals.

Instead of "clever" visions we need a sustainable blend of public services and sound businesses plans that justify investment.

Frances Louis:

I like Rob's plans very much. My only issue with the all-day markets is around access for service vehicles, especially 111 access for emergency vehicles.

To combat this would the public be required to take compulsory civil defence lessons and fire safety drills? Who would the emergency call-outs be billed to?

Steve Chadwick:

The Inner City revitalisation project led by councillor Hunt and a community steering group has worked collaboratively since 2013.

This portfolio was a high priority. We worked in partnership with experts including roading engineers, users, retailers, investors, architects and the Chamber of Commerce to reboot the heart of the city.

The public had their say at pop up shops and planning hearings. The plan is being implemented with all the measures now moving in the right direction. We are feeling good about our inner city.

Confidence has returned and we are getting our mojo back. There's more to do. Tatou tatou.

Robs Kent's CBD ideas
- CBD as an "open air mall"
- Half of Tutanekai St one-way south to north
- The other half used for markets and entertainment
- Free parking on side streets
- Free bus route around the CBD

- Rotorua Daily Post

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